Keeping Stick Insects & Praying Mantids
Stick Insects and their carnivore cousins, Praying Mantids are low maintenance, delicate and fascinating critters.
- Stick insects are delicate and easily hurt if dropped. Handling in small amounts is ok, but over-handling can lead to stress.
- Fresh leaves, especially for young insects, are vital to the health and vitality of your stick insects. Stick insects eat nothing but leaves.
- These insects are non-aggressive and, if the enclosure is large enough, can be housed in a mixed species colony. DO NOT house any praying mantis species with your stick insects as they are carnivorous.
- Males will grow much smaller than females.
- Female stick insects generally live 12 – 18 months. Males are slightly shorter-lived and usually last 10 – 12 months.
Adopting a Stick Insect or Praying Mantis
Species you can find at Pet City are:
- Spiny Leaf Stick Insect (Macleay’s Spectre) – Extatosoma tiaratum
- Titan Stick Insect – Acrophylla titan
- Children’s Stick Insect –Tropidoderus childrenii
What you'll need:
Housing Stick Insects
Stick insects should be housed in a tall (the taller the better!) mesh enclosure. They can be housed in a plastic enclosure with a ventilated lid but often do not thrive in this environment. A fully mesh enclosure is ideal and should be at least 40cm high.
A good substrate to use is peat as it holds moisture which helps with humidity which is especially important when hatching eggs. Always make sure any substrate used comes from a clean, reliable source and is free of pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to your insects. Fine Kritter’s Crumble (ground up coconut husk) is a good substrate to use as it holds moisture well.
Fresh leaves should be available at all times. Place the leaves in fresh water but make sure the insects cannot fall into the water as they run the risk of drowning. When collecting leaves try to go as far away from roads and other highly polluted areas as possible. Get the youngest, freshest leaves available. Spray all leaves with cold water to get rid of anything dangerous before feeding to your stick insects.
Feeding (Stick Insects)
Fresh native leaves should be provided on a regular basis. The eucalypt family is a favourite, as well as Paperbarks and Acacias. Give your stick insects a selection of native leaves and take note of what they eat most of, then provide more of those kinds of leaves in the future. It is commonly accepted that nice, fresh paperbark leaves are a favourite of the titan and children’s stick insects.
Young stick insects (nymphs) need fresh soft leaves to eat on a DAILY basis.
Stick insects will not drink from a bowl so the leaves need to be misted with a water bottle twice a day, especially in the warmer months.
As they grow stick insects will shed their exoskeleton. Do not disturb them during this process and if your insect looks like it is having trouble mist the enclosure to raise humidity.
Remove old sheds from the enclosure.
Female stick insects can lay anything from 450 - 1000 eggs depending on the species. Some species can even reproduce parthenogenetically which means they don’t need a male to produce fertile eggs!
Eggs can take up to 18 months to hatch! However if you attend your stick insects diligently and keep them moist they should hatch sooner. Eggs usually start hatching late September. Young stick insects will instinctively climb as high as possible once they hatch so make sure they are in a suitable enclosure and that you have a ready supply of fresh, soft leaves for them to eat. Do not directly spray nymphs (baby stick insects) with water; instead lightly mist their leaves daily.
Keeping Praying Mantids
These insects are carnivorous and as such require live food on a regular basis. Crickets are a good staple diet. Exercise caution if feeding wild caught insects as they could have come into contact with pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to your praying mantis.
Praying mantids like to climb and need a well ventilated enclosure. Similar to stick insects, a 40cm tall mesh enclosure would be ideal with a peat or Fine Kritter’s Crumble substrate to hold moisture.
Mist the enclosure once a day for drinking water and to raise humidity levels.
These insects will periodically shed their skin. Do not interrupt them during this process and if they look like they are having trouble mist them lightly with a spray bottle to raise humidity.
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