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Indian Stick Insect

Carausius morosus

Description:

Indian stick insects (also known as “walking sticks”) are brown or green in color. They have long thin bodies with six legs and two small antennae on the head. The front two legs are used as “feelers” and are often held in front of the body.

Size:

An Indian stick insect can grow to be 2.75-4 inches (7.0-10.2cm) long.

Adaptations:

The walking stick’s ability to camouflage is its best defense against predators. To avoid being seen, walking sticks often feed at night and remain motionless during the day. If they encounter a predator, walking sticks extend their front legs straight out past their heads and remain completely motionless to help them blend in with the branch they are standing on.

Diet:

In the wild, walking sticks consume the leaves from the trees they inhabit. The walking sticks at Cosley Zoo are fed oak leaves and romaine lettuce.

Reproduction:

Indian stick insects reproduce mainly asexually (meaning that they do not need a mate to reproduce). Females drop eggs as they feed or rest and leave them to hatch, which takes 10-12 weeks. Young walking sticks reach adult size 4-6 weeks after hatching.

Shelter and space needs:

Walking sticks spend the great majority of their lives in trees and other plants. The plants provide food for these insects and serve as their shelter.

Life expectancy:

The life expectancy of an Indian stick insect is about one year.

Relationship with man:

Walking sticks are common prey animals for many predators, including birds, reptiles, rodents, spiders, and other insects. This makes them an important part of the food chain.

Fun Facts:

  • There are about 2,000 species of walking sticks in the world. Ten of these live in North America.
  • Because this type of walking stick can reproduce asexually, males are rare. There are far more female than male Indian stick insects.
  • Annam stick insects are part of the order Phasmatodea, which comes from the Latin word “phasma”. This word means “ghost” and describes the remarkable ability of these insects to hide unseen by their predators.
  • Walking sticks can regenerate legs that have come off or that have been damaged.

Photo Credit: Pasha Kirillov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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