Subject: Is this a walking stick or???
Geographic location of the bug: Florida Ocala area
Time: 07:39 AM EDT
I have found many of these this fall around my porch and a few under my mobile home. I am worried because I need to work under the mobile and wonder if a bite or sting is possible. How do I get rid of them?
How you want your letter signed: Freaked Out
Dear Freaked Out,
These are indeed mating Walkingsticks. Commonly called Muskmares, adult Southern Two-Lined Walkingsticks, Anisomorpha buprestoides, are frequently encountered as mating pairs. Of the species, BugGuide indicates: “Three color forms, two of them only found in limited areas: White form, only found around Ocala National Forest, Orange form, only found around Archbold Biological Station.” It appears you have a small white form male (you are in Ocala) mating with an orange female, so perhaps the orange form is increasing its range. Though they do not sting nor bite, they do have an effective defense mechanism that should concern you. According to Featured Creatures: “this species is capable of squirting a strong-smelling defensive spray that is painfully irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.” According to Wilderness & Environmental Medicine: “this phasmid’s intriguing, elongated body shape makes its existence well known, most are unaware of its chemical defense mechanism for warding off predators. Anisomorpha buprestoides, a common walkingstick in the southeastern United States, has the ability to eject an offensive spray from its thorax with pronounced accuracy. Although birds, spiders, and reptiles are likely their main nemeses, they take no pity on threatening mammals, including reported cases involving canines and humans. The arthropods target the eyes and have caused documented ocular injury ranging from conjunctivitis to corneal ulceration.”