Readers question: My stick insect stopped eating after molting

I received this readers question in my inbox this week. I thought to share it with you, as I get many questions on the same subject.

Hello Linda,

Not too long ago my girlfriend and I acquired two giant prickly stick insects, and using your information on the web we’ve been watching them grow with keen interest and joy. They have finished their final molt and we’ve been keeping an eye out for eggs, however since their last molt they have not eaten (save once, and very little at that) regardless of the leaves. My question being is this a sign of something wrong or do they recoup for a bit longer before eating after the final molt (usually they get hungry post molt after about a day or two, it is now approaching four days.)?

We haven’t seen any eggs dropped, but they are still little poop machines, not nearly as much before but only slightly less in that department, so I’m unsure what is going on as I can tell from the leaves they are not eating.

Thank you for your time,

Bryon Janich
Oregon, USA

I’m happy to tell that there is no need to worry about the health of these two stick insects. It is normal for stick insects to stop eating just before and just after shedding their skin. Sometimes that takes just one day, sometimes a bit more. It should not take more than around 5 days. A stick insect can live without food for some time, especially if they are older and bigger and thus have more reserves.

As the stick insects of Bryon still poop, they still have some food to digest so it’s even less crucial for them to eat. It’s important to keep the food available and keep the air humidity at high enough level. Spraying some extra water droplets more often will allow them to drink more, as when fasting they are not taking in any moisture from their food.

The eggs will not be produced until around 4 weeks after the final molt. With the giant prickly stick insect the eggs are very easily distinguished from the poop. The eggs cannot be missed. It’s just waiting now for them to be produced!

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Ghost mantis development in pictures

I’m happy to show you some new pictures I received from Jarno Akkersdijk. He made some stunning pictures of his Ghost mantids and shared them at his website http://ghostmantisnl.wixsite.com/home

I got permission to share them with you too. The pictures are great because they show the growth and development of a mantis in a clear way. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Ghost mantis development and growth

Ghost mantis female development and growth

Every time the mantis changed her skin, Jarno photographed her with a one euro coin for scale. At the last picture the mantis is adult and will not grow more.

A ghost mantis with an empty stomach and the same one just after eating a large meal.

A ghost mantis with an empty stomach and the same one just after eating a large meal.

You can clearly see how much food and fat a mantis has in its body. A mantis will store all of this in it abdomen. That is the last part of its body. When the mantis is eating you will see the abdomen becoming bigger and bigger. This picture illustrates that beautifully.

Ghost mantis differences males and females

Ghost mantis differences males and females

Male and female mantises look different. Here Jarno highlighted some differences between male and female ghost mantises.

Adult female ghost mantis

Adult female ghost mantis

Just a nice picture of an adult Ghost mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa) to end with. You can read more about this mantis species at the link.

Some beautiful submitted insects photographs

I got a message from Luc Bouffard from Canada. He is an insect enthousiast and photographer and allowed me to share his pictures with you.

Hi Linda, my name is Luc and I have been visiting your site often to learn more about the insect I photograph. I really enjoy your site, thank you.

Any of my bugs picture you can use for your website if needed.

 

Here are some of his pictures, click to enlarge them. Check out the rest at Luc’s Google+ page.

The species depicted are the following:

Mantis identification in Louisville, Kentucky

I got an email from a woman in Louisville, Kentucky. She wrote me the following:

I had a Praying Mantis land on me. I am sending a picture that was taken of it on me. I was wondering what species it was. I think it was male one time I look at it and a female the next. Can you tell which it is?
Your truly,
Rosemary

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With the picture it was easy to identify it. It is a female Carolina Mantis. It’s occurs naturally in Kentucky and other places in the US. Around this time you will be able to see many adult Carolina Mantises around. They are producing eggs that will survive the winter. The adults will die coming fall, when they have reached the end of their life, temperatures have dropped and food has become scarce. In the spring the eggs will hatch new mantis nymphs to continue the cycle.

Thank you Rosemary for allowing me to use the picture.

Meet Zompro’s Stick Insect

I got a new species of stick insect! I never had this one before. Many people like very brightly colored stick insects, but I also love the camouflaged ones. My first species where all plain stick-like looking, so I’ve kept a special place in my heart for them. The new species I have is Zompro’s Stick Insect, latin name Parapachymorpha zomproi. PSG 224.

I’ve made some pictures to share with you here. You can read more about this species at it’s own page Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi

Parapachymorpha-zomproi-adult3

What I like of this species is that the female has two tiny horns on its head. It reminded me of Medauroidea extradentata. I was doubting if I did not just find a different variant of Medauroidea extradentata, but the lobes on the legs and that the horns on the head where so short did not add up. Finally I managed to ID it as Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi.

New species description

For some time I was without any stick insects as pets, but now I could not resist to start again. I got some beautiful Necroscia annulipes specimens. Two males and two females. This species is so beautiful. The colors are amazing. I took some pictures today. To read more about this species, check out Necroscia annulipes.

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Adult male Necroscia annulipes

Adult male Necroscia annulipes

Adult male Necroscia annulipes

female

Funny perspective on this female

For more pictures you can check out The Necroscia annulipes page.

male showing its wings

Male showing its wings (after some coaxing)

The mantis that looks like a dried leaf

There are many mantis species that mimic dead and dried leaves. It’s good camouflage in their natural habitat. But in my opinion, one mantis species is the master of disguise when it comes to leaves: the Dead Leaf Mantis Deroplatys desiccata. Even its Latin name has to do with dried leaves, desiccata means dried.

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Female Dead Leaf Mantis

This is an adult female Dead Leaf Mantis. The females are the best  in looking like a leaf. That’s because they are much larger than the males and have longer leaf-like flabs on their body. The males of this species also look like a leaf, but much less so, as they need to be more aerodynamic as they fly. Females do not fly and thus don’t need to weight in the pros and cons of looking more like a leaf. They go all-in!

Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis on my hand

Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis on my hand

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Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis

The males still look like a leaf, but much less so:

Adult male Deroplatys desiccata

Adult male Deroplatys desiccata

If prefer to photograph the females of the Dead Leaf Mantis. I just think they are beautiful. To read more about this mantis species, check out their page.

Deroplatys desiccata

Deroplatys desiccata

Pretty in Pink – Meet the Orchid Mantis

hymenopuscoronatusThe orchid mantis is one of the most amazing praying mantis species in the world. It is amazing because of it’s bright pink and white colors. You would think that an insect does not want to stand out – you know, danger of being eaten by a bird, chameleon or other insect-eating animal. Dressing in bright pink might not be the best choice then. But as soon as you see it, you will realise that this praying mantis has another plan… it mimics a flower making it perfectly camouflaged for anything that is not looking for a flower to eat. Next to the colors the body shap is made just like a flower. The legs have big round petal-like shapes on them, the body has a little green stripe making the body outline looking less like a bug. The mantis keeps her arms tucked in, helping to keep the non-insect look. Animals that are looking for a tasty bug will not look too closely at flowers. And little insects looking for a flower? They will be eaten by the praying mantis.

hymenopuscoronatus9

Pink and white praying mantis

The females of the orchid mantis are the pretty ones. The males are small and lack color, but the females are big, bright pink with white and their legs look like flower petals.

Click on a picture to see it enlarged.

Tiny 3D glasses for mantis experiment

Scientist are interested in the freakiest things. And sometimes I’m interested in that too. For example praying mantis 3D vision. If you own a pet mantis you can see that it probably does have excellent 3D vision. How could it otherwise grab a fly perfectly out of the air? Or why would it rotate it’s head like it does if not for a clear 3D view with both eyes? But everything is speculation until you prove it. That’s what scientist at the Newcastle University did. With tiny 3D glasses they proved that praying mantises have and use 3D vision.

The article describing the research:

The praying mantis is the only known invertebrate with 3D perception, however this fact was originally proven in the 1980s using prisms and occluders, which only support a limited number of images. Scientists want to deepen their understanding of the insect, so they’ve taken this research a step further by testing a few mantises with tiny 3D glasses. A team from Newcastle University created a miniature cinema in the hope that the insects would move when they perceived 3D images with the appropriate lenses. The trick worked, but only with a specific kind of spectacles.

Read the rest of the article here

Newcastle University research into 3D vision in praying mantises by Dr. Vivek Nityananda. Pic: Mike Urwin. 151015

Newcastle University research into 3D vision in praying mantises by Dr. Vivek Nityananda.
Pic: Mike Urwin. 151015

Source: Newcastle University

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