Are Walking Sticks Poisonous? Debunking the Myths and Facts

Walkingsticks are fascinating insects known for their elongated bodies and ability to camouflage themselves amongst branches and foliage.

The primary species found in North America is the Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata).

These insects typically measure between 3.5-4 inches in length and are wingless in most cases.

Are Walking Sticks Poisonous
Walkingstick

Though intriguing, a common question that arises with encountering these creatures is whether or not they are poisonous.

The term “poisonous” can mean a few different things in our context.

In the case of walking sticks, it is important to note that they are not venomous and do not have harmful toxins that can be transferred through bites or stings.

However, it’s always a good idea to practice caution around any unfamiliar insects or animals, as individual reactions can vary.

Are Walking Sticks Poisonous

Venom and Chemical Spray

Walking sticks are insects known for their impressive camouflage abilities.

The majority of walking stick species, like the Northern Walkingstick, do not possess venom or a harmful sting.

However, some walking stick species have a defense mechanism involving a chemical spray. This spray contains a toxic substance that deters predators.

Walkingstick

Harmful Effects on Humans and Animals

While most walking sticks are considered harmless, those that use chemical spray as a means of defense have the potential to cause harm to humans and animals.

  • For humans, direct contact with the spray may lead to temporary blindness or irritation of the eyes and skin.
  • Animals that come across these walking sticks might also feel the negative effects of the toxic spray.
FeatureWalking Sticks
VenomNo
StingNo
Chemical SpraySome species
Harmful to humansPotentially (chemical spray)
Harmful to animalsPotentially (chemical spray)

Different Species of Walking Sticks

Stick Insects and Twig Mimicry

Stick insects, also known as phasmids, belong to the Phasmatodea order of insects.

Examples of such insects include the Northern walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata), which is wingless and native to North America.

They have a unique feature of their thorax making up one-half of their body length, allowing them to blend in with twigs.

Some characteristics of stick insects:

  • Wingless
  • Long, slender legs
  • Long thread-like antennae

Leaf Insects and Camouflage

Leaf insects, also belonging to the Phasmatodea order, have evolved to resemble leaves for camouflage.

They have a flat, broad body, and their legs have leaf-like structures. This allows them to hide among foliage from predators.

Some features of leaf insects:

  • Flat, broad body
  • Leaf-like structures on legs

A comparison table between stick insects and leaf insects:

Insect TypeBody ShapeMimicryNotable Species
Stick InsectsLong, slenderTwig-likeNorthern walkingstick (D. femorata)
Leaf InsectsFlat, broadLeaf-likeN/A

Walkingstick

Defense Mechanisms and Predators

Coloration and Body Structure

Walking sticks rely on their camouflage to protect themselves from predators.

They have a few features that help them blend into their surroundings:

  • Resemble twigs or branches
  • Light brown or green color
  • Elongated, thin body

These features make it difficult for predators such as birds, spiders, reptiles, ants, and bats to detect them.

Other Adaptive Features

In addition to camouflage, walking sticks possess other defense mechanisms.

One notable feature is autotomy, which allows them to shed their appendages to escape predators.

Some walking stick species have chemical defenses.

For example, Florida walkingsticks can squirt a highly irritating liquid into the face of a potential predator, earning them the nickname “Musk-mare.”

FeatureWalking StickOther Insect
CamouflageResembles twigs or branchesVaries by species
AutotomyShed appendages for escapeNot common in all insects
Chemical DefenseSome species (e.g., Florida walkingsticks)Varies by species

By using a combination of these defense mechanisms, walking sticks effectively protect themselves in the wild.

Habitat and Conservation Concerns

Natural Habitats and Range

Walking sticks are fascinating insects with a variety of species worldwide.

The common walking stick found in the southeastern United States ranges in length from 2 2/3 to 4 inches. These insects thrive in:

  • Forests
  • Woodlands
  • Gardens

Two-Striped Walkingsticks Mating

Threats and Conservation Efforts

Walking sticks face several threats, such as:

  • Habitat destruction: As forests and woodlands are cleared for urban development, their natural habitat is lost.
  • Pesticide use: The use of chemicals in agriculture and gardens can harm walking sticks and their environment.

Conservation efforts focus on:

  • Promoting sustainable land use practices
  • Reducing pesticide use
  • Preserving green spaces in urban areas

Green and brown walking sticks differ in color, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings. Below is a comparison table of their characteristics:

FeatureGreen Walking StickBrown Walking Stick
ColorGreenBrown
CamouflageLeavesBranches

These insects play a crucial role in the ecosystem, and conservation initiatives help protect their habitat, ensuring their survival.

Walking Stick Insects as Pets

Pet Trade and Captivity Requirements

Walking stick insects are popular pets in the pet trade due to their unique appearance and docile nature.

Their ideal captivity requirements include:

  • Terrarium size: A tall terrarium with adequate ventilation
  • Temperature: Mild and consistent, around 70-85°F
  • Humidity: Moderate, about 60-70%
  • Diet: Primarily leaves from various plants, such as bramble, oak, and rose

Potential Risks for Pet Owners

Although walking stick insects are generally considered safe pets, they still come with some potential risks for pet owners:

  • Escape: Walkingsticks are excellent at camouflage, making them difficult to find if they escape their enclosure
  • Predation: Mother nature may lead other pets or insects to prey on walking stick insects

Walking stick insects can be compared to other pet invertebrates, like praying mantises and tarantulas, in terms of their specific care requirements:

Pet InsectSize of TerrariumHumidityDiet
WalkingstickTall and ventilated60-70%Plant leaves
Praying MantisTall and ventilated40-70%Small insects (live)
TarantulaWide and ventilated50-80%Insects, small vertebrates

While walking stick insects might not be for everyone, they are an interesting choice for those looking to explore the fascinating world of invertebrate pets.

Striped Walkingstick

Reproduction and Development

Mating and Eggs

Northern walkingsticks (Diapheromera femorata) exhibit interesting reproductive behaviors.

Males search for females, who release pheromones to attract them.

Once they find a partner, the pair mates, and the female lays her eggs. Here are some key features of their reproduction:

  • Males are smaller than females
  • Females lay eggs individually or in small groups
  • Some species are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction, where females produce offspring without mating

Growth and Maturity

The life cycle of a walking stick begins as an egg, followed by several nymph stages, and eventually reaches maturity.

The process involves a series of molts, during which the nymph sheds its old exoskeleton and emerges with a new one.

Growth and maturity details include:

  • After hatching, nymphs resemble small adults
  • Nymphs molt multiple times before reaching maturity
  • Molting frequency varies among species

Here’s a comparison between nymphs and adults:

 NymphAdult
AppearanceResemble adultsLarger size
GrowthMolting stagesMature
ActivityFeeding, growthReproduction

Unidentified Walkingstick

Interesting Facts about Walking Sticks

Some interesting facts about walking sticks include their ability to regenerate limbs, size variations, and unique species found in different regions.

  • Walking sticks can regenerate limbs if they lose one, which is an amazing survival adaptation.
  • They come in various sizes, with one Texas species, Megaphasma dentricus, being the longest insect, almost 7 inches long.

One notable species of walking stick is the Eurycantha horrida, which has leg spines that add to its defensive capabilities.

Another interesting species is the two-striped walking stick, especially found in Florida, known for its unique markings and ability to release defensive chemicals.

Here’s a quick comparison of the two species:

SpeciesUnique Characteristics
Eurycantha horridaLeg spines for defense
Two-striped Walking StickDistinct markings, releases chemicals

In summary:

  • Walking sticks display remarkable abilities like limb regeneration and camouflage.
  • There are various species of walking sticks, each with unique characteristics.
  • Leg spines and chemical defenses are some examples of their survival adaptations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Walkingsticks are not generally considered poisonous.

They are herbivorous insects known for their remarkable camouflage that resembles twigs or branches.

While they do have some defense mechanisms, such as spines or the ability to exude foul-smelling liquids, they are not toxic to humans.

Their primary method of defense is to blend into their surroundings to avoid being eaten by predators.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Children’s Stick Insect from Australia

Can u name this insect please?
January 6, 2010
Large flying insect landed in pool (and assumed drowned). we live in northern Sydney area (Australia) with loads of bush surrounding area.
Thank you, Craig
Sydney Australia

Children's Stick Insect
Children’s Stick Insect

Hi Craig,
What a gorgeous female Children’s Stick Insect she is.  It is sad she met such an untimely end.  We identified the species, Tropidoderus childrenii on the Brisbane Insect website, and then found a nice Oz Animals page that indicates: 

“Children’s Stick Insect is a medium sized stick insect. Females are larger and bulkier than males, and usually green, but can also be pinkish or cream. The wings are yellowish with bright patches of yellow and blue at the base. Males are slender and light reddish brown.

Both males and both the males and females have two pairs of wings. Males are strong fliers, but females are too bulky to fly well. They rely on camouflage to avoid predators.

When threatened, Children’s Stick Insect will spread its wings showing the yellow and blue markings. Nymphs have a yellow stripe running along the length of the body. When at rest, the nymphs will align themselves on the leaf so yellow stripe aligns with the leaf midvein.” 

Peter Miller’s website states the Children’s Stick Insect is also called a Yellow Winged Spectre. The Children’s Stick Insect feeds on the leaves of eucalyptus.

Children's Stick Insect
Children’s Stick Insect

Thanks Daniel really appreciate it cheers Craig

Letter 2 – Chilincoco: Walkingstick from Honduras might be new species!!!

Honduras: Huge beetle
Location: El Piliguin, Honduras, Central America
November 17, 2011 11:38 am
Evening Mr. Bugman, I recently encountered this huge beetle in Piliguin Mountain, Honduras, Central America. It appears to be a Rove Beetle of some sort, however it far exceeds the size descriptions i have come across.

It was hidden under rocky terrain and the approximate length was around 9.0-10.0 cm. (90-100 mm). Thank you in advance 🙂
Signature: Medjai

Chilincoco:  Walkingstick

Deam Medjai,
This positively gorgeous creature is a Walkingstick or Phasmid.  Our initial search did not provide any conclusive species or genus identification, but your individual reminds us of an Ecuadorean Walkingstick we posted in the past from the genus
Monticomorpha. 

Most of the species in the genus have a range limited to Andean highlands, but your email indicates that this individual was found on a mountain.  We suspect your individual is closely related and perhaps a member of the same genus, and possibly an undescribed species or a known species with an undocumented range. 

We hope we are able to turn up something conclusive for you.  The Phasmatodea.com site has some photos of mounted specimens and names of the genus members.

Walkingstick

Often red and black coloration is considered aposomatic or warning coloration, and there are Walkingsticks in the family Pseudophasmatidae, that includes Monticomorpha, that are capable of spraying a noxious chemical with amazing accuracy, including the North American Muskmare.

Chilincoco:  Walkingstick

Update
December 6, 2011
A comment posted today indicates that this lovely Walkingstick is in the genus
Autolyca and that chances are good it is a species new to science.

Update
January 9, 2014
We just received a comment in Spanish from Leonel who wrote:  “En Honduras a este fásmido se le conocce con el nombre de “chilincoco” y se considera venoso por su secreción.”
 

If our Spanish isn’t too rusty, we believe this state:  In Honduras this phasmid is called by the name “chilincoco” and it is considered venomous because of its secretions.  This lends weight to our speculation that like the Muskmare, it can produce a noxious spray.

Letter 3 – Female Arizona Walkingstick

Subject: Stick Insect Identification
Location: Yavapai County
November 9, 2015 6:13 pm
Good afternoon,
I found a beautiful walking stick (4 inches head to tail) this morning in Skull Valley, Arizona. This is in Yavapai County and is considered high desert. I’ve done quite a bit of online research to find an identification, but have come up without any real answers.

Closest I could guess is that it is a Northern Walking Stick, but the antennae are very long (about 1.5 inches). The insect is a grey color and has really unique banding on its legs. Please let me know what you think this critter is! Thank you!
Signature: Tiffany Johnson

Arizona Walkingstick
Female Arizona Walkingstick

Dear Tiffany,
We believe, after browsing through images on BugGuide, that we have identified your individual as an Arizona Walkingstick,
Diapheromera arizonensis, a species reported solely from the state of Arizona on BugGuide

Furthermore, we believe she is a female based on this nice series of close-up details posted to BugGuide.  There is also a nice image posted to pBase.

Female Arizona Walkingstick
Female Arizona Walkingstick

Daniel,
Thank you so very much for your research. You provide such a wonderful resource for the bug-curious. Again, thank you for your time and help!
Sincerely,
Tiffany Johnson

Letter 4 – Giant Stick Insect from South Africa

Subject: Massive Stick Bug!
Location: Marloth Park, South Africa
May 13, 2014 10:45 am
Hello Bugman,
Kenda here. A friend of mine, Jo, is more than happy to share his photo of a Stick Bug that he took in Marloth Park, South Africa.
Cheers,
Signature: Kenda

Giant Stick Insect
Giant Stick Insect

Hi Kenda,
My, that is a large Giant Stick Insect, and the arm provides a great sense of scale.  We hope to provide a species identification when we have additional time to conduct some research. 

We quickly found a reference to Bactrododema krugeri on the Siyabona Africa website where it states:  “The giant stick insect, Bactrododema krugeri, was only recently named. This amazing insect is almost 30cm long when its legs are stretched out.

The female stick insect has a longer body than the male, with a length of 193mm compared to 163mm. However, when legs are taken into account the male is 295mm long compared to the female’s 226mm.

It took a British stick insect enthusiast to realise that it was a new species and to name the large insect – Paul Brock, author of several books on stick insects, visited South Africa last year.

During his travels he visited the Kruger National Park, the Transvaal Museum and the National Collection in Pretoria. With his expert knowledge, he realised that a specimen collected by Leo Braack in a knobthorn in Skukuza Camp was a new species. It had previously been thought to be another similar species in the insect collections.” 

Giant Stick Insect
Giant Stick Insect

Thank you, Bugman! Very interesting information. I’ll tell my friend, Jo, who will be happy to know he contributed to providing an image of a what appears to be a new species. Stick bugs are already amazing, but this one is incredible!
Cheers!
Kenda

Letter 5 – Darwin Stick Insect from Australia

Goliath Stick Insect – short on legs
Location:  Boodjamulla National Park, Queensland, Australia
October 13, 2010 7:06 am
Hi,
this is just to enjoy: attached a couple of pics of a beautiful Goliath Stick Insect, taken 19.04.2010 in Boodjamulla National Park, Queensland, Australia.

It was huge – that is a large man’s large hand beside it – and seemed to be in good health even with two legs missing…
(i resized the pictures for uploading, if you would like the originals, just say the word)
Yours
Signature:  St. Jules

Darwin Stick Insect

Dear St. Jules,
The Goliath Stick Insect,
Eurycnema goliath, is an impressive creature, even if shy a few legs.  More information on one of Australia’s largest Phasmids can be found on Oz Animals.

Correction
December 6, 2011
Thanks to a comment, we have been informed that this is a Darwin Stick Insect,
Eurycnema osiris, and we found an illustration by Emily S. Samstra who does Science Illustration

Though FlickR is not necessarily a reliable source, we did find this information:  “This phasmid (Eurycnema osiris) is extremely common in the Northern Territory and may be found in many domestic gardens. have been rearing this species very easily for quite some time now and have distributed it to many people in the PSG.

It thrives on acacia, cypress pine, eucalyptus and guava.   Body length: male 115-134 mm, female 170-221 mm.  Coloration: Green in female with bold pink longitudinal band on mesonotum, greenish brown in male.”  That would indicate that this image is a female and perhaps the pink stripe that is barely visible was the identifying feature.

Letter 6 – Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Subject: Preying Mantis
Location: Queensland, Australia
September 21, 2012 6:15 pm
I believe that this photo taken by my brother in his garden in Australia, if of an esxstatosoma tiaratum.
Are these found anywhere else?
Signature: bcnu

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Dear bcnu,
You have correctly identified though misspelled this creature as
Extatosoma tiaratum, but it is not a Preying Mantis.  It is a Phasmid or Stick Insect.  It is commonly called the Giant Prickly Stick Insect or Macleay’s Spectre Stick Insect and it is found in Australia and New Guinea according to the Keeping Insects care sheet. 

The Keeping Insects care sheet provides this information on Breeding the Giant Prickly Stick Insect:  “Males and females are easily distinguishable. Adult females are big, heavy and do not have large wings. The males are long and slender and have very long wings that reach past the abdomen.

Males have very long antennae, this can already be seen in young nymphs (L5 onwards). The differences in size and body type become more and more evident as the nymphs grow.  Extatosoma tiaratum can reproduce both parthenogenetically and sexually. When the female does not mate, she will lay eggs that develop into females.

When she does mate, she will lay eggs that will develop into both males and females. The nymphs born from parthenogenic eggs are often weaker and the eggs need almost twice the time to hatch than fertilized eggs do.” 

Because Extatosoma tiaratum is a popular pet, there are numerous other care sheets available online including Phasmids in Cyberspace, Whisper of Wolf, Exotic Pets and Reptile Expert.  Your individual appears to be one of the forms that mimics lichen.  

Letter 7 – Common Stick Grasshopper from South Africa

Subject: unknown grasshopper in the Cederberg Mountains
Location: Cederberg Mountains, Western Cape, South Africa
January 1, 2014 11:44 am
Hi There
We were on holiday in the Cederberg Mountains and found this grasshopper – we cannot identify him using the books we have. Does anyone know what he is?
Signature: Emma Theron

Stick Grasshopper
Common Stick Grasshopper

Hi Emma,
We began working on your identification yesterday, but we were never able to complete the posting.  The antennae on your Grasshopper are very distinctive, and we found a similar looking Stick Grasshopper from South Africa, but with different coloration, on PHotographs from South Africa, however, it is not identified by a scientific name. 

We also located a similar but unidentified Grasshopper on FlickR.  There is a small photo posted to Birding in Africa that is identified as a Common Stick Grasshopper, Acrida acuminata.  Images of mounted specimens and a range map are available on Orthoptera Species File

There is a very amazing photo on Natures World of Wonder South Africa.  All online images seem to be green, and we don’t know if your brown individual is a different species, or a color variation.  It might also be an immature specimen.

Common Stick Grasshopper
Common Stick Grasshopper

Thanks so much for the info Daniel – I looked up Common Stick Grasshopper in our boom (Field Guide to Insects of South Africa) and it has this to say (Large, elongate, green or straw-coloured (occasionally striped) with yellow or purplish hind wings.
It was definitely a straw colour with stripes so that must be it!
Kind Regards,
Emma

Thanks for the update Emma.

Letter 8 – A Mating Frenzy of Two-Lined Walkingsticks

A lek of two-lined walking sticks?
You run a great website, and I was able to use it to identify these insects as Two-lined Walkingsticks, Anisomorpha buprestoides.

But I’ve never seen them in a group like this, so I thought you might be interested in seeing them. Have you ever seen them do this? A whole bunch of walking sticks were grouped together on a palm frond which vines had curled over somewhat.

They were making clicking sounds and it looked like the males were fighting with each other to mate, hitting each other with their front legs. Here are the pictures, which
I took at Biven’s Arm Nature Park in Gainesville, FL.
Gary

Hi Gary,
We are impressed with what looks to be a mating frenzy of Muskmares. We will see if Eric Eaton has an opinion on this strange occurrence.

Letter 9 – Andean Insect: Walkingstick

Andean insect with funny tail
March 23, 2010
Found this guy In the Ecuadorian Andes mountains around 12 or 13,000 feet. He seemed to be looking down into a hole in the moss and moved very little.

No other bugs present that I could see. Saw one other walking but didn’t take a picture. It seems that the tail lays flat when they walk.
Samuel
Cajas National Park, Cuenca, Ecuador

Walkingstick

Hi Samuel,
We wish you had a photo from the front as well as the rear.  We don’t know for certain, but we believe this may be a Rove Beetle.  We hope to get some confirmation.

Update: January 4, 2011
An identification request that just arrived leads us to believe that this is more likely a Phasmid or Walkingstick than a Rove Beetle.

Letter 10 – Another Walkingstick from Puerto Rico

walking stick
Location: Patillas, Puerto Rico
March 19, 2011 7:43 am
Thanks for id help with this beautiful walking stick.
Patillas, Puerto Rico, elev 600m.
About 4 inches long and nearly half a cm wide.
Signature: 3t Vakil

Walkingstick

Hi again 3t Vakil,
We are not entirely convinced this is a distinct species from your previous submission.  It may be an immature specimen, and often there is variability in coloration within a species.  Hopefully we will be able to provide you with a species identification in the future.

Letter 11 – Brazilian Stick Mantis we believe

File uploading failed
February 2, 2010
What kind of mantis is this?
I found this mantis(I presume) on the livingroom floor in Brasil. Can you tell me what kind it is?

Brazilian Stick Mantis

I’ve put it on a branch to take a beter picture without noticing that there was another mantis on it allready(I only found out when I looked at the pics on the computer). I hope they didn’t eat eachother…
Regards,
Pieter
Paracuru, Brasil

Brazilian Stick Mantis

Hi Pieter,
We are very happy we wrote back to you and were able to guide you into uploading your images.  Upon viewing your photos, we were struck by the visual similarities to Brunner’s Mantis from Texas, an unusual species is a race of females that reproduces parthenogenically, without the need for insemination by a male.  The closest relatives are in South America. 

We believe this might be the Brazilian Stick Mantis, Brunneria brasiliensis, though we have no images to verify that identification.  According to BugGuide, Brunner’s Mantis can be identified by:  “distinctive fine serations along sides of thorax …. Thick antennal base characterizes this species. Wings reduced–flightless.”

Your specimen appears to have the fine serrations along the thorax, and the wings are similar to the Brunner’s Mantis images on BugGuide.  The EyePlorer website indicates “Brunneria brasiliensis, common name Brazilian Stick Mantis, is a species of praying mantis found in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay” but credits Wikipedia with the information. 

Perhaps one of our readers will be able to confirm this information and identification.

Brazilian Stick Mantis

Letter 12 – Children’s Stick Insect from Australia

Subject: Children’s Stick Insect
Location: Yarra Ranges near Melbourne, Victoria Australia
June 24, 2014 10:10 pm
Thank you for allowing me to use the image of the Children’s stick insect on Craig’s hand attributing to Craig and your website.

On the 16th of February 2014 when we found this none of the twenty people at our Camp (Camp Eureka) had ever seen a children’s stick insect before even though our total ages added together came close to 1000 years.

We were extremely intrigued and had it correctly identified at the Melbourne Museum.
Signature: Marie Goonan

Children's Stick Insect
Children’s Stick Insect

You are most welcome Marie,
Did the museum provide the identification based on your image or did you actually supply the Children’s Stick Insect in the flesh?

Hi Daniel,
I have copied in these emails to tell you that the stick insect flew away, while we were not watching, and after we had taken a small twig out of its wing.  So we just supplied a photo to the museum..
Thanks again,
Cheers Marie

Thanks for the additional information Marie.

Letter 13 – Gall Wasp walking on snow

Winter Critters
December 30, 2009
I took a walk in the woods this month in western New York and found many little critters on top of the snow. I would appreciate any help you might be able to give in identifying.

The trails are on a 600-acre wetland preserve and most of the pictures were taken in mixed woods of pine, hemlock, cherry, maple, oak, etc. that surround a very slow-moving marshy pond.

All of the pictures can be found on my blog (which links to bigger versions on Flickr): http://winterwoman.net/2009/12/23/snow-critters/
There were some spiders, too… Can you help with them?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Jennifer Schlick
Wetland preserve, western New York State on Dec 22, 2009

Gall Wasp
Gall Wasp

Hi Jennifer,
While the creatures in your photographs are all similar in that they were discovered in the snow, taxonomically (and that is how we try to organize on our website) they are unrelated.  We are going to split them up and post them independently of one another. 

We are most curious about the first image, which is obviously a Hymenopteran, but not an ant.  We did a web search of “wingless wasp in snow” and were led to a BugGuide page on Gall Wasps.  Interestingly, there was an individual found in Massachusetts also walking on the snow in January 2008. 

It was identified as being in the family Cynipidae, but the species was not identified.  Gall Wasps are most difficult to identify to the species level.  The posting contained this comment from Richard Vernier: 

“More accurately a so-called ‘agamous’ female. Just like palaearctic Biorrhiza pallida, this winter generation contains only females, who lay eggs inside winter buds of oak-trees, after having grown-up at the roots of the same host plant.” 

Encyclopedia.com has a link to a UTube video of a Gall Wasp walking on the snow in Japan.  We also recommend the Snow Critters web page.

Wow.  You’re my hero.  thanks a billion.  Now I’m going to have to write a blog post about the wonderful folks over at What’s that Bug!!!

Here’s my blog post:
http://winterwoman.net/2009/12/31/whats-that-bug/
Thanks again!

Letter 14 – Brunner’s Stick Mantis

Praying Mantis
Dear Bugman:
Thank you for your answer. What’s praying mantis is this?. My son caught it on the tire of our car two weeks ago.

Your Web-Page must win an Award because it is the Best Web-Page that I have ever seen to know more about insects, and every one of the Pictures are excellents. Congratulations !. Way to Go !.
Jorge Lopez Collado
College Station, Texas.

Thanks for the compliment Jorge,
We believe this might be a Grasslike Mantis in the Genus Thesprotia. We checked with Eric Eaton for confirmation and here is his answer:

“Can’t really tell. Unless there is more than one species, though, Thesprotia graminis is only found from FL to MS, according to Jacques, which may be outdated. “

Ed. Note:  Thanks to a comment, we now know that this is a Brunner’s Stick Mantis.

Letter 15 – Common Stick Grasshopper from Mkuze

Subject:  Katydid?
Geographic location of the bug:  Ghostmountain Lodge, Mkuze
Date: 03/27/2018
Time: 08:30 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
The creature I made a photo of “walked” in the garden of the Ghostmountain Lodge in Mkuze, when I was there on December the 24th last year. I would love to know the name of it. Many thanks in advance
Yours sincerely,
How you want your letter signed:  C.P.

3:56 AM
Dear sir/madam,
Since my request at you to determine the name of the cricket I send you, I search the internet myself some more and just now I came across the name of the creature: it’s a Slant-Faced Grasshopper, Acrida exaltata I believe. So you do not have to look any further. Thank you.
Kind regards,

C.P.

Common Stick Grasshopper

Dear C.P.
We are happy you have identified your Slant Faced Grasshopper.  Based on the image posted to Know Your Insects, we agree with at least the genus.  We will attempt additional research. 

BioDiversity India does not list South Africa as part of the global range of the species.  Most observations on iSpot are only identified to the genus level and those that are identified to the species are Acrida acuminata, called the Common Stick Grasshopper on iSpot.

Letter 16 – Female Titan Stick Insect from Australia

Subject:  Big stick insect!
Geographic location of the bug:  Valdora QLD Australia
Date: 04/01/2019
Time: 08:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please tell me what this massive insect is? At a guess it’s about 250mm long.
How you want your letter signed:  Eric

Female Titan Stick Insect

Dear Eric,
Size alone is not a diagnostic feature for Stick Insects in Australia, which seems to be the home of several of the largest Stick Insects in the world.  Do you by chance have a dorsal view that shows the head?  That would be helpful. 

The Brisbane Insect site has images of some large Stick Insects from Australia.  We will post your images as Unidentified and perhaps one of our readers more familiar with Australian fauna will provide a species identification.

Female Titan Stick Insect

Update:  Comment from Michael Connors:
An adult female Titan Stick Insect (Acrophylla titan) – the long wavy cerci and the dark spots on the underside are diagnostic features.

ED. Note:  According to the Brisbane Insect site:  “Titan Stick Insects are giant insect, they are the longest insect in Australia. The female adult body length is about 230mm.”

Hi Daniel,
Thanks heaps for taking the time to look it up and get back to me! You guys are awesome:)
Cheers,
Eric

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

64 thoughts on “Are Walking Sticks Poisonous? Debunking the Myths and Facts”

  1. this red stick insect belongs to the genus Autolyca (ID by my friend Oskar Conle, who is the main phasmid taxonomist for this region).
    Most probably this is a new species.
    @Medjai – could you please share a more precise location where you found this one. You can contact me on my email adress:
    gopala@bluewin.ch

    Reply
    • Thanks for the correction on this. This posting is recent enough that we might be able to locate contact information for Medjai.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the correction on this image. It would be nice if your comment also provided some rationale for your identification. We will try to find a link to the species you mentioned.

      Reply
  2. Good day,

    Thank you for your interest and follow-up.

    Seems to me like it’s still an undescribed species also. I found him/her while mowing some brush in a friend’s mountain house, I immediately stopped mowing so i wouldn’t hurt him, also found a few tarantulas in the near surrounding.

    Since you ask for a more precise location, I could post some coordinates here later today? Piliguin mountain is a pine forest reserve just beside La Tigra National Park, located in the heart of Honduras, Central America.

    I’ve subscribed to this thread so I can answer imemdiately from my mobile device.

    Good day to you all.

    Reply
  3. @ Medjai
    Thanks for the info, now I have an idea where the location is. Are you still there, or would you still have the opportunity to visite this site again?
    If we could get material of this species, then we would describe it (if it is really a new species) – and give it your name. Best would be eggs, so that I can breed them in vivo. If this is of interest to you, the please write to my email adress which is mentioned above. Then I can send you detailed infos on how to collect some eggs.
    Also you would give us permission to post your photos (with your name) on our scientific site on phasmids (www.phasmatodea.com), then you can also send these to my email adress.

    @Bugman
    your ID was not totally off, Autolyca and Monticomorpha are quite closely related species – and they look quite similar 🙂

    Reply
  4. Hello,

    I go there often, I would be interested in helping describe this species.

    I’ll send you the pics and of course you have permission to post them on your site. By the way I checked out phasmatodea.com and found a similar species. (Agathemera > Elegans)

    Reply
  5. Dear Medjai
    yes are right. The coloration and habitus of the male of A. elegans looks somewhat similar to your Autolyca species. But taxonomically they are rather distantly related, asa they belong to different suborders within the order Phasmatodea. Agathemera are high altitude species from southern America (up to 4000m).
    Also the specimen in your photos is actually a fully grown female specimen. The male will be a bit smaller, maybe only about 6-7 cm.

    So I wait for your email, then I will send you also the details how to collect the eggs.
    Bruno

    Reply
  6. Dear Medjai,

    I would love to get some specimens of this insect! Can you please email me at: All.Things.Bugs [at] gmail [dot] com ?

    Reply
  7. I would strongly suggest to first get national collecting permits from the ICF (El Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarrollo Forestal, Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre), countries like this often dont take kindly to foreigners taking their biodiversity, especially live specimens, without their permission.

    Reply
  8. Hello Daniel,

    This is one of two phasmid species traditionally consumed in PNG. I have no idea if they’re still eaten by people there.

    Best,
    Dave

    Reply
  9. Hi I am selling eggs of this species and am looking for a lovely picture to use.
    Can I have your permission to use this PLEASE.
    thank you so much

    Reply
  10. Hi I am selling eggs of this species and am looking for a lovely picture to use.
    Can I have your permission to use this PLEASE.
    thank you so much

    Reply
  11. En Honduras a este fásmido se le conocce con el nombre de “chilincoco” y se considera venoso por su secreción.

    Reply
  12. Fantastic bug and picture. I’m writing an 8 volume about the epic adventures of three kids named the Bandeliers. They are Australia right not and this amazing creature will be a part of it.

    Reply
  13. Anatomically, anybody know what those big translucent wing things are behind the second green wing?

    ***this was re-sent because I gave the wrong email!****

    Reply
  14. Anatomically, anybody know what those big translucent wing things are behind the second green wing?

    ***this was re-sent because I gave the wrong email!****

    Reply
  15. 1.What we thought was an amazing praying mantis found outside the back door of the camp kitchen was actually a female Children’s stick insect. The Melbourne Museum expert said so. Please could we use Craig’s picture of the children’s stick insect on his hand (crediting Craig and your website.)
    Thank you
    Marie Goonan Newsletter editor
    P S I would like to send you a photo of our Children’s stick insect but I have not figured out how to yet.

    Reply
  16. 1. What we thought was an amazing praying mantis found outside the back door of the camp kitchen was actually a female Children’s stick insect. The Melbourne Museum expert said so. Please could we use Craig’s picture of the children’s stick insect on his hand (crediting Craig and your website.)
    Thank you
    Marie Goonan Newsletter editor
    P S I would like to send you a photo of our Children’s stick insect but I have not figured out how to yet.

    Reply
  17. Chilincocos are very common in Santa Lucia, a town near Tegucigalpa, Piliguin used to be one of its villages. I think almost everybody in Santa Lucia, Valle de Angeles and all the villages that surround the Tigra Mountain have these species.

    Reply
  18. I’ll also add i saw several very similar in the hills around Tegucigalpa, and there’s an entomology collection at the university UNAH, and a massive entomology collection at Zamorano. I suggest anyone interested to get specimens should contact local biologists at those places first ….

    Reply
  19. Hi bcnu,

    Where abouts in Queensland did you see her and was it September that she was sighted? She is a great specimen.
    We should be going back to Brisbane in January and it would be nice to get some photos of this species.

    Reply
  20. Hi bcnu,

    Where abouts in Queensland did you see her and was it September that she was sighted? She is a great specimen.
    We should be going back to Brisbane in January and it would be nice to get some photos of this species.

    Reply
  21. I live in a mountain within 7 km from Tegucigalpa and I find chilincocos in my house almost every week. I see lots of them arronund here.

    Reply
  22. I also just took photos of one here in Nicaragua and then found your post here. My photos have GIS info, and I took multiple photos, including habitat where found. I could go back tomorrow to see if we can find any again. Would be interested in finding out about collection, etc.

    I will also upload some of the photos here – I will check to see if I am already a member, and if not, I will join.

    Reply
  23. I’m currently visiting a friends house here on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras in a neighborhood called Las Uvas and we found one here. They say they see them quite often. The coloration was almost full black with a light reddish tone in some places.

    Reply
  24. I’ve recently found one in la montaña de Azacualpa in Francisco Morazan. It had a red coloration and i’ve never seen one before, thanks to this blog!

    Reply
    • Hi, I live near La montaña de Azacualpa, and I have also found those bugs in El Tablón, in my backyard. Have you found any more of those?

      Reply
  25. I hace found some individuales of this species in El Hatillo, Tegucigalpa. I have some pictures if you need it and the GPS location. Is it a new species? I would like to know the name .

    Cheers,

    Ricardo

    Reply
    • Hola Ricardo
      I’d also be interested in these infos, and I can give you further updates on the description status of this species. You can contact me by email (gopala@bluewin.ch) or FB (www.facebook.com/phasmatodea)

      Reply
  26. En el municipio de Santa Ana , cerca de Tegucigalpa también son muy comunes , quisiera saber si ya están clasificados en una nueva orden de insectos ?

    Reply
    • Pues estos insectos pertenecen al orden Phasmatodea, de la familia Pseudophasmatidae. Y como dijo el Dr. Conle, es del género Autolyca. Yo estoy trabajando con determinación taxonómica de los phasmidos de la colección entomológica de Zamorano, si usted ha visto uno, trate de colectarlo y traigalo a Zamorano si puede. Muchas gracias.

      Reply
  27. Also common in Los Encinos, Zarabanda, Santa Lucía, Honduras. I see them very often on the walls of the patio. They could be photosensitive. They do not seem to move too quickly and smell poisonous… I have never seen their nests/habitats for egg collection…

    Reply
  28. An adult female Titan Stick Insect (Acrophylla titan) – the long wavy cerci and the dark spots on the underside are diagnostic features

    Reply

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