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Walking sticks showing up all over South Texas

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You might of seen them on your patio lately or in the corner of the house. Walking sticks, are bugs from the Phasmida family look like sticks with legs and antennae, or twigs attached to a small branch.

There are more than 3,000 species of walking stick bugs all over the world and in diverse climates, so it's not surprising that not all walking stick bugs look alike. It depends on the trees in their native habitat. Walking stick bugs can actually evolve to look like an indigenous twig or branch. So if you aren't familiar with these strange insects here's the 4-1-1.

Stick insects hold the record for longest insects in the world. In 2008, a newly discovered stick insect species from Borneo broke the record for longest insect . The Chan's megastick, measures an incredible 22 inches with legs extended, with a body length of 14 inches.

A common misconception about stick insects is that they are highly venomous. That's not true at all, but If threatened, a stick insect will use whatever means necessary to thwart its attacker. Some will regurgitate a nasty substance that will put a bad taste in a hungry predator's mouth. Others reflex bleed, oozing a foul-smelling hemolymph from joints in their body. Stick insects may even direct a chemical spray, much like tear gas, at the offender.

They can shed and regenerate their limbs to escape attacks by predator. If a bird or other predator grab hold of a its leg, the stick insect can still make an easy escape. The imperiled insect simply gives up the leg, using a special muscle to break it off at a weak joint. This defensive strategy is known as autotomy. Juvenile stick insects will regenerate the missing limb the next time they molt. In some cases, adult stick insects can even force themselves to molt again to regain a lost leg.

Stick insects are so named for their effective camouflage among the woody plants where they feed. They're typically brown, black, or green, with stick-shaped bodies that help them blend in as they perch on twigs and branches. Some even wear lichen-like markings to make their disguise more authentic. Stick insects imitate twigs swaying in the wind by rocking back and forth as they move.

And they can play dead too! A threatened stick insect will abruptly drop from wherever it's perched, fall to the ground, and stay very still. A bird or mouse may be unable to find the immobile insect on the ground, or prefer living prey and move on.

Stick insects hold the record for longest insects in the world

In 2008, a newly discovered stick insect species from Borneo broke the record for longest insect (which had previously been held by another stick insect, Pharnacia serratipes). The Chan's megastick, Phobaeticus chain, measures an incredible 22 inches with legs extended, with a body length of 14 inches.

So there you go, everything you'd ever want to know about our weird little friends. Now check out some pictures that viewers have sent in:


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