Stick-bugs come in all shapes and sizes, and are often noted for their primary defense tactic of blending into their background as not to catch the eye of a predator.
Walking Sticks, or Phasmids as they are sometimes called, are found all over the world. There range may be considered to be Australia and Southeast Asia, Europe, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America. In Costa Rica, they can be found in places such as Guanacaste National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Tortuguero National Park, Corcovado National Park and Cahuita National Park.
Mating & Reproduction
Many species of female stick insects are parthenogenic or asexual. A female stick bug that has not mated with a male will produce hundreds of females. If a male mates with a female, there is about a fifty percent chance that the female will produce a male. Some species of stick bugs are completely asexual, whereas others are only facultative parthenogens, and they still mate with a male counterpart.
The female walking sticks will lay from 100 to 1,200 eggs on the ground. The eggs are often hard, brown and resemble seeds, thus giving them a beneficial camouflage. The walking sticks then hatch and undergo several instars (development periods) as nymphs (growing insects) before becoming adults.
Phasmids are herbivores that dominate an area of the forest canopy which is sometimes referred to as light-gap. The light-gap areas are consumed by walking sticks, and this makes it so that new growth can come into an area that might have otherwise remained too dark for the growth to develop. The insects then continue to feed on the new growth, as well, and take up the position of being an important part of the forests recycling process.
Walking sticks have two forms of self-defense. The first defense is directly tied to their physical appearance. Their color and shape make them appear to be part of the plants that they so often eat. The second defense mechanism is related to flight more than fight. They can stun or frighten a potential predator by showing their colors that are often hidden under their wings. These colors can make them appear larger than they actually are, or they can give the walking stick enough time to effectively vacate the situation. Some walking sticks can expel noxious chemicals in self-defense.
Many walking sticks play an important role in forests all over the world, but they can also infest and consume far too much vegetation for their own good. In the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas and other areas of North America they have been known to infest and eat oaks and other hardwoods to the point of killing trees. In the South Pacific, they have been a nuisance to coconut plantations, also.
Walking Sticks have been to space 4 times.
Locations in Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park, Cahuita National Park, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Tortuguero National Park, Santa Rosa National Park
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: savannah, lowland wet and dry tropical forests
Species: Anisomorpha buprestoides, Calynda bicuspis, Sermyle mexicana, Megaphasma denticrus et al