Insect stickhouse Photo and description > Insects


Stickman — an amazing creature of interest to naturalists. About 2500 species of these insects make up a ghostly detachment. Due to their appearance, they are known as masters of camouflage (mimicry). Sticks skillfully imitate different parts of the vegetation: green stems, fancy foliage, dried branches. This phenomenon is called phytomimicry, which in Greek means phyton — a plant, and mimikos — imitation. Females of some species breed by parthenogenesis, which means that the cubs emerge from completely unfertilized eggs.

Origin of view and description

The classification of phantoms (Phasmatodea) is complex, and the relationships between its members are poorly understood. In addition, there are many misunderstandings about the ordinal name of the members of this group. Therefore, the taxonomy of sticks is subject to frequent changes and is sometimes very contradictory. This is partly due to the fact that new species are constantly being discovered. On average, from the end of the 20th century, several dozen new taxa appear annually. The results are often reviewed.

Interesting fact: In a paper published in 2004 by Oliver Zompro, Timematodea was removed from the squadron and placed in the freckles (Plecoptera) and embia (Embioptera). Only in 2008, two other major works were carried out, which, in addition to creating new taxa to the subfamily level, also led to the redistribution of many taxa to the family level.

The most ancient fossil sticks were discovered in the Triassic in Australia. Early family members are also found in Baltic, Dominican and Mexican amber (from the Eocene to the Miocene). In most cases, these are larvae. From the fossil family Archipseudophasma tidae, for example, species Archipseudophasma phoenix, Sucinophasma blattodeophila and Pseudoperla gracilipes from Baltic amber are described.

Currently, depending on the source, many species are considered to be of the same type as the aforementioned species or, as Balticophasma lineata, are placed in their own genus. In addition to this, fossils also indicate that once the ghosts had a much wider area of ​​occurrence. Thus, in the career of Messel (Germany), an imprint of a leaf leaf was discovered, called Eophyllium messelensis, which is 47 million years old.

Appearance and features

Photo: What does the stick look like?

The length of the stick varies from 1.5 cm to more than 30 cm in length. The most difficult species is Heteropteryx dilatata, females of which can weigh up to 65 g. Some ghostly, have cylindrical stick-like forms, while others have flat leaf-shaped outlines. Many species are wingless or with reduced wings. The chest of winged species is much shorter than that of wingless forms. In winged forms, the first pair of wings is narrow and keratinized, and the hind wings are wide, with straight veins in length and many transverse veins.

Chewing jaws are the same for different types of sticks. The legs are long and slender. Some of them are capable of autotomy of limbs (regeneration). Some have long, thin antennae. In addition, insects have a complex eye structure, but photosensitive organs are found only in a few winged males. They have an impressive visual system that allows them to perceive the surrounding details even in dark conditions, which corresponds to their nightlife.

Interesting fact: Wands are born with tiny complex eyes with a limited number of faces. As they grow through successive molting, the number of faces in each eye increases along with the number of photoreceptor cells. The sensitivity of the adult eye is ten times higher than that of the eye of a newborn.

As the eye becomes more complex, the mechanisms for adapting to dark / light changes also improve. The larger eye size of adult insects makes them more susceptible to radiation damage. This explains why adults are nocturnal. Reduced sensitivity to light in newly emerged insects helps them break out of the fallen leaves in which they hatch, and move up into the more brightly lit foliage.

The insect in a protective position is in a state of catalepsy, which is characterized by «waxy flexibility of the body.» If the stickman is given any position at this time, he will remain in it for a long time. Even the removal of one part of the body will not affect its condition. Sticky cushions on the feet are designed to provide extra grip when lifting, but are not used on a flat surface.

Where does the stick house live?

Photo: Insect stick

The stickhouse can be found in ecosystems around the world, with the exception of Antarctica and Patagonia. They are most numerous in the tropics and subtropics. The greatest biodiversity of species is found in Southeast Asia and South America, and then in Australia, Central America and the southern United States. More than 300 species inhabit the island of Borneo, which makes it the richest place in the world for horror stories (Phasmatodea).

There are approximately 1,500 known species in the eastern region, and 1,000 species are found in neotropical regions and more than 440 species in Australia. In the rest of the range, the number of species in Madagascar and throughout Africa, as well as from the Middle East to the Palearctic, is decreasing. There are only a few indigenous species in the Mediterranean and the Far East.

Interesting fact: One of the species of stick insects living in Southeast Asia, the largest insect in the world. Females of the genus Phobaeticus are the longest insects in the world, the total length of which reaches 56.7 cm in the case of Phobaeticus chani, including extended legs.

In habitats with lush vegetation, the highest density of species is observed. The main ones are forests, and especially various types of rainforests. In more arid regions, the number of species decreases, as well as in higher mountains, and therefore colder regions. Representatives of the genus Monticomorpha have the largest habitat and they are still located at an altitude of 5000 meters near the snow line on the Ecuadorian volcano Cotopaxi.

Now you know where the stickman lives. Let’s see what he eats.

What does the stick eat?

Photo: Stickman in nature

All ghosts are phytophages, that is, herbivores. Some of them are monophages specializing in certain types of plants or groups of plants, for example, Oreophoetes Peruana eating exclusively fern. Other species are highly non-specialized eaters and are considered omnivorous herbivores. To eat, they usually only lazily walk around food crops. During the day, they remain in one place and hide on food plants or on the ground in the leaf layer, and with the onset of darkness they begin to show activity.

See also:  Hematophagy - an overview, ScienceDirect Topics

The stick-eaters eat the leaves of trees and shrubs, nibbling them with stable jaws. They feed at night to avoid the main enemies. But even continuous darkness does not guarantee insects complete safety, therefore, ghosts behave extremely carefully, trying to create less noise. Most species eat alone, but some species of Australian stickworms move in large flocks and can destroy all the leaves in their path.

Since the members of the order are phytophages, certain species may also appear as pests on crops. Thus, in the botanical gardens of Central Europe, insects are occasionally found that managed to escape and escape, like pests. Were discovered: sticks from India (Carausius morosus), from Vietnam (Artemis), as well as the insect Sipyloidea Sipylus, which caused significant damage, for example. B. in the Botanical Garden of Munich. The danger of escape of animals, especially in tropical regions, is quite high, the ratio of some species or entire groups of insects requires research.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Red Book Stickman

The stick insects, like praying mantises, exhibit certain swings in which the insect makes rhythmic, repetitive movements from side to side. A common interpretation of this behavior function is that it enhances creep by mimicking vegetation moving in the wind. However, these movements may be most important because they allow insects to distinguish objects from the background using relative motion.

The swinging movements of these normally sedentary insects can replace flying or running as a source of relative movement to help them distinguish between objects in the foreground. Some stick insects, such as Anisomorpha buprestoides, sometimes form numerous groups. It was observed that these insects gather during the day in a hidden place, walking at night to get food, and returning to their shelter before dawn. This behavior has been little studied, and how insects find their way back is not known.

Interesting fact: The development time of embryos in an egg is from three to twelve months, depending on the species, in exceptional cases, up to three years. The offspring turns into adult insects in three to twelve months. Especially in bright species and often differs in color from their parents. Species without or with less aggressive coloration show bright colors of their parents later, for example, in Paramenexenus laetus or Mearnsiana bullosa.

In ghostworms, adult females live on average much longer than males, namely from three months to a year, and males usually only three to five months. Some of the sticks live only about a month. The largest recorded age, more than five years, was reached by a wildly caught female Haaniella scabra from Sabah. In general, many members of the Hetropterygigae family are extremely durable.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Giant Stickman

Mating sticks for some couples is impressive for its duration. The record among insects shows a species of Necroscia, found in India, mating games which last for 79 days. This species often takes up the mating position for several days or weeks in a row. And in species such as Diapheromera veliei and D. covilleae, mating can last from three to 136 hours. The struggle between competing males is observed in species D. veiliei and D. covilleae. During these meetings, the opponent’s approach forces the male to manipulate the female’s stomach to block the attachment site.

From time to time, the female strikes at a competitor. Usually a strong grip on the female’s stomach and blows to the intruder are enough to deter unwanted competition, but sometimes the competitor uses cunning tactics to inseminate the female. While the partner of the female is engaged in feeding and is forced to free the dorsal place, the offender can grab the woman’s belly and insert her genitals. Usually, when an intruder gains access to the female’s stomach, this will lead to the replacement of the previous partner.

Interesting fact: Most of the stick insects, in addition to the usual method of reproduction, can produce offspring without a partner, laying unfertilized eggs. Thus, they do not necessarily depend on males, since fertilization is not required. In the case of automatic parthenogenesis, a set of haploid chromosomes of the egg, young replicas of the mother are born.

For the further development and existence of the species, the participation of males is necessary in order to fertilize part of the eggs. It is easy for wanderers living in packs to find partners — it is more difficult for species accustomed to being alone. Females of these species secrete special pheromones, allowing them to attract males. 2 weeks after fertilization, the female lays a large, seed-like eggs (somewhere up to 300). The offspring that appears from the egg after the completion of metamorphosis tends to get to the food source faster.

Natural Enemy Enemies

Photo: Insect stick

The main enemies of ghosts are birds looking for food in the grass, as well as among leaves and branches. The main protection strategy for most species of sticks is camouflage, or rather imitation of dead or living parts of plants.

Typically, stickwaters resort to such camouflage protection methods:

  • they remain motionless even when touched and do not try to run away or resist;
  • oscillate, imitating the swaying parts of plants in the wind;
  • change their daylight color to a darker night due to the release of hormones. The influence of hormones can lead to the accumulation or expansion of orange-red grains in the colored cells of the skin, which leads to a discoloration;
  • just fall to the ground, where they are difficult to see between other parts of the plant;
  • quickly fall to the ground, and then, having seized a minute, quickly run away;
  • some species scare attackers by stretching their wings to appear larger;
  • others make noise with wings or tentacles;
  • to avoid predators, many species can shed individual limbs at designated fracture points between the thigh and thigh ring and almost completely replace them during the next skinning (regeneration).

Ghosts also possess the so-called military glands. Such species exhale their water secretions through openings in the chest, which are located above the front legs. Secretion can either smell strong and usually unappetizing, or even contain very aggressive chemicals. Especially members of the Pseudophasmatidae family have aggressive secretions that often cause corrosion and, in particular, affect the mucous membranes.

Another common strategy for larger species, such as Eurycanthini, Extatosomatinae and Heteropteryginae, is kicking enemies. Such animals stretch their hind legs, deployed in the air, and remain in this position until the enemy approaches. Then they strike with their legs joined together at the enemy. This process is repeated at irregular intervals until the opponent surrenders or is trapped, which can be quite painful due to the spikes on the hind legs.

Population and species status

Photo: What does the stick look like?

Four species are listed in the Red Book as varieties threatened with extinction, two species are on the verge of extinction, one species is listed as endangered, and another as extinct.

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These types include:

  • Carausius scotti — on the verge of extinction, endemic to the small island of Silhouette, which is part of the Seychelles archipelago;
  • Dryococelus australis is on the verge of extinction. It was almost destroyed on the island of Lord Howe (Pacific Ocean), rats brought there. Later, thanks to newly found specimens, a program was launched to breed them in captivity;
  • Graeffea seychellensis is an almost extinct species that is endemic to the Seychelles;
  • Pseudobactricia ridleyi is a completely extinct species. Nowadays it is known for the only sample discovered 100 years ago in the tropics on the Malay Peninsula in Singapore.

Serious damage to forestry can occur, especially in monocultures. From Australia to South America, introduced species of Echetlus evoneobertii in Brazilian eucalyptus — whose plantations have been seriously endangered. In Australia itself, Didymuria violescens, as a rule, seriously damages the mountain forests of New South Wales and Victoria every two years. Thus, in 1963, hundreds of square kilometers of eucalyptus forest were completely neutralized.


Photo: Red Book Stickman

Little is known about the threat to ghost populations due to a secretive lifestyle. However, habitat destruction and predator invasion often have a huge impact on species living in very small areas, such as islands or natural habitats. The appearance of a brown rat on Lord Howe Island in 1918 led to the fact that the entire population of Dryococelus australis was considered extinct already in 1930. Only the discovery of a population of less than 30 animals 23 km from the neighboring island, the Ball Pyramid proved its survival. Due to the small size of the population and due to the fact that the habitat of animals found there was limited to only 6 m × 30 m, it was decided to conduct a breeding program.

Repeated visits to certain habitats show that this is not an isolated case. So, Parapachymorpha spinosa was discovered in the late 1980s in the area of ​​Pak Chong station in Thailand. Specially for species with a small distribution area, protective measures are initiated by specialists and enthusiasts. Discovered in 2004, a stick in the north of Peru, a velvet beetle (Peruphasma schultei) is found on an area of ​​only five hectares.

Since there are other endemic species in the area, it was protected by the Peruvian government. The NGO INIBICO (Peruvian Environmental Organization) was part of a charitable organization. A project for residents of the Cordillera del Condor National Park has also launched a velvet freak breeding program. The project, which was scheduled to be launched before the end of 2007, was aimed at saving or selling half of the offspring. Thanks to phazmid lovers, this species has been preserved in its inventory and is currently stickman is one of the most common phasmids in the terrarium.


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Definition of insect

Illustration of insect

insect 1a: 1 labial palpus, 2 maxillary palpus, 3 simple eye, 4 antenna, 5 compound eye, 6 prothorax, 7 tympanum, 8 wing, 9 ovipositor, 10 spiracles, 11 abdomen, 12 metathorax, 13 mesothorax

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Other Words from insect

Synonyms & Antonyms for insect


  • big shot,
  • big wheel,
  • bigwig,
  • eminence,
  • figure,
  • kahuna,
  • kingpin,
  • magnate,
  • nabob,
  • personage,
  • somebody,
  • VIP

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Did You Know?

The bodies of insects have segments, or divisions, so they appear to have a series of notches cut into them. This led the Greek philosopher Aristotle to give insects the name entomon “a thing cut into.” Entomon comes from the prefix en- “in,” combined with the verb temnein “to cut.” Later, when the Romans wanted a word for this kind of creature, they did not simply borrow the Greek word. Instead they translated it with the Latin word insectum, from the verb insecare “to cut into.” Insectum was borrowed into English as insect.

Examples of insect in a Sentence

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘insect.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of insect

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for insect

Latin insectum, from neuter of insectus, past participle of insecare to cut into, from in- + secare to cut — more at saw

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Black Bear

Black bears, also known as American black bears, are the world’s most common bear species. Their name is no trick, these bears are black colored, with lighter colored muzzles. Black bears and brown bears are the only two bear species not threatened with extinction. This species has an incredibly large distribution, and healthy overall population. Read on to learn about the black bear.

Description of the Black Bear

Black bears are, you guessed it, black! They have black colored fur, and lighter brown colored muzzles with black noses and a black stripe up the top of the muzzle. They have round ears perched on broad heads. The muzzle tapers in, and is quite narrow compared to the large skull. Adult males stand up to 8 ft. tall, but the average is closer to 4.5 ft. long. Males weigh 126 – 551 lbs. on average, and females weigh 90 – 375 lbs. on average.

Interesting Facts About the Black Bear

Black bears are apex predators, with a wide variety of interesting behaviors and adaptations. These common bears frequently share ranges with humans — learn more about why you should respect these bears rather than revile them.

  • A Bear Apart – Black bears might share North America with brown bears and even polar bears, but they are not closely related. In fact, the most recent ancestor that the three shared lived over five million years ago! That’s a lot of time for animals to divide genetically.
  • Black Bears and Brown Bears – There are a few ways to tell the difference between black bears and brown bears. The first is the most obvious, the color. Most black bears are black, and most brown bears are brown, but this isn’t always the case. Their heads also provide the next differentiation. Black bears have very broad, rounded skulls. Brown bears have more narrow skulls, with flatter foreheads. Usually, black bears are also smaller than brown bears.
  • Claw-Work – Black bear claws, and paws, also help differentiate between the two species. Black bears have smaller paws, with smaller claws. They can use their paws to manipulate objects, and are incredibly efficient. Black bears can open screw-top jars, and open door handles, allowing them to wreak havoc with your campsite!
  • Brainpower – The ability to open jars and doors is not simply because they are good with their paws. Black bears are incredibly intelligent as well. Researchers have conducted a number of different behavioral experiments on the intelligence of black bears. These large mammals are capable of color discrimination at a faster rate than chimpanzees, and can also tell the difference between shapes at a similar rate.

Habitat of the Black Bear

Scientists recognize sixteen different subspecies of black bears, which occupy a wide variety of habitats. Most habitats share a few characteristics that allow these bears to thrive. Thick vegetation, and difficult-to-access terrain keeps these bears safe, and is one reason they prefer living in areas isolated from human interruption.

Despite this, they will roam into more urban areas to forage. This behavior occurs especially frequently when their habitats are scarce in acorns, tree nuts, and berries. People have found them in juniper woods, chaparral, oak forests, hickory forests, bays, swamps, flatwoods, hardwood forests, meadows, and more.

Distribution of the Black Bear

In the past, these bears lived across the vast majority of North America, particularly in heavily forested areas. Nowadays, humans have restricted their range to the northernmost reaches of their range, and patchy distribution in less-inhabited regions of the United States.

Most of their range in Canada is consistent with their historic range, but in the United States they live in just the Northeast, and much of the Appalachian Mountains. Patchy populations are present in the Southeast, Mexico, and other forested areas.

Diet of the Black Bear

These bears are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plant and animal matter. Depending on the season, and the age of the bear, these creatures will eat up to 85% vegetation. The most animal-based diet occurs immediately after they emerge from hibernation. During this period they will hunt young deer, elk, and other hoofed animals, or feed on carrion.

These bears consume a wide variety of plants throughout the year, including roots, grasses, flowers, budding plants, berries, and other fruits, nuts, and seeds. Much of their protein comes from insects, and they will eat bees, honey, ants, larvae, and yellow jackets.

The Sixteen Subspecies

Scientific Name Nickname Range
U. a. altifrontalis Olympic Black Bear Pacific Northwest
U. a. vancouveri Vancouver Island Black Bear Vancouver Island
U. a. amblyceps New Mexico Black Bear Colorado to Mexico
U. a. pugnax Dall Black Bear Alexander Archipelago Alaska
U. a. americanus Eastern Black Bear Montana to the East Coast of the United States, north into Canada
U. a. perniger Kenai Black Bear Kenai Peninsula
U. a. californiensis California Black Bear Oregon to southern California
U. a. machetes West Mexican Black Bear Mexico
U. a. carlottae Queen Charlotte Islands Black Bear Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska
U. a. luteolus Louisiana Black Bear Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi
U. a. cinnamomum Cinnamon Bear Oregon through Utah, has red-brown fur
U. a. kermodei Spirit Bear British Columbia
U. a. emmonsii Glacier Bear Southeast Alaska
U. a. hamiltoni Newfoundland Black Bear Newfoundland
U. a. eremicus East Mexican Black Bear Mexico
U. a. floridanus Florida Black Bear Alabama through Florida

Black Bear and Human Interaction

Black bears are much less aggressive than their brown counterparts. They will make more aggressive displays, like mock charges, and attacks are less likely to result in a fatality than brown bears. Most attacks occur in areas where bears are fed, or have become used to human interaction.

The bears will also feed on crops, like corn, apples, and oats. Conversely, humans have caused harm to bears for centuries. Hunting of black bears has been actively conducted since before European settlers arrived on North America.

A number of U.S. States and Canadian Provinces have hunting seasons for black bears. The population of most subspecies is stable, and hunting is used to control population growth.


Humans have not domesticated black bears in any way.

Does the Black Bear Make a Good Pet

No, black bears do not make good pets. While they are not as aggressive as brown bears, they are still apex predators. An angry black bear can definitely kill you when aggravated. It is highly illegal to own a black bear as a pet for this reason.

Black Bear Care

In zoos, black bears must be kept in secure enclosures for the safety of the public, zookeepers, and other animals. They have large areas to exercise and interact with one another, and most enclosures also have some type of water source to swim in.

These intelligent creatures must have a wide variety of environmental enrichment, from toys to puzzle feeders, and whole carcasses for natural foraging. Their diet consists of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, with commercial carnivore meat, or some other protein source provided at the direction of a veterinarian.

Behavior of the Black Bear

The behavior of these predators can vary greatly based upon where they live. In regions with higher human populations, most bears are exclusively nocturnal; while in areas with fewer people, they are diurnal.

These bears are usually territorial, and do not socialize in groups for any extended period of time. However, they will tolerate one another at a prolific food source, such as a salmon run. In these types of situations the biggest bears get the best feeding locations. They are particularly good at swimming, and can catch fish while doing so.

Reproduction of the Black Bear

A female will have her first litter when she is between three and five years old. The bears will mate in June or July, but the embryo does not begin developing until November. This allows the cubs to be born in January or early February. The cubs will not open their eyes for about a month, and will nurse for nearly seven months. At approximately a year and a half, they are fully independent, but are not fully grown until five years old.

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