A little more stick insect

The rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) next to the walkway has been a bit stick-like for a month or more. Dropping the lower leaves has left it less attractive than it was back in early August:


It's the large green plant on the right of the walkway in the photo above, close to the house. Picture the lower half leafless, and you'll see the "stick-like" description is apt. Fortunately though, there's somebody who appreciates the current look...



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This stick insect has been hanging out in this plant for the last couple of weeks:


Stick insects (aka walkingsticks or stick bugs) are herbivores, and I tried to get a photo of this one eating the Hibiscus leaf:


Not so easy to get a photo of that, as it's a bit nervous and stops moving when I get close enough for a photo.

I believe this is a Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) although I'm not certain. Oak leaves are one of their favorite foods, and my neighbor's oak is probably the tree that this individual grew up in this year before getting adventurous and finding the rose mallow.

These really do look like sticks -- even the leg joints look like they could be branch collars:


The front legs have flattened ridges...


...which I guess help with the camouflage when extended:


That's the normal resting position of this species.

I'm not sure if this is male or female, but it loves this plant.


I love that it's always in the same spot so I can watch it every day.

I'm hoping to see it mating. I wonder if I'll be able to collect some eggs? Unlike mantises whose eggs overwinter in egg cases stuck to various surfaces (like under my deck, behind vines, in the bamboo -- at least in my garden), walkingstick females deposit individual eggs in the leaf litter.

If this one is still around when freezing temperatures threaten, I'll bring it indoors and see if it will lay any eggs for me (which would be a trick if it's male!)

Will tiny stick bugs replace tiny mantises as my favorite newborn insect next spring?

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Evan Bean  – (September 30, 2015 at 9:57 PM)  

My mother brought stick insects home from school once (she teaches 5th grade) and we raised them for awhile. The adults died, but we kept the enclosure in case they had laid eggs. Soon enough, we started finding baby stick insects on the walls. They were so small they crawled right through the holes in the lid of the terrarium. We had to cover it with cheese cloth. No stick bugs in my area, that I've seen, but it's been a very good year for mantises.

Alan  – (October 1, 2015 at 11:42 AM)  

Evan: I'm going to keep an eye out for the little guys in the spring if I don't find any eggs. I so want to see what they look like!

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