About 3,000 species of stick insects exist.
About 3,000 species of stick insects exist.
Photograph by Mtcurado, iStockphoto

Stick Insect

A tree stands in a forest under a cloudy sky. Suddenly it appears as if a twig is crawling down the trunk. The object isn’t actually a twig that’s sprung legs—it’s a stick insect. The stick-like trickster uses its appearance to protect itself from enemies so it doesn’t end up in, well, a sticky situation.

Common Name:
Stick Insects
Scientific Name:
Average Life Span In The Wild:
Up to 3 years
0.46 to 12.9 inches


Stick insects—also known as walking sticks—live in tropical and temperate (or mild) forests all over the world. Related to grasshoppers, crickets, and mantises, these creepy-crawlies are usually brown, green, or black. They’re also the world’s longest insects. The largest one ever found stretched 22 inches with its legs extended. (Most are only up to 12 inches long.)

This bug spends much of its time in trees, munching on leaves. When predators such as birds approach, the insect tries to remain completely still in order to blend with the branches. If a predator isn’t fooled and grabs the bug by the leg, it’s no big deal. The insect can detach the leg and scuttle away. It will later regenerate, or grow back, the lost limb.


About 3,000 species of stick insects exist. Some are master mimics even before they hatch. The females from these species lay eggs that look like plant seeds. This prevents carnivorous insects from eating the eggs. This crawler really knows how to go undercover.