Stick Insect Keeper

Insider Info

Stick insects make very interesting pets. They resemble twigs, but may only be four inches long. Most of these insects come from the tropics. There are about 2,700 species of these insects. They come from the Phasmid group of insects.

John Locke is a professor of biological sciences. He says there are several advantages to having walking sticks as pets. They don't smell. They eat lettuce. They aren't able to infest houses. They move slowly and carefully. And they only live for about the length of a school year.

Because these insects are so docile, many teachers opt to have stick insects as classroom pets.

Stick insects are an excellent way to teach insect behavior. You can use them to show children how to be responsible for a pet and how insects escape from their predators. Many collectors who have stick insects keep their eggs and raise them.

Bob Beer is an insect collector from Seattle. He has been collecting stick insects since 1999. "I saw Australian spiny sticks at a greenhouse and was fascinated. I remembered wild stick insects from my childhood in Iowa and had always loved them, but these were truly bizarre," he says.

"When they started laying eggs, I took some of the babies and raised them, and then looked them up on the Internet. I found that there were people around the world who shared the interest and started raising other species," he says.

The collection of stick insects and other insects has been growing. Teachers use stick insects as classroom pets. Other people collect insects as pets because they require very little maintenance. As greater emphasis is placed on the preservation of wildlife and rain forest areas, more people are collecting these insects.

"It gives me the opportunity to put walking sticks forward as a tool to teach about insects, the environment and how we should all be more aware of how insects affect our environment," Locke says.

Universities and colleges in both the U.S. and Canada have extensive entomology programs. Those who want to learn more about stick insects and their behavior would benefit from these classes.

There are also a number of job opportunities for those interested in stick insects. Opportunities include work at zoos and museums. There are positions in pest management, agriculture and forestry and research and development. Others make presentations to different groups and organizations about bugs.

In his research of stick insects, Beer has found that "each species has its unique shape, color, strategies and habits. To see a leaf insect and notice that even the wings have adapted to look like leaf veins and that it knows how to move like a leaf blowing in the breeze is something I find miraculous."

One of the greatest advantages to collecting stick insects is that anyone can do it. In fact, this could be a very interesting hobby for those with physical impairments.

Getting Started

There are many pet stores that have tropical insects. Stick insects can live on lettuce.

According to the Classroom Animals and Pets Web site, "Water is needed in differing amounts. Some species of walking sticks will actually drink from a bowl, some need a constant high humidity, whereas others seem to get by on the moisture obtained from leaves."

It is good to ask about the diet that is recommended for your chosen species.

A container for a stick insect should be a tank with some ventilation on the top. Stick insects are able to get out of very small holes, so mesh should also be used on the top of the tank. When stick insects lay eggs, the eggs should be moved to a different tank. Tanks should be kept at room temperature.


Phasmid Study Group

Entomological Society of America
300-9301 Annapolis Rd.
Lanham , MD   20706-3115
E-mail :


Directory of Entomological Societies
Lists a number of societies in North America as well as several other countries

Stick Insect
Educational resources on stick insects

Classroom Animals and Pets
Describes various insects and their care in the classroom, regarding weekends and temperature

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