Monday, June 1, 2009

Stick Bugs!

There was a stick bug on the sliding screen this morning just outside our back door. We've seen these amazing creatures before in this same area. There are many live oak trees in the forested area behind our house, and roses in the garden, and I know stick bugs eat both roses and oak leaves, so that may explain why they live around my house!

This is a rather large creatures, about four inches long, so I believe it is a female since the females are larger than the males. It rocked back and forth when I was watching, as these bugs often do. Rocking back and forth makes them look like sticks moving in the breeze, and looking like sticks protects them from predators.

Stick bugs are relatively harmless. Sometimes, when attacked, they will emit a sticky substance that can burn the eyes or mouth of their attacker, but I'm guessing they are not attacked that often. They aren't particularly harmful to plants or trees so they are not considered garden pests. If they do lose an arm or a leg, though, they can grow a new one! They grow replacement limbs when they molt, or lose their skin, and sometimes they eat the skin they shed. Yum.

Stick bugs are not very active. They generally eat at night and sleep or rest during the day. They have sticky pads on their feet and are very good climbers, which explains how this one climbed up the screen door. They are fairly easy to care for since you don't have to feed them bugs, fish or mice like pet snakes, and people often keep stick bugs as pets in tall fish tanks. A male stick bug is not needed for reproduction, and stick bugs are perfectly content living alone. They will even eat lettuce, which makes them very low maintenance.

Even though they're not particularly active, I am fascinated by these blessed little creatures of God. It's rather soothing to watch them rocking back and forth, pretending to be a part of a tree. Their needs are few, and they seem happy and grateful for whatever God brings to them. There are about 3000 different stick bugs species and they are found all over the world, but generally in warm areas, like our home in Texas. I hope to see more of these wonderful creatures in the future, but I do realize I will have to look hard to see them in the trees because they look so much like twigs!

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