Subject: id conifer bug
Location: northen ca, mendocino county
January 3, 2016 11:42 am
Hi, we live in Northern CA in the conifers and tanbark oak trees. For years I have seen the adult insect of the enclosed picture of a baby. The adult is probably over 1 1/2″, same color. This year I found the little ones, probably 1/4″ in size. they crawl and hop. When I touch one it curls up. I can not seem to find this critter in any of my books or online. Can you help?
Signature: thank you Kathryn



Dear Kathryn,
You are quite observant to have spotted both adult and immature Timemas, an insect that is classified with the Walkingsticks.  According to BugGuide:  “Timema is a genus of small, stout, wingless walking sticks. It is so distinctive that it is the only genus in the entire suborder Timematodea, and it is an ancient group which is phylogenetically basal to the rest of the walking stick order Phasmida.”  BugGuide also states they are found:  “On foliage, twigs, or branches of host shrubs or trees…or on the ground, where they drop to upon disturbance. Host plants mostly associated with chaparral; some with woodlands or forest (e.g. douglas fir, redwood).  Green morphs tend to rest on leaves; brown to gray morphs on stems, branches or ground.   Unstriped morphs are usually associated with broad-leaved host plants (e.g. oaks, ceanothus, manzanita, etc.). Striped morphs are usually associated with host plants having needle-like leaves (e.g. chamise, douglas fir, redwood, etc.).   Coloration, stripes, and other markings serve as camouflage, and are adaptations driven by selection pressure due to predation by visually-oriented birds and lizards.”

Dear Daniel, thank you so much for your prompt reply.  You solved the mystery,   Sincerely,  Kathryn

Location: Mendocino County, California

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