Monday, October 21, 2013

Walking Sticks... Who knew?

Walking Sticks... I didn’t know much about them so I had to do some research. Stick insects are part of the Phasmida order (3000 different species), the name of which is derived from a Greek word meaning “apparition.” Their average life span in the wild is up to 3 years. They have apparently become a favourite pet. Imagine taking your “walking stick” out for a walk...
The stick insect resembles the twigs among which it lives making it super camouflaged until they stray on to another surface. Females are normally larger than males. Many stick insects feign death to thwart predators, and some will shed the occasional limb to escape an enemy’s grasp. Others swipe at predators with their spine-covered legs, while one North American species emits a putrid-smelling fluid.
This is the common Northern Walkingstick. They feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees as well as clover (my lawn). Adult walkingsticks mate in the fall. Females drop eggs, one at a time, from the treetops. Eggs overwinter in leaf litter, and nymphs hatch the following spring. Walkingstick nymphs look like tiny adults and are only a few millimeters long when they are born. The nymphs wait until nightfall, then crawl up onto small plants. They continue to eat and grow, staying amongst leaves and twigs where they are well hidden. As they get bigger, they climb higher, until they are in the tops of tall trees.
Who knew?

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