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Phasmids (or Walking Sticks as they are commonly called) are one of the most remarkable orders of insects. They are typically either stick-like or leaf-like; camouflage or mimicry being their defining characteristic. Due to this natural camouflage, finding them in the wild can be very difficult for even an experienced collector. Approximately 3000 species of Walking Sticks exist in the world, about 30 of which live in the United States.


 


Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".My pet stick: Unlike many insects, they make superb pets. Many species are very low maintenance, requiring only blackberry leaves (or similar plant species) and water. Stick-insects prefer to have their cages and leaves misted with a spray bottle, although care must be taken not to drown the fragile nymphs. Others do require heat or humidity to be successful. A Walking Stick will usually live from one to two years, depending on the species.

No bones: Walking Sticks have exoskeletons, and instead of growing bones until maturity they grow a new layer of skin beneath the old one, shedding their old skin in the process. Females commonly molt 6 times, and males 5.

Playing dead & dancing sticks: Sometimes when Walking Sticks are disturbed, they will lay motionless for hours. They will usually stop playing dead and perk up at nighttime when they do most of their feeding anyway. Another reaction to being disturbed is a swaying movement evolved to mimic sticks or leaves blowing in the wind. And if a gentle breeze is applied, many species will begin to feed. It makes them feel more comfortable about moving. Many species begin to "dance" from the vibrations of footsteps, etc. It has even been claimed that music can cause some Walking Sticks to move this way (probably resulting from vibration).

Gentle sticks, scary sticks: While most stick-insects are gentle, there are species that can be downright aggressive. One of the most popularly kept is Eurycantha calcarata. Males of this species are commonly kept separately, and rarely with other stick bug species, as they can be very cannibalistic. They have large spikes on their hind-most set of legs, and do not hesitate to swing them down abruptly.

Spraying sticks: When threatened, some species can emit a chemical spray which is irritable to would-be predators. In certain species, this spray can cause temporary blindness and considerable pain. Another species releases an unpleasant odor when held.


Walking Sticks commonly lay their eggs in the soil, or on the underside of available leaves. Some species are also parthenogenic, meaning that the male does not need to fertilize the eggs, although fertilization appears to increase the likelihood of the eggs to hatch healthy young.

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 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Arthropoda

 Class: Insecta

 Subclass: Pterygota

 Infraclass: Neoptera

 Order: Phasmatodea