Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do my stick insects need to drink water?
A. No. Stick insects get enough moisture from the leaves that they eat. As long as you make sure they have plenty of fresh leaves to munch on, they’ll be fine. During really hot weather the gum leaves can dry out quickly, so it is a good idea to give them a light spray with water to keep them fresh and juicy for your stick insects.
Q. How can I tell if my stick insect is a boy or a girl?
A. It is very difficult to do when they are nymphs – you have to wait until they are adults to tell them apart. As a general rule, male stick insects are smaller and skinnier than the females. They have large, strong wings and can fly really well. The females are larger and fatter because their bodies are full of lots of eggs waiting to be laid. Because they are so heavy, they usually can’t fly much at all!
Q. How long will my stick insect live for?
A. It will usually take around 2-3 months for your stick insects to become adults. Once they are adults, females can live for up to 1 year and in this time they will lay a lot of eggs. Male stick insects usually don’t live as long and will probably survive for up to 3 months. However, the growth of your stick insects depends on the quality of the plant you feed them, how warm it is and a lot of other factors, so these times should only be used as a rough guide.
Q. My eggs haven’t hatched out yet? How much longer do I have to wait?
A. Eggs from the Goliath and Children’s stick insect usually take between 4-8 months to hatch. But I know you don’t want to wait that long, so I give you eggs that were laid several months earlier. Your eggs should hatch within 3-4 weeks, so be patient and remember to check on them everyday. If you can’t wait you can order nymphs or adults from the Mount Glorious Biological Centre www.mountgloriousbutterflies.com
Q. What kind of gum leaves should I feed my stick insect?
A. There are lots of different kinds of gum trees around, and it is hard to know which ones to feed to your stick insects. They usually aren’t very fussy and will eat pretty much any gum that you put in for them. A good idea is to put a few different kinds of gum leaves into your cage and place a sheet of white paper under the vase. After a while, droppings will appear under the leaves that the stick insects are feeding on, giving a good idea of which leaves your insects prefer.
Q. Will my stick insects fight or eat each other?
A. No. Because stick insects are herbivores (i.e. they only eat plants) they won’t try and eat each other. Stick insects are pretty easy going too, and as long as they have plenty of room and food to eat, they won’t get in each other’s way.
Q. My stick insect has lost a leg. Will he die?
A. No. Stick insects will often drop off one of their legs as a way of escaping danger, much like a lizard loses the end of its tail. Stick insects have special muscles where their legs join their body that quickly squeeze the wound closed so that they won’t lose a lot of blood and die.
Q. My stick insect has his foot stuck in his egg. What should I do?
A. Sometimes stick insects can get one or more of their legs stuck in their eggshell, dragging it around behind themselves like a ball and chain. It is important to remove the egg otherwise they will tire themselves out. Wet your fingers and gently slide the egg off the leg. If the whole leg drops off, don’t worry! Stick insects can survive just fine if missing a leg (see question above).
Q. If my stick insect loses a leg will it grow back?
A. If a stick insect loses a leg when it is young and therefore still growing, the lost leg will grow back although it will usually be a bit shorter than the other ones! But once stick insects have finished growing and have become adults, their legs won’t grow back if they lose them.
Q. My stick insects are all grown up now. Can I let them go outside?
A. Yes. The stick insects that I give you occur naturally in Brisbane, so they will continue to live quite happily if you let them go outside. Make sure you release your stick insects onto a gum tree, where they will have plenty of food to eat and can hide from predators.
Q. Can I hold my stick insect?
A. Yes, but there are some important rules to remember so that you don’t hurt your stick insects. Firstly, push up your sleeves as the little claws on the stick insect’s legs may get caught in your clothes and tear off. Also, try and stop your stick insect from crawling up onto your head (which they love to do) as they can also get tangled up in your hair. When you handle your stick insect always let them walk onto your hand, rather than trying to pick them up. If you grab a stick insect and startle it, they will often lose a leg (see above question about losing legs). And finally, remember to be very gentle with your stick insects, so that you don’t injure or frighten them.