Do Walking Sticks Bite? Debunking the Myth and Learning the Facts

Walking sticks are fascinating creatures, known for their unique appearance and impressive ability to blend in with their surroundings. These insects are slow-moving and stick-like, with long, slender legs and thread-like antennae. Their color, form, and behavior allow them to hide from predators, making them quite intriguing to observe in the wild.

Many people encounter walking sticks while hiking or exploring natural areas, and wonder if these unusual insects may bite or pose any danger. In general, walking sticks are not known for aggressive behavior and do not possess strong jaws or venomous bites. While they may be curious about the insects, it’s important to remember that walking sticks are primarily herbivores, feeding on leaves and vegetation.

Walking Stick Insects: Overview

Species and Size

Walking stick insects belong to the order Phasmatodea and come in various species. The northern walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) is a common species in North America, with a length of 3 ½ to 4 inches1. Another species is the twostriped walkingstick (Anisomorpha buprestoides), with females averaging 67.7 mm in length and males being smaller at an average of 41.7 mm2.

Appearance and Habitat

These insects are slow-moving, wingless, and stick-like, featuring long, slender legs and long thread-like antennae3. Their color ranges from green to brown, which allows them to blend in with their surroundings for camouflage4. Walking sticks are commonly found in forests and grasslands5.

Range and Distribution

Walking stick insects can be found in various regions, with the northern walkingstick being common in North America1, and the twostriped walkingstick being prevalent in the southeastern United States2. They’re typically found in forest or grassland environments5.

Comparison Table of Species

Species Size (Average Length) Habitat
Northern Walkingstick 3 ½ to 4 inches Forests, grasslands
Twostriped Walkingstick 67.7 mm (females); 41.7 mm (males) Forests, grasslands

Behavior and Adaptations

Camouflage and Mimicry

Walking sticks are masters of camouflage. Their appearance closely resembles:

  • Leaves: Their body shape and color mimic leaves, making them blend easily with foliage.
  • Twig/twigs: To resemble small branches, walking sticks have elongated bodies and legs.

These adaptations allow walking sticks to hide from predators in trees.

Swaying and Playing Dead

Two common behaviors of walking sticks are swaying and playing dead.

Swaying: These insects often sway back and forth when stationary, giving the illusion of a twig or branch blowing in the wind. This clever trick further enhances their camouflage.

Playing dead: When threatened, walking sticks may drop to the ground and remain motionless. This defense behavior decreases their chances of being detected by predators.

Behavior Purpose Example
Swaying Enhance camouflage in trees Resembling a twig blowing in wind
Playing dead Escape detection by predators Dropping to the ground

In summary, walking sticks’ behavior and adaptations enhance their ability to blend into their environment and avoid predators.

Diet and Predators

Herbivorous Nature

Walking sticks are herbivorous insects, meaning they feed primarily on plants. Their diet consists mainly of leaves, making them harmless to humans, as they do not bite. Examples of plants they commonly consume include:

  • Oak trees
  • Cherry trees
  • Hazelnut trees

Common Predators

Despite their harmless nature, walking sticks face various predators in their environment. Some common predators include:

  • Birds: Various bird species, such as songbirds and shrikes, are known to prey on walking sticks.
  • Reptiles: Lizards and small snakes are among the reptiles that prey on these insects.
  • Spiders: Web-building spiders, like orb-weavers, often capture walking sticks in their webs.
  • Bats: Insectivorous bats have been observed hunting walking sticks during the night.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the common predators:

Predator Hunting Method
Birds Sight-based hunting from the trees
Reptiles Active ground hunting
Spiders Trapping in webs
Bats Catching insects in mid-flight

In conclusion, walking sticks are herbivorous insects that don’t pose any risk to humans, as they do not bite. They are part of the ecosystem’s food chain, where they have their own predators, including various species of birds, reptiles, spiders, and bats.

Reproduction and Mating

Mating Rituals

Walking sticks reproduce through a process involving mating rituals. Males search for females and engage in courtship behaviors to attract a mate. During mating, internal fertilization occurs by inserting the male intromittent organ into the female genital tract to deposit sperm1.

Here are some features of mating in walking sticks:

  • Internal fertilization
  • Courtship behaviors by males
  • Males typically smaller than females5

Parthenogenesis in Females

An interesting aspect of walking stick reproduction is parthenogenesis, wherein females can reproduce asexually without the need for a male partner. In this case, the eggs produced are parthenogenetic, and the offspring emerge as nymphs that are genetically identical to the mother3.

Characteristics of parthenogenetic reproduction in walking sticks:

  • Asexual reproduction
  • Offspring are genetically identical to the mother
  • Females can lay eggs without mating

Comparison Table:

Mating Method Pros Cons
Sexual Reproduction Increased genetic diversity in offspring Requires finding a mate
Parthenogenesis Females can reproduce without a male partner Lack of genetic diversity4

In summary, walking sticks have specific mating rituals involving courtship behaviors and internal fertilization. However, females are also capable of parthenogenesis, allowing them to reproduce without a mate. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the availability of suitable mates and the need for genetic diversity in offspring.

Do Walking Sticks Bite?

Biting and Stinging Abilities

Walking stick bugs, known for their stick-like appearance, are generally considered harmless creatures. Although they don’t possess stinging or venomous abilities, the Anisomorpha buprestoides species can deliver a defensive spray that may cause irritation. They rarely employ biting as a defense mechanism, but if it does happen, the damage is incredibly minimal.

For readers’ convenience, here’s a comparison table summarizing their abilities:

Feature Walking Stick Bug
Bite Rarely
Sting Not Present
Venom No
Defense Mechanism Defensive Spray

Threat to Humans

Since walking sticks lack venom and stinging abilities, they pose virtually no threat to humans. The bites, if they do occur, are not harmful and barely noticeable. However, if you encounter an Anisomorpha buprestoides, avoid provoking it as its defensive spray may cause eye or skin irritation. Here are some of their key characteristics:

  • Mostly harmless to humans
  • Stick-like appearance with long legs and antennae
  • Effective camouflage to blend in with their surroundings
  • Defensive spray as their primary defense mechanism (Anisomorpha buprestoides)

In conclusion, walking stick bugs are not known for biting or causing harm to humans, making them interesting and relatively safe insects to observe in nature.

Defense Mechanisms

Chemical Sprays

Walking sticks, when threatened, may protect themselves by releasing a chemical spray. This spray is a combination of foul-smelling chemicals used to deter predators. Examples of such substances include:

  • Poisonous defensive venom
  • Acidic compounds

These sprays are typically released from glands located near the walking stick’s head, adding an extra layer of defense.

Threat Poses

Another way walking sticks defend themselves is through their unique threat poses. Some species spread their wings wide as a warning to predators, while others arch their bodies to show off their spines. These poses make them appear larger and more intimidating, thus discouraging predators from attacking.

Antennae

Walking sticks also use their antennae for defense. They can move these elongated appendages in various directions to confuse or distract potential threats. By doing so, they create the illusion of being a more significant or dangerous creature, giving predators second thoughts about attacking them.

Defense Mechanism Example Pros Cons
Chemical Sprays Poisonous venom Effective deterrent against predators May harm the user
Threat Poses Spreading wings No chemicals involved, less chance of self-harm Less effective
Antennae Waving Non-aggressive, easy to perform, versatile defense Limited effect
  • Features of walking stick defense mechanisms:

    • Chemical sprays
    • Threat poses
    • Antennae movements
  • Characteristics of walking stick defense mechanisms:

    • Protective
    • Intimidating
    • Distracting

Remember, various species of walking sticks have different combinations of these defense mechanisms in their survival toolkit, but all aim to effectively protect themselves from potential threats with their unique adaptations.

Walking Sticks as Pets

Caring for Pet Walking Sticks

Walking sticks, also known as phasmids or leaf insects, are fascinating creatures that can make unique and low-maintenance pets. Their needs in captivity are simple, but proper care is essential for their health and comfort.

  • Housing: A well-ventilated enclosure, such as a mesh cage, is crucial for your pet walking stick to thrive.
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature of 70-80°F for their optimum growth.
  • Humidity: Maintain humidity by misting their enclosure regularly.
  • Food: Feed them with suitable plant leaves, such as bramble, eucalyptus, or oak.

Walking sticks are generally observing pets, using their exceptional sight and holding their body still, camouflaged among plant leaves. They are rarely handled, as their fragile bodies can be easily damaged.

Possible Dangers for Pets

While walking sticks are relatively harmless creatures, they may still pose some dangers to other pets or humans in certain situations.

  • Mandibles: Walking sticks have small but strong mandibles that could potentially bite if they feel threatened. However, this is rare and poses little risk for pet owners.
  • Chemical spray: Some species can release an irritating chemical spray when threatened. This spray can burn or cause temporary blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes.
  • Pet trade: In the pet trade, phasmids are seen as low-maintenance and may sometimes be caught in the wild for sale, potentially harming their natural populations.

Phasmids are more suitable pets for people who appreciate observing natural behavior, rather than those looking for constant interaction, such as with a dog. They are fascinating alternatives to pets like praying mantises and are more delicate than other insect pets.

Comparison Table: Walking Stick vs. Praying Mantis

Feature Walking Stick Praying Mantis
Appearance Resembles a twig or leaf, camouflaging among foliage Unique, triangular head with large eyes
Handling Rarely handled due to fragility Can be handled with caution
Diet Herbivorous, feeding on plant leaves Carnivorous, feeding on live insects
Maintenance Low-maintenance; requires proper humidity Moderate maintenance; needs live food
Lifespan Typically 1-2 years 6-12 months
Interaction with humans Mostly observing; unlikely to bite May bite if threatened

Remember, it’s essential to research and provide adequate care for walking sticks as pets, ensuring their proper diet, temperature, and humidity while remaining mindful of potential risks they may pose to other pets or humans.

Footnotes

  1. Northern Walkingstick (Family Diapheromeridae) – Field Station 2 3

  2. twostriped walkingstick – Anisomorpha buprestoides (Stoll) 2

  3. Walking sticks – Texas A&M University 2

  4. Walking Stick | Horticulture and Home Pest News 2

  5. Walkingsticks (Stick Insects) | Missouri Department of Conservation 2 3

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 – Handle with Care!!!: Northern Two-Striped Walkingstick

 

Which Walkingstick?
June 27, 2010
The first two photos were taken last August. When we saw the first walking stick on the wall of our patio, we assumed it was a male. Then a week later I saw two of them mating (second photo, Bug Love) and realized the one on the patio had been the female.
I was weed eating in the garden yesterday and noticed movement ahead of me and then saw a walking stick climbing out of the way. I stopped what I was doing and bent to pick it up and move it so it wouldn’t get hurt, but noticed it was already missing some legs (see third photo). I’m pretty sure I *didn’t* do that with the weed eater (at least I hope I didn’t), but wonder how it could have happened and what are her chances now? Also, what kind of walking stick is it? I kept reading about striped, spitting walking sticks, but these don’t have stripes.
Jayne Wilson
Houston area, Texas

Mating Northern Two-Striped Walkingsticks

Hi Jayne,
You Walkingsticks are in the genus Anisomorpha, most likely the Northern Two-Striped Walkingstick based on photos posted to BugGuide.  You should handle with care.  BugGuide provided the following critical information:  “
Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”  You can get additional information on the Texas Walkingstick website.

Handle with Care: Walkingstick

Letter 2 – Maria Palito or Stick Mary from Dominican Republic

 

Subject: Only curiosity…
Location: Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic
April 15, 2014 7:24 am
Many warm greetings from the Dominican Republic. I saw this beautiful insect resting over the ceiling at the country house of a friend. All the time we spent on the terrace, this curious insect remained in that position. If it’s possible, can Whatsthatbug can give me any information on this peculiar insect.
Thanks in advance
Signature: Alejandro

Walkingstick
Walkingstick

Hi Alejandro,
Your file name was correct.  This is a Stick Insect or Walkingstick in the order Phasmida.  It appears a Stick Insect appeared on a Dominican Republic stamp in 1999 according to Asahi-net.  We will continue to attempt to identify the species of Stick Insect you submitted.

Daniel, many thanks for your information and your support.

Letter 3 – Goliath Stick Insect from Australia

 

Australian Bug
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 4:25 PM
Hi There Bugman!!
I found your email address on a site and wondered if you could help with the identification of the attached bug he is 6 – 7″ long and very calm and happy to be on my porch – not sure if I like him there though!!!
Thankyou
Angie
Qld Australia

Goliath Stick Insect
Goliath Stick Insect

Hi Angie,
With not too much effort, we identified your Stick Insect as the Goliath Stick Insect, Eurycnemma goliath which feeds on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. We first located it on the Brisbane Insect Web Site, which incidates “Goliath Stick Insects are the master of camouflage. We notice that they have at least the following methods to hide themselves from predators;
1. Their bodies, colour and shape made them look like part of the plant.
2. When staying motionless, they always put their front legs in front of their head, to made themselves look more like part of the plant.
3. They usually feed at night, during the day time they just hang motionless on the plants.
4. They eat the whole leaf, usually they do not leave part of the leaf uneaten, like most grasshoppers do.
5. Even when they move, they simulate the swaying motion, like the movement caused by the wind blowing.
6. Their eggs, called ova, look like seeds, so the predators do not notice the insect by the seeds.
7. They discard their dropping, called frass, very far away so that the predators do not notice the insect.”
Then we found more information on raising it in captivity on the Microcosmos Website.  Also, we believe he is a she.

Letter 4 – Giant Stick Mantis and Wandering Violin Mantis from India

 

Is this a wasp nest? I found these stick insects too.
March 25, 2010
Dear Bugman,
This nest was built in a shaded nook outdoors at our house in Hyderabad, India.
These stick insects were found in our garden in Hyderabad.
Kobita
Hyderabad, India

Giant Stick Mantis

Dear Kobita,
We are splitting your letter into two different postings.  We are excited about your two Preying Mantis photos.  One is a Giant Stick Mantis or Indian Grass Mantis, Schizocephala bicornis, and you can read about it on the USA Mantis website.  Your second mantis appears to be a Wandering Violin Mantis, or Indian Rose Mantis, and you can read more about it on Mantis Photos website.

Wandering Violin Mantis

Letter 5 – Mating Mayer’s Walkingsticks: Rare species from the Florida Keys

 

Subject: Phasmid Halopus meyeri
Location: Florida Keys
May 5, 2014 12:09 pm
I’ve found some Phasmids in the keys and it was suggested I put pics of them up on BugGuide.net but couldn’t seem to find a real person to help so I thought I’d share here…
Here is Haplopus meyeri…I don’t think they have been posted here before.
Signature: Tim Borski

Mating Walkingsticks
Mating Mayer’s Walkingsticks

Dear Tim,
BugGuide is a far more egalitarian website than our own as anyone can post images to BugGuide, while here at What’s That Bug?, we are control freaks that individually select which images and letters to post.
  Your submission has us very curious, but it brings up many more questions than we can answer.  First, the name in your subject differs from the name in the body of your message where there is an additional “p”.  Furthermore, we cannot locate any information on the web regarding either spelling except a Facebook posting on the Invertebrate Studies Institute’s Facebook Page, and the entry cites you as the donor who provided a mating pair.  The information provided there, which includes yet a different name spelling with an “a” replacing one “e” in the species name, is:  “RARE phasmid species from the Florida Keys – CUTE baby one! Haplopus mayeri ! We just had 2 hatch from eggs today! Earlier in 2013 we were generously sent 1 adult mating pair by Tim Borski! You can see one of them feeding on the only foodplant that they are reported to eat: a semi-rare plant called “Bay Cedar” (Suriana maritima). We are hoping to find other plants that it can eat and breed them. Eventually we would like to do a population survey to see if this species is actually endangered or threatened. The species lives in areas near the Florida coast in places like Biscayne National Park and the keys – prime real estate!”  Where did you get your Phasmid or Walkingstick identified?  We are guessing that Haplopus mayeri is the proper spelling.
Armed with that information, we returned to internet research and we located your images on FieldHerpForum and one of your comments contains the identification 
Haplopus (Aplopus) mayeri, however, there is no source cited.  Phasmida has images of mounted specimens, including holotype and paratype images.  Taxonomy and other information including the common name Mayer’s Walkingstick can be located at Encyclopedia of Life, ITIS, Animal Diversity Web  and Global Species.  There are very few images of living specimens online, and we feel very lucky that you are allowing us to post your images. 

Female Mayer's Walkingstick
Female Mayer’s Walkingstick

I apologize for the inconsistencies but I was frustrated with BugGuide and typing fast…just trying to salvage my efforts in futility there. Here’s a pic of a mating pair.
Btw, it was my pic on FHF.
Sorry for the confusion,
Tim

Thanks Tim,
You already sent us this image.  Where did you get the proper identification?

Dr Aaron T.  Dossey at Invertebrate  Studies Institute. I have many pics of them, including the eggs. I sent them to Aaron and he hatched some. I was told they fed on Bay cedar but Aaron told me they were eating Black berry leaves(?)  Tthe last one I found (a week or so ago) was on a Sea grape tree. I was hunting snakes after dark and one of my boys encountered it. I brought it home and it fed off those leaves until I sent her to Aaron. She was a sub adult.  Btw, thank you for following up and being helpful.

 

Letter 6 – Giant Stick Mantis or India Grass Mantis from India

 

Subject: Indian Mantis species
Location: Gujarat, India
July 15, 2016 11:27 pm
This mantis looks like a blade of grass. Antenna are aligned straight with the body to look like a blade of dry/dead grass. What species is it? Not sure if it is Indian Stick Mantis.
Signature: Nitin Solanki

India Grass Mantis
India Grass Mantis

Dear Nitin,
In a previous posting of this species, we identified it as a Giant Stick Mantis or Indian Grass Mantis,
Schizocephala bicornis.  According to Project Noah, both common names are used.  Bug Nation has some very nice images of the species.

India Grass Mantis
India Grass Mantis
India Grass Mantis
India Grass Mantis

Letter 7 – Giant Walking Stick

 

BIG Texas Phasmid – Megaphasma?
July 3, 2010
I submitted some blurry pictures the other day, but she is still in the neighborhood, and she’s so pretty, I just had to take some better snaps to share her. She is 6 inches from head to tail, closer to 12 with the legs. Her coloration doesn’t match the Megaphasmae on BugGuide, she’s much more drab than the red and green monsters I’ve seen before. But her antenna arrangement does look like one of the Diapheromeridae, and at that size and heft, what else could she be in Central Texas? She really is gorgeous and very tolerant of me sticking my camera in her face. I hope you enjoy the sharper photos!
Melvis & Laugh
San Antonio, TX

Giant Walking Stick

Dear Melvis & Laugh,
We are happy to post your photo of a Giant Walking Stick, Megaphasma dentricrus.  We decided to link to BugGuide, and we found you had already posted your photo there.  Linking to BugGuide does bring up one interesting question for us.  This species is classified in the order Phasmida, the Walkingsticks, yet the common name for the species uses a noun and modifier rather than the compound word.  We are curious why this species is commonly called a Walking Stick rather than a Walkingstick.

Letter 8 – Giant Walkingstick

 

stick bug
This is the most unusual stick bug I have seen to date; it is about 9 inches long and the color is really green.
Wayne

Hi Wayne,
Our sources list the Giant Walkingstick, Megaphasma dentricus, as reaching 5 7/8 inches, so your specimen is a trophey for sure.

Letter 9 – Giant Walkingstick

 

Barton Creek Bug
May 28, 2010
We saw this bug on the side of Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. Five minutes after we took the photograph he was eaten alive by a great tailed grackle.
Gary
Austin, Texas

Giant Walkingstick

Hi Gary,
Congratulations on your sighting of a Giant Walkingstick, which is the “Longest North American insect, females to 180 mm (7 inches)
” according to BugGuide.

Letter 10 – Giant Walkingstick

 

walking stick species?
Location: southern indiana
September 10, 2011 8:38 pm
Is this a ordinary walking stick ? I have never seen one look like this with so much color & for some reason it loves my Sycamore tree as you can see. thxs
Signature: brian

Giant Walkingstick

Hi Brian,
Your insect is a Giant Walkingstick,
Megaphasma denticrus, and we quickly identified it on BugGuide which notes:  “Color is variable, greenish to reddish-brown, sometimes with white on legs.”  The claspers on the end of the abdomen indicate that this is a male.

Giant Walkingstick

Letter 11 – Giant Walkingstick

 

Subject: Giant walking stick-huge female I believe
Location: New Braunfels, Texas
July 16, 2013 6:20 pm
Hi bugman, I thought you might like these photos of a very large giant walking stick I encountered a few weeks ago. She was easily probably 7 inches or so long without the front legs stretched out. She was quite tame and did not seem to mind having her picture taken. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy your website!
Thanks!
Signature: Michael

Giant Walkingstick
Giant Walkingstick

Dear Michael,
Thank you for sending us your images of a Giant Walkingstick,
Megaphasma denticrus, which according to BugGuide, is the:  “Longest North American insect, females to 180 mm (7 inches). Helfer (1962)(1) gives range of 76-150 mm.  Per study conducted by Maginnis et al. (2008), females ranged from 105-135 mm and males ranged from 90-125 mm.”  The person is great to give our readers an idea of the scale of a Giant Walkingstick.

Giant Walkingstick
Giant Walkingstick

Thank you so much for posting my photos. The person is me by the way. I forgot to mention that in the original message.

Letter 12 – Giant Walkingstick

 

Subject: Walking branch ha!
Location: San Antonio, Texas
July 30, 2013 12:36 am
I found this big,scary, strong I think female walking stick. From what I can tell I think its female. What I want to know is what species is it exactly and what is its diet? I think it might be the mighty giant walking stick. The one they call the largest insect in the U.S.. Please help me figure this out experts.
Signature: RomeDogg

Giant Walkingstick
Giant Walkingstick

Dear RomeDogg,
You are absolutely correct that this is a female Giant Walkingstick,
Megaphasma dentricrus.  According to the Animal Diversity Web Information Sheet:  “In this species, males are extremely rare, sometimes with as few as one male per 1,000 females.”  The eating habits are described as:  “This species tends to feed on foliage of grasses and woody plants, especially on grapevines and oaks. It will also feed on leaves of trees and can occasionally cause deforestation. After hatching from their eggs in the springtime, young nymphs feed mainly on understory shrubs. Among the adults, several host plants are primarily fed upon such as the basswood, the birch, dogwood, hackberry, hickory, oak, pecan, and wild cherry. (Drees and Jackman, 1998)”

Giant Walkingstick
Giant Walkingstick

Letter 13 – Giant Walkingsticks Mating

 

Walking sticks
I went to let the dog out and discovered these two on my door handle…I have been around walking sticks my whole life but have never seen any this brilliant. Is there a reason for their brilliant color or are they a different variety than the plain brown ones? You probably can’t tell by the picture but the female was huge. We don’t see them that big here very often. Thanks
Melody

Hi Melody,
You didn’t tell us where “here” is, so we are guessing Texas. We are thrilled to get your highly detailed photo of Giant Walkingsticks, Megaphasma dentricus, mating. You can even make out the spiny ridge along the lower surface of the femora. This is the largest North American Walkingstick.

Letter 14 – Goliath Stick Insect found dead in Australia

 

Large ‘Alien’ looking Insect
April 18, 2010
Hi, the attached ‘insect’ was found dead in 2005 in Brisbane’s Western Suburbs. I thought I had lost the photos until now. Having never seen anything that so closely resembles the main character of the film Alien, and I am not talking about Sigourney Weaver here, I was wondering if you could id this insect as something natural rather than as a hungry visitor from another planet. The closest match I have been able to find is the ‘Goliath Stick Insect’ – really lame name by the way – but I have not seen any photo’s that match the hideous head and plus the doco states it grows to 7 inches not 9. It was reasonably weighty and as you can see, when straitened out, it was around 9 inches long. We found it on our driveway. There are a lot of Gum trees nearby. It’s abdomen was full of what looked like maggots and it was certainly putting out a strong ‘rotting meat’ odour so I assume it was fly-blown and not full of offspring. If it was offspring – you will find them at the city dump or wherever it is that the wheelie bins are emptied.
Thomas
Brisbane Western Suburbs

Goliath Stick Insect

Dear Thomas,
Your supposition that this is a Goliath Stick Insect, Eurycnema goliath, is correct.  Regarding the size discrepancy, we presume that the antennae and legs are not incorporated into the body length when determining size, and the Brisbane Insect website indicates that the Goliath Stick Insect grows to 210 mm or just over 8.25 inches.

Thanks Daniel,
Very strange looking insects. Scary in fact. I hope you have a great week. Thanks for the super fast reply and the confirmation.
Cheers,
Thomas

Letter 15 – Gorgeous Unidentified Walkingstick from Costa Rica is Parastatocles species

 

Subject: Costa Rica walking stick
Location: Costa Rica
July 14, 2014 10:09 pm
Hello!
Thank you so much for your help with my broad-necked root borer ID request. I have another one for you. I found this insect in Costa Rica 2 years ago on a school trip, it seemed to be some type of walking stick. His colors were amazing! Any idea of what species this is?
Thanks!
Signature: Brittany

Unidentified Walkingstick
Parastatocles Walkingstick

Hi Brittany,
To the best of our knowledge, only male Walkingsticks are capable of flying.  We will try to identify this male Walkingstick tomorrow.  We did locate a matching image on the Costa Rica Bugs and Insect Photos site, but it is not identified.

Update:  July 19, 2014
Thanks to Cesar Crash of the Brazilian site Insetologia, we have this Walkingstick identified as being in the genus
Parastatocles.

Letter 16 – Gray Walkingstick

 

Identification of insect , grasshopper/cricket, and butterfly
To whom it may concern:
1) I saw an insect on my screen door in Portal, ARIZONA, U.S.A., near Cave Creek Canyon, which is high desert. It stayed on the screen for about 4 hours, hardly moving. It was about 4-5 inches in length ("wood bug on screen"). I THINK IT MIGHT BE IN THE PHASMID FAMILY? Do you have any idea what this insect is called? and any other information about it would be greatly appreciated (photos attached). Thank you very much for your help!
Irene Kitzman MD
Portal, AZ and Hamden, CT

Hi Irene,
To better conform to our [lack of] organization, we will be posting your various queries sepatately. This is indeed a Phasmid. It is a Gray Walkingstick, Pseudosermyle straminea, a desert species. Seems your specimen is missing a front leg.

Letter 17 – Immature Walkingstick

 

Subject: Stick Insect
Location: Cumberland Plateau, southeast Tennessee
June 9, 2016 9:07 am
We frequently see “Stick Bugs” around our house, though more typically in the fall. They usually are 4-6 inches long and are brown. I understand that they must be small when newly hatched, but have never spotted one this small. I though you might be interested.
Thanks for the constant flow of fascinating bug information!
Signature: Bob Kieffer

Immature Walkingstick
Immature Walkingstick

Dear Bob,
Thanks so much for providing our site with your image of an immature Walkingstick, and we commend your foresight in using the ruler for scale.

Letter 18 – Leaf Insect from India

 

Rare Praying Mantis
Location: Wokha, Nagaland, India
September 15, 2011 11:42 am
This insect resembles a praying mantis (obviously is) and I’m curious about it. The wings resembles a leaflet and works as a good camouflage and is difficult to spot. Although the picture was taken at night, I’m sure it will be clear to spot features. Please enlighten
Signature: bru123

Leaf Insect from India

Dear bru123,
Though it resembles a Preying Mantis, this Leaf Insect in the genus
Phyllium is actually in the order Phasmida which includes the Walkingsticks.  Here is a photo from the Wild Borneo website, as well a nice page showing the life cycle on Phasmids in Cyberspace.  Several years ago, we ran a nice posting showing a Preying Mantis feeding on a Leaf Insect in Thailand.

Letter 19 – Leaf Insect from Thailand

 

Subject:  Mantid for identification
Geographic location of the bug:  near Kaeng Krachan NP, Thailand
Date: 04/17/2018
Time: 03:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Any help with the identification of this Mantid would be much appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Many thanks Steve

Leaf Insect

Dear Steve,
This is not a Mantid.  It is a Leaf Insect in the order Phasmida, and we have some amazing images in our archive where a Leaf Insect is being eaten by a Mantid in Thailand.  Our current research found matching images on Dreamtime and Shutterstock but there is no species name.  The website we used in our initial identification of the species is no longer active, but we did find images of
Phyllium siccifolium on BugWorld and on Our Breathing Planet where it states:  “Phyllium Siccifolium is a type of leaf insect which has no acknowledged common name. It was, in fact, the first species of leaf insect recognized. Like all species of this type of insect, they remain masters of camouflage. They are primarily active at either dusk or night. Phyllium Siccifolium is entirely herbivorous by nature.” 

Letter 20 – Mating Black and White Striped Walkingsticks from Ocala, Florida

 

Subject: Ocala bug
Location: Ocala Florida
November 20, 2016 6:57 pm
Never seen one anywhere but Ocala National Forest
Signature: Scotty Cooke

Mating Striped Walkingsticks
Mating Striped Walkingsticks

Dear Scotty,
Your image depicts a gorgeous pair of Southern Striped Walkingsticks,
Anisomorpha buprestoides, but their starkly contrasting black and white coloration is unusual and we did find a similarly colored pair on BugGuide.  According to the information page on BugGuide:  “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;  Brown form, widely distributed and commonly found throughout the entire range of the species.”  Walkingsticks in the genus Anisomorpha are frequently found mating and are sometimes called Muskmares, and they should be handled with extreme caution or even better not at all, because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.” 

Letter 21 – Mating Giant Walkingsticks

 

Subject: Walkingsticks
Location: Canyon Lake, TX
June 4, 2012 2:18 pm
I identified this as Megaphasma denticrus thanks to the pictures and descriptions on the website. This is a great resource. Thought you might enjoy some of these photos of a pair of mating walksticks. There was another pair mating within twenty feet of this one, the other female may have been sligtly bigger, although it was missing a front leg. I spotted that pair a week or two ago. I was reading somewhere that males are about 1/1000?! I must be surrounded by these suckers!
Signature: -Dave

Mating Giant Walkingsticks

Dear Dave,
Thanks so much for sending us your wonderful images of mating Giant Walkingsticks.  Despite their size and reputation of being the longest North American insect (see BugGuide), the Giant Walkingstickis dwarfed by some of its relatives in Borneo and other parts of Indonesia.  We will be postdating your letter to go live in the near future as we will be away from the office and our readership has come to expect daily postings from us. 

Mating Giant Walkingsticks

The close-up photo of the genitalia might make some of our more sensitive readers a bit squeamish.

Genitalia of Mating Giant Walkingsticks

   

Authors

  • 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.

20 thoughts on “Do Walking Sticks Bite? Debunking the Myth and Learning the Facts”

  1. I Googled Megaphasma denticrus and I guess its a common insect .I’m 35 and have never seen this species. But I m sure you see insects you never seen before too huh? thanks again

    Reply
  2. Many thanks for your information. In the Dominican Republic this bug has the funny name of “María Palito” , in english that would be as “Stick Mary” roughly speaking.

    Reply
    • Thanks Alejandro,
      We noticed that on the stamp, but we couldn’t figure out the relevance. We will have to change the subject line on the posting.

      Reply
  3. We also have the Giant Stick bugs in Northern Arkansas or Ozarks. Beautiful red and green insect. The one I seen on our back porch was closer to 8-9 inches long. I’ll have to try to find the pics I took and send them in.

    Reply
  4. Hi, I actually for the first time in my life had spotted this fascinating insect next to my college gate ,at once I knew it was a mantis but this one was damn taller and thinner than others that I have witnessed which made me investigate and here in this site I had my answer “Indian Grass Mantis”!.

    Reply
  5. The observation about the rarity of males is surprising based on my limited experience with this species in TX. I did not carefully note the proportion of males to females, but locally, neither were rare, both present and conspicuous. Although sexually dimorphic there doesn’t seem to be anything ‘extreme’ about the males that would lead to a disproportion of 1:1000 as described here!

    Reply

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