Walking Stick insects can be found in many regions of the world in most of the woodland areas. They live for around one year, in which time they mature, mate, and produce young. The insect can breathe through holes called "spiracles" found along the sides of their bodies.
Species and Size
The order Phasmida includes all 3,000 types of Walking Stick and leaf insects. Some of the smallest species, such as the Timema cristinae, have bodies that are only half an inch long. One of the largest is the Phobaeticus kirbyi, which can grow to around 21 inches long.
Walking Stick insects and leaf insects have evolved to be perfectly camouflaged amongst their natural home in the trees. They not only look like sticks, twigs, or leaves, they move in ways that mimic the motion of tree parts swaying in the wind. Otherwise, they will sit perfectly so they don't bring attention to themselves.
Walking Stick insects normally have six legs, any of which they can lose for a number of reasons, including dropping them to escape from predators. They can regrow these lost limbs, but the new ones can be smaller and weaker than the originals.
Many species of female Walking Stick insect can reproduce without the assistance of a male. This process, "parthenogenesis," happens when the females produce unfertilised eggs that hatch into female stick insects. No males are born from these eggs, so entire colonies will be female.
Some species can release a blinding fluid into the eyes of a predator. The effect is only temporary, but it will give the insect time to escape. Species such as the Anisomorpha buprestoides release a noxious smelling fluid. Other species of stick insect pretend they are dead, while others flash brightly coloured wings to confuse and distract predators. Still others aggressively swipe at predators with spine covered legs.
While some species will lay eggs in a nest area, others drop eggs one at a time to the ground. These eggs are the general size and colour of seeds. The eggs will mix in with foliage, dirt, and other natural debris so predators won't see them.