The Walking Stick

March 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Initially, we were looking at the numerous cute tiny grasshopper nymphs on the leaf of the Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum). Then, as I casually scanned the rest of the plant for more nymphs, I was really thrilled to find another cutie! He was tiny, and the colour blended in with the environment quite well and could easily be overlooked unless you were looking for something intentionally. It happened to be one of my favourite insects….

Itchyfingers had just stumbled across the stick insect among the many
grasshopper nymphs! ūüôā¬†But wait. You may ask why were there only three legs
on this stick insect? Look carefully and you will notice that the first pair of legs
were actually stretched out straight to so it would look more¬†like a stick….
Its 6th leg was also nicely tucked close to the body…

Itchyfingers always carry a measuring tape with me so I can record the
sizes of interesting insect or plant
¬†specimens that I see…

I was really delighted to have I found two more stickies on the same Sea Hibiscus plant…!

The second stick with stretched limbs…But this one was really missing a leg!

Stick insects are able to shed or break their legs if they were grabbed by predators so as to escape. Juvenile sticks are able to regenerate and grow back missing limbs during molting, as long as it is not the last cycle of molt before they become adults. Adults may be able to force themselves to molt again to regain a lost leg. However, the regenerated leg is often smaller and not as good as the rest of the legs.

Strangely, those stick insects that I have encountered in the wild were all found staying on leaves and not on branches or twigs. I guess if they were on branches, I may not have spotted them as easily…hahah…There were many birds in the area, so I tried to transfer them to the branches to better conceal themselves…afterall, these teenagers may not know the danger around them…hahah :p

Itchyfingers picking up a tiny walking stick….Generally, stick insects do
not move a lot and they move slowly to avoid being noticed by predators…
They do not bite and are generally harmless except for some stockier species
or those with tiny spikes on the body. These may give out a bad tasting
chemical or inflict pain. If you have to handle a stick, be gentle and do not
snap off their legs by pulling them forcefully away from their perch!

Oh my goodness!!! Did Itchyfingers accidentally kill this stick? Dun worry.
When stick insect failed to camouflage themselves or escape from the
predator, they may just drop from their perch and play dead! The predators
may not be able to find the immobile insect or if they found them dead, they
will lose interest since most would prefer fresh food! :p How smart! Here
this stick was still pretending dead by turning to its side…¬†

He turned alive and immediately grabbed on the branch when I placed him
there…Imagine his colour were to be the same as the branch. Can you
still spot him if you were to walk pass leisurely?

This one was a bigger one at close to 9 cm with the first pair of legs stretched

You can see the little compound eye and his leg joint. Strangely, this stick
preferred to slowly walk back to the leaf…

Just as Itchyfingers thought this was the longest stick we saw for this trip, we found another even bigger on right on top of another leaf!

This was about 12 cm and reddish-brown in colour. It could be an older
female as the rear end looked like the ovipositor

It was missing a front leg too

A look at the joint where once upon a time there was a slim and slender leg

It was the fourth time Itchyfingers encountered wild stick insects. The previous encounters were all individual sticks while this time we spotted four sticks at the same spot! It really made our day!

See how a Stick Insect walks! 

For more cool facts on stick insects, click here. :p

Also read related posts:
> A Peep into the Changing Room
> “Leaf” Me Alone…
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
> Attaining Immortality – Body Preservation


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