Indian stick insects

Raising Stick Insects

Exploring nature plays a huge part in our daughters education and it always amazes me at how much she learns and how much knowledge she gains from playing, observing and questioning what is happening around her. So we were very excited when the grandparents brought the kids the ‘Insectlore’ Living Twig – Stick Insect kit as we get to watch for ourselves the life cycle of the stick insect.

We’ve been raising our Indian Stick Insects since June and although we have had a few bumps along the way we have all found the process fascinating. As we have watched our stick insects hatch and grow there has been a lot of questions asked and many opportunities for on the spot learning for all of us, in fact it was just last night we discovered that the Indian stick insect is Parthenogenetic and if like me who 24hrs ago did not know what that means, then do not worry as we will explain further down.

Indian Stick Insect
There are over 2500 species of stick insect, stick-bugs and walking sticks.
Characteristics of the Indian Stick Insect (Carausius morosus)

We are raising Indian Stick insects which are easy to tame, can be carefully handled and are the most common species kept as pets or studied at school.The Indian Stick insect ranges in colour from a light green to a dark brown. They can reach a length of up  to 4 inches (10cm) and can live up to a year. Their resemblance to twigs allows them to camouflage perfectly in their surroundings but if by chance they are disturbed the stick insect has been known to imitate a twig by making the body rigid whilst holding the legs to the body and dropping to the floor.

What do Indian Stick Insects eat?

The stick insect is a Herbivore, which means it eats foliage, they are nocturnal and at night like to feed on fresh cut blackberry bramble, raspberry, privet, hawthorn, oak and Ivy.

One of our stick insects feeding on Ivy.
Life Cycle of an Indian Stick Insect

The Stick Insect has a life cycle  of three stages. Egg, nymphs and adult.

The stick insect starts it’s life in a small oval, hard shelled egg that resembles a seed and it can take up to a year for the egg to hatch. When the baby stick insects (nymphs) emerge they are different in size and colour to an adult.

The Stick Insect egg has a lid-like structure called an operculum, from which the baby stick insect (nymph) emerges during hatching.

Nymphs grow by moulting (shedding skin). The nymph will shed its’ skin up to 6 times before it reaches adulthood. An interesting fact that our daughter loves to tell people is that, to escape predators in the wild the baby stick insects are able to shed off limbs and regenerate them during the moulting stage. They do however lose this ability once mature.

A female will begin laying eggs shortly after reaching adulthood and will lay hundreds of eggs over her lifespan. Now here is where it gets very interesting with the Indian Stick Insect. After doing a little research we discovered that the female Indian stick insect can reproduce asexually without needing a male (Parthenogenetic reproduction.) The female will produce eggs that are unfertilised and these eggs will go on to develop and grow into an adult female stick insect. If a male does happen to fertilise an egg there will be a 50/50 chance of it producing a male stick insect.

 

We are really enjoying raising these little stick insects and if you too happen to be keeping stick insects and have some photos then please feel free to share with us on social media as we would love to see them.

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