Over 3,000 species have been described.
Life habit [change]
The order has a worldwide distribution, but most species are found in the tropics. These tropic species vary from stick like species to those resembling bark, leaves and even moss or lichen. The stick insect can sometimes reach over 13 inches (33 cm) long. The longest is Chan's megastick.
A few species, such as Carausius morosus, are even able to change their pigmentation to match their surroundings. Many species are wingless, or have reduced wings.
Phasmids are herbivorous, feeding mostly on the leaves of trees and shrubs(e.g. privet). Their eggs are usually camouflaged, resembling plant seeds, and may remain dormant for a full season or more before hatching. The nymphs are born already closely resembling the adults.
Stick insects, like praying mantis, make rhythmic, repetitive side-to-side movements. This is like vegetation moving in the wind.
Also, the swaying movements may help the insects see objects against the background. Rocking movements by these sedentary (sitting) insects may replace flying or running as way to define objects in the visual field.
Some species of phasmid are able to produce a defensive spray when threatened. The spray contains pungent-smelling volatile molecules which the insect gets from its food plant. The spray from one species, Megacrania nigrosulfurea, is even used as a treatment for skin infections by a tribe in Papua New Guinea by virtue of its antibacterial constituents.
Stick insects as pets [change]
Many stick insects are easy to care for, and make good pets. Almost 300 species have been reared in captivity.
- Also called phasmids, walking sticks, stick-bugs, ghost insects.
- Bragg, P.E. (2001) Phasmids of Borneo, Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu. p614
- Ganeri, Anita (2000). Jungle Animals: over 100 questions and answers to things you want to know. Dubai, U.A.E. ISBN 0-75254-909-X.
- Hoell H.V; Doyen J.T. & Purcell A.H. (1998). Introduction to insect biology and diversity, 2nd ed.. Oxford University Press. pp. 398–399. ISBN 0-19-510033-6.
- O'Dea J.D. 1991. Eine zusatzliche oder alternative Funktion der 'kryptischen' Schaukelbewegung bei Gottesanbeterinnen und Stabschrecken (Mantodea, Phasmatodea). Entomologische Zeitschrift, 101, 25-27.
- Prescott T; J. Bramham; O. Zompro & S.K. Maciver 2010. Actinidine and glucose from the defensive secretion of the stick insect Megacrania nigrosulfurea. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 37: 759–760.
- Bragg P. 2008. Changes to the PSG Culture List. Phasmid Study Group Newsletter 113: 4–5.