Walking sticks are order Phasmida insects known for their long, distinct physiques -- truly stick-like indeed. A mere quick glance at one of these guys might simply give off the impression of an uber-slender twig. Many different walking stick species exist out in the world -- roughly 2,000 in total.
About Walking Sticks
Walking sticks are languid and meek creatures that are equipped with long, narrow limbs and similarly delicate-looking antennae. Major size differences abound in the walking stick world. Some of them are just below 1 inch in length, while others at the other end of the spectrum are a little longer than 1 foot. The males are usually smaller than the females. They generally are brown or green in coloration. Walking sticks are nocturnal.
Walking sticks, unfortunately for them, can provide a lot of nourishment to a handful of different predator types. Common predators for these insects include primates, spiders, rodents, reptiles and birds. Bats are also a prominent and serious predation threat for these insects.
One convenient adaptation of walking sticks involves their ability to emulate the coloration of their surroundings, typically brownish or greenish. This handy camouflage enables walking sticks to remain barely detectable to predators that might be lurking around for their next delicious meal. Their bodies are also effective camouflage, thanks to their thin, sprig-like outlines. Walking sticks also are capable of abstaining from moving any time they sense the close presence of predators. They, for the most part, are only mobile and busy in the nighttime -- a means of staying off of predators' radars.
Some varieties of walking sticks possess intensely vivid wings that they use to startle and disorient predators, as well. In times of fear, they quickly display their wings and then promptly retreat to the ground, where they conceal them just as before.
Bats are major dilemmas for walking sticks, as they are capable of employing echolocation as a means of tracking down these insects -- and all of their subtle, barely audible sounds and motions. Staying covert amidst bats just isn't so simple for walking sticks, even though they are pretty savvy with other predators. In bats, echolocation involves the transmission of sonic waves via their noses or mouths. Once these waves make contact with their targeted objects, they immediately return back to the bats, providing key information including how big a certain bug is, for example.
Walking sticks undoubtedly have predator worries, but as herbivores, do not prey on anyone themselves. Foliage is the big mealtime staple for these bugs. They have extremely sturdy jaws -- or mandibles -- that enable them to chow down on leaves practically effortlessly.
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Walkingstick
- National Geographic: Stick Insect
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Walkingsticks
- San Diego Zoo Animals: Stick Insect
- Animal Planet: Walking Stick
- Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic: Walking Stick
- ASU School of Life Sciences: What is Echolocation?