About the Walking Stick Insect

By Katherine Kolombatovich , last updated May 19, 2011

The walking stick insect is one of the most interesting and most fascinating insects in the world. Its unique camouflage system makes it a master of disguise, as well as a truly unique looking creature highlighted in almost any nature insect documentary or nature cartoon. The walking stick insect, also known as the walking stick, is a member of the Phasmida order. This order accounts for roughly three thousand different species of insect, all of which boast a similar character and special knack for camouflage.

Walking stick insects, like the species know as timema cristinae, can be a half-inch long or grow to be as long as thirteen inches like the species named phabaeticus kirbyi. This latter species is known, in fact, as being one of the world’s longest insects. An interesting note about the size of the walking stick insect is that the female walking stick insects tend to actually be larger than male walking stick insects. The female walking stick insects spend their days disguising their eggs and protecting their eggs from would be predators who are always on the prowl.

Other tricks used by walking stick insects in order to evade predators include, lying perfectly still on tree branches in order to blend. When walking stick insects do move about, however, they sway back and forth, just like a branch would if it were caught in a breeze.

Sometimes, however, a walking stick insect is spotted by an enemy and called to defend itself. Some species of walking stick insects spew foul smelling venom as a defense in order to subdue their prey. Other species of walking stick insects fight off their enemies with their long, spindly legs, which are covered with sharp, thorn-like pickers. Birds are one of the most common predators of walking stick insects. The reason why birds are drawn to walking stick insects is because they are rich in nutrients.

Typically, walking stick insects are green or brown in color. This is an obvious advantage as the colors green and brown allow the walking stick insect to blend in easily with its environment. There are, however, some species that retain brighter coloring, though this brighter coloring does not mean that there are florescent walking stick insects in existence. Many species of walking stick insects have wings, which they use to travel about their home, located in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It is not uncommon, however, to find walking stick insects in more temperate areas as they have ventured out and away from the tropical and subtropical zones.

Walking stick insects are nocturnal creature and they are also herbivores. While they most commonly eat leaves, they also thoroughly enjoy eating raspberries and blackberries. One of the dangers facing walking stick insects outside of their regular place on the predatory food chain is the tendency people have to take and keep them as pets. Most walking stick insects do not pose any kind of a threat to humans, are easy to care for and therefore make great pets. Still, this practice depletes the population of walking stick insects living in the wild.

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