Family Diapheromeriade

Northern Walking Stick

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Yesterday, while walking with my neighbor, Susie, during a light drizzle, there appeared before us on the road a very still walkingstick bug. I’ve enjoyed these bugs since seeing them often long ago in my Oklahoma childhood. These days, during daylight hours, many can be spotted resting on the vertical sides of my house. These bugs, members of the genus Phasmatodea, are vegetarians and active mostly during the nights. Susie moved this little speciman from the street and set it into a grassy area.

A fellow who painted the outside of my house recently loved saving stick bugs. Before covering a new area with paint, and upon seeing a walkingstick, he carefully lifted and moved it onto a safer section of house wall. Yesterday, I walked home wondering why, and having such affection for the little animals, I’d never bothered to learn their raison d’etre. This drove me straight to the internet.

The Northern Walkingstick, among the genus Phasmatodea, has its own order, the Family Diapheromeriade. Our local variety usually is either green or brown, has antennae, and very outstretched front legs. The critter is about 3-4″ in length and wingless. If it happens to lose one of those spectacular front legs, depending on its age, the animal may be able to regrow it.

These bugs are shy, nocturnal, and reproduce in the late summer or early fall when they mature. As females negotiate the treetops, they drop eggs to the ground that overwinter in leaf litter. Nymphs hatch in the spring, already resembling the adult version, and they grow more while moving on with their lives.

There are many varieties of these bugs, and they’re referred to by lots of casual names. Like all animals, walkingsticks are amazing creatures. When you see one, pause to enjoy and appreciate.

Dear Friends: Considering the natural world’s interesting, appealing life forms. Diana

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