Do Stick Insects Eat Ivy?
Stick insects are known herbivores, so they’ll eat ivy as well. But you should be careful about the type of ivy you’re feeding your stick insects with. Not all types of ivy are good for them. Stick insects are picky eaters and won’t eat just about anything. Likewise, there are too many species of stick insects.
Some will eat all types of ivy, others will only eat a couple of types of ivy like the Shamrock Ivy or the Duckfoot Ivy. This article will explain whether you can feed ivy to your stick insects, where to find ivy, how to prepare the ivy, and what stick insects can eat other than ivy.
Keep reading to find out more about stick insects and ivy!
What Ivy Types are Safe for Stick Insects?
There are lots of varieties of Ivy plants. Some of the most popular outdoor species include the English Ivy, German Ivy, Irish Ivy, North African Ivy, and Persian Ivy. Some of the common indoor varieties include Shamrock Ivy, Buttercup Ivy, and Duckfoot Ivy. Given that they’re all part of the same genus (Hedera), they’re all likely to be safe for your stick insect.
Just be careful when looking for leaves, because some Ivy plants aren’t actually part of the Ivy family. True Ivies belong to the genus Hedera. Plants such as the Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus) or Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) aren’t really Ivy at all! Otherwise, most species of true Ivy plants are likely a good source of nutrients for your pets.
Just remember that the leaves should always be clean and free of insecticides and chemicals. Also, when picking the leaves, always look for the larger, darker ones! Immature leaves that are bright green are usually toxic for stick insects.
They have a higher concentration of plant oils and other compounds that are dangerous for insects. But as long as you pick dark-green leaves, everything’s going to be fine!
I should also mention that stick insects have an innate ability to detect whether a plant is toxic for them or not. So, if a particular species of Ivy plant is harmful to your bugs, they’ll simply avoid it. Stick insects are quite picky with what they eat. Some species don’t consume ivy at all, although most do.
The most common stick insect kept as a pet, the Indian Stick Insect, absolutely loves it! This is why Ivy is so often recommended as an ideal feed for stick insects. But given how many species of stick insects there are, it’s hard to tell exactly which type of Ivy your pet prefers. It’s often a trial-and-error process before discovering your bug’s favorite foods.
Where to Get Ivy for Your Stick Insects?
Ivy is often recommended as a dietary staple for stick insects. Luckily, it’s quite easy to find. It grows naturally in the wild, and there are Ivy varieties all over the world, including in western, southern, and central Europe, North Africa, as well as in central, south, and east Asia. They’ve also long been introduced to America and Australia.
You can easily find a variety of Ivy plants in any wooded area because these plants love climbing on trees. They often grow in forests, natural parks, or botanical gardens. You’ll also be able to find this plant year-long, because most Ivy species are evergreen. This plant is also highly resilient to temperature extremes and most types of weather, including rough weather.
Ivies are also very popular as indoor plants because they’re super easy to grow and care for. So, you can also grow your own in pots, using almost any type of soil. You’ll also be able to find small potted Ivy plants in most plant nurseries.
And if growing your own plants isn’t an ideal option for you, you can even find freshly cut sprigs on sale in some online shops. There are a few that specialize in delivering a variety of fresh, clean leaves for stick insects.
Whichever option you choose, always ensure that the plants you buy or gather haven’t been treated with any insecticides or other chemicals. These are lethal for your pet bugs.
How to Feed Ivy Leaves to Your Stick Insects?
So far, we’ve covered sourcing your Ivy leaves. This is as important as preparing them for being served. Just to reiterate, always make sure that the leaves are, first of all, free of insecticides.
Even if you wash the leaves at home, it’s hard to get all the dangerous chemicals out. Ingesting any amount can be fatal for your bugs. Growing your own Ivy at home is the best way to ensure that the leaves aren’t treated.
Second, when selecting the leaves, remember that they should be dark green. Young bright green leaves are toxic for stick insects. Young leaves of most plant species, in general, are either toxic or hard to digest for them. If you’re in doubt about certain leaves, better let them grow some more before picking.
Moving on to actually serving the leaves. The key point to consider here is freshness. Stick bugs won’t eat withered leaves. Not only do old leaves have less water, but their nutrient content is also lower than that of fresh leaves. Always pick the healthiest, freshest-looking leaves you can find.
To keep them fresh for as long as possible, serve the sprigs in a small water container. Don’t forget to take some safety precautions so that your bugs can’t fall in the water bowl! Place the container in the enclosure and spray the leaves a couple of times a day.
The water will keep the leaves hydrated and healthy for around a week. All you have to do is change the water regularly. Look at the sprigs every 2-3 days and remove any withering leaves.
Can Stick Insects Only Eat Ivy Leaves?
Stick insects are leaf lovers. They generally prefer eating the leaves and not the stems of ivy. This doesn’t just apply to ivy but to any other plant, stick insects eat. Many stick insect species are fussy and picky, and they may not eat ivy. While it’s not poisonous for them, they’ll leave it aside and prefer to starve.
On the other hand, the Indian stick insect can survive on a diet composed of only ivy leaves. There are polar opposites even in the same regnum, and the stick insect family is a perfect example of this.
Stick insects will only eat the leaves from ivy plants, though. Even those that are in love with ivy won’t eat the stem or other parts of the plant. And for most stick insect species, you’ll need to feed them with other plants as well. They won’t be able to live on ivy alone. Forcing them to do that will ruin their health in the long run.
What Other Leaves Can Stick Insects Eat?
Stick insects have a varied diet consisting of mainly green leaves and green plants. They’ll eat shrubs and leaves for the most part but any attractive part of a plant will get devoured by them. It’s good to know that every species of Stick insect has a staple plant that they love to eat.
Ivy is most often consumed by the Indian stick insect. But this species will eat other leaves, including blackberry leaves, which are preferred by all stick insect species. They may also eat oak and hawthorn leaves if they find some. Bramble is a perfect source of food for stick insects because it’s an evergreen plant.
Dark-colored leaves are what you’re looking for. Light-colored ones may be toxic to your stick insects. Oak and hazel are staple foods for stick insects but they’re not evergreen plants. So, you won’t find them during winter. Still, it’s good to know that whatever species of stick insect you have, they’ll surely eat hazel and oak leaves.
Stick insects also eat privet, rose, and eucalyptus leaves during adulthood. During the nymphal stage, stick insects eat oak leaves and shrubs that they can find near oak trees. They don’t move a lot and prefer to find food that’s near their nests.
The appetite of stick insects is nothing to scoff at. While some species eat ivy as a staple food, others won’t even look at it. But it’s not toxic to them, so you can try your luck. If your stick insect eats the ivy leaves, then you’re in luck. If it doesn’t eat the leaves, you’ll need to find different food for it.
If you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll reply as soon as possible!