Stick Insect Care Sheet: Setup, Feeding, Management, and More (2023)

Perhaps the best native insect species come from the order Phasmatodea, also known as the stick insect. Stick insects are a large group of herbivorous insects with an almost worldwide distribution, with most species found in the tropics.

They breed quickly, are usually quite large and tend to be slow moving, and are peaceful, making them excellent pets for adults and children alike. Although some species are venomous if eaten or pinched, none are venomous.

There are many interesting species in the hobby and most are very easy to keep if a few key requirements are met.

While there are around 3,000 species of Phasmatodea, only a handful of the larger species are regularly kept in captivity. Perhaps the most commonly kept species is the Indian stick insect,dear grumpy,which multiplies rapidly and is often kept in schools, universities and museums. Other popular species include the leaf bug, the giant spiny bug, and the jungle nymph.

Stick Insect Care Sheet: Setup, Feeding, Management, and More (1)

Stick insects are nocturnal in their natural environment and live off the plants they eat. Each species of stick insect is picky about the plants it eats, although the Indian stick insect is quite generalist in its diet, feeding on oak, blackberry, ivy and a variety of others. Stick insects camouflage themselves, often imitate the plants on which they live, spend most of the day completely silent and feed mainly at night. They exhibit a variety of interesting behaviors, e.g. B. will play dead when startled, or flap its colorful wings in a spectacular warning display when startled. Some species of stick insects, particularly the jungle nymph, are known to show aggression when they are not used to human contact.

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Stick insects need a high enclosure to survive. Glass terrariums can work if they have the right proportions, but mesh cages are generally considered better for giving insects more room to climb. Spraying stick insects is important and a grid will make this much easier. The enclosure floor should be covered with a substrate to regulate humidity and absorb faeces (poop). Coconut, soil or fine gravel works well in this regard.

When choosing a wardrobe, height is probably the most important dimension to consider. Molting is a dangerous time for stick insects, so it's a good idea to make sure they have plenty of room to molt. Stick insects hang perpendicular to the shed, so at the very least the top of the fence should be mesh as this will allow for a more successful molt. As a general rule, stick insects need an empty space more than 2 times their body length to molt properly.

In the wild, stick insects usually live on a suitable host plant, and therefore a stick insect's enclosure should focus on foliage. Because they rely so heavily on camouflage, stick insects are stressed when they don't feel well hidden. To feel well hidden, stick insects need to stay on or near their host plant. Therefore, the enclosure must be filled with the host plant, either as cut branches in water or as a live plant.


Different species of stick insects have different temperature requirements depending on their natural environment. Many of the most attractive, largest, and popular stick insects kept in captivity come from tropical environments and require a suitable temperature. Heat can be applied with heating cables, pads or lamps. It is important that when using a heat lamp, insects cannot reach it directly, as the heat can cause burns.

Small fluctuations in temperature between night and day are likely to be beneficial to stick insects, as they mimic the natural conditions in which they would live. However, it is important to avoid large temperature changes. Subzero temperatures are just as deadly as extreme heat. If there is a power outage in cold weather, you can wrap the cabinet with insulating material to prevent heat loss. You can protect your pets from excessive heat with fog, which lowers the temperature in the enclosure through evaporative cooling.

humidity and ventilation

When keeping arthropods in general, humidity is often the issue of greatest concern. Different insect species have very different moisture requirements and failure to meet these requirements can be fatal for the insect. Dandruff problems are usually caused by low humidity, and high humidity without proper ventilation can lead to fungal and mold infections.

There are several ways to keep the humidity in your stick insect enclosure at an optimal level. The first is the fog. Misting is very important for stick insects because their pets rely heavily on mist droplets as a source of water in addition to the plants they eat. Stick insects should be sprayed at least once a day, possibly more often during molting. If you are keeping live plants in water in the enclosure instead of branches, it is a good idea to place a water bowl filled with rocks in the bottom of the enclosure. This stabilizes moisture and can provide a source of fresh water, although not all stick insects use it. An electronic moisture monitor lets you keep an eye on the humidity in your stick insect enclosure.


Perhaps the most important part of stick insect care is proper nutrition. Stick insects are herbivores, and each species is often limited to a handful of host plants. Because of this, it is absolutely vital that you know what type of stick insect you have and what plants the insect can eat. A poorly fed stick insect will not eat and will therefore starve to death.

To care for your stick insects, you need to constantly provide them with fresh vegetation of the right kind. Many of the common stick insects feed on ivy, privet, blackberry, rose, oak, and hawthorn leaves. You can find these plants in parks, public places, and maybe even in your own backyard. If the species of stick insect you want specializes in a plant that cannot be found in your area, you will need to grow it yourself. You need to periodically collect branches from the plant, which you can put in water like a bouquet of roses. You can keep these branches fresh for a few days to a week before they start to wilt. Stick insects do not feed on withered or dead leaves. When keeping your plants in a glass of water, it is very important that you cover the surface of the water to prevent them from drowning.

Depending on the species of stick insect, it is also possible to grow the plant in a pot and keep the pot in the enclosure. In this way, the plant will never wither or dry out, but will require regular care. Depending on how many stick insects you plan on keeping, it may also be a good idea to grow several plants that you can rotate to allow the plant to recover from feeding your pets.

fuel gauges

Stick insects are generally best kept alone or with partners in breeding colonies. They are fragile insects and are easily injured by other tankmates. You cannot keep stick insects with any type of vertebrate due to their size and potential to cause physical harm. Perhaps the only suitable housemates for stick insects are small organisms used as guardians in terrariums. Springtails and isopods work very well in this regard as they are very peaceful and won't harm your stick insects. Certain species of small cockroaches, especially non-creeping ones, can also live comfortably in the substrate next to a stick insect colony.

tank maintenance

Schedule regular cleaning of the stick insect enclosure. Stick insects produce a lot of feces that can cause mold and health problems for your pets. Once a week, the droppings should be removed and the soiled substrate replaced or cleaned. It's also important to replace dry, dead, and withered twigs and leaves with fresh leaves so that your pets have a constant source of food.

In recent years arthropods have become popular for tank cleaning. The most popular are isopods and springtails, although centipedes, beetles and a few others have also been used. These organisms are peaceful and won't harm your pets and generally do a good job of cleaning up debris, although they won't eliminate the need for regular tank cleaning.


While they are generally very peaceful creatures, it's best to avoid touching your pet's stick insects if possible. This is because stick insects are extremely fragile and can easily lose limbs. If you need to handle your stick insects, it's best to squeeze them slowly in your hands or, if the person is tall, gently grip them by the middle. When moving your stick insects, try to move slowly to avoid them falling over. If you plan to treat your stick insect regularly, consider keeping larger, hardier species that can handle handling better.

Some stick insects exhibit aggressive behavior when they are angry or frightened. Some are pinching their leg joints, while others release smelly liquids or display colorful warning signs. Some can even spray attackers with a caustic, acidic liquid. Many have spikes and spikes on their bodies to deter potential predators. These species, despite their frightening defenses, are generally harmless to humans and can do little more than bite or give off an unpleasant smell.

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health and illness

The biggest threat to the health of stick insects is molting. Most stick insects molt several times during their lifetime, so creating conditions that encourage successful molting is crucial. An insufficiently large compartment, low humidity or low temperature can harm the seedling and lead to death. Exoskeleton parts that don't come off properly during molting can cause infection and also make future molting difficult. If you notice that your stick insect is taking a long time to detach, or if your stick insect is unable to detach itself from its exoskeleton, you should probably increase the humidity in the enclosure more and try to remove parts of the exoskeleton. that do not come out completely during molting.

However, too much moisture can have a negative impact on insect health. Especially when high humidity is combined with poor ventilation, mold can spread. While most species of fungus are harmless, certain species can cause serious fungal disease in stick insects. Fungal infections are almost always fatal, which is why tank cleaning is so necessary. If you discover that one of your stick insects has a fungal infection, quarantine it separately from the other stick insects. Increase ventilation and reduce humidity unless people are naturally losing hair.

Another common problem with stick insects is their physical fragility. Stick insects can lose limbs very easily, either from trauma or during a bad molt. The good news is that stick insects are highly resistant to this type of damage. If your stick insect loses a limb or antenna, it should be able to regrow the missing part during subsequent molts.

Pesticides can be a serious problem when keeping stick insects. Since stick insects only feed on live plant matter, many stick insect owners collect branches from host plants in parks and public places. These sites may have been treated with insecticides to kill plant pests or mosquitoes, which also kill stick insects. There is no way to treat pesticide poisoning, which is almost always fatal, so it's important to make sure the food you're feeding your pets hasn't been treated with insecticides or herbicides. If your city sprays mosquitoes, do not collect plant matter from your yard on spraying days.

If you can avoid these health hurdles, you can expect most pet stick insects to live at least a few years, many of which are the insect's growth from nymph to adult. A general rule of thumb is that larger stick insects tend to live longer, although there are exceptions. Women generally live longer than men, sometimes years longer.

To create

Many types of stick insects are extremely easy to breed. With proper humidity, temperature, and access to food, stick insects proliferate freely and lay unique hard-boiled eggs that resemble seeds. They drop these eggs into the substrate or lay them on leaves and branches. Stick insects generally do not cannibalize their young or eggs, and all life stages can be kept together.

As if raising stick insects couldn't be easier, there are many species of stick insects that are parthenogenetic, meaning they can reproduce without sex. These are the easiest stick insect species to breed, as even a single individual can reproduce quickly in a large colony.

Stick insect eggs can take a long time to hatch, sometimes up to a few months, and when they do hatch, the nymphs are very small. However, caring for nymphs is quite easy, as they require similar conditions to adults. Small nymphs dry out quickly and therefore adequate humidity must be maintained by regular spraying. Stick insect nymphs can drown very easily, so the water in the enclosure must be filled with pebbles. Very young nymphs may have difficulty feeding on intact leaves, so if kept as adults, they may feed on leaves already damaged by adult feeding.

Because some stick insects can reproduce so quickly, it's a good idea to have a method for getting rid of unwanted young. Never release stick insects into the environment, no matter where you are. Stick insects can become serious pests under the right conditions. Instead, you should have an insectivorous animal that can consume insects in excess. You can also sell or donate your extras. If you find eggs you don't want, you can freeze them to prevent them from hatching.

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Some stick insect species have the potential to become invasive in the right climates. Because they reproduce very quickly, many species can even lay asexual eggs and feed on economically important plants. For this reason, it is illegal to keep stick insects in many countries. In the US, it is illegal to keep all non-native stick insects in captivity without special permission unless they are already present in your area as an invasive species. Do not buy stick insect or nymph eggs unless you are absolutely sure the species is legal for you, as keeping illegal species can result in hefty fines.

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