Walking Stick Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey Explained

Walking sticks, also known as stick insects, belong to the insect order Phasmatodea, which consists of around 3,000 species. These fascinating creatures are known for their impressive camouflage capabilities, as they closely resemble twigs or branches found in their natural habitat. The life cycle of walking sticks is a captivating aspect of their existence, showcasing the different stages they undergo to reach adulthood.

As an insect enthusiast, you might be interested to learn the various stages in the walking stick life cycle. It begins with the female laying eggs, sometimes in impressive numbers. Each egg is tiny and resembles a seed, ensuring they blend in with their environment. Upon hatching, the young walking sticks, known as nymphs, emerge and start their journey towards adulthood.

During the nymph stage, walking sticks experience several molting events, where they shed their exoskeleton to accommodate their growing bodies. This process continues until they reach their adult form, complete with fully-functional wings and reproductive organs. Understanding the life cycle of these remarkable insects can deepen your appreciation for their unique role in the natural world.

Physical Description

Size and Color

You’ll find that walking sticks come in various sizes and colors. Most of them are between 1 to 14 inches in length, but some can be even longer. Their colors usually range from shades of tan, green, brown, and gray, allowing them to effectively blend into their surroundings.

Body Form

Walking sticks have a unique body form that helps them mimic twigs and branches for camouflage. Here are some of their main features:

  • Long, slender body
  • Cylindrical in shape
  • Often covered with small bumps or grooves

Examples of such body forms can be observed in species like the Phasmatidae family.

Antennae and Legs

The antennae and legs of walking sticks are also quite distinctive. They typically have:

  • Two long, thread-like antennae
  • Six multi-jointed legs, with the front pair often held up like twigs, assisting in camouflage

For instance, the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) shows these typical antennae and leg features.

Wings or Wingless

Another important aspect of their physical appearance is whether they are winged or wingless:

Species Winged/Wingless Description
Timema cristinae Wingless Primarily found on bushes
Phobaeticus serratipes Wingless One of the longest insects
Necroscia sparaxes Winged Can fly short distances

As you can observe, different species of walking sticks exhibit either wingless or winged forms. In some cases, wings may be present but only used for short flights.

Habitat and Range

North America

In North America, walking sticks are more commonly found in temperate regions like Florida and Texas. They prefer habitats such as:

  • Dense forests
  • Woodlands
  • Scrublands

The environment in these areas provides them with ample opportunities to camouflage, blend into their surroundings, and find suitable food sources.

Tropical Regions

In tropical regions, walking stick diversity increases significantly. Here, you’ll often observe many species exhibiting vibrant colors and different shapes. Their habitat preferences include:

  • Rainforests
  • Jungles
  • Mangroves

These locations provide an even richer variety of foliage for them to feed on and hide from predators.

You may notice that walking sticks have various characteristics to thrive in these environments, enjoying a wide range of habitats across different geographical locations. Their remarkable adaptability helps them successfully occupy multiple ecosystems, ensuring their continuous survival.

Food and Diet

Herbivore Behavior

Walking sticks are herbivores that primarily feed on leaves of various plants. As a result, they play a vital role in the ecosystem by helping to control plant growth and recycle nutrients. For example, by defoliating oaks, they encourage the growth of newer, healthier foliage.

Typical Foods

These fascinating insects have a diverse diet and mainly feed on the leaves of several tree species, such as:

  • Oak
  • Twig
  • Locust
  • Ash
  • Hickory
  • Basswood
  • Wild Cherry
  • Apple

Here’s a table comparing some of their most common choices:

Tree Species Preference Nutritional Value
Oak High Rich in nutrients
Locust Medium Moderate nutrient content
Wild Cherry Low Lower nutritional value

Walking sticks typically target younger leaves, as they are easier to digest and provide higher nutrient levels. To make the most of their diet, it’s crucial for you to ensure the walking sticks in your care have access to foliage from these trees. Keep in mind that avoiding pesticides and offering a varied diet will contribute to the health and well-being of your walking sticks.

Reproduction and Life Cycle


During the mating season, male and female walking sticks engage in sexual behavior to reproduce. Males search for females and, upon finding a suitable partner, they mount and initiate copulation. In some species, males may remain attached to females for several days to prevent other males from mating.


Once the mating process is complete, the female walking stick starts laying eggs. She often flicks or drops them onto the ground, where they blend with the environment. Eggs can hatch in the spring, and some species may have a parthenogenetic life cycle, meaning females can reproduce without needing to mate.

Nymph Stage

When the eggs hatch, tiny nymphs emerge. These nymphs resemble smaller versions of the adults but lack wings and are not sexually mature. They molt several times, growing with each molt, and progress through a series of stages known as instars. Nymphs eat voraciously during this time to fuel their growth.


Once the nymphs reach their final molt, they enter the adult stage. This is when they develop wings and reproductive organs, marking their sexual maturity. Adult walking sticks are typically well-camouflaged, which helps them avoid predators. Their life cycle may last several years, allowing them to reproduce and contribute to the next generation.

The walking stick life cycle can be summarized in the following table:

Stage Features
Mating Sexual behavior; males search for females
Egg-Laying Females flick or drop eggs onto the ground
Nymph Stage Resemble smaller adults; lack wings and maturity
Adulthood Develop wings and reproductive organs; live for years

Remember, as you observe and study these fascinating creatures, the walking stick life cycle can teach you a great deal about the many different ways insects adapt and survive in their environments.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms


Walking sticks use natural camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. This helps them avoid being detected by predators such as ants, birds, and bats. They can resemble leaves, twigs, or branches, which makes it difficult for predators to spot them. For example:

  • Leaf-like walking sticks have flattened bodies that resemble leaves.
  • Twig-like walking sticks have narrow, elongated bodies that look like twigs.


Autotomy is a unique defense mechanism that you can find in walking sticks. When attacked or threatened, a walking stick can shed its legs or other body parts to escape. The detached limb continues to move, distracting the predator, and allowing the walking stick to survive. This remarkable ability allows walking sticks to regenerate their lost limbs over time.


Despite their camouflage and autotomy abilities, walking sticks can still fall prey to various predators. Some common predators include:

  • Ants: Known for their cooperative behavior, ants can work together to attack and bring down a walking stick.
  • Birds: With their keen eyesight and aerial advantage, birds can sometimes spot and capture walking sticks.
  • Bats: Bats use echolocation to find their prey, making it more challenging for walking sticks to hide from them.

In conclusion, walking sticks employ various defense mechanisms, such as camouflage and autotomy, to avoid predators. Still, they face challenges from ants, birds, and bats, which adaptively hunt for them despite their best efforts in hiding and defense.

Species and Classification

Walkingstick Species

The walkingstick, also known as stick insect or phasmid, is a fascinating creature that is perfectly camouflaged to look like a twig. The northern walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) is a widely found species in North America, measuring 3.5 to 4 inches in length.

These insects belong to the order Phasmatodea, also known as Phasmida. They are wingless creatures, with long, slender legs, bodies, and antennae that contribute to their twig-like appearance. Some interesting features of walkingstick species include:

  • Primarily brown, tan, gray, or green in color
  • Wingless in North America, while some tropical species have wings
  • Long and slender legs, body, and antennae

Other Related Species

Besides walkingstick insects, another group of related species is leaf insects. Both walkingstick and leaf insects belong to the same order, Phasmatodea, but they are distinguished by certain differences:

Feature Walkingstick Leaf Insect
Camouflage Resembles twigs Resemble leaves
Body Shape Long and slender Broad and flat
Typical Color Brown, tan, gray, or green Green, occasionally brown

In summary, walkingstick insects and leaf insects share similarities in their camouflage, both belonging to the Phasmatodea order. However, walkingstick species like the northern walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) have distinct characteristics that separate them from leaf insects, such as their twig-like appearance and coloration.

Human Interaction

Pet Trade

Walking sticks are fascinating creatures, and due to their unique appearance and behavior, they have become popular in the pet trade. When properly cared for, they can make interesting and low-maintenance pets. Here are some features of walking stick pets:

  • Low maintenance: They do not require much space, and their diet consists mainly of leaves.
  • Educational: They can teach you about their life cycle, ecology, and behavior.

Despite these qualities, it’s important to be aware of the possible downsides:

  • Fragile: Walking sticks can be easily injured if handled roughly, so they may not be suitable for young children.
  • Local regulations: Some localities may have restrictions on keeping walking sticks as pets, so you should always check before acquiring one.

Walking Sticks and Research

Walking sticks have been the subject of various research studies because of their unique characteristics. For example, researchers at Iowa State University have been studying their life cycle, behavior, and ecological significance. Similarly, the San Diego Zoo has an extensive collection of walking sticks as part of their insect conservation and research efforts.

Some aspects of walking sticks that have caught the attention of researchers:

  • Camouflage: Their exceptional ability to blend in with their surroundings is a subject of interest for understanding the evolution of mimicry and concealment strategies.
  • Reproduction: The parthenogenetic reproduction exhibited by some walking stick species has also sparked interest in the fields of genetics and insect reproduction.

In conclusion, while walking sticks might not be the most common creatures found in households or research labs, their unique features sure make them captivating subjects for both pet enthusiasts and researchers.


When studying the life cycle of walking sticks, it’s essential to consult reliable sources for accurate information. Some highly-regarded sources on this topic include:

  • Academic journals and research papers, which offer in-depth analysis and findings from scientific studies. For example, you might find articles in the Journal of Insect Science or the Entomological Society of America.

  • Authoritative websites and databases, such as the Smithsonian Institution or the National Wildlife Federation, provide up-to-date information on various species of walking sticks and their behaviors.

  • Books and field guides dedicated specifically to the study of insects, like walking sticks, can also be helpful. An example is the “Smithsonian Handbook on Insects and Spiders.”

Here are some key aspects of the walking stick life cycle you may encounter in your research:

  • Eggs: Female walking sticks lay eggs, which can vary in appearance depending on the species.
  • Nymphs: Once the eggs hatch, the young walking sticks are called nymphs and closely resemble the adults, although they are smaller and lack wings.
  • Adults: As the nymphs grow and molt, they eventually metamorphosize into adult walking sticks, with fully developed wings and a reproductive system.

When comparing different species of walking sticks, a comparison table might be useful to highlight their similarities and differences such as:

Species Size Color Habitat
Species A 2-4 inches Green Forests
Species B 5-7 inches Brown Grasslands

By exploring reputable sources and familiarizing yourself with the various stages and characteristics of the walking stick life cycle, you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of these fascinating insects.

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 – Pink Winged Stick Insect from Australia


Grasshopper, large, very unsuaul
February 4, 2010
We found this grasshopper? bug – looks like it just hatched or is not well. It is about 6″, or 12cm long. When we found it, its deep pink corrugated looking wings were open quite wide and the leaf looking bits at the top of the wings were standing up. We bought it home to observe it but it didn’t open its wings again. It was walking around on some bark that we collected for it. In the end, we put it on a tree to see if it would open its wings, but it walked up the tree and we were busy and couldn’t watch it any more. Pics attached. Can’t get the pic showing the whole grasshopper to load. It is the same size as the others.
Jan O’Donnell
South East Queensland, Australia

Pink Winged Stick Insect

Hi Jan,
This is a Goliath Stick Insect, Eurycnema goliath, which we identified on the Brisbane Insect website.  The individuals pictured there have more mottled coloration where your specimen seems to be more evenly green.  The bright pink wings are evident in your specimen and the images posted online.  The Brisbane Insect Website indicates:  “By watching the Goliath, we notice that  it has at least the following defence mechanisms. Of course its primary mechanism is its heavy camouflage. Its appearances and its movement resembles twigs or branches so that it can hide away from predators. It’s second defence mechanism is to scare its predators. When disturbed it will display the bright red colour under its wings and the eyes-patterns between the thorax and rear legs. Together with a swishing sound apparently coming from the wings. It will also kick its spiny legs which will help frighten the predator. We also noticed that the Goliath we found, one of its rear leg is missing, the other rear leg is a little bit shorter than normal (compare with pictures in reference books) and one of the front legs is extremely small. This indicated that it lost parts of its legs at least three times. This could be its last defence mechanism, for when its legs are held by its predator, a bird for example, it loses its leg deliberately and drops to the ground, the bird may not find the Goliath stick for its camouflage.
In many Stick Insects, the female is the larger, and we believe your specimen is a female.  Please try responding to our response and attaching the other photo.  We would love to see the complete insect.

PInk Winged Stick Insect abdomen closeup

The Brisbane Insect Website also states:  “Goliath Stick Insects eat a lot of plants materials and they leave a lot of droppings. To avoid the predators notice them by their droppings, the insect has a very special way to handle it. At the rear end of the insects’ abdomen, they have three large filaments. The middle filament holds the dropping when it comes out. The stick insects will flip their abdomen to throw their droppings a few meters away.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your reply.  It was such an interesting experience finding this insect this morning.  I don’t know if it is the same as the ones in the link to Brisbane Insect website – its body was more substantial and its head was very fine compared to the more obtuse head on the ones on that web page.  Anyhow, I have attached 2 more pics for you to see.

Pink Winged Stick Insect

Thanks for sending the other image Jan.  We are now confident that this is a Goliath Stick Insect, though the coloration is different from most of the photos we found online.

Correction:  March 28, 2013
Thanks to a comment from Becky, we now know that this is a Pink Winged Stick Insect, Podacanthus typhon, and we located a matching image on OzAnimals which states:  “found in south east Australia in New South Wales and Victoria.”  It is described as:  “The Pink-winged Phasma has striking pink wings with reddish pink veins and green leading edge. The front pair of wings are short and green. The wing covers are pale green and ridged in the centre. The legs are reddish pink and fairly short. The mesothorax is short and narrow with numerous tubercles. The body is long and pink above with last segment green, with two long thin cerci. Both males and females can fly.”

Letter 2 – Red Shouldered Phasmid from Australia


Subject: Phasmid in Australia
Location: Emerald, Queensland, Australia
February 10, 2015 5:01 am
Hi, looking for confirmation of type. This bug was found in the central highlands of Queensland in Emerald. I’ve been told children’s on several bug forums but am thinking either Goliath or Red Shouldered. I’ve included egg pictures incase that is of some help identifying her
Signature: Crystal

Red Shouldered Phasmid

Dear Crystal,
We haven’t the time this morning to do any research, so we are posting your images and we hope to get some input from our readers.

Red Shouldered Phasmid
Phasmid Eggs
Phasmid Eggs

Letter 3 – Northern Walkingstick


Walking stick???
Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 1:07 PM
Is this an insect? I thought that it was a walking stick, but it appears to only have 4 legs.
Matthew Peters
Hohenwald, TN 38462

Northern Walkingstick
Northern Walkingstick

Hi Matthew,
This looks like a Northern Walkinstick, Diapheromera femorata. The common name is deceptive since the species ranges throughout much of the eastern US, including the south, and Canada. BugGuide shows the genus represented in Texas, but does not identify it to the species level. BugGuide does report the species from Louisiana The front legs are being held together in front of the body.

Letter 4 – Stick Insect from Belize, NOT Katydid


Subject:  What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Placencia, Belize
Date: 09/09/2017
Time: 01:07 AM EDT
This is big, what is it?
How you want your letter signed:  AP

Stick Insect

Dear AP,
This is a Katydid, and it appears to be a species that mimics bark to help camouflage it from its enemies.  It resembles this Katydid from Panama that Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki identified as
Acanthodis curvidens.  There is an image on Visuals Unlimited that is identified as that species as well.  We will attempt to contact Piotr Naskrecki for verification.

Piotr Naskrecki provides a correction.
Hi Daniel,
Not only is this not the same species, it is not even the same order. This animal is a phasmid (stick insect) Prisopus sp. (Phasmida: Pseudophasmatidae). These animals are chemically protected and produce a strong, repellant smell when disturbed.

Hello Daniel,
Still a little confused, The Prisopus actually only had 2 legs on each side while ours has 3, does that make a difference? Please advise.
Thank you,

All insects have six legs, but some insects position themselves in such a way as to conceal body parts, including legs.

Letter 5 – Northern Walkingstick


pine needle looking insect
Okay, I’m stumped. Can you identify this most awesome example of evolution? This was on my screen one morning in southern New Hampshire. It is the exact size and shape of a couple of pine needles crossed. Cheers,

Hi Dan,
This master of mimicry is a Northern Walkingstick, Diapheromera femorata.

Letter 6 – Northern Walkingstick


Stick insect on the run!
Location: Toledo, OH
October 8, 2011 6:31 pm
Dear Bugman McBugerson,
I have NEVER SEEN A STICK INSECT BEFORE! I was so excited I think even my dog was frightened of me. For some reason, even though I try to be so observant, I’d never seen one! I always assumed they were tropical or something. And he RAN! I wouldn’t expect these guys to be fast! And while he certainly wasn’t fast enough for me to lose sight of, he was surprisingly quick! Not agile though, slipped a few times. I was just so thrilled, it was amazing! I’m a little bummed that nobody with me seemed to be as amazed as I was, but I feel like it was the best thing that has happened all week! Hope you enjoy him. Maybe you’ll enjoy my enthusiasm!
Signature: Katy

Northern Walkingstick

Dear Katy,
Your enthusiasm is positively infectious.  This appears to be a male Northern Walkingstick,
Diapheromera femorata. According to BugGuide:  “Foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs, especially oaks and hazelnuts” and “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.”  Even when they are common, they can be difficult to spot because of their excellent camouflage shape and coloration.

Northern Walkingstick

Letter 7 – Northern Walkingstick


Subject: Stick bug?
Location: Fairview ,PA
September 20, 2014 8:57 pm
Hi bugman!,
Here are a couple of photos from Erie county Pennsylvania. We assume it is a stickbug of some type, but we’ve never seen one around here before. We were hoping that you could give us more info on it.
Signature: Joe S.

Northern Walkingstick
Northern Walkingstick

Dear Joe S.,
This is a Northern Walkingstick,
Diapheromera femorata.  According to BugGuide:  “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.”

Northern Walkingstick
Northern Walkingstick

Letter 8 – Northern Walkingstick


Subject: large Walking Stick insect “dropped in”
Location: Snicker’s Gap, Loudon County, Virginia
September 22, 2016 5:32 pm
Hi Daniel – While at a Hawk Watch, I had this Stick insect drop from a tree right in front of me today. I coaxed it onto an oak leaf, to move it out of the gravel parking lot, and got this photo. I estimate that it was about 5 – 6 inches in length. If relevant, the elevation of Snicker’s Gap is around 1,000 feet. I wonder if you can identify the species. Thanks!
Signature: Seth

Snicker’s Gap, Loudon, VA
Northern Walkingstick

Dear Seth,
We believe this is a female Northern Walkingstick,
Diapheromera femorata, and you can compare your individual to this BugGuide image.

Letter 9 – Northern Walkingstick and unidentified Exotic Walkingstick


Bug Pictures. Seeking ID.
I have a couple walkingstick pictures I wanted to share with you and others. One is a Northern Walkingstick found while camping in the Monongahela National Forest, WV (Oct 2006). The other is an unknown walking stick acquired at a reptile show in PA. This one is a baby. The parents were present at the show, a single specimen reaching nearly end to end of the 10-gal tank show container. I’d love to know the species and region of origin for this walkingstick. Thanks for your time! Best,

Hi Shell,
Our grandmother grew up on the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania coal country. Thanks for sending in your photos. We don’t know what your exotic Walkingstick specimen is or its country of origin. Perhaps one of our readers can supply an answer. Keep checking back with the site to see if we post an ID.

Update: (12/17/2006)
Hi Bugman,
I did some research and thought that your mysterious exotic walking stick (picture sent in 12/16) may possibly be the Eurycantha calcarata, also known as the New Guinea spiny stick insect. They are from Papau New Guinea. Hope this helps!! Keep up the good work – I am addicted to your wonderful site!!

Letter 10 – Panamanian Walking Stick


Here is another Panamanian bug. This cute walking stick climbed up my arm and into my hair. Something about my hair made him open his wings. I didn’t know walkingsticks have wings. Here are some pictures to add to your collection.

Hi Again Lisa,
We were trying to catch up with some old mail and came across your letter. Many tropical Walkingsticks have wings and are capable of flight, though the U.S. species lack wings.

Letter 11 – Poignant Tale of a Smashed Walkingstick: Possibly Greasewood Walkingstick


Inadvertent Carnage
February 22, 2010
Hi, WTB,
I’ve been enjoying getting acquainted with your site over the past few days.  Thanks to “kkroeker” and to Eric Eaton for the ID of the Humphrey’s Grasshoppers.
Here’s a sad photo of totally innocent, inadvertent carnage.  I had spent a little bit of time one morning in a small meadow where I usually find something to shoot, and where I am always looking for walking sticks because of past success in finding them there (Southern Arizona, foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, about 4,400 ft, mid-September).
After returning home and a quick change of clothes, I was getting back into my car when I was shocked and saddened to see this poor specimen on my car seat.  Apparently, he had hitched a ride on the back of my pants and suffered the 30 minute ride home under a couple hundred pounds of oblivion.
The poor thing was not quite finished, but all the kings horses and all the kings men …
I had pretty much forgotten about the incident until a few days later when I was washing the white canvas pants that I had been wearing that morning and found a fairly detailed, shroud-of-Turin-like stain below the left rear pocket.
This was an arthropod whose life ended prematurely.
Denny Schreffler

Walkingstick crushed during a car ride

Hi again Denny,
Thanks so much for sharing this poignant tragedy.  It reminds us of a letter we received several years ago from a person who inadvertently stepped on a pair of mating Oil Beetles.  We believe this might be Diapheromera covilleae, the Creosote Bush Walkingstick or Greasewood Walkingstick based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 12 – Possibly Arizona Walkingstick


Subject:  Stick bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Prescott, Arizona
Date: 07/31/2021
Time: 03:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  It’s monsoon season here in Prescott and we had rain last night and a bit this morning. Then this guy shows up on our patio. Can you tell me what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Cheryl C.

Arizona Walkingstick

Dear Cheryl,
Your insect from the Order Phasmida, is commonly called a Walkingstick or Stick Insect.  We believe this may be an Arizona Walkingstick,
Diapheromera arizonensis, which is pictured on BugGuide.  Here is an image from FlickR.  Perhaps one of our readers who is more skilled at identifying Phasmids will write in with a correction or confirmation.

Arizona Walkingstick

Letter 13 – Shorthorned Walkingstick from Nevada


Subject: Walking stick
Location: Mesquite, Nevada
April 20, 2015 4:38 pm
I found this walking on a golf course in Mesquite, Nevada. It was in amongst some straw that was still standing. Any info would be appreciated.
Signature: Mr.Davies

Shorthorned Walkingstick
Shorthorned Walkingstick

Dear Ryan,
Congratulations on your encounter with a Shorthorned Walkingstick in the genus
Parabacillus.  The very short antennae are quite distinctive.

Letter 14 – Stick Grasshopper from Brazil


Location:  São Paulo, Brazil
October 5, 2011
Hi Bugged! It’s me again, Cesar Crash, from São Paulo, Brazil.
You said once you’re not familiar with Proscopiidae, right? 2010/02/07/jumping-stick-from-patagonia-argentina/
I’m sending some pics of my little friend, it’s different from the Argentinian one. I took this one when it was a baby, I put in a plant (the same of the treehoppers) and it grown there, every weekend I used to look for it. I cannot find them in BugGuide. Searching in internet, I found some names like Tetanorhynchus sp., Stiphra robusta. Hope this pics should be useful.

Jumping Stick

Hi Cesar,
Thanks so much for sending us some photos of a Jumping Stick or Stick Grasshopper from the family Proscopiidae.  We found some nice photos on the Fauna of Paraguay web page.  Stick Grasshoppers are endemic to South America.

Stick Grasshopper

Letter 15 – Stick Insect


Subject: Strange Stick Insect
Location: Beagle Bay, WA, Austalia
September 3, 2014 3:19 am
Hi What’s That Bug Team,
I found this stick insect around the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, in Beagle Bay Primary School. I was hoping you could identify the species for me as some of its features and adaptations are quite foreign to me. If you’re able to identify it for me I’d be very grateful if you could get back to me.
Kind Regards
Signature: Kaleb

Stick Insect
Stick Insect

We believe you may have a new species here Kaleb.  Perhaps one of our readers can provide an identification.  It appears to be mimicking Eucalyptus or gum trees.

Letter 16 – Stick Insect from Australia: Adult male Ctenomorpha marginipennis


Subject:  Stick Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  AU, NSW, Sydney
Date: 11/13/2017
Time: 06:47 AM EDT
Narrowed it down between a Goliath, crown or a titan.
Approx 15cm long not including legs.
How you want your letter signed:  Jess

Stick Insect:  Adult male Ctenomorpha marginipennis

Dear Jess,
Your individual appears to have very long antennae.  The Goliath Stick Insect pictured on Brisbane Insects has very short antennae.  According to Oz Animals, “The Crown Stick Insect is found in coastal Queensland and the Northern Territory” and it also appears to have short antennae.  Titan Stick Insect images on FlickR also have short antennae.  Using the long antennae as a diagnostic feature, and based on the slim body of your individual, we would entertain that this might be a Dark-Winged Stick Insect,
Mesaner sarpedon, which is pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.  The Atlas of Living Australia does not have any images, but there is a sighting documented near Sydney.  Unfortunately we cannot find any information on the size of the Dark-Winged Stick Insect.  Perhaps a Phasmid expert will write in with a correction or an affirmation.

Thank you very much. I’ll get onto finding out more!

A reader comments:
I have received a reply from an entomology group on Facebook and they seemed very sure on this.
Willow Hook

Comments from an Entomology Group

Letter 17 – Stick Insect from Colombia


Subject: Phasmid
Location: Alto Anchicaya, Colombia
March 30, 2014 12:28 pm
Can you help me with the genus or family of this phasmid. It was very camouflaged when I first found it, but did this threat display when I got close.
Signature: Colin Hutton

Stick Insect
Stick Insect

Dear Colin,
This is a gorgeous photo of a gorgeous Stick Insect or Phasmid.  We are posting your photo and we will attempt identification later this afternoon.  If any of our readers have any ideas, we hope they will write and let us know.

Hi Daniel and Colin:
I believe this Stick Insect belongs to the genus Prisopus (Family Prisopodidae; Subfamily Prisopodinae; Tribe Prisopodini). At least half a dozen species of the genus can be found in Colombia but, unfortunately, neither the photo provided by Colin nor the resources available on the internet provide enough information to enable easy or definitive identification of the species. I found several images of P. horstokkii that appear to be a good match, but I don’t think that’s quite it. It could be P. horridus. According to Conle et al. (2011; The Stick Insects of Colombia) the principal difference between the two species is that  “…P. horridus differs by: the presence of distinct spines on the head…” (page 337), a feature that appears evident to me on Colin’s insect.  I hope this helps. Regards. Karl

Thanks so much for embarking upon this research Karl.  We are currently undergoing some changes in our internet delivery and our email has had a few interruptions.

Letter 18 – Stick Insect drowned in pool


Subject: Bug in Pool
Location: La Quinta, CA
April 7, 2015 7:58 pm
I found this dead bug today, April 7, in my saltwater pool in La Quinta, CA. Its about 4 inches long and whitish in color, but don’t know if that’s from being dead or in the water. Do you know what this might be?
Signature: Donna

Stick Insect
Stick Insect

Dear Donna,
This is a Stick Insect or Walkingstick in the order Phasmida, but unfortunately we cannot say for certain if it is a native species or an introduced.  The popularity of Walkingsticks in the pet industry has resulted in several nonnative species becoming naturalized in North America.

Very interesting. I thought it might be, but the body is much thicker, shorter and white compared to the thinner, longer and greener ones I’ve seen in New Jersey. Thank you very much for   your expert help:)

Letter 19 – Stick Insect from Australia probably Children's Stick Insect


Subject: Stick insect species.
Location: Royalla, NSW Australia
January 12, 2013 6:26 am
Hi, Bug Man!
We found a stick insect clinging to the bricks on a friend’s pattio.
It was a ridiculous 36 degrees and windy.
We’re from Australia, in Royalla NSW.
Just interested to know what species it is. I have more photos – He/She is pinky/green along her/his body, leafy green wings, red legs and kind of a squarish back.
We’ve named him/her ”Pete”. 🙂
Signature: Hannah

Children’s Stick Insect, we believe

Dear Hannah,
Your photos are not the best quality, but they definitely show the size and shape of this Stick Insect, which we believe most closely resembles the Children’s Stick Insect,
Tropidoderus childrenii, which can be viewed on the Brisbane Insect website.  The photos we have located online all show green legs and your individual definitely has red legs.  The Oz Animals website provides this information:  “Children’s Stick Insect is a medium sized stick insect. Females are larger and bulkier than males, and usually green, but can also be pinkish or cream. The wings are yellowish with bright patches of yellow and blue at the base. Males are slender and light reddish brown. Both males and both the males and females have two pairs of wings. Males are strong fliers, but females are too bulky to fly well. They rely on camouflage to avoid predators. When threatened, Children’s Stick Insect will spread its wings showing the yellow and blue markings. Nymphs have a yellow stripe running along the length of the body. When at rest, the nymphs will align themselves on the leaf so yellow stripe aligns with the leaf midvein.”  We believe Pete is a male.

Probably Children’s Stick Insect
Children’s Stick Insect, we believe.

Letter 20 – Spiny Leaf Insect from Australia


I am an American living in Japan. I recently spent some time in Queensland, Australia and took this photo of a spiny leaf insect. This was the most spectacular insect I’ve ever seen.
Melody McFarland

Hi Melody,
Thanks for sending us your great image of a Spiny Leaf Insect, Extatasoma tiaratum. This is a type of Walking Stick.


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23 thoughts on “Walking Stick Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey Explained”

  1. Hello, i saw this on google, it wasn’t a Goliath Stick Insect. It was a female pink winged stick insect or Podacanthus typhon.

  2. Definitely not a Goliath, nowhere near colourful enough and Goliaths have green wings. The wing colour also rules out Children’s in my opinion since they have pale green wings with blue near the shoulder. The eggs don’t appear to match either species from what I can see in the photo. A next step might be to submit an enquiry here
    http://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:b94e165c-8d3c-4c21-b0ba-7bd2b033eb93 as they have no reported sightings of Red Shoulders in Queensland so it may be a related species.

  3. Definitely not a Goliath, nowhere near colourful enough and Goliaths have green wings. The wing colour also rules out Children’s in my opinion since they have pale green wings with blue near the shoulder. The eggs don’t appear to match either species from what I can see in the photo. A next step might be to submit an enquiry here
    http://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:b94e165c-8d3c-4c21-b0ba-7bd2b033eb93 as they have no reported sightings of Red Shoulders in Queensland so it may be a related species.

  4. This is definitely a Red-Shouldered Phasmid (Tropidoderus rhodomus). This species is large and not particularly well-documented, so I don’t really have much formal evidence to give you, but here are some of the few images online that there are: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12616079@N00/3206118568/
    This species is similar to the Children’s Stick Insect (Tropidoderus childrenii), but is larger and has the red wings that give it its name. They are found in northern Queensland, but as is the case with most Australian phasmids they are rarely seen, hence the lack of sightings recorded. Hope this helps!

  5. This is definitely a Red-Shouldered Phasmid (Tropidoderus rhodomus). This species is large and not particularly well-documented, so I don’t really have much formal evidence to give you, but here are some of the few images online that there are: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12616079@N00/3206118568/
    This species is similar to the Children’s Stick Insect (Tropidoderus childrenii), but is larger and has the red wings that give it its name. They are found in northern Queensland, but as is the case with most Australian phasmids they are rarely seen, hence the lack of sightings recorded. Hope this helps!

    • Please use a grammatically correct sentence with an obvious subject, verb and direct object. We are not sure what you want to know.

  6. Sorry to bring up an old sighting, but this is in fact a Red-winged Stick Insect (Podacanthus viridiroseus). They have a bit of a different colour scheme to P. typhon and have shorter cerci. RE the comment above, Podacanthus males can fly but females are very poor flyers or cannot fly (depending on species).

  7. We live in Mays Landing, NJ -our home is in the Pinelands, yesterday, we had a Walkingstick on our patio roof-inside- when it grew dark it decided to jump from the ceiling onto my husband and then onto me and walked up my arm- are they harmful?


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