Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walking Stick

Any outing is enhanced by the discovery of a Northern Walkingstick, Diapheromera fermorata. I would probably see more of these guys if I spent my time in the tree tops where Walkingsticks tend to hangout. I get the impression that most low elevation Walkingsticks are just making their way back upward from an unexpected fall. Of course, the fact that they are so well camouflaged also accounts for the scarcity of finds. Sometimes they look more like sticks than do real sticks.

The front pair of legs attaches to the body just in back of the head. When at rest, the front legs are held straight above the head so as to appear a continuation of the stick body. The eyes and other parts of the head are fashioned to resemble buds.

The front legs are shaped so they can wrap around the head to produce the appearance of a single piece. Every part of this creature lends itself to creating the image of a stick.

I’m not sure what this end looks like. Certainly not an insect part. Despite the stick-like appearance, Walkingsticks are tasty morsels and will be readily taken by birds. I imagine it would be quite awkward to have a bird mistake this as a perch.

Even the legs have ornaments to help with the masquerade. Short appendages near the joints look exactly like pointed buds. It may look an odd creature, but it’s marvelously suited to its arboreal existence.


  1. I love walking sticks. In my youth after seeing pictures of them in the 1970's National Geographic World magazine, I searched for them for an entire summer (a long time for a kid), only later to find out from my pop that they didn't live where we did. When my husband was wooing me, I knew I'd end up marrying him after he came home from a trip with a pocketful of stick insects for me to raise (shhh, it's probably not kosher with USDA-APHIS). All but one was missing a leg between every molt... and the missing leg was never the same one with successive molts. Interesting. Airport x-rays may not be all that safe for frequent flyers.

  2. More excellent images. I truly enjoy stopping by your blog.

  3. Wow! I don't think I've ever seen one of those. We have a different species of walking stick that's common here on the Georgia coast, but they're much more conspicuous, only vaguely stick-like.

  4. Hi Steve...Your posts are just,just, just,I don't know but you can find things that could cause me to go into hiding.lol
    "A walking stick" spiders, snakes,ticks,what next!! : }
    Now that I think of it it's a wonder that I love the outdoors and gardening!!
    Good stuff Steve!!

  5. Hi, Katie. I found my first Walkingstick, one about two inches long, when I was about 10 years old. I didn’t know anything about them and put it into a small terrarium housing a half inch toad. Over the next couple of days it ate about half the leaves in the terrarium. One day I looked in and found a very fat toad and no Walkingstick. That experience taught me something about both Walkingsticks and toads.

    Thanks, Lois. I’m happy to have you as a visitor.

    Rebecca – I’ve never seen your Georgia species. I lived in Northern Florida when I was five years old and saw many plants and animals. The problem was having no one around that could explain to me what I was seeing. The few trips I’ve made south as an adult have been with a specific purpose that left no time for exploration. I’ll depend on your blog to keep me informed of the wondrous things you have down there.

    Sorry, grammie g. I try not to post too many things that cause you to go into hiding. I’m afraid if you stay hidden for too long, I’ll start getting complaints from your family. I should warn you that there are a lot of things around here that fall into the snake-spider-scary insect category. I’m sure they will continue to show up from time to time, but I think you’ll be able to survive them all.

  6. Excellent post Steve. They are certainly the master of disguise. FAB.