I have been prompted to investigate stick bugs because a friend of mine in Minnesota found one the other day. Without even researching further, this is interesting for two reasons. One, stick bugs are most often found in tropical and subtropical climates. Minnesota is neither. But apparently like hardy humans, there are hardy stick bugs in the state. The other interesting thing is that stick bugs are mostly nocturnal; the one my friend found apparently didn’t get the memo.
As you probably know, stick bugs are masters at camouflage. Depending on where they live, the approximately 3,000 species of these insects blend in with their environment perfectly. They can be brown, green, or black, or some variation in between. Some even have markings that mimic scars you might see on a tree.
While this adaptation helps them hide in plain sight, if stick bugs do happen to find one of their limbs in the grips of a hungry predator (birds, bats, reptiles, spiders, and other small mammals), they will shed that limb. Not to worry…it will regrow! One species emits a foul odor when attacked, much like a skunk, while another can fight off an attacker with their spine-covered legs. Others play dead. And some can fly from danger.
Yet perhaps the most interesting thing is that among some species of stick bugs, the females do not need males to reproduce. This process is known as parthenogenesis. Females produce eggs that mature into more female stick bugs without any male involvement. In fact, there are species of stick bugs out there among which scientists have never found a single male. Now that’s girl power!