The Care of Stick-Insects

There are nearly 3 000 species of Stick-Insect (Phasmida) in the world all of which feed exclusively on vegetation, they are one of the most popular forms of insect life to be kept as pets.

Housing

In general the more common species of Stick-Insect can be kept together though if you are breeding more difficult species then it pays to use separate cages to create individual requirements.

Temperature

Most Sticks come from tropical or semi-tropical environments and are happiest between 75F and 80F, though the common Indian Stick-Insect Carausius morosus and some of its relatives are happy at normal home temperatures of between 60F and 75 F or 24C. Heating is best achieved by maintaining a whole room at the desired temperature, if this is not possible an electric light bulb can be used over small cages. It is important to make sure the Stick-Insects can not reach the light bulb as they will burn them selves on it. A red bulb should be used during the hours of darkness as this disturbs the Sticks far less.

 

 


Cage Construction

Because most Stick-Insects are long thin animals which hang down from their food plants to shed their skins it is most important that the cage have sufficient height, as a general rule it should be three times as high as the adult length of the Stick-Insects to be kept in it.

It is also useful to have it so designed that you can easily replace the food plant material whenever it is required taking into consideration that this will mostly be brambles (i.e. spiny rubus sp).

Humidity

Not all sticks share a common need for humidity, some species such as Carausius morosus will be happy to live in a fairly open cage whereas others such as Epidares nolimetangere will require an almost if not totally enclosed cage with around 80% relative humidity. Regardless of this all Sticks need water and it is a good policy to thoroughly mist the inside of the cage including all the food plant material each evening before you go to bed or before lights out. Some Stick-Insects such as Haaniella spneed open water in a low bowl to drink, don't be to concerned if they leave their heads under water remember that insect breath threw their thoracic and abdominal spiracles not through their mouths like us. Note also that in some places tap water can harm some species so it doesn't hurt to use either rain water or to let the tap water stand for a day or two.

Food

Almost all Stick-Insects eat the leaves of bramble/blackberry and its relatives of the genus rubus and many such as the Indian or Laboratory Stick-Insect Carausius morosus, the Australian or Giant Spiny Stick-Insect Extatosoma tiaratum, the Thorn Legged Stick-Insect Eurycantha calcarata, the Small Spiny Stick-Insect Aretaon assperrimus and the Jungle Nymph Heteropteyx dilatata will also enjoy plants like Oak Quercus sp and Hawthorn Crateagus monogyna. It is important to make sure that your sticks always have plenty of fresh food, and it is often wise to take from sites not to close to major road ways to avoid the poisoning effects of various pollutants, if this is unavoidable then the plant material should be washed before being offered to the Sticks.

Handling

Great care should be taken in handling stick insects at all times, remember they are living creatures just like you. some species such as the Indian or Laboratory Stick-Insect Carausius morosusand the Australian or Giant Spiny Stick-Insect Extatosoma tiaratum are relatively sturdy and these should be used when allowing younger children or people who could be frightened to handle the Sticks. Note that some species such as Pink Wings Sipyloidea sipylus tend to lose their legs very easily. Also it should be noted that some species such as the Australian or Giant Spiny Stick-Insect Extatosoma tiaratum, the Jungle Nymph Heteropteyx dilatata and particularly the Thorn Legged Stick-Insect Eurycantha calcarata can and will pinch (with their thorny limbs) and bite if not used to being handled, while other species such as the American Walking Stick Anisomorpha bupestroides and to a lesser extent Pink Wings Sipyloidea sipylus have a defensive chemical spray which in the case of American Walking Stick Anisomorpha bupestroides can cause temporary blindness and considerable pain to an adult.

Breeding

A number of species of Stick-Insect are parthenogenetic (i.e. the females lay unfertilised eggs which hatch into females which will also lay unfertilised eggs etc.) such as Indian or Laboratory Stick-Insect Carausius morosus while the majority of species go in for a more normal male female system. All Stick-Insects lay eggs, some just drop them onto the ground, some sick them under tree bark or into crevices and some bury them in the ground. If you keep the burying species such as the Small Spiny Stick-Insect Aretaon assperrimus, the Thorn Legged Stick-Insect Eurycantha calcarata or the Untouchable Stick-Insect Epidares nolimetangere you will need to ensure a container of damp peat, about 2 inches deep in the bottom of the cage once the females are adult. Stick-Insect eggs can take from between 2 months and a year to hatch depending on species, in general the larger species are the ones which take longest though not always.

You can either not bother cleaning out the cage floor and let the sticks hatch as they want, in this case it is useful to keep some common Woodlice such as Pocellio scaber in the cage to help keep down the fungus. Or you can collect the eggs each time you clean the cage and keep them in separate containers until they hatch. In this case the eggs of the burying species will need to be gently reburied about 1cm deep, and the rest will need to be kept on some absorbent material such as sand, all will need to be kept in a warm place and spraying with moisture occasionally will help, a careful/daily watch should be kept for moulds and attacked ova/eggs removed cleaned an then kept in a separate container.

 

 



For more information why not have a look at the 'Order Phasmida' page or contact the Phasmid Study Group.

Book Review


The Amazing World of Stick and Leaf Insects by Paul D Brock
Stick Insects of Britain, Europe and the Mediterranean by Paul Brock.

Phasmids on the Web


The Phasmid Study Group Species List
Phasmid Study Group.
The Order Phasmida an Introduction to Stick Insects and their biology
The Sticklist A listserver for enthusiasts
Klaus Lipinski's Phasmid Page (about ova mostly) and entirely in German.
Eggs and Classification: the Phasmid connection
Buggles A mad American and his Buggles
Mark Watson's Stick Insect Page
Tropische Insekten halten und züchten Also only in German at the moment.
A Stick Insect comes to visit! From Australia
Australian Museum on-line
Twostriped walkingstick
Terrestrial Insects Phasmatodea (Walking Sticks)
Phasmida (Phasmatodea)
Walking Sticks: The Perfect Insect Pet
Northern Walking Stick Diapheromera femorata
Charmayne's Stick-Insects/Phasmids
Arizona Walkingstick
Carausius morosus In German
Phasmids at the tree of life.
3 Photos Including an Anisomorpha sp.
Stick Insects with a nice stamp from Barbados
A Photo love story with Oreophotes Peruanus
Tony and Charlotte's Stick Insect Page

Picture Parade


Heteropteryx dilatata PSG No 18 a 5th instar Female. JPG 16K
Eurycantha calcarata PSG No 23 a 5th instar Female. JPG 28K
Eurycantha calcarata PSG No 23 an Adult Male.JPG 35k
Eurycantha calcarata PSG No 23 the same guy again, this time with a pen for size .JPG 71k
Aretaon asperrimus PSG No 118 a 1st instar JPG 30K courtesy of Rob Lind
Aretaon asperrimus PSG No 118 a 2st instar ? JPG 51K courtesy of Rob Lind
Aretaon asperrimus PSG No 118 a 3st instar ? JPG 48K courtesy of Rob Lind
Aretaon asperrimus PSG No 118 a 4th instar Female. JPG 28K
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9 a 1st instar JPG 43K courtesy of Rob Lind
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9 a 1st instar JPG 39K courtesy of Rob Lind
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9some ova JPG 59K courtesy of Rob Lind
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9 a 3rd instar female, JPG 35K
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9 Female Imago JPG 30K courtesy of Rob Lind
Extatosoma tiaratum PSG No 9Closeup of the head of the above. JPG 24K courtesy of Rob Lind
Heteropteryx dilatata PSG No 18some ova JPG 59K courtesy of Rob Lind
Guessus whatum PSG No ?An unidentified nymph JPG26K Curtesy of Rob Lind
Phillium bioculatum PSG No 10 JPG 23K courtesy of Ulrich Ziegler
Centrophasma hadrillus PSG No 146 Female Imago JPG 34K courtesy of Phil Bragg
Epidare nolimetangere PSG No 99 Female Imago JPG 20K courtesy of PHil Bragg
Haaniella grayii PSG No 125 Male JPG 40K courtesy of Phil Bragg
Pharncacia kirbyi PSG No Mating pair JPG 26K courtesy of Phil Bragg

Ova

Some scanning electron microscope images of Stick-Insect eggs courtesy of Klaus Lipinski. Klaus has his own Phasmid page (about ova mostly) and if you like looking at Phasmid eggs there are a lot more images there, the site is entirely in German.


The Warty Stick-InsectThis species is scientifically un-named at the present. 60K JPG
Aplopus sp. 45K JPG
Baculum extradentatum 100K JPG
Calynda sp. 70K JPG
Eurycantha coriacea 52K JPG
Lamponius guerini 87K JPG
Lonchodes haematomus138K JPG
Lonchodes everetti 60K JPG
Paramenexenus laetus 53K JPG
Trachythorax maculicollis 67K JPG

Thanks to Phil Bragg PSG Membership No (445), Rob Lind PSG Membership No (315), Ulrich Ziegler PSG Membership No (233) and Klaus Lipinski for the images they have donated

 

 

Have You Seen The Other Earthlife Web Chapters
The Home Page of the Fish The Birds Home Page The Insects Home Page The Mammals Home Page The Prokaryotes Home Page The Lichens Home Page







Index Gif               

 

 

This page was designed and written by Mr Gordon Ramel

 

 

Advertising Inquiries

         Disclaimer, Copyright and Privacy