Walkingstick

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There are no other insects that have such an appropriate name than walkingsticks (Diapheromera femorata). Their four-inch long (average) bodies, legs, antennae, and green or brown coloring allow them to look just like sticks. Found in habitats of forested and brushy areas, they move very slowly and will remain motionless when another animal is near. For these reasons, they are very difficult to notice.

Because of their perfect camouflage they have few predators. However, if they are noticed, they have two more means of defense. One is the emitting of a foul-smelling liquid. If all other defenses fail, if grabbed, walkingsticks can break free, leaving a leg behind. Unlike most insects, walkingsticks can regenerate lost limbs. The most common predators of walkingsticks are common grackles and other birds, lizards, rodents, and praying mantids.

Walkingsticks are nocturnal. Throughout the night they feed, using chewing mouth parts, on the leaves of cultivated or deciduous plants. Depending on the number of walkingsticks, trees may become defoliated.

Walkingstick eggs are white with a black stripe and are dropped to the ground from trees in the fall. Like the praying mantis, the eggs hatch the following spring with young that resemble a very small version of the adult walkingstick.

See Also