MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: How Can I Lure A 'Stick Bug' Out?

Date: Sat Sep 30 10:49:21 2006
Posted By: Shireef Darwish, Grad student, Department of Plant Science, McGill University
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 1158766673.Zo

Hi Jay!

I’m no expert in stick insects, but I hope the following will give you some food for thought!
First, the question of why did your stick bug die. There are a few possible reasons:
1) like all animals and other living things, insects have a limited lifespan and will eventually die naturally after a certain age. Perhaps you had caught a female after she had laid her eggs? Maybe she laid eggs in your terrarium and they are waiting to hatch!? Many species of the >3000 species of stick insect take over a month to hatch from their eggs.
2) Feeding: was the insect actively feeding? If not, it may not have had an appropriate food source (i.e. tasty leaves!). Blackberry and raspberry leaves (kept moist with misting) are supposed to be good food for most stick bugs... no stick bug actually eats sticks, since they cannot digest wood, they just look strikingly similar to sticks! However, you were probably right to keep the humidity high, as stick insects typically enjoy a moist environment... many also need a small dish of water to drink from. Check out the information on the Amateur Entomologists’ Society’s website and The Phasmid site for general information regarding handling, feeding and breeding stick insects.
3) It could have been playing dead! They can lay motionless for hours if they feel threatened or disturbed, until nighttime when they “wake up” to feed. See
4) The insect may have died of disease if it became infected by a fungus or bacteria.
There seems to be a lot of interest in Phasmids, so reading up on the subject from some of the hobby sites online will help you become a successful stick insect farmer!

As for the question of how to capture another stick insect, I would say to do whatever you did to capture the first one! There doesn’t seem to be a common way that people trap stick insects, but simply by exploring the types of habitats that they like to hang out in will put you in contact with them.... the biggest problem is recognizing them, as they are camouflaged to their habitat! If you know where they are nesting, then you could try to lure them out by placing some juicy raspberry or blackberry leaves near the nest and waiting... nighttime may be the best time to check your “trap”, ideally using a red light to spot them so as not to frighten them off when they emerge!

Maybe your local library has:
Clyne, D. 1978. How to Keep Insects as Pets. Angus & Robertson: Australia

Good luck, jay!

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