Friday, October 30, 2009

The Walking Stick Life Cycle Turns Again

I am thankful to my sister who tracked down a pair of stick bugs (walking sticks) a year ago October for my birthday gift. This is a photo re-cap, with some never-before-published photos, celebrating their life cycle. If you want to read my previous posts about the stick bugs, click the "stick bugs" Topic on the left side of my blog.

The original female laid a total of 25 eggs before she died. Here is the cage with a number of eggs on the bottom. They need to be kept moist until they hatch, so I used layers of paper towel which I regularly watered.
Stick bug eggs
Of those 25 eggs, I believe 18 hatched. In this photo a newly hatched baby stick is next to an egg, with an out-of-focus sibling behind. It amazed me how the baby stick could fit into the egg, if it hatched out that big! Unfortunately, despite my constant watching, I never did see a hatching itself, I only woke up to the new hatchlings.
Baby walking stick with egg
The stick bugs are an interesting pet. During the day, anyhow, they rarely move, and when I had only 2, there was little sign of them eating the blackberry leaves which I kept fresh for them. But on rare occasions, I actually saw them chowing down on the leaves:
Walking stick chewing a blackberry leaf
Occasionally they would molt, and leave some spooking looking skin hanging from the top of the cage or a branch:
Walking stick bug with molted skin
After some while, I had a full cage of stick bugs:
Cage full of walking stick bugs
Lots of stick bugs
I would be fine with that, but if each of the females had 18 babies, that would have been a bit too much. So I have adopted out 8 of them, and am down to a more reasonable number now, I think 5 females and 6 males (I counted them last time I cleaned the cage, but have forgotten now). My original male is still alive more than a year later, although I can't tell anymore which one is him, since there are a number that are the same size now.

Happily, the cycle continues, as I found my first egg last week, and am now keeping the bottom of the cage moist and waiting for more. I found two eggs attached to the top of the cage, but I don't know if they would make it. For interest, I've left them attached, but am not hopeful, since they would certainly not be moist there.


Tootsie said...

I have never seen one of these!!! how neat are they??? thanks for the post on them...I hope you have a great halloween!

Evelyn Howard said...

Wow, I have seen one before a long time ago, but never in a cage! And so many of them! THanks for sharing yr pic and story, Happy Halloween.

Marvin said...

A very interesting post. Thank you. I must try adopting a couple of walking sticks someday and see if I have as much success as you at raising them. Our wild population seemed way down this year. I have no idea why.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

That's fun! We always used to see them outside when I was a kid... can you send some out into the wild next summer if you have too many in one cage? (Sorry, didn't check to see where you lived--maybe that's not possible?)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

(I know you live in western Canada... I meant that I didn't check to see whether they could be found in the wild where you live, and thus would be okay to let loose.)

Woodswoman Extraordinaire: said...

Oh, wow - how cool! I've raised Cecropia moths before, but never even considered trying to raise walking sticks. What fascinating beings!

Anonymous said...


My name is Kristen and I am currently looking for stick bugs to have in the preschool room where I teach. I am wondering if you still have any for adoption? If you do could you e-mail me at


Alexandra said...

hi lily its the people who bought a stick bug from you last saturday when we got home and put our feamale one in the cage she dropped a leg! so this morning i woke up and found skin or what ever it is but it actually it was exciting!

Garden Lily said...

Alexandra - Nice to hear from you! The stick bugs "molt" or shed their skins a number of times as they grow bigger. It is pretty interesting to see, especially when the skin is still dangling from them. I'm sorry to hear about the leg, but it seems to me that they sometimes grow them back - you might see a little stub forming, and they will have a leg the next time they molt. Let me know if this is what happens. Since I have so many, I don't keep track of individuals at the moment.

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