Backyard Buddies
Stick Insects

Photo: Moments for Zen

Stick Insects

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In the stick insect world, dads aren’t always needed. The female stick insect can reproduce year-round and can reproduce without fertilisation. This means that she can deposit her eggs and have them grow into normal, healthy nymphs without ever needing to find a mate.

However, in order to keep up their genetic diversity, and because unfertilised eggs will all be female clones of the mother, she will still need to mate with males sometimes.

When it comes to flight or fight instincts with the stick insect, it would prefer to do neither! As a way to avoid confrontation all together, the stick insect has evolved great techniques of hiding and avoiding detection.

Australian stick insects come in all colours, shapes, and sizes. All of these appearances have been developed to make stick insects look like, or to help them blend into, leaves or branches. Some species, like the Spiny Leaf Insect, have reached an expert level in the art of disguise.

Stick insects also do most of their eating and mating at night time, when there are fewer predators looking for them.

When they move around, the stick insect has developed a distinctive walk that helps fool other animals into thinking they’re just a swaying leaf.

Looking after stick insects in your backyard is easy

Stick insects are so easy to look after, lots of people like to keep them as pets, particularly teachers for their classrooms.

Stick insects like to have a daily supply of fresh eucalyptus leaves but they’re not fussy eaters, so they’ll eat any gum leaf. They also quite like eating acacia, rose, and blackberry leaves. You don’t have to worry about these buddies eating too much, as they will move about from tree to tree and your plant will be able to keep growing without any problems.

Looking after your local stick insects will benefit not just the stick insects and you, but your whole neighbourhood. Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The stick insect is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like stick insects, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes. So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what stick insects do and do not like.

Stick insects love:

Eucalyptus leaves – that they will spend all night eating

Dancing – like a stick swaying in the breeze

Solitude – they keep to themselves except when looking for a mate

Ants – who think that they’re eggs are seeds and carry them into their nests and protect them until they hatch

But they don't like:

Insecticides – which poison them when they eat the chemicals on leaves

Birds and bats – who prey on stick insects

Getting stuck – in the ants’ nest where they hatch. You’ll never see a stick insect move as fast as when it’s leaving the nest

Be a stick insect buddy

Try to:

Avoid:

Don't be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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