Vietnamese Walking Stick
Scientific Name: Baculum extradentatum
Walking sticks are so good at disappearing and blending into their surroundings that the name for their order, Phasmatodea, means “ghost” in Latin.
Stare right at a Vietnamese walking stick and you still probably won’t see it! That’s because it looks just like the twig it’s standing on. The insect also blends into its environment by freezing in place or rocking back and forth to imitate a twig blowing in the breeze. This makes it very hard for its predators (birds and small mammals) to find it.
STATUS: Vietnamese walking sticks are not threatened, as they are common in the wild and are popular as pets.
HABITAT: These insects live throughout the tropical forests of Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.
DIET: Walking sticks are herbivores. They eat the leaves of the trees and bushes in which they live.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: There are approximately 2,000 tropical species of walking stick. Vietnamese walking sticks are about four to five inches long with elongated, oval-shaped heads. They have thread-like antennae, are brownish in color and resemble a stick or twig, which camouflages them almost perfectly. Like all insects, they have six legs. Males have wings while females do not. They are nocturnal and remain virtually motionless during the day. With both claws and sucker pads on their feet, stick insects are able to walk straight up a vertical surface. Nymphs, or young walkingsticks, grow to their adult forms by three months and are then able to reproduce. Amazingly, when nymphs molt, or shed their exoskeleton, they are able to regenerate any missing limbs. Adults, however, cannot reform any missing parts.
Reproduction in Vietnamese walking sticks can occur through parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction, in which an unfertilized ovum develops into a nymph. Hundreds of the seed-like ova are dropped by the female onto the forest floor. After a few months, the eggs hatch. Walking sticks have a short lifespan – often less than half a year.