Pest Identification: Walking Sticks
Most Common Types
Walking sticks are members of the Phasmatodea order and are variously called stick-bugs, stick insects, Indian walking sticks, ghost insects, or leaf insects.
What They Look Like
The fittingly named walking stick has a stick-shaped body which resembles the twigs and branches on which it resides. In North America, walking sticks range from a half-inch to 4 inches long. They have green or brown bodies and long protruding legs and antennae. The camouflage of some species is further enhanced by lichen-like markings.
Where They Live
Walking sticks live on trees and bushes where their camouflage provides the most protection against birds and other predators.
Where They Nest
Several species of female walking sticks do not require males to reproduce and a single insect can lay from 100 to 1200 eggs depending on the species. The eggs are dropped along the ground, deposited along plant stems, or buried in the soil.
Steps to Prevent
Physically removing and destroying walking sticks can reduce populations over time but because of their nocturnal feeding habits, they are difficult to find. There is no research concerning the effectiveness of pesticides against walking sticks but application is not recommended because it can kill beneficial insects in the environment.
Are They Harmful?
Because of their unique look, Indian walking sticks are raised as pets. However, they are prolific and aggressive feeders and have been deemed an invasive species in Southern California where they can damage landscaping. Other species of walking sticks are not harmful.