|Know your wildlife with Kudzai Mafuwe|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 19:36|
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The walking sticks and leaves!
I think stick bugs fascinate just about anyone who encounters the little “copycats”. I have found that the more you know about something, the more you appreciate it. In that vein I would like to look into detail about some little known stick bug facts
DescriptionStick and leaf insects have long stick-like bodies that grow between three centimetres cm and 30 cm in length. Their bodies resemble leaves, sticks or grass, which makes them extremely good at camouflage. Usually they are brown or green in colour and they have two pairs of wings, although some species are wingless.
Female stick insects are generally larger than the males. The males can usually fly really well and will zoom around looking for females. Female stick insects lay hundreds of eggs, which are dropped from their abdomen down onto the ground where they lay among the leaf litter waiting to hatch. Some species will glue their eggs to sticks and leaves or bury them in the soil. The young stick insects are called nymphs and look just like the adults only much smaller and with no wings. Nymphs have to shed their skin (just like a snake) every few weeks so that they can grow larger.
Who needs males?
One of the most interesting things about stick insects is their ability to reproduce parthenogenetically. This is a form of asexual reproduction where the unfertilised females produce eggs that hatch into females. If a male fertilises the egg, it has a fifty-fifty chance of turning out male. If no males are around, the line continues with females only!
Stick insects are herbivores, which mean they only eat plants. They are the vegetarians of the insect world and love to feed on leaves, grasses and sometimes even flowers and bark. Many stick insects are nocturnal which means they do most of their feeding at nighttime to avoid predators like birds.
Stick insects make a tasty snack for many animals such as birds, lizards, frogs, spiders and ants. Because they have so many enemies, stick and leaf insects have developed some pretty cool ways to defend themselves.
Stick insects, as their name implies, are insects that have taken camouflage and imitation to the extreme by developing the appearance of a stick or twig. Typically these insects are shades of brown, although some may be green, black, gray, or blue. You might think that stick insects hide among sticks on the ground, hoping to blend in, but most stick insect species are found sitting right out in the open within the leaves of a tropical tree. They usually stay perfectly still, but when they need to move, they are even able to camouflage their motion. It is common to see them walk in a swaying motion, pretending to be a twig caught by the wind. Other stick insect species have lichen-like outgrowths on their bodies that help camouflage them on tree bark.