Vietnamese Walking Stick


ORDER: Phasmatodea

FAMILY: Phasmidae

GENUS: Medauroidea

SPECIES: extradentata

DESCRIPTION:
These 4- to 5 inch-long insects are brownish in color and have a stick-like body and an elongated oval-shaped head with thread-like antennae. They have horn-shaped structures on their heads and small pointed bumps along their thorax. Only the males have wings and males are smaller than the females.

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Tropical forests of Viet Nam.

DIET:
Leaves. Usually blackberry leaves here in the zoo.

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Primarily nocturnal. Males are rare, since reproduction is mostly by parthenogenesis. Hundreds of seed-like eggs are dropped to the forest floor where they hatch in about four months. Nymphs look similar to adults and mature in 3 to 4 months. Adults live another 3 to 4 months. Life span is thus six to eight months after hatching.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
"Phasm"means ghost, probably referring to the marvelous camouflage of the stick insects. This species will stay motionless during the day when predators such as birds and small mammals are about or they may rock back and forth to look like a twig moving in the wind. Claws and sucker pads on their feet allow them to walk up vertical surfaces.

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Also known as Devil Horn Walking Sticks because of the horn-like projections on their heads. In addition to using camouflage, stick insects may shed limbs to escape predators. Nymphs can regenerate lost limbs during metamorphosis.

OUR ANIMALS:

STATUS IN WILD:
Not endangered.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Internet: San Diego Zoo fact-sheets; bugs in cyberspace.com
  2. McGavin, George. Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects. 2000. Dorling Kindersley Ltd

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