10 Interesting Facts about Stick Insects
Stick insects belong to that category of creatures that you can see without really seeing them. Their camouflaging abilities are unparalleled, but that’s not the only feature that makes them unique.
If you’re interested in getting a stick insect for pet, let me teach you more about this creature to help you make up your mind.
Today’s article will discuss 10 of the most interesting facts about the stick insect that are bound to spark your interest.
1. Stick Insects are Amazing Hiders
The stick insect’s hiding abilities go beyond mere camouflage. The chameleon, for instance, relies on its coloring and color patterns to blend in with its environment. It will also lie motionless to avoid drawing attention to itself.
The stick insect takes the idea of the camouflage to the next level. Instead of hiding under leaves, dead wood, and tree branches, this one likes to lay in the open like most insects. You will often find it resting on a branch, moving slowly from side to side.
The insect will perform a slow swaying motion to mimic a twig moved by the wind. It’s an impressive tactic that will fool most predators looking for an easy meal.
2. Stick Insects Don’t Bite
This is the number 1 question that people want answered when it comes to the stick insect. No, the stick insect doesn’t bite or sting humans or other animals, at least not on purpose. This makes it perfect as a pet, along with its impressive size and unique look.
That being said, the insect might bite out of accident. This can happen if it confuses your hand with food or simply becomes rattled for whatever reason. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. You will barely feel it since the insect has a tiny mouth that’s not designed for biting and hurting other creatures.
The insect is also non-poisonous, so you can handle it without worrying that it will hurt you.
3. Stick Insects Have Secret Defense
The stick insect has several defense mechanisms, depending on the species it belongs to. Over millions of years, these mechanisms have evolved as the stick insect’s ancestors roamed the same habitats as the dinosaurs in the Jurassic era.
To avoid predators, the stick insect may:
- Exhibit camouflaging behavior – We’ve already discussed this aspect. The insect will position itself on top of a tree branch and sway from side to side to mimic the wind passing through. It’s a pretty good mechanism at rendering the insect invisible to predators like birds, reptiles, and even other insects.
- Use poison – I know I’ve said that stick insects are not poisonous because the vast majority of them aren’t. However, some species of stick insects will display vivid red or blue bodies to alert potential predators of their poisonous nature. Some can secrete poison, while other species are poisonous when eaten.
- Flee and hide – Some insect species possess colorful wings that they might use to scare off predators when nearby. If the insect senses a predator in its vicinity, it will flare its wings aggressively to confuse or rattle the intruder, then change its position. This will allow the insect to render itself invisible one more, relying on its camouflage to disappear from sight.
- Sacrifice its limbs – Just like some species of reptiles and other insects, the stick insect is able to regenerate its limbs if lost. This is a useful trait, seeing as the insect will often sacrifice one of its legs to escape a predator holding it.
4. Stick Insects Can Clone Themselves
Stick insects theoretically need males to reproduce, but not always. If the female has no access to males, it may begin to reproduce parthenogenetically. This pretentious term describes the process of the female laying eggs that will only hatch females. It is the closest you can get to cloning, especially since the eggs’ cells are genetically identical to those of the mother.
Nevertheless, the offspring are genetically different from the mother, which still puzzles scientists today.
The introduction of a male into the equation will give eggs a 50% chance of spawning a male insect.
5. Stick Insects Can Stay Motionless
The stick insect will spend most of its time motionless. Unlike other insects that jitter and move around, this one can’t afford that. It’s slender and weak body doesn’t help much in providing any real defensive capabilities. This forces the stick insect to rely on its camouflage to avoid predation.
The stick insect has developed such a natural-looking camouflage with time that its survival rate skyrocketed. The insect can stand perfectly still for a long time, especially if it senses any dangers nearby. Since it’s a nocturnal animal, its only real threat are bats, who can use echolocation to catch even the most subtle movements.
6. Stick Insects Can Change Their Color
Contrary to what the title suggests, the stick insect cannot change its color at will. Its color will change, however, depending on its habitat. A stick insect living in a lush, green environment will display green colors, matching the leaves and vegetation nearby.
If the same insect changes its habitat for one consisting of dead branches and brown leaves, the insect’s coloring will change with time. It won’t happen instantly, as it does in chameleons, but it will happen nonetheless.
This trait is just another defense mechanism, allowing the insect to blend within its habitat for a plus of protection.
7. Stick Insects Can Get Pretty Large
Seeing how we’re talking about an insect, the term ‘large’ is actually an understatement here. An even better term would be ‘colossal’. There are around 3,000 species of stick insects, each varying in appearance, size, and other specifics. Their sizes can vary between 1 inch and 12 inches in length, which is already enormous.
It’s even more interesting that some species have specimens capable of reaching 20 inches, including its leg length. This is 1.6 feet of an insect, which can make for a terrifying and exhilarating sight.
8. Some Stick Insects Have Wings
Some species of stick insects have large wings that they will generally keep tucked in. Studies show that close to 1,400 species of stick insects are fully winged, their wingspan and size varying greatly among the species.
Depending on their wing size, stick insects may use their wings for various purposes. Bigger wings are useful for flying to escape predators, find mates to reproduce, or even seek food. Even though they have large wings, stick insects will only use them when absolutely necessary.
Others use their wings to glide from one location to another with minimal flight involved. And, finally, stick insects with small wings will only use them to deter predators. They will flare them suddenly when predators are nearby then relocate to avoid the danger.
9. Stick Insects are Herbivores
The fact that stick insects are herbivores makes them a lot easier to keep as pets than their carnivore counterparts. Stick insects will consume a lot of plants, with each species preferring certain plants and leaves of the others. The most widespread food sources for stick insects include oak, bramble, hazel, privet, rose, ivy, eucalyptus, etc.
If you’re aiming to get a stick insect, gather more information about the species it belongs to. This will help you learn what the insect eats and how to set its living habitat to ensure optimal conditions.
10. Stick Insects Can Regrow Their Legs
As I’ve already mentioned, this is a defensive mechanism that protects stick insects from predators. Stick insects have long, weak bodies that are unfit for fighting off predators. Because of this, the stick insect had to improvise.
Evolution has provided the stick insect with amazing regenerative capabilities that are also common in reptiles. The insect has the ability to detach its own limb if caught by a predator. The severed limb will work as a distraction, allowing the insect to flee from the scene before the predator realizes what has happened.
This allows the insect to live another day without incurring any meaningful losses. After all, its limb will grow back in time.
The same process occurs during molting in case the insect’s leg gets stuck into the old cuticle, at which point the insect needs to separate it to survive. The insect will regenerate the lost limb during the following molting phases, each phase revealing a slightly larger leg.
Stick insects make for perfect pets for people who seek more exotic companions. They aren’t pretentious about their food, and they’re relatively easy to care. They require minimal maintenance as they only need a lush, humid environment to thrive and remain calm and happy.
I hope that this article has sparked your flame of interest towards the stick insect. If it did, make sure you gain as much info about this insect species as you can before purchasing a specimen.
If you wish to know more about them, check my other articles on the topic.