Our Stick Insects Have Eaten Contents of a 500-liter Freezer

Our Stick Insects Have Eaten Contents of a 500-liter Freezer

The stick insects (Phasmatidae family) living in the Aquarium’s Tropical Rainforest Exhibit are represented by the Annam walking sticks (Medauroidea extradentata) and the Sunny sticks (Sungaya inexpectata) originated in the Vietnam tropical forests and Philippines accordingly. They are kept at the temperature of 25-27°C.

The stick insects eat a variety of foliage mainly oak and wild raspberry leaves. In summer, the Aquarium’s specialists gather the leaves, not far away - on Zhitkova Peninsula and then the food is stored up in a freezer.

Living in the exhibit stick insects are “served” oak leaves on the branch, while such dainty as raspberry leaves – in bunches. The newborns are offered the more soft food - the oak greens raised from acorns in the plant pots.

The fallen autumn oak leaves also find usage as a leaf-litter for stick insects and other exhibit’s inhabitants (amphibians and reptilians), which is also a crib for juveniles. Tanning agents the oak leaves contain are the natural antiseptic. Leaves in the terrarium are daily sprayed to provide the moisture required. 

Despite the stick insects’ short lifespan in the wild (from 6 to 12 months), the terrarium does not stand empty – not having predators prolongs their life.

Some stick insect species female can produce offspring without needing a male. Unfertilized by a male eggs do develop properly and grow into the adult female stick insects. The producing a new individual out of an unfertilized egg is called parthenogenesis.  The stick insect’s 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. During metamorphosis on the last stage called imago, the insects attain maturity becoming the adult individuals.  

 “The stick insect is a good option from exotic creatures which many people like to keep at home,” Artem Gerasimenko, specialist of the Tropical Rainforest Department tells. “They are easy to care; it is not difficult to maintain the temperature and the moisture required. One more thing is to store leaves for feeding; there is no need for freezing them – you may make a stock of the dried oak branches in the brooms, but they should be gathered before July until leaves become rough.”   

For information:

  • The Phasmatodea are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects, stick-bugs, walking sticks, or as phasmids, ghost insects or leaf insects; over 3,000 species have been described. The order has a worldwide distribution, but most species are found in the tropics. In the Russian Far East, Baculum ussurianum is found.
  • The whole order is camouflaged. They are all mimics of their natural background varying from stick-like species to those resembling bark, leaves and even moss or lichen. Their natural camouflage makes them difficult for predators to detect, but many species have a secondary line of defence such as spikes and thorns all over their body, producing warning sounds, having warning coloration, being poisonous.   Some stick insects can spray an irritating substance from glands on their back onto their attacker which can irritate skin and eyes, allowing the stick insect to deter predators long enough to escape.
  • Their lengths vary from 2 to 33 cm. The recently discovered Chan's Megastick of the Clitumninae can grow to a total length of over half a meter - it is the longest living insect known at present.
  • Like many of their relatives, Phasmatidae are capable of regenerating limbs.