Stick insects like the walking stick bug are excellent at camouflage. They belong to the insect order known as Phasmatodea which is commonly referred to as ghost insects of phasmids. They tend to look like leaves or dry twigs which is why they find themselves called leaf bugs.
There are over 3000 species of walking stick bugs worldwide and they are found in all types of weather. Depending on their habitat they adapt to look like the indigenous plants in the area. They come in various sizes and some species are asexual. The largest walking stick bug is native to Borneo and it is known as the Phoebaetictus Kirby. This species can reach 21 inches in length. The smallest species in found in North America and it is known as the TimemaChristinea.
What do they eat?
Walking stick bugs are all herbivores. Their physical appearance allows them to enjoy eating the leaves without attracting attention to themselves. They are preyed upon by small mammals like rodents and spiders as well. These unassuming looking insects can become a menace when they become a heavy infestation in an area with much greenery like a park or even a crop in the fields. They do not have to be native to the area to inflict damage. Walking stick bugs will feed on all the greenery leaving trees and plants bare in their wake.
The female walking stick bugs do not have wings so their degree of movement is curtailed to a large extent. The male have wings so they can move around quite a bit in search of food and mates. However, the male walking stick bug is rare. This prevents them from causing as much damage as locusts. Also, it makes it easier to eradicate them once they settle into a place.
Their lifespan varies from species to species. One species may live for several months to as long as two years. The female, depending on the species, will typically lay around 100 to 1000 eggs in the soil or the hollow areas in a plant. The eggs are hard-shelled and small and they are usually hatched within a few weeks or months. These hatched eggs are known as nymphs and they resemble the adult although they have several rounds of molting to go through before maturity. Nymphs can shed off limbs and regenerate tem during molting. However, adults cannot.
To survive predators the male insects can play dead for a long time tricking animals into thinking they are dead or are twigs. They also emit a foul smelling fluid that deters predators. The females are larger in build compared to males with larger mouths for more food consumption and large abdomens for egg product.
The walking stick bug can reproduce through parthenogenesis which means the eggs can be unfertilized but continue to develop nonetheless. When the insects do mate, they can stick together during coupling for hours, days and even weeks. These intriguing insects are the masters of camouflage. But with the right pest controlservices they can be removed from your greenery.