Here is what's bugging me...   Australian Stick Bug !
australian stick bug

There are over 3000 stick bug species in the world, all of them vegeterians. This is the Australian (Giant Spiny) Leaf Insect - Extatosoma tiaratum. This one here is a female. She feeds on the leaves of bramble or blackberry. She like to be misted once in a while. Her favorite position is to hang upside-down from the leaves or branches. When approached or picked up she sways from side to side like a leaf in the wind. She laid few hundred of eggs before eventually passing away.

australian stick bug
australian stick bug
australian stick bug
australian stick bug

June 8th 2004 - these are the eggs. Today I will be putting them to a seperate container and let's see if and when will they hatch. Apparently it takes as long as two years for them to hatch, so lets cross fingers and find a lot of patience !

australian stick bug

January 2005 - after just about 6 months few of the eggs hatched! They pop the plug at the tip of the egg and just come out of this time capsule. It seems that after all it does not necesserily take up such a long time! The female stick bugs can lay fertile eggs without a male, and all the insects born will also be females. It takes only aout six months for them to hatch - it would take up to two years for the eggs fertilized by a male. The little ones are about half inch long and look like littly tiny scorpions. Soon they started slowly eating the leaves and grow quite fast.

Below is a photo of the eggs after hatching. The popped plugs are clearly visible.

australian stick bug - baby

Here are the little hatchlings.

australian stick bug - baby

australian stick bug - baby

australian stick bug - baby

Update - April 4, 2005. There have been more than thirty births so far. Some of the babies died, but many survived and grow fast into exact minatures of their mother. The largest are already over 2 inches long!

Below are few new photos of them. They are really neat creatures!

australian stick bug - baby

Update - May 12, 2005. Right now I have over fifty of them. Some are really huge and almost and adult size.

Below a rear view of one of them.

australian stick bug - baby

And here a bunch of them together when I was cleaning their cages.

australian stick bug - baby
australian stick bug - baby
australian stick bug - baby

Here is the setup in which they live. It is a Rubbermaid plastic container with holes for ventilation. The branches are place in a container with water (covered with lid - to protect insectgs from getting into the water and drowning). The container is placed on a rubber mat to prevent it from sliding and there is a string attached to the sides of the cage to keep the branches inside. The branches should be placed vertically, like in the photo. The Australian leaf insects like hanging upside-down and grow quite large and heavy, so the branches should be thick and strong enough to support them (especially when keeping few adults together). I glued a piece of plastic to the bottom of the cage to keep anything that falls down (poop mostly) in the cage when I open it. I cut out a rectangular opening in the cover of the cage and covered it with window screen mesh. I mist the whole invironment once a day or two. The cages are attached to a piece of wood and hang from the wall.

When handling the insects a care should be taken to do it gently not to pull their legs off when pulling them from a branch. There is no reason to panic if such thing happen by accident - they eventually grow thier limbs back.

australian stick bug - baby
australian stick bug - baby

Here a photo of one of the earlier babies, already almost adult size now, soon after shedding.

australian stick bug - baby

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