Stick Insect – Indian walking stick – Munnar – Kerala
The Indian Walking stick (also called the laboratory stick insect) is a long, slow-moving, plant-eating insect from India. There are almost 3,000 species of stick insects (Order Phasmatodea) in the world; all are nocturnal (most active at night) herbivores (plant-eaters). The genus and species of the Indian Walking stick is Carausius morosus.
Camouflage by Plant Mimicry: The walking stick is well-camouflaged in its environment, since it looks like a twig. Plant mimicry also occurs in its eggs; the eggs have hard shells and look much like tiny brown seeds.
Anatomy: Like all insects, the Walking sticks have a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), six jointed legs, two pairs of wings, and two antennae. Their body is covered with a hard exoskeleton. Walking sticks breathe through a series of holes called spiracles; they are located along the sides of the body. Indian Walking sticks are brown or green. The body is long (up to 8 cm for females, 6 cm for males) and thin (with a diameter of about 5 mm).
Metamorphosis: Indian Walking sticks are often parthenogenetic; females can lay unfertilized eggs that hatch into females who can also lay unfertilized eggs. Walking sticks undergo simple (or incomplete) metamorphosis; eggs hatch into nymphs, which look like little adults without wings or reproductive organs. Nymphs molt about 6 times as they grow to become adults. Indian Walking sticks have a life span of about 18 months.
Diet and Predators: Walking sticks eat bramble (including blackberry and rose), ivy and other leaves. Their predators include birds, rodents, reptiles, other insects, and spiders.
Article by Mr. R Venkata Ramanan. Chennai based educational consultant. See linkedIn profile.
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