Muskmare: All You Need to Know for a Smarter Choice

Meet the Muskmare, a fascinating and unique creature that captures the imagination. As its name suggests, this intriguing animal combines features of both a muskox and a mare, providing an interesting twist on these well-known species.

Though it may sound like something out of a fairy tale, there’s much to learn about this extraordinary hybrid. Diving into the subject of the Muskmare, you’ll discover a wealth of information about its habitat, behavior, and peculiarities. Be prepared to unravel the mysteries behind this captivating creature in the following article.

Muskmare Basics

Anisomorpha Buprestoides

Anisomorpha buprestoides, commonly known as the Muskmare, belongs to the Pseudophasmatidae family. This insect species is a type of two-striped walkingstick and is considered one of the most distinctive arthropods in the United States.

Identification

To identify Muskmares, look for these features:

  • Stick-like body structure
  • Long antennae
  • Two-striped pattern

Size and Markings

Muskmares exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning females and males have different appearances:

  • Females: Larger, about 7 cm in length, with a brownish-gray color and two noticeable white stripes running down their back
  • Males: Smaller, about 3.5 cm in length, with a darker color and less prominent stripes

Habitat and Vegetation

Muskmares are primarily found in the southeastern United States, specifically in areas with dense vegetation. They prefer the following habitats:

  • Forests
  • Swamps
  • Marshy areas

Comparison Table

Feature Females Males
Size Larger (7 cm) Smaller (3.5 cm)
Color Brownish-gray Darker
Stripe Prominence Highly visible Less visible

By understanding the basic features of Muskmare, it’s easy to identify them in their natural habitat. Remember to keep an eye out for their stick-like appearance, coloring, and distinctive markings.

Behavior and Ecology

Mating Pairs

The female musk mare plays an important role in the mating pairs of these Southern two-striped walkingsticks, also known as devil riders. Males will often clasp onto the female and remain together until they successfully mate.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

Being a stick insect, their primary defense mechanism is camouflage, resembling small twigs or branches. Additionally, they have a unique black stripe running down their legs, providing extra protection against predators, such as spiders and larger insects.

  • Camouflage: twig-like appearance
  • Black stripe: extra protection

Noxious Substance

Musk mares are equipped with special glands that produce a noxious substance as a defense. When threatened, they are capable of spraying this substance up to 40cm away, deterring predators and ensuring their safety.

Defense Mechanism Benefit
Noxious substance Deters predators

Young and Development

The young of these stick insects are born similar to adult musk mares but will undergo several growth stages before reaching maturity. They can typically be found in habitats ranging from Canada, Virginia, and Arkansas; mainly around shrubs where they can blend in and hold onto branches.

  • Habitats: Canada, Virginia, Arkansas
  • Prefer shrubs for camouflage

Geographical Distribution

United States Regions

The Muskmare can be found in various regions across the United States, including states such as Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Arkansas. Some common habitats include:

  • Wetlands
  • Swamps
  • Marshes

For example, in Florida, Muskmare thrives in the Everglades ecosystem.

Canadian Presence

Muskmare also has a presence in Canada, mostly in wetland habitats. Regions with notable populations include:

  • Southern Ontario
  • Manitoba

In summary, the Muskmare can be found in both the United States and Canada, with its preferred habitat being wetlands and marshes. To illustrate the differences between regions, here is a comparison table:

Region Notable States/Provinces Habitat
United States Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas Wetlands, Swamps, Marshes
Canada Southern Ontario, Manitoba Wetlands

Note that the information provided is only a brief overview of the Muskmare’s geographical distribution, and more detailed information can be found in specific references about its habitat.

A Guide to Muskmare

Identification Tips

Muskmare refers to the two-striped walkingstick, a type of stick insect. Here are some tips to identify this creature:

  • Long, slender, and stick-like body
  • Typically brown or green in color
  • Distinct markings include two white stripes running parallel along the length of their body
  • Males are smaller and slimmer than females
  • Females have a curved, pointed ovipositor at the end of the abdomen

Viewing and Photography Guidelines

When encountering Muskmares, it’s essential to follow these guidelines:

  1. Approach slowly and quietly to avoid scaring the insect.
  2. Use a zoom or macro lens for close-up photographs, minimizing disturbance.
  3. Maintain a safe distance from the insect and avoid touching or handling it.
  4. Observe and photograph the creature in its natural habitat, avoiding the use of flash if possible.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the differences between Muskmares and other stick insects:

Feature Muskmare (Two-striped Walkingstick) Other Stick Insects
Length 3-4 inches (females), 2-3 inches (males) Varies (usually 2-6 inches)
Color Brown or green with two white stripes Mostly green or brown, some species more colorful
Shape Long & slender with legs close to the body Similar, but often with legs further apart
Habitat Forests, fields, and suburban gardens Forests, grasslands, and tropical rainforests

Remember to observe and respect the Muskmare’s natural environment when viewing and photographing them. Following these guidelines will ensure a memorable and respectful experience.

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 – Mating Muskmare and her stallion

 

Maremask Walking Stick
Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 2:28 PM
Hi Bugman! I love your website without it I would not have been able to figure out what this bug was! I was letting my dog out one night and found this on my patio…I thought it was a stick at first then I looked closer and discovered it was a weird bug…so I immediately came in the house and went to what’s that bug! So I thought I would send it to you! Great pic huh?
Kajun Kate
Louisiana

Two Striped Walkingsticks Mating
Two Striped Walkingsticks Mating

Dear Kajun Kate,
These Two Striped Walking Sticks are also known as Muskmares. Theoretically, only the female would be a Muskmare and her mate should be a Musksire or Muskstallion. Two Striped Walkingsticks, Anisomorpha buprestoides , are able to spray a noxious substance with amazing accuracy into the eyes of any perceived threat.

Letter 2 – Muskmares Mating

 

I am the rude person that sent you a photo a few minutes ago with no question or anything. sorry. Sometimes, I get excited. I found this insect (or creature) this morning next to the door going into our shed. He is still in the same position this afternoon. The interesting thing about this creature is that the lighter line going up his back, is actually curved over as if it were a tail????? I live in Ohatchee, Calhoun County, Alabama which is Northeast Alabama. Do you know what this creature is?
Thank you so very much
Martha Tucker

Hi Martha,
This isn’t one insect, but a pair. The smaller male Walkingstick is mounting the Musk Mare.

Letter 3 – Muskmare and her mate

 

Subject:  Stick Bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Gulf Coast Texas
Date: 06/28/2021
Time: 03:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this huge (fat) stick Bug looking insect on my front door late at night. It had a baby on it’s back as well. First time seeing this type of bug here.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks for any info.

Mating Muskmares

That ain’t no baby on her back.  The larger insect is a Female Two-Striped Walkingstick in the genus Anisomorpha and the smaller insect is her diminutive mate.  Two-Striped Walkingsticks are often observed mating, which has led to the common name Muskmare. According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage” so you should exercise caution when closely observing them.

Letter 4 – Mating Muskmares

 

i am wondering what this bug is i have never seen it before
November 16, 2009
I’ve seen grasshoppers this big, but this seemingly isn’t one of those (no wings). They were mating when photographed; I assume that the male is the smaller of the pair. I couldn’t get the female to pose on the ruler, as I desired, but I estimate she’s about 3.5 inches long.  November 15, 2009. Homosassa, Florida Insects are mating:  the larger (female?) is about 3.5″
Julie
Homosassa, Florida

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Hi Julie,
These are Two Striped Walkingsticks, also called Muskmares.  The female is larger.

Letter 5 – Musk Mare

 

long striped bug in Florida
April 4, 2010
Dear Bugman,
I saw this bug walking along the ground in some leaf litter at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville, FL in December 2009. Would love to know what this is. Thank you! (this is my 3rd attempt to send this. Sorry if you’ve received it already!)
Madena
Gainesville, FL

Musk Mare

Hi again Madena,
Wow, we are getting coast to coast submissions from you.  This is the only attempt we received for this submission.  This is a Two Striped Walkingstick, also known as a Musk Mare, Anisomorpha buprestoides
.  Please use caution as they have the ability to spray a noxious substance several feet with remarkable accuracy, and they inevitably spray a perceived threat right in the eye.  You can read more about this species on BugGuide.

Letter 6 – A Muskmare and her Stallion

 

What is this bug?
Found this one in Ocala, Florida. Learned real fast not to touch this one for it let out one heck of a stink!
Curtis

Hi Curtis,
These are mating Muskmares, or more correctly, a Muskmare and her stallion. They are Anisomorpha buprestoides, Two-striped Walkingsticks. The smell you mentioned was the least of your worries. These Walkingsticks can shoot a noxious substance from glands in the “neck” region with amazing accuracy. They have hit more than one of our readers in the eye and the irritation and blurry vision may last for hours.

Letter 7 – Another Muskmare and Mate

 

MUSKMARE AND MATE??
October 4, 2009
I have never seen anything like this in the 12 years I have lived in Florida. I had NO idea what it was until I came to your website and was able to identify it, so thank you. I am attaching a photo for you to enjoy.
S.Peters from Port Orange, FL
Port Orange, FL

Muskmare and Mate
Muskmare and Mate

Dear S. Peters,
Thanks for sending another image of a Muskmare and her mate, a pair of Two Lined Walkingsticks.  As we noted in our earlier posting, this species is capable of spraying a noxious substance with great accuracy over some distance, and they are good at hitting the eyes of a potential threat.  The effects wear off shortly, but will cause the eyes to water and blur as well as sting.  The latest information posted to BugGuide has the potential for harm as more serious:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Letter 8 – Herd of Muskmares

 

Subject: What is this weird bug? Is it a stick bug?
Location: Southern Mississippi
October 12, 2012 12:54 pm
This picture was taken in back of my Sister-in-law’s house in South Mississippi. We’re not sure that this is a member of the Walking Stick family (Phasmatodea) or not. Please help when you can.
Signature: ajoyhill

Herd of Muskmares

Dear ajoyhill,
WOW, what a herd of Muskmares you have there.  Muskmare is a common name for the Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage” and they are reported to aim with amazing accuracy.

Letter 9 – Bug of the Month December 2011: How to Raise Muskmares

 

how to raise muskmare walking sticks
Location: clearwater florida
December 6, 2011 4:47 pm
hi bug experts, i and my twin brother are avid entomologists. wondering how to raise muskmare walking sticks? We have searched the internet but to no avail. we have eggs and pregnant females. would like to know how to raise. please advise asap thank you very much.
Signature: anxiously waiting

Mating Muskmares

Dear anxiously waiting,
We have no personal experience raising Walkingsticks, but there is much information available online, including the Stick Insect Care page of the Bugs in Cyberspace website and the Care of Stick Insects on EarthLife.  We would caution you to exercise care in the handling of Muskmares as they are capable of spraying a noxious substance that may cause damage to the eye.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply you with more specific information once your posting is live.

Update from Bruno Kneubuehler
on our site about stick insects (order Phasmatodea) I have written a detailed care sheet for Anisomorpha buprestoides. This should help you in getting started to breed such phasmids:
www.phasmatodea.com/web/guest/221
Normally their spray is not really harmful and causes some temporary irritation if it hits the eyes. But of course there might be persons which have a stronger reaction (like it is the case with bee stings)
Bruno

 

Letter 10 – Mating Muskmare and her diminutive stallion

 

What’s this bug called
Location:  Savannah, GA 70’s degree
October 13, 2010 10:41 am
A co-worker pointed this bug out to me and we were curious to know what this was. Thanks for the help in advanced! : )
Signature:  CRB

Mating Muskmares

Dear CRB,
These are Two Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha, commonly called Muskmares because they are often found in the mating position with the considerably smaller male on top.  Caution should be exercised in handling Muskmares because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.

Letter 11 – Mating Muskmare and her “stallion”

 

Subject: Never seen this bug before
Location: Shepherd tx
June 22, 2017 4:38 am
I need to know what this is and if it’s dangerous
Signature: I don’t know

Mating Two Striped Walkingsticks

These are mating Two Striped Walkingsticks, commonly called Muskmares, though theoretically only the larger female would be a Muskmare, while the smaller male is her diminutive stallion.  Caution should be exercised when approaching Two Striped Walkingsticks, because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Letter 12 – Mating Muskmares

 

Safe or unsafe bug in SC?
Hello:
My name is Bob Stark and I’ve recently moved to Little River, SC (North Myrtle Beach). This is a picture of an insect which we’ve been told is poisonous, and I would like to know if that is correct. Our home is 4 miles from the shore, and our backyard is bordered by a field. I’m guessing that the smaller one is the male, and that since this is late summer, it is mating season. Am I correct? This insect clings to our siding and at night, will cling on our screens, if we have an inside light on. When we moved in, the local movers refused to bring our furniture through the garage until we removed this insect, claiming it was poisonous. Our dog approached it, and apparently got sprayed in the face as she got near. I; however, got no reaction as I moved it along off our home. Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to provide as to it’s name and safety, as our Grandson visits from time to time, and I would like to provide him with the correct stats on this insect. For example: does is bite, sting, spray?
Sincerely,
Bob Stark

Hi Bob,
This is a pair of Two-lined Walkingsticks, Anisomorpha buprestoides, also known as Musk-Mares or Devil Riders because of their habit of remaining in coitus for extremely long periods of time. The male is much smaller than the female. Beware!! They do not bite but they can spray a noxious substance from their necks that is painful if it gets in your eye.

Letter 13 – Mating Muskmares

 

Anisomorpha buprestoides
Hi,
I was going to ask for an ID, but I found them in the Insect Love section…Still, I think I have some nice pics! I guess I’m lucky that with all the messing around with them that photographing entailed, she didn’t spray me! They are released into my tortoise pen. I’m in Alachua, Florida. I see these every once in a while.
Nanci

Hi Nanci,
You did a great job of properly identifying your mating Muskmares or Two Striped Walkingsticks. It is also evident that you read that they will spray a noxious, irritant into a person’s eyes with amazing accuracy if they are disturbed. We especially love your choice of a location for your image, the ceramic plate with a sphinx moth underglaze.

Letter 14 – Mating Muskmares

 

mating walking sticks
Location: Florida
November 13, 2010 4:11 pm
I found these two out in the warm sun on my screened porch and wanted to share the picture.
Signature: Photo Snapper

Mating Muskmares

Dear Photo Snapper,
These mating Two Striped Walkingsticks are commonly called Muskmares because they are frequently found in flagrante delicto as in your photograph and because they are capable of spraying a caustic substance with great accuracy, often directly into the eyes of a predator.  They should be handled with caution.

Letter 15 – Mating Muskmares

 

Please identify this creature!
Location: Central Mississippi
September 17, 2011 8:44 pm
Dear Bugman,
I live in central Mississippi on a woodline. I have had problems with this creature in the humid summer season. This is the second year they have returned. Each time I see them they have 1-2 partners hanging around on their backs. They are very disgusting and when I kill them it’s as if they have blood and organs. I have killed 5 tonight. Please help! I am very curious! Thanks for your help!
Signature: Shannon

Mating Muskmares

Dear Shannon,
This is a photo of a pair of Two Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha, commonly called Muskmares.  Adults are frequently found in pairs as both your letter and photo indicate.  You have mentioned that they appear to have blood and organs when you kill them, and your observations are correct.  Though it is quite different from human blood, insects do have a substance known as hemolymph, and they most certainly have organs.  It seems you have been killing these Walkingsticks because you find them disgusting and not for any other reason discernible from your email.  You should exercise caution when approaching Muskmares.  They are capable of spraying a noxious substance for a considerable distance with amazing accuracy, and when they are threatened, they aim for the eyes of their attacker.  The Richmond Eye Associates online newsletter contains an article entitled Ocular Injury from the Venom of the Southern Walkingstick that is an excerpt From EA Paysse MD, et al. Ocular Injury from the Venom of the Southern Walkingstick. Ophthalmology 2001;108:190-191.  We are going to reproduce the information from the Richmond Eye Associates in its entirety here:
“The Southern Walkingstick (Anisomorpha buprestoides) is an inconspicuous insect known for slow movement and camouflage. They are found in the southern United States, Florida and Texas for example, and feed on Oak leaves, Rhododendron leaves, and brambles. While otherwise harmless, this insect has a defense mechanism of spraying a toxic substance at potential predators, such as flying birds. It is known to have excellent marksmanship, often hitting the eyes of the predator. This report is of a significant ocular injury sustained by a child sprayed in the eye by a Southern Walkingstick.
An 8 year old boy was playing in his backyard when he discovered a Southern Walkingstick approximately one foot from his face in a bush. The insect sprayed a red fluid into his face that caused immediate pain and blurred vision in the right eye. The eye was flushed with water at home and in the emergency room.
The following day, he was examined by an ophthalmologist for continued blurred vision and foreign body sensation. A corneal abrasion involving about 30% of the cornea, and a large adjacent conjunctival abrasion were seen. The abrasion slowly healed over a 6 day period with no permanent effects or loss of vision.
The venom of the Southern Walkingstick is known to be locally toxic to mucous membranes, and is painfully irritating if inhaled. Fortunately, the toxin seems to cause only superficial damage, and no reports of permanent scarring has been observed in humans. There is one case involving a dog who subsequently developed a corneal ulcer after injury. Thus, exposure to the toxin should be followed by copious irrigation at the site of injury, with follow-up in the emergency room for further treatment.”

Letter 16 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: Is this some kind of stick but?
Location: Montgomery, Texas near Lake Conroe
July 25, 2013 5:46 pm
Is this some kind of stick bug? Are there 2 here? Are they mating? Or is the little one the baby? My son’s dog was sniffing and jumped like it got stung/bit! Eyes were a little swollen and watering for about a day. Do they bite or sting?
Signature: Laurie

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Hi Laurie,
This is a pair of Two Striped Walkingsticks in the genus Anisomorpha, and they are also commonly called Muskmares because they are frequently spotted in flagrante delicto with the diminutive male riding his musky mate.  The musk is actually a noxious spray that they are reported to aim into the eyes of any attacker with amazing accuracy.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”  Thank you for your report that this defense mechanism is real.  We hope your dog recovered from his encounter.  Other than the chemical warfare, Muskmares are not known to bite or sting.

Thank you so much for your response!!!!  I’ll share this info with everybody on my facebook that wanted to know!  🙂 

What’s That Bug does have a Facebook page, and your posting will go live on our site, but not until August 6.  We are preparing for a trip away from the office and we like to have daily postings when we are absent, so we postdate some submissions to go live while we are away.

That’s great!  I’ll look for the Facebook page and “like” it! 🙂

Letter 17 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: Mating 2-stripe walking sticks
Location: Viera, FL
September 3, 2013 7:13 pm
Thought you might enjoy this picture. It was fun for me because of my son’s reaction when I explained that wasn’t a baby riding on its mom’s back 🙂 They are on my potted plumeria.
Signature: Susan P

Muskmares Mating
Muskmares Mating

Hi Susan,
Most photos we have of mating Two Striped Walkingsticks, or Muskmares, depict them on the sides of buildings or structures, so your photo is quite refreshing.  You should also warn your son to observe them carefully.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage” and they are reported to aim with amazing accuracy. 

Letter 18 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: Seeing these a lot!
Location: Davenport , FL
September 8, 2013 7:47 am
Hi there!
Ive been seeing this bug a lot this year. I saw a few that had already died and they were a red color but most of them are brown with a white line on them. This particular one had a baby on its back. I got a picture with the baby on and off its back. While I was trying to take its picture, i must have scared it because it sprayed me with something. I have to admit they kind if scare me. I haven’t seen them all year and they just started popping up during this summer. Thanks!!
Signature: Lauren

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Hi Lauren,
After sending you a quick response, we decided to elaborate, create a posting and write back to you.  These are Two Striped Walkingsticks,
Anisomorpha buprestoides, and your guess that the smaller individual is a baby is wrong.  The smaller individual is a male who is attempting to mate with the larger female.  Because the Two Striped Walkingsticks are often found in tandem, they also have an interesting common name, Muskmare.  The Muskmares are able to defend themselves from predators by spraying a caustic chemical with amazing accuracy, often aiming for the predators eye.  You were lucky they missed.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Letter 19 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: mating muskmares
Location: Jacksonville, FL
September 17, 2014 11:39 am
Hi again! I noticed you haven’t had any muskmares on your site for over a year, so I thought I’d send a pic of this happy couple to you. I found them on a chain link fence last week at a dog park here in Jacksonville, FL. The female sprayed me repeatedly until she realized I wasn’t going to hurt them the spray seemed to come from the thorax under a lot of pressure; I could hear the hissing over the sounds of the breeze and the dogs! It looked like 2 sprays from a mist bottle set on “fine” and travelled about a foot from her. Smelled like rotting wood and vinegar. Also, a few feet away from them I found this excellent Eastern lubber.
Signature: Mike

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Dear Mike,
Thanks so much for making our Muskmare postings more current.  Your observations on the “spraying” defense of the individuals you encountered is very valuable, and though you did not experience any harm, we caution our readers against careless handling of Muskmares as the noxious gas they expel is reported to be caustic if it lands in the eyes.  We will post your Lubber image in a distinct posting.  Can you provide any additional information on the Lubber?

I found a very good description of the muskmare defense and it’s effects on the eye on this website that you may want to share with your readers
See Featured Creatures.

Letter 20 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: Is it a walking stick?
Location: Montgomery, TX
September 26, 2014 7:03 am
Found this little one on the back of a big one. Trying to determine:
1, Is it a walking stick?
2. Are they mating? or
3. Is it a mama taking a baby out?
Thanks for any information . . I also found this HUGE crazy bright red fuzzy ant, I’ll send photos later.
Kelli Lowery

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Hi Kelli,
Commonly called Muskmares, these are indeed mating Walkingsticks.  There is a pronounced difference between the size of the female versus that of her diminutive mate.

Letter 21 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Tyler, Texas
October 4, 2015 9:03 pm
This insect was resting on a crepe myrtle with its offspring on its back.
Signature: RT

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

Dear RT,
These are mating Muskmares, or more correctly, a Muskmare being mounted by her diminutive “stallion” as the male Muskmare is considerably smaller than his mate.  Muskmares are actually Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha and they should be handled with caution because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”  We should perhaps further qualify our warning that Muskmares should also be observed with caution as it is our understanding that they can spray a potential predator in the eye with amazing accuracy.

Letter 22 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Florida
November 7, 2015 9:41 am
Just curious, never seen it before
Signature: What’s that

Mating Muskmares
Mating Muskmares

These are Striped Walkingsticks or Muskmares in the genus Anisomorpha, and you should be cautious near them because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Letter 23 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Coastal South Carolina, inland about 8 miles
August 17, 2017 6:58 pm
I have seen these around the outside of my home always during the hot summer months, and usually at night. It appears to carry offspring on its back. It has long antennas on the front. Please tell me what this bug is.
Signature: Kristi Baker

Mating Muskmares

Dear Kristi,
What you have mistaken for an offspring is actually a mate.  These are Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha, sometimes called Muskmares because they are frequently found mating, and the larger female Muskmare is able to carry her diminutive mate on her back.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.” 

Letter 24 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject:  Is this a walking stick or???
Geographic location of the bug:  Florida Ocala area
Date: 11/11/2017
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

Mating Muskmares

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.” 

Letter 25 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject:  Stick bug love?
Geographic location of the bug:  Gulfshores, Alabama
Date: 08/12/2018
Time: 01:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just sharing some bug loving.
How you want your letter signed:  Lower Alabama Bug guy

Mating Muskmares

Dear Lower Alabama Bug guy,
These are Two-Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha, commonly called Muskmares because the much smaller male rides the larger female during mating, as your image illustrates, and because, according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Letter 26 – Mating Muskmares

 

Subject:  Scorpion tail bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Austin, Tx
Date: 06/17/2019
Time: 11:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This 4 inch long bug has been sticking around our entrance for a few days. I never saw it move but after 3 days it changed its position.
Looks creepy with that weired scorpion-like thing coming out of its tail.
Thanks for helping to identify the species.
How you want your letter signed:  Andreas

Mating Muskmare

Dear Andreas,
This is a mating Muskmare, a Two Striped Walkingstick.  The tail you mentioned is actually the smaller male insect riding the back of his much larger mate.  Featured Creatures has a wealth of information on this species, including:  “this species is capable of squirting a strong-smelling defensive spray that is painfully irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.”

Thanks a lot for your help here, Daniel!
After I submitted my pictures I went back to do more investigation as the number of legs didn’t match bug or spider. After the 10th look I also discovered that is actually a mating couple. Guess I need more practicing 😉
Cheers from Austin
Andreas Stark

Letter 27 – Bug of the Month February 2011: Mating Muskmares

 

Unknown Insect
Location: Sebring, FL, USA
January 5, 2011 9:46 am
Pictures were taken Dec 3, 2010.
Early afternoon.
Just wondering what they are.
Male and female.
Thank you.
Signature: Jack Nimon

Muskmare and her Stallion

mating Muskmares, a species of Walkingstick.  Be careful.  They spray a noxious substance with amazing accuracy.

Thanks very much. I’ve seen many in the area.
Jack Nimon

Muskmare and her Stallion

Hi again Jack,
We just fired off a quick response to you because we didn’t have time to write a lengthy posting before rushing out of the house to save the Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans californica) Woodland.  We love your one photo of the Muskmare and mate and we couldn’t think of a more romantic photo in recent memory that could serve as the Bug of the Month for February when it will run as a feature on our front page.  Some species of Walkingsticks or Phasmids reproduce parthenogenetically, meaning that young female Walkingsticks can develop from unfertilized eggs so they are genetically identical to the mother.  This is an example of a natural clone and it produces a race with no genetic diversity.  Your Muskmares or Two Lined Walkingsticks,
Anisomorpha buprestoides, are capable of spraying a noxious fluid from the leg joints with amazing accuracy.  There are numerous accounts of them spraying the unwary right in the eye.

Daniel,
I do have more pictures from different angles and at a better resolution if needed. I’d be honored to have the picture posted as bug of the month.
Jack Nimon

Send a few more images and we will see if we need to update the posting which already looks great.  It will undergo minor alteration for the Bug of the Month.

Letter 28 – Muskmare

 

Long insect found in Houston
My kids found this in our Garage today. Long body, 6 legs and a black stripe down the back. Can you identify it? We live in NW Houston. Thanks,
Gabriel

hi Gabriel,
This is a Two Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, also known as a Muskmare. This is a larger female. Mating pairs are frequently found. Handle the Muskmare with care as it is capable of spraying a noxious substance with amazing accuracy. They inevitably aim for the eyes, and though the noxious substance is an eye irritant, no lasting damage will occur.

Letter 29 – Muskmare

 


ok this is the first time i ever seen a spider looking thing poised like this. i found this on our swingset a few days ago. it didnt budge when i touched it. i expected for it to scurry away cause it looked like a spider to me. just a thing a spider would do when u try to touch em. thanks!
dogafin, from FL

Hi Dogafin,
This is a Two-Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, also known as a Muskmare. The Muskmare is capable of spraying a noxious substance with incredible accuracy, and we get numerous reports of people and their pets being sprayed in the eye.

Letter 30 – Muskmare

 

Great Site!
I loved your site – but as you were featured in Real Simple Magazine, I’m afraid you will be more swamped. question: I live in Houston TX and what I thought was a fat walking stick found in the garage after heavy rains is probably a water scorpion that I put on the begonias. Luckily for me, he was lethargic. Is he really a water scorpion?
Kat Sundberg
Houston, TX

Hi Kat,
The Two-Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, is also known as a Muskmare or Devil Rider. This species can spray a noxious substance that will burn the eyes temporarily, and they have very good aim. We tried to pick Real Simple up at the news stand, but they only had the July issue.

Letter 31 – Muskmare

 

Walkingstick Photo
We found this fascinating Walkingstick in the parking lot at St Andrews State Park, located in Panama City, Florida. My mother picked it up and moved it to the brush so it wouldn’t get run over. I came upon your website while trying to identify the bug – and now we know about it defense mechanism. Fortunately, this one didn’t feel threatened enough to spray us. Now that we know, we’ll certainly be more careful handling them in the future. Anyhow, I just wanted to share this picture with you and let you know how helpful your website is.
Thank you!
Suzanna Giddens

Hi Suzanna,
WE are very happy to find out the Muskmare didn’t spray your mother in the eye.

Letter 32 – Muskmare

 

long black body with a yellow stripe down the middle, spindly legs.
November 16, 2009
Seen on my drive way. Did not move when it was approached. Haven’t seen it move or fly, but have seen it in a couple of different places.
Curious
Gainesville, Florida

Muskmare
Muskmare

Dear Curious,
This is a Muskmare or Two Striped Walkingstick.

Letter 33 – Muskmare

 

Subject: Need help with Bug Identification
Location: Lake County, Florida
December 19, 2012 5:14 pm
Saw this impressive 6-8” 6 legged, primarily black bug with symmetrical yellow markings (wingless)sunning itself on our home in Central Florida. Do you know what it is?
Signature: Sandie Selman

Muskmare

Hi Sandie,
This is a Southern Two Striped Walkingstick or Muskmare,
Anisomorpha buprestoides, and you should exercise caution and avoid handling them.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”

Wow.  Thanks.  I’ll try to keep the dog & husband away too.
Sandie

Letter 34 – Muskmare

 

Subject: Name This Bug
Location: Navarre, Fl
August 30, 2013 3:37 pm
I found this critter on my back door around 4 pm. I live in Northwest Florida near the gulf. I have no clue what kind of bug this is and couldn’t find anything similar looking online.
Signature: -steven

Muskmare
Muskmare

Hi Steven,
We rarely get photos of Muskmares without stallions, because most of the images we get of Lined Walkingsticks depict mating pairs.

Letter 35 – Muskmare

 

Subject: Florida Palm
Location: Northeast Florida
September 27, 2014 2:51 pm
My husband and I just finished trimming back a palm tree next to our Florida room, and found this guy right inside the screen. He was maybe 3-4″ long, 5-6″ with antenna & was climbing up the door frame. The picture doesn’t show it, but his stripes are soft yellow and his antenna looked red. We’re in northeast Florida near the beach and marsh. Any ideas?
Signature: Señora Cardona

Muskmare
Muskmare

Dear Señora Cardona,
This is a female Two Striped Walkingstick in the genus
Anisomorpha, commonly called a Muskmare.  You should exercise caution when you encounter Muskmares, because according to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage”

Letter 36 – Muskmare and her mate

 

Subject:  Unidentified Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern Pope County, Arkansas
Date: 09/25/2021
Time: 12:14 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw these bugs on my doorjamb at about 8PM 9/25/21. The temperature was about 65 F/18.3 C degrees. For reference, my thumb in one picture is 3/4 inch/18mm wide. I’m in a small neighborhood built on a reclaimed swamp. Some remaining wetlands, open fields, and a small patch of woods are also nearby.
How you want your letter signed:  Miah

Muskmare and her diminutive mate

Dear Miah,
These are Striped Walkingsticks in the genus
Anisomorpha, a group that are commonly called Muskmares because mated pairs, with the considerably larger female carrying her diminutive mate, resemble a horse and its rider.  Approach with caution.  Striped Walkingsticks are able to shoot a noxious substance into a predator’s eyes with amazing accuracy.

 

Letter 37 – Muskmare and Mate

 

What is this
October 3, 2009
I have lived in Florida since 1979 and I have necer seen one of these.
I went out side my house around 10:30 last night and this bug was sitting on some deco blocks next to my house. He didnt git scared of me even though I got with in an inch of him. It looks to me that he has atleast 12 leggs and an unusual pattern on his back.
Meto
Orange county florida

Muskmare and Mate
Muskmare and Mate

Dear Meto,
The female Two Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides,
is known as a Muskmare, and she is carrying her diminutive mate on her back.  BugGuide has additional information on this species, which is capable of spraying a noxious fluid into the eyes of an attacker with amazing accuracy, so beware.

Thank you I am glad I didnt try to catch it. Is it harmfull to pets?

Somewhere in our archives, we believe there is an account of a pet being sprayed.  The effects wear off and do not create any lasting damage.

Letter 38 – Muskmare and unidentified Orthopteran

 

Two Louisiana Bugs
I was just wondering what kind of bugs these are so that I can avoid them at all costs, they are so ICKY!!!! The black bug was found out in the swamps in Louisiana; one of our guys put it in this box and brought it in. Later it ate through the box and escapes. The other bug was in the parking lot of an office building in Baton Rouge. Any ideas? Thanks very much.
Ashleigh

Muskmare Orthopteran


Hi Ashleigh,
The parking lot insect is a Muskmare, a type of Walking Stick. They can squirt a noxious fluid that will irritate your eyes if you aren’t cautious. The critter in the cage is an unidentifiable Orthopteran, probably some species of Flightless Katydid. Nice pedicure.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

13 thoughts on “Muskmare: All You Need to Know for a Smarter Choice”

  1. I should have searched harder. I just email a photo of this insect to WTB.:-) I had never noticed them in our yard before today, I am glad to know what they are.

    Reply
  2. on our site about stick insects (order Phasmatodea) I have written a detailed care sheet for Anisomorpha buprestoides. This should help you in getting started to breed such phasmids:
    http://www.phasmatodea.com/web/guest/221
    Normally their spray is not really harmful and causes some temporary irritation if it hits the eyes. But of course there might be persons which have a stronger reaction (like it is the case with bee stings)

    Bruno

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for providing a link to your care sheet Bruno, and also for clarifying the chemical spray toxicity of the Muskmare genus.

      Reply
  3. Thank you so much for the ID! She was so thick, I never would have guessed she was a type of walking stick. I always have the long twiggy ones in mind when I think of those, which is probably why I couldn’t find her on any ID sites.

    Reply
    • I just read that they have been reported eating rosemary, and I do have a large rosemary plant only a couple of feet from where I saw this. Bugs are cool!

      Reply

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