Scientists have for the first time been able to breed the largest stick insect to call Australia home - a monster measuring more than half a metre long.
The aptly named gargantuan insect hails from Queensland and was first described in 2006 using only male insects, which are winged and easier to spot.
The world's longest stick insect?
At over 56cm long 'Lady Gaga's baby' could be the world's longest stick insect, bred as part of the the captive breeding program at Museum Victoria. (Vision courtesy Museum Victoria)
However, thrilled Museum Victoria scientists found a pregnant female in the humid forests outside Cairns in January 2014.
The long-limbed lass known as Lady Gaga-ntuan, or Lady Gaga for short, has became the founding member of the only captive population which now includes seven adults and dozens of eggs. The third generation, making Lady Gaga grandma Gaga, is due to hatch in April.
Lady Gaga was spotted by Museum Victoria's Maik Fiedel, who had been hunting for one of the shy females for years.
Found six metres up a tree in a forested pocket of Queensland's Copperlode dam area, west of Cairns, Mr Fiedel "let out a series of loud yelps" when he saw her, according to Museum Victoria manager of live exhibits Patrick Honan.
Measuring an impressive 50 centimetres, there was no doubt the team had finally found their girl.
After flying to Melbourne secured in cabin baggage, she laid a dozen eggs in the fortnight before she died of what Mr Honan believes was natural causes. Seven eggs hatched and those individuals went on to lay another 40 eggs.
One of the female offspring has already outgrown her mother - measuring a record-breaking 56.5 centimetres long, making her Australia's longest stick insect.
The milestone has scientific significance, as little is known about the gargantuan stick insect Ctenomorpha gargantua.
"We now have a specimen that we didn't have before, so for the purposes of taxonomic research and all the things that museums traditionally do it's important," Mr Honan said. "But having a live population means we can also now collect data about their lifestyle."
The museum's live exhibits team started from scratch in learning about the gargantuan insect's life cycle, diet, breeding patterns and habitat from observing the behaviour of the mottled-brown insect.
Taking note of the conditions where Lady Gaga was found, the museum's live exhibit team recreated the insect's native environment, so temperatures were in excess of 25 degrees and about 70 per cent humidity.
When it came to diet, the keepers had only their knowledge of other stick insects to call on. While Lady Gaga had been found in the forest, she was unlikely to be clinging to a favourite plant. The females live high in the canopy and scientists believe she had been blown down to the six-metre mark by high winds.
"The more observations you do, the more you understand how they operate," Mr Honan said, adding they soon established peppermint gum and lilly pilly were favoured plants to eat.
He would like to introduce more individuals to boost the genetic diversity of the captive population, which will be on temporary display.
Although gargantuan stick insects are parthenogenetic, meaning females can reproduce without a male, broadening the gene pool would only benefit the health of the captive population.
Mr Honan said females which reproduce without males had female offspring, which was not sustainable.
Genetic flaws, signalled by a lower proportion of eggs hatching, lower survival rate for those which do hatch and reduced size, could also creep in.
"The chances of finding another female aren't that good but finding another male is better," he said.