General Care

Housing

Leaf and stick insects require a tall enclosure with good ventilation. To accommodate adult animals and foliage places in a jar of water, an enclosure of about 60cm x 30cm x 30cm (H x W x D) is recommended. During moulting the insects require a lot of free space so enclosures have to be at least twice the animals body length.

Do not place the enclosure close to a window as direct sunlight can easily cause overheating. A very low watt light bulb placed off centre in the enclosure or above the enclosure can provide warmth in case environmental temperatures drop too low. The animals must be able to move in and out of the warmer area to maintain their preferred temperature.

Do not house stick insects and leaf insects together since stick insects have been reported to chew on leave insects.

The red house spider (Nesticodes rufipes, family Theridiidae) can easily kill prey many fold their size and are a major predator on captive stick insects. Keep the housing area clear of house spiders.

Food

Foliage with freshly cut stems is placed in a jar filled with water and then placed into the enclosure.

Ensure that foliage has not have been treated with pesticides. I recommend rinsing the leaves to remove insects and other possibly harmful “material”. Shake off excess water! Small nymphs can drown in water drops.

You will need to offer new foliage about once or twice a week. If the foliage has been depleted or if it starts to wither, you will of course have to replace it immediately.

Water

Mist spraying at least once a day will be beneficial for the animals. It gives them the opportunity to drink. Humidity and freshness of leaves influence the water requirements of the animals.

Try not to spray directly onto the animals but onto the foliage and possibly from above. The nymphs tend to hide at the underside when it “starts to rain” but to appear again after “the rain has stopped”. Be careful with small nymphs since they could drown in water droplets.

Temperature

Temperatures between 25°C and 30°C will be ideal for most species.

Avoid extremes!

Don’t allow temperatures to exceed 30°C or drop below 16° C for more than a few hours.

Humidity

The level of humidity depends on where the Phasmid naturally occurs. A level of 60%-80% will suit most species. Humidity does not have to be constant but can change during the day and seasonal with higher humidity in summer and lower humidity in winter.

Depending on where you live and whether the Phasmid you want to care for is at home at a more tropical or more temperate climate, you might have to do quite some mist spraying since all Phasmids do require good ventilation.

To low or to high humidity may result in moulting problems (moulting failure).

Moulting

The nymphs will moult regularly. The process is regulated by hormones and influenced by temperature and food availability. Moulting enables insects to grow.

The nymphs need to find a suitable position which provides enough room around it (but mainly underneath it) and a secure hold. You’ll probably recognise when nymphs stop feeding and stop moving in preparation to the event. Do not disturb nymphs that are in this state.

The right humidity is important at this stage since the insect has to split open the old skin. It will slowly emerge through this slit, pull itself free, rest, turn around, climb up and rest again. Give nymphs time for the new skin to harden. The exuvia or old skin will usually be eaten.

After their final moult the insects will be winged. Watch out, males can often fly well.

© copyright Insectopia.com.au