What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Can you identify a black & white bug that ranges in size from 4" to1". They ride together piggy-back style (smaller one on top).We live in the Central FL region. This afternoon my husband’s facewas 6" away from a pair (they were on our gate when he was attempting to close it) and they shot outa stream of liquid into his eye. He said it felt like hot pepper in his eye.Any idea what this horrible insect is? We have seen hundreds of these around our house and in other peoples yards. BTW, he rinsed his eye and it seems to be okay, but we are very interested in this nasty bug.
Thank you.
Jane Pearce

Dear Jane,
Two things. Is it possible to send a photo? Also, are you saying the insects are from 4 to 1 inches in length? that is huge, four inches. Please clarify.

Yes, I am saying the bug on bottom is usually 4" long and they eitherhave a baby on top, or perhaps "a significant other". They are black with two white lines on top. After looking at all the pictures of bugs I canfind, I would say they are in the Mantis family (but what do I know?). We called our Fl Extension Office but the bug guy had left for the day.I am sure our local guy will know what this bug is, since we have seen many around our area. If you are interested, as soon as I find out the name, I’ll let you know. Unfortunately, I can’t send you a photo at this time. I just sorta of freaked when the nasty thing spewed something out into my husband’s eye, which burned. Your website was one of the first I cameupon. What state are you in?
Thanks and will let you know what we find out locally.

Please keep us informed, and we would love to have a photo. I have never heard of mantids spewing anything. Bombadier beetles will exude a substance from the anus, but they are tiny. Certain spiders can spit venom. The position you describe is the mating position, and in many insects the male is the smaller partner. This is true of mantids. Might it be a type ofwalking stick? Try doing a web search of that. Let us know whatever you find out.
Have a nice day.

I guess the nasty bug is a "walking stick" like you suggested. Here is a picture of one that "attacked" my husband. Most of the ones in our yard have mates on top (yes, the smaller one on top is the male we have learned). We contacted our County Extension Agent and she said they consider them to be "good" bugs. We do not since they really cause a nasty burning sensation when they spray people. I also contacted Univ of FL for more info. Will keep you informed if we learn anything else about them.
Thanks. Jane

Editor’s Note: Jane continued to do research and just got the following email from the University of Florida which clarified the spraying:
Dr. Hoy forwarded your message to me. It’s the two-lined walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides . In the case of the pairs, they are mating, and the smaller one on top is the male. It’s a common walkingstick in much of Florida, but you do have to be careful with them. As you already know, they will spray an acidic defensive chemical from the end of their abdomen. They often aim for the eyes, and the chemical can cause pain and temporary blindness. Pets often experience this. They feed on foliage, probably of various hardwood trees and shrubs. I’ve kept them in captivity for a while and fed them oak leaves. In the populations around the Ocala National Forest, the stripes are a much brighter shade of cream/white than in other parts of the state. If you have internet access, take a look at these websites for pictures and more info:
Lyle Buss
Insect Identification Laboratory
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

3 Responses to Two-lined Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides

  1. Bob McAndrews says:

    You may want to update your info on the spray defensive mechanism of this walking stick. The spray ducts are located just behind it’s head, not at the end of it’s abdomen.

    • bugman says:

      This is a very old posting, and we have since read what you have stated, that the spray ducts are located behind the head. We will let this comment section supply the information that contradicts the posting as the original information came to us from what we assume is some expert in the Department of Entomology from the University of FLorida. Perhaps Lyle buss was a student intern ten years ago.

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