Praying Mantis vs Walking Stick: Unveiling the Insect Battle Royale

Praying mantises and walking sticks are two fascinating types of insects that often grab the attention of nature enthusiasts. Both are known for their unique body shapes and camouflage abilities that enable them to blend into their surroundings. Despite these similarities, they are quite different in many ways, including behavior and habitat preferences.

For example, praying mantises are predators that actively search for prey, including other insects. They have raptorial front legs that help in hunting and capturing their targets. On the other hand, walking sticks are herbivores that feed on plant material and do not possess any hunting adaptations. Their long and thin body shape helps them blend in with foliage to avoid predators.

The main distinction between these insects lies in their feeding habits and physical features: praying mantises are hunters with raptorial front legs, while walking sticks are plant-eating insects that rely on their resemblance to twigs. As intriguing as they are, understanding the differences between them is vital for appreciating their distinct roles in the ecosystem.

Praying Mantis and Walking Stick Basics

Praying mantises are predators known for their characteristic praying posture. They come in various colors like gray, green, or brown, depending on the species. Walking sticks are herbivores who resemble real sticks, camouflaging among branches and foliage for protection from predators.

For example, the Mantis religiosa is green or tan with a round black dot on the underside of its forelegs. In comparison, the Indian stick insect is a common species of walking stick that is brown and elongated.

Some key features of praying mantises and walking sticks include:

  • Praying mantises:

    • Raptorial forelegs
    • Ambush predators
    • Chewing mouthparts
  • Walking sticks:

    • Stick-like bodies
    • Herbivorous
    • Excellent camouflage

Comparing these insects in detail:

Feature Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Diet Predators (insects, arachnids, small animals) Herbivores (primarily leaves)
Legs 6 legs (2 raptorial forelegs for capturing prey) 6 legs (long and slender to match stick mimicry)
Body shape Like grasshoppers or crickets, somewhat elongated Extremely elongated, stick-like
Common colors Gray, green, brown Brown, green
Reproduction Female lays eggs in an ootheca Female lays eggs individually or in small groups
Natural enemies Birds, spiders, ants Birds, spiders, small mammals
Defense mechanisms Ambush predators, blending in with surroundings Camouflage, immobility, autotomy (shedding legs)
Economic and ecological Biological control agents against pests Important role in plant consumption and nutrient cycling for ecosystems for the ecosystem

As seen in the table, praying mantises and walking sticks have distinct differences in terms of diet, body shape, and ecological roles. While both insects have unique characteristics, they have adapted different strategies for survival within their respective environments.

Physical Appearance and Camouflage

Praying mantises and walking sticks are both insects known for their unique appearances and ability to blend in with their surroundings. They use camouflage to stay hidden from predators and, in the case of the mantis, to ambush prey.

Praying mantises have a distinct triangular head with large, compound eyes, which gives them a wide field of vision. Their front legs are raptorial, designed for capturing prey. These legs resemble a praying position, hence their name. Common mantis colors include green and brown, allowing them to mimic leaves and twigs.

Walking sticks, on the other hand, are known for their slender exoskeleton and elongated body, which imitates the appearance of sticks. They lack the triangular head and raptorial front legs seen in mantises. Their coloration typically consists of browns and greens, similar to bark and plant material.

Some similarities between these two creatures include:

  • Camouflaged appearance
  • Plant-like colors
  • Similar habitats, such as leaves and branches

Despite these similarities, unique features set them apart:

  • Praying mantises have a triangular head and raptorial front legs
  • Walking sticks have a slender exoskeleton and elongated body

Here’s a comparison table highlighting their differences:

Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Triangular head Slender
Raptorial front legs Exoskeleton
Wide field of vision Elongated body
Ambushes prey Mimics sticks

In conclusion, both praying mantises and walking sticks use camouflage to their advantage by blending in with their environments. Their differences lie in their body structures and hunting behaviors, with mantises being predatory insects and walking sticks focusing on mimicry.

Habitat and Distribution

Praying mantises and walking sticks both have unique appearances and inhabit various environments. Here, we’ll explore their habitats and distribution.

Praying Mantis:

  • Praying mantises inhabit tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions.
  • They can thrive in grasslands, trees, and bushes.
  • Some common species, like the Chinese mantis, are native to China, while the Carolina mantis is native to the southern United States.

Walking Stick:

  • These insects are more commonly found in warmer climates, such as tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Walking sticks reside in trees and bushes, having great camouflage abilities.
  • They are also found in various countries, from Central and South America to some parts of Asia and Africa.

Below is a comparison table detailing their habitat and distribution features:

Feature Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Habitat Tropical, subtropical, temperate Tropical, subtropical
Biomes Grasslands, trees, bushes Trees, bushes
Distribution China, United States, worldwide Central/South America, Asia, Africa

In conclusion, praying mantises and walking sticks have distinct habitat preferences and can be found in diverse locations worldwide. Their unique appearances help them adapt and thrive in different environments.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Praying Mantis:
Praying mantises are carnivorous insects. They primarily feed on other small insects.

  • Examples of prey: flies, crickets, moths
  • Predators: birds, frogs, spiders

Walking Stick:
Walking sticks are herbivorous insects. They consume plant matter for nutrition.

  • Examples of plant life: leaves, stems, flowers
  • Predators: birds, reptiles, small mammals

Comparison Table:

Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Diet Carnivore Herbivore
Prey Small Insects Plant matter
Predators Birds, Frogs, Spiders Birds, Reptiles, Small Mammals

Pros and Cons:

  • Praying Mantis:

    • Pros: Efficient hunters, natural pest control
    • Cons: May eat beneficial insects
  • Walking Stick:

    • Pros: Camouflage, low environmental impact
    • Cons: Vulnerable to deforestation, limited diet

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Praying Mantis

Praying mantises undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Females lay eggs in a foamy structure, called an ootheca, which hardens and contains 200 or more eggs.

Nymphs hatch in the spring and resemble smaller wingless adults. As they grow, nymphs molt several times before reaching adulthood.

Walking Stick

Walking stick insects also have three life stages, but some species are oviparous (laying eggs that develop outside the female’s body) while others reproduce through parthenogenesis (type of asexual reproduction).

During the nymph stage, walking sticks molt several times before reaching adulthood, similar to praying mantises.

Now let’s compare the two insects:

Feature Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Reproduction Sexual Sexual and Parthenogenetic
Egg Structure Ootheca Individual Eggs
Number of Eggs 200 or more Varies by species
Life Stages Egg, Nymph, Adult Egg, Nymph, Adult
Metamorphosis Type Incomplete Incomplete
Molting Process Present in Nymph Stage Present in Nymph Stage
Unique attributes – Highly predaceous
– Females may engage in sexual cannibalism
– Some species exhibit parthenogenesis
– Well-camouflaged as foliage

Both praying mantises and walking stick insects share similarities in their life cycles, such as incomplete metamorphosis and nymph molting. However, key differences include the types of egg structures and methods of reproduction. Praying mantises are known for their predaceous nature and potential for sexual cannibalism, while walking stick insects possess remarkable camouflage abilities and, in some species, reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis.

Behavior and Human Interaction

Praying mantises are known for their distinctive posture with modified front legs for grasping prey. They have compound eyes, making them great hunters of insects and even some small vertebrates.

Walking sticks are primarily herbivores, using their spines for protection while they feed on leaves. They are masters of camouflage and usually remain motionless to blend with their environment.

Humans often interact with these insects in different ways:

  • As pets: both praying mantises and walking sticks can be kept as pets in captivity. They’re low-maintenance, requiring only a suitable enclosure, food, and moderate temperatures.

  • As pest control: praying mantises, in particular, can help reduce the population of unwanted insects in gardens, but they don’t discriminate and may also consume beneficial insects.

When it comes to danger to humans, neither insect poses a significant threat:

  • Bite: Neither praying mantises nor walking sticks typically bite humans. In rare cases, a praying mantis might bite if it feels threatened, but its bite is not harmful.

  • Spines: Walking sticks have spines for defense, but they pose no harm to humans.

  • Flight: Some species of walking stick can fly, but they pose no threat during flight.

Here’s a comparison table to highlight the differences in behavior and human interactions:

Feature Praying Mantis Walking Stick
Diet Primarily carnivorous Herbivorous
Posture Distinctive prey-grasping stance Camouflaged, motionless
Human Benefit Pest control, interesting pets Unique, low-maintenance pets
Potential Harm Rarely bites, no harm No significant harm from spines or flight

In conclusion, both praying mantises and walking sticks exhibit unique behaviors that make them interesting subjects for human observation and interaction. While posing no significant danger, they can be appreciated for their fascinating characteristics and benefit to the ecosystem.

Taxonomy and Notable Species

Praying mantises and walking sticks are both fascinating insects belonging to different orders. The order Mantodea comprises the praying mantises, while the order Phasmatodea, also known as Phasmida, includes walking sticks and leaf insects.

Some key differences in taxonomy are:

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Both)
  • Phylum: Arthropoda (Both)
  • Class: Insecta (Both)
  • Subclass: Pterygota (Both)
  • Infraclass: Neoptera (Both)
  • Superorder: Dictyoptera (Mantodea) | Orthopterida (Phasmatodea)
  • Order: Mantodea (Praying Mantises) | Phasmatodea (Walking Sticks)

Notable species within each order include:

  • Mantodea:
    • Orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)
    • Ghost mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa)
    • Mantis religiosa (European mantis)
  • Phasmatodea:
    • Stick insects (Various genera)
    • Leaf insects (Phylliidae family)

Praying mantises and walking sticks vary in size. Mantises typically range from 2-5 inches long, whereas walking sticks can range from 1-12 inches long.

A comparison table of features for the orders Mantodea and Phasmatodea:

Feature Mantodea Phasmatodea
Size 2-5 inches 1-12 inches
Body Shape Elongate, often with folded wings Elongate, stick-like
Camouflage Can resemble leaves or flowers Resembles sticks or leaves
Legs Raptorial front legs for catching prey Six long legs evenly spaced
Diet Carnivorous, mainly feed on other insects Herbivorous, feed on leaves
Defense Mechanisms Ambush predators, camouflage Camouflage, mimicry, autotomy

Both praying mantises and walking sticks are interesting insects with unique features and adaptations. Mantises use their distinctive front legs to catch prey, while walking sticks rely on their incredible ability to blend in with their environment for defense.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 Walkingsticks


Walking stick species???
We saw this in our back yard today. It has a baby on its back. The bug is wingless and has 6 legs. It looks like some kind of small fat walking stick 🙂 It is certainly adapted for living in trees with its coloring. We live in Southern Ky. (East Bernstadt).’m sending in 2 pics to help you ID it…Can’t wait to find out!! Thanks…this is a really cool site by the way
Ed and daughter Scarlett
Souther, Ky

Mating Walkingsticks
Mating Walkingsticks

Hi Ed and Scarlett,
Your insects are mating Walkingsticks.  We thought they might be Muskmares, but we also thought you were too far north for this species.  We believe this is a closely related species in the same genus, Anisomorpha ferruginea, which we located on Bugguide.

Letter 2 – Moss Mimic Walkingstick from Costa Rica


Need insect id-Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
January 28, 2011 11:08 am
Hello. Photographed this very well camouflaged bug (insect, spider) in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde area Costa Rica.
Saw it walking across a leaf. when i got close it froze up, looking like a piece of moss. Got a pretty good pic. Brought a small twig close to it, and it jumped off the leaf, almost moved spider like.What could it be.
Signature: DC

Possibly a Phasmid

Wow DC,
That is one crazy insect.  Our first guess would be a Walkingstick or other Phasmid.  They are an order known for excellent camouflage.  Our second guess would be some species of Katydid, though the antennae don’t seem long enough.  We wish you had a better view of the head as the mouthparts might give us some clues.  We hope one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Jacob’s Comment leads to a post in our archive
Thanks to Jacob who found the Moss Mimic Walkingstick,
Trychopeplus laciniatus,  which was identified by Dr. Bruno Kneubühler  (Switzerland) in our own archives:  2008/08/05/moss-mimic-walkingstick-from-costa-rica/.

Karl also cites our archives
Hi Daniel and DC:
I believe the same beast was posted previously on WTB?; by danielj on August 5th, 2008. It was subsequently identified by Dr. Bruno Kneubühler as a Phasmid, specifically “…a nymph (young one) of Trychopeplus sp. (most probably Trychopeplus laciniatus)”. I am quite envious of anyone that manages to find one of these; I keep searching but haven’t found one yet.  Regards. K

Letter 3 – Mating Stick Insects from Thailand is Trachythorax species


Subject: What is that bug?
Location: Thailan, Phuket
August 7, 2012 9:55 am
Found on my kitchen in Thailand
Signature: Alex

Mating Oleander Walkingsticks

Dear Alex,
How big is this thing?  It would be a really great Horror Movie monster.  This insect is a Phasmid, a member of the insect order Phasmida,  commonly called Stick Insects or Walkingsticks.  Can you provide any additional details?  We will do some additional research later today.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for fast response.
It was around 13 cm. And actually there was a pair of such things. I don’t know if you received picture in good quality, here it is again 🙂
Alexander “Ma” Maltsev

Hi again Alex,
We are not having any luck matching your image to any particular species in Thailand.  We can tell you this individual has had some trauma in its life as it appears to be missing two legs.

Update:  September 15, 2012
Thanks to a comment from Bruno, he believes that these are mating Phasmids in the genus
Trachythorax.  According to the Siam Insect Zoo, they are commonly called Oleander Walkingsticks.


Letter 4 – Mating Northern Walkingsticks


Walking Sticks
I found these while hiking. I thought it interesting that the male and female looked so different! I was on a hike in the Hoosier National Forest, near Paoli, IN.

Hi Chad,
We believe these are mating Northern Walkingsticks, Diapheromera femorata. We are waiting for a confirmation on that identification from Eric Eaton.

Letter 5 – Mating Northern Walkingsticks


Subject: Mating Phasmids Of Unknown Species
Location: Near Crosslake, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA
August 5, 2012 4:51 am
I came across this connected and presumably mating pair of walking sticks by random chance. The smaller brown one (the male, I think?) was firmly connected to the larger green female(?) via the male’s rearmost part, which was wrapped around the corresponding part on the female.
They had their pictures taken on one of those clear plastic trays that small tomatoes on the vine are sold in at stores, if that gives any sense of scale. I would estimate that the female was about 2” long.
The location was north central Minnesota, USA (Crow Wing County).
What species are these? Are they common in this area?
Signature: Mike

Mating Northern Walkingsticks

Hi Mike,
We believe these are mating Northern Walkingsticks,
Diapheromera femorata, based on this photo posted to BugGuide and they also fit this verbal description from BugGuide:  “Very elongated, wingless. Male brown, female greenish brown. Antennae 2/3 length of body.   Cerci with one segment, often resembling palps at the tip of the abdomen.”  Regarding their population, BugGuideprovides this information:  “This species is native to the US and Canada. It is the most common species of Phasmid in North America.  When very numerous, they can severely defoliate trees.”

Mating Northern Walkingsticks

Letter 6 – Mating Striped Walkingsticks allegedly reported from California


Subject: ID. needed
Location: la California
August 11, 2015 6:14 pm
I’m not from the area that this was found so I have no idea what it is. This was found walking across a parking lot in Los Angeles California. Thanks
Signature: no tech

Mating Walkingsticks
Mating Walkingsticks

Dear no tech,
Is this a hoax?  Did you take this image while visiting Los Angeles?  You indicated you are not from the area where it was found and the WTB? form you submitted the image with contains the language:  “you swear that you either took the photo(s) yourself or have explicit permission from the photographer or copyright holder to use the image.”  The digital file you attached begins with the letters “fb” which leads us to believe they have been pilfered from FaceBook.  These are mating Walkingsticks and we believe they are Striped Walkingsticks or Muskmares in the family Pseudophasmatidae.  To the best of our knowledge, and according to BugGuide, the range of the family in North America is the Southeast, and the furthest western reports are from Texas.  With that said, we can come up with several explanations.  This might be a hoax, or it might be a mistake.  We suppose it is possible that Striped Walkingsticks may have been imported into California through individuals or through the exotic insect trade, and that they were either released or escaped.  If that is the case, and this mating pair is in the wild, Southern California may soon have another Invasive Exotic species with which to contend.  According to BugGuide:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.”  

Letter 7 – Mating Two-Striped Walkingsticks


Subject: Two insects
Location: Ravenel, SC
October 31, 2016 9:51 am
My husband found these guys in there work shop and was curious what they are.
Signature: Melissa

Two-Striped Walkingsticks Mating
Two-Striped Walkingsticks Mating

Dear Melissa,
These are mating Two-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.”  Mating pairs are sometimes called Muskmares, though theoretically, only the female is a Muskmare.  You might enjoy this image of a herd of mating Muskmares from our archives.

Letter 8 – MILKWEED MEADOW: Mating Walkingsticks and Mating Milkweed Beetles and Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars


Bug Love at Shenandoah
Location:  Shenandoah National Park, VA
August 17, 2010 9:43 pm
Hi, Daniel, My grandson and I just spent a long weekend camping at Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of west-central VA, a nice change from the heat and humidity of the VA Peninsula. We found tons of good bugs and are sending a sample. The first is of milkweed beetles mating on, what else?, milkweed growing right outside the visitor center at Big Meadow in the Park. The second is from the Meadow and was a great find – walking sticks!! We also found 2 rhinoceros beetles but couldn’t get in close enough for a good shot. Enjoy!
Kathy Haines

Mating Walkingsticks

Hi Kathy,
We just received your numerous emails with multiple attached photographs, and we want to post one image before hurrying out to work.  The Walkingsticks appear to be Northern Walkingsticks,
Diapheromera femorata, which can be verified on BugGuide.  Please in the future do not send multiple unrelated species in a single email because it complicates our system of archiving letters.

Daniel, thanks, and I’m so sorry – I’m so impressed with the work you do on what we send in that the last thing I’d want to do is mess it up.  My apologies, and thanks for letting me know.
Kathy Haines

PLease don’t take our comment the wrong way.  It will just be so difficult for us to choose from among your other great photos.  We may just try posting one email with multiple categories.  Your Large Milkweed Bug photo of
Oncopeltus fasciatus is a great continuation of the thriving ecosystem surrounding the Milkweed Meadow.  More information on the Large Milkweed Bug, which is not a beetle, may be located on BugGuide.

Mating Large Milkweed Bugs

Shenandoah, Part II
Location:  Shenandoah National Park, VA
August 17, 2010 9:47 pm
Here are a couple more from the Shenandoah NP camping trip. I think we have milkweed tussock caterpillars, maybe a type of armyworm caterpillar?, and a daddy longlegs. We’re bypassing the many monarchs, eastern tiger swallowtails (our state insect), and what we think is a hickory tussock moth but will send one more with a gorgeous green sphinx (we think).
Kathy Haines

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

Hi again Kathy,
This photo of the Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars or Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars,
Euchaetes egle, supports the description of the life cycle on BugGuide which states:  “Larvae feed on milkweed, Asclepias species. Adults sometimes found on hostplant during day (1). Females lay eggs in “rafts” and caterpillars are gregarious during instars 1-3, solitary in later instars, when marked with bright tufts. May defoliate patches of milkweed.”  We are adding this image to your previous letter and building the Milkweed Meadow feature.

Ethan (my grandson) and I are honored.  This is so cool!  I can’t wait for him to see the post – he’s going to love it.
Thanks, Daniel – I can’t stop smiling.
Kathy Haines

What’s That Bug on the Tomato PLant???
Could that be a new book title?  The Milkweed Meadow or Goldenrod Forest would be much more fascinating books.  Or, I could just stay close to home and write Black Mustard and the Camino Real and its thriving Spider and Insect population in Elyria Canyon.

Letter 9 – Mating Walkingsticks: Muskmare and her stallion


Subject: Is this a type of walking stick
Location: South Texas near the ocean
June 3, 2012 10:23 pm
My husband and I found this bug earlier today while working on the house but are not quite sure what kind it is. When my husband knocked it off the house it let out a horrible smell like a stink bug but worse. It also has a smaller insect just like it on it’s back as well.
Signature: Unsure

Muskmare and Mate

Dear Unsure,
You are correct that this is a Walkingstick, but you failed to realize it is two Walkingsticks, a Muskmare and her mate.  We guess you smelled the musk.  Not only does it smell, it is caustic and the Muskmare can spray it with amazing accuracy, and it seems to hit the eye with a better than expected average of attempts.

Letter 10 – Moss Mimic Walkingstick from Costa Rica: probably Trychopeplus laciniatus


costa rica critters
hey bugman,
I just wrote you with some photos of jumping spiders from toronto. I remembered that I had some photos from costa rica to share with you. I just got into your site and would like to add any way I can. attached are some of the finds that I had. the first is a walking stick that looked like moss from monte verde, costa rica. the second is a preying mantis I had a photoshoot with. the way she displayed her wings (she?) was pretty cool. that was in la fortuna, costa rica. the third is a whip scorpion I found when we were volunteering in making a soccer field for the local school in playa matapalo, costa rica. I hope these pics can be of help, and I would like to know if I can get the proper names for my little friends.
thanks for the great site!

While we are not certain exactly what your Moss Mimic Walkingstick from Costa Rica is, we are fascinated by it and hope one of our readers can contribute some information.

Update:  December 15, 2008
I would just like to let you know IDs for some of the phasmid (walking
stick) pics you have on your site:
entry 25. September 2008 – this is a nymph (young one) of Trychopeplus
sp. (most probably Trychopeplus laciniatus). They live in mountainuos
neotropical regions up to the could forests – like in Monte Verde.
wishing you all the best
Dr. Bruno Kneubühler  (Switzerland)

Letter 11 – Musk-Mare Walkingstick


found a bug in my garage
I found this bug in my garage that caught me by surprise. When I moved it with my broom, it started to attack the broom with it’s stinger. Creeped me out!!

Hi Tony,
We wrote to Eric Eaton to see if he could give us a species name for your Walkingstick. He wrote: “This is indeed a walkingstick, specifically Anisomorpha buprestoides, and a female. The species goes by regional names like "devil-rider" and "musk-mare," in reference to the fact that mating pairs can remain coupled for days at a time; also, they can squirt a potent, foul, milky substance from glands in their neck. If they hit you in the eye it is truly painful, aparently not damaging otherwise.” The Walkingstick doesn’t have a stinger, but you want to steer clear of that noxious secretion.

Letter 12 – Musk-Mare Walkingstick and her stallion


What’s this bug?
I have never seen anything like this bug. It literally looks like a piece of wood. Being that I’m in Florida, I don’t know if it flew away, hopped away or got eaten by something even bigger. By the way, does it bite? Does it eat wood? Yes, I still have a door! Or, is it just hanging around waiting for it’s next meal?

Your “It” is acutally “Them”. You have 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, as witnessed in your photograph. Beware!! They do not bite but they can spray a noxious substance from their necks that is painful if it gets in your eye. We are toying with the idea of adding a “Sex” or “Love among the Bugs” page to our site and we will definitely use your image when that day arrives.

So my “it” was a “them” doing “it!” Too funny! Not only was your website helpful; but, very educational as well. Thank you so much for your help.

Letter 13 – Muskmare and her stallion!!! Mating Walkingsticks


Here’s a photo of a musk-mare – didn’t know what it was ‘till I found your website. Thought you’d like a decent photo of the pair. Also, you helped me identify a mole cricket today. Strangest thing I’ve seen in a while. Thanks.
Gene Browning
Melbourne FL

Hi Gene,
Your photo of Mating Two-Lined Walkingsticks, or Muskmares, is great. Stay clear of the noxious fluid they are capable of spraying into your eyes.

Letter 14 – Newly Molted Walkingstick


Walking Stick
I took this photo of a young walking stick the other day. It is the first time I ever saw one actually molting. It was on a rose bush in our garden here in Northwest Arkansas. I suppose it had to hang there exposed until its new exoskeleton hardened. It is obviously a good deal larger than its old skin that is attached to the rose leaf.

Hi Larry,
Thank you for sending us your contribution. Like other arthropods, Walkingsticks cannot grow until their hard exoskeleton is shed, which allows room for expansion.

Letter 15 – Northern Two Striped Walkingstick


What’s this Bug?
Location: Northeastern Oklahoma
November 5, 2010 10:39 pm
I live in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, this is pics of a bug we are finding in our home. I have lived here most of my life, and have never seen one, looking forward to hearing what it is. It is early Autumn here, November.
Signature: Thank you, Tonya

Northern Two Striped Walkingstick

Dear Tonya,
Your creature is a Northern Two Striped Walkingstick, which is a somewhat ironic name since it seems BugGuide only reports it south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  According to the BugGuide genus page:  “Members of this genus can deliver a chemical spray to the eyes that can cause corneal damage.

Letter 16 – Northern Two-Striped Walkingsticks Mating


Subject: Muskmare
Location: near Tell City, Indiana
September 8, 2013 2:27 pm
I took this picture yesterday in The Hoosier National Forest at the campground near Celina Lake in Southern Indiana. From the images on this website I believe it’s a mating pair of Muskmare but it seems that the other pictures of these guys were taken much further south. I’d just like to know for sure what they are.
Signature: Robin

Probably Northern Walkingsticks Mating
Probably Northern Walkingsticks Mating

Dear Robin,
In our opinion, this is a mating pair of Northern Walkingsticks, Diapheromera femorata, and not Muskmares.  See BugGuide for more information on the Northern Walkingstick.

Thanks a bunch Daniel but the northern walking stick doesn’t look anything
like what I saw. Please take a look at the photo I’ve attached below.
Thank you,

Hi Robin,
We will check with Eric Eaton and get his opinion.

We Stand Corrected:  Eric Eaton identifies Northern Two-Striped Walkingsticks
Wow, must be from southwest Indiana, as this is a mostly southern U.S. walkingstick, the Northern Two-striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha ferruginea.  More from Bugguide:
Currently no records there from Indiana, and I wonder if it is even known from there period.  Please suggest the person post the image(s?) there.  Also, it is important to note these insects are well-known for squirting a milky substance from glands in the “neck” as a self-defense maneuver.  They aim for the eyes of their attacker and it is a serious matter if one gets sprayed (potential corneal damage).  Handling them is not recommended.

Letter 17 – Northern Two-Lined Walkingstick


What is this?
Location: Alabama
December 2, 2011 10:19 pm
What kind of bug is this? I saw it in central Alabama – Cheaha State Park, about 2,000 ft elevation. It was crawling along the forest floor. It was about 3.5 inches long.
Signature: With Ink


Dear With Ink,
You have submitted a photograph of a Southern Two-Lined Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, and it is also known by the common name Muskmare.  The name Muskmare refers to two characteristics of this species.  Adults are frequently found in a mating position with the diminutive male riding atop his mount.  The species is also capable of spraying a noxious substance with amazing accuracy, and there are reports that damage to the cornea can occur if the musky spray hits the eye.

Thanks!  I’m glad I didn’t get sprayed.

December 6, 2011
We just received a species correction that this is a Northern Two-Lined Walkingstick, not a Southern Two-Lined Walkingstick.  It is interesting that BugGuide does not recognize the common name Muskmare for either species or the genus.


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    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

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    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.

18 thoughts on “Praying Mantis vs Walking Stick: Unveiling the Insect Battle Royale”

  1. i live in Sand Springs, Ok and i came across this but, which i found out by your site that are are mating walkingsticks, my yard is covered in them when we mow we prolly have a billion of them…..thank you for your site to tell me what kind of bug i have…

  2. I love you guys, but you can be really condescending sometimes. “……what you failed to realize”? I frequent your website and love bugs too! Make it enjoyably educational instead of scolding so much. Not everyone is as rational/intelligent as you.

    • Hi Rachael,
      Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We really did not mean to be condescending. We thought that we were acknowledging that the person correctly identified the insect order, but just didn’t notice that it was actually two insects.

    • Dear Bugophile,
      Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have corrected the posting. We were very sleepy last night when this was first posted and because of the shallow depth of field, the size difference and the crazy optical illusion tablecloth, we missed the diminutive male Stick Insect. We really appreciate our readership keeping us on our toes.

  3. No this is not a hoax. My friend actually took the picture and forwarded it to me via fb. This was in LA. I’m from PA. I’m use to seeing walking sticks but none of our walking sticks look anything like that. Thank you.

  4. I have had these in my yard before about 7 years or so ago. I’ve been wondering what they were since because they didn’t come back til this year.

  5. I came across these striped walking sticks & thought the smaller one on the big ones back was a baby..after reading about the toxin they spray im so paranoid that it sprayed me as i carefully tried to trap it to get a closer look..would the spray be obvious or am i just being paranoid? Silly question i know..


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