Taking care of stick insects, looking after stick insects | Small-Life Supplies

Small-Life Supplies logo
Est 1985
Small-Life Supplies SiteLock
... for insect cages and living stick insects
Small-Life Supplies Ask Professor Phasmid Cages for stick insects and snails Stick Insects and Butterflies/Moths

Liners for cages Lab cages for bees, aphids, flies Fresh leaves for stick insects CLEARANCE and
Testimonials

Taking care of your stick insects properly has always been the ethos of Small-Life Supplies! Looking after stick insects is straight forward, they need a tall well-ventilated cage, that is easy to keep clean. Feed stick insects once a week, most eat fresh bramble (blackberry) leaves. Mist the leaves daily with cold tap water. Don't save too many stick insect eggs and pour hot water onto unwanted eggs to stop them developing. Qualified professional British entomologist, Dorothy Floyd has written a best-selling book "Keeping Stick Insects". Free on-line advice is on this page, email your insect questions to prof@small-life.co.uk and check back to see the answer on THURSDAY (sorry, but due to the large numbers of questions, not all can be answered).


Keeping Stick Insects book for advice about caring for stick insects
64 pages, illustrations and colour
photographs, contents, index.
ISBN 0 9512466 0 7
Keeping Stick Insects book by Dorothy Floyd
"Keeping Stick Insects" has long been the definitive guide for looking after stick insects properly.

It is written by qualified British entomologist Dorothy Floyd, BA Hons (Cantab).

Seven species of stick insects are discussed in detail, with lots of practical tips. There are close-up photos of stick insect eggs and also the very rare adult male Indian stick insect!


Dorothy uses her biological knowledge to clearly explain how stick insects grow, breathe, and shares fascinating facts such as the blood of stick insects is green!

Dorothy writes in an easy to read style and so this book is accessible to children over 12 and adults alike.


"Keeping Stick Insects" book, price £12 + £3.95 delivery (to mainland UK, excluding Scottish Highlands)
SIGNED COPY! Dorothy is happy to sign her book and include a message, this is a free service and a nice touch if this book is purchased as a gift.
Back cover To buy the "Keeping Stick Insects" book, you can order securely on-line anytime at the British selling platform numonday.com
https://www.numonday.com/shop/small-life-supplies


numonday logo
Example pages
Professor Phasmid
Ask Professor Phasmid

Have an insect question? Get it answered by the insect specialist, Professor Phasmid!



Send your insect and snail questions to prof@small-life.co.uk

Latest answers posted Friday 10th September 2021...
I’m concerned that our Indian sticks are not getting enough daylight, we have the blinds down in the day just to keep the heat of the sun out. Would it be wise getting a light for the enclosure or next to it?
Like many species of stick insect, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do not like bright light. So having the room dimmed by the closed blinds is perfectly OK for them. What is really important is that the room is dark at night and lighter in the day, so the stick insects are exposed to a night/day cycle. There are a few species of stick insect that benefit from bright sunshine during day, these include the Guadeloupe stick insects (Lamponius guerini) and the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). For these species, the ELC cage can be moved to a sunny place (but not directly on a window sill) when a sunny day is forecast.

Our family now includes four Indian stick insects and we love them! My son adores them climbing up his arm! Is it OK to take them out every day, they have the red armpits and are plump adults?
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can be handled daily. Their feet are very sensitive and they soon learn to recognise the scent from your fingers from the sensory pads on their feet. Relaxed stick insects are active and so it is good that your adult Indian stick insects are walking up your son's arm. It's important not to overtire stick insects though, and so try to keep the handling sessions to just few minutes per day. Some of the larger species have much more stamina and so benefit from longer handling sessions, these include the chunky New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) and the Malaysian stick insect (Heteropteryx dilatata).

Very interested to see the pics showing your Samia ricini cocoons on your Facebook page. I've always fed mine on privet, so to get such a size difference, do you have to feed them eucalyptus straight away, or can you add eucalyptus later?
Here at Small-Life Supplies, we have always fed our Samia ricini caterpillars with fresh privet leaves. But whilst replenishing their leaves a few weeks ago, some of our caterpillars raced over to some fresh eucalyptus leaves that were on the table and started eating those straight away! So we put both eucalyptus and privet into one cage, and found that all the caterpillars that ate the eucalyptus produced significantly larger cocoons. These caterpillars were all from the same batch and so are the same age, they were all eating privet for the first few weeks of their lives. So if you want to try this experiment yourself, you can give eucalyptus to caterpillars that are already eating privet leaves. We're looking forward to seeing what size of Indian Eri silkmoth will emerge from the larger cocoons!

My teenage son has three glass tanks of Giant Millipedes in his room, also two glass tanks of Giant African Land Snails. He says they need humid habitats and mould and mites are normal? I'm concerned now though because there is a damp smell and something catches in my throat whenever I enter his room (it's a very small room). Any advice?
You should remove these set-ups from your son's bedroom immediately. No person should be sleeping in a room with lots of mould spores, because you inhale these as you sleep, causing long term damage to your lungs. The fact you can detect the damp, and the spores are already catching in your throat indicates there is a serious health risk for you, and even more so for your son who spends many more hours in that room. Housing millipedes and snails in stuffy glass tanks that encourage mould and mites are very bad conditions for these creatures, and so their needs should be addressed urgently too. Giant millipedes like to climb and so can be housed in ELC cages (with one Ventilation Control Panel attached to reduce air-flow.) Giant African Land Snails thrive in the HLQ cages, use our special wet HLQ Liners to increase humidity hygienically, without promoting mould and mites. Giant millipedes like to eat dead leaves and these will have a damp smell, so it's not recommended to house these in a bedroom. Giant African Land Snails eat vegetable peelings and dandelion leaves, so this food needs to be replaced every day or two before any mould develops on the food. It sounds like your son has been ill informed because healthy millipedes and snails that are being looked after properly, certainly do not have mites crawling all over them!

Do giant stick insects tolerate cold better than spindly ones? My room is 16 degrees Celsius, and I was thinking a bulky body may be a better insulator than a thin one, but I may be wrong?
Actually, the bulky looking stick insects, including Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum), Malaysian (Heteropteryx dilatata) and New Guinea (Eurycantha calcarata) need to be kept in a warmer room than their thinner counterparts to thrive. So you've come to the wrong conclusion; it's the more spindly ones that can tolerate colder temperatures better. Most stick insects prefer a daytime temperature of 18-21 degrees, so a room that is only 16 degrees Celsius in the daytime is a bit chilly. You could purchase an oil-filled radiator on-line from Radio Spares, these are economical to run and easy to operate, just plug it into an electrical socket. The 500Watt model is best because this emits a gentle warmth. Priced approx £35 here is the link https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/heaters-radiators/7126073.
So, for a cooler room, the thin Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) would be your best choice. Small-Life Supplies breed these in large numbers and we have both medium-sized nymphs and adults for sale at the moment.

We received some eggs by post, from a different seller, and they arrived in a petri dish, with cotton wool. I know to keep the eggs without airholes and so would this petri dish be OK? I'm not sure what to do with the cotton wool? The label says "Laboratory Stick Insect Ova". I live in Halifax.
"Laboratory stick insect" is another term for "Indian stick insect" and so it is likely that you have these eggs (the scientific word for eggs is ova). Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs are small, round and light brown with a small yellow lid. You are correct in thinking that Indian stick insect eggs do best if stored in an unventilated container. However, the petri dish is too squat and so this will cause problems when the eggs start to hatch. This is because the baby stick insect is considerably larger than the eggshell from which it emerges. So, for best results, tip the eggs into a HAP. This is a clear container that is manufactured by Small-Life Supplies specifically for storing eggs and housing baby stick insects. HAPs are the optimum size for this, 13cm high and 7.5cm in diameter. Discard the cotton wool, this was probably used as packaging to stop the eggs rattling around in transit, and is of no benefit now they have arrived.

I was told to feed Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect hatchlings eucalyptus leaves, so I have been doing that, and also putting bramble in their containers. To my surprise the stick insects are eating both the eucalyptus and the bramble leaves. So I don't understand why I need to bother with the eucalyptus, particularly as it's a lot more bother for me to find it.
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) will always eat bramble (blackberry) leaves from birth, but the point is, this can be very risky to the health of the stick insects. There are lots of different types of bramble and some types are OK and so the stick insects will be fine. However, there is a strong chance that the stick insects will consume the bramble for two weeks and then all die. So, a much safer option is to exclusively feed the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect hatchlings with eucalyptus leaves and continue to do this for the next few weeks. This method usually results in a near 100% success rate, so with zero or a very low death rate. The Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect nymphs can be given bramble (blackberry) leaves to eat when they are a couple of months old, and will eat this bramble with no ill effects. So, why risk killing them all, when all you have to do is feed them on eucalyptus for a couple of months, and then switch them over to bramble as they grow?

I took delivery of a bouquet of flowers. When I realised who had sent them I didn't want them, and tried to throw them away, but my friend insisted on giving me £15 for them. The thing is I don't want anything to do with this, so please can you suggest somewhere I can send this money to and move on.
Greenpeace UK welcome one-off donations. This is easy to do, just go to their website and click the button to donate £15 and enter your card or PayPal details. Here is the link: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/support-us/.
Greenpeace UK has the sense to realise that many people want to donate when they can, and not be obliged to donate regularly via a standing order, so very clearly display the "one-off donation" button on their website. You can enter an amount of your choice, or click on one of their pre-set buttons; £5, £15, £25 or £50.

Our Indian stick insects are laying eggs, we'll save some, but what do we do with the rest?
Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) need four months to develop, so it's best to dispose of unwanted eggs in the weeks just after they have been laid, rather than delaying until months later, when hatching is imminent. You could ask around first to see if any friends or relatives would like some. Another option is to feed unwanted eggs to birds (including chickens, blackbirds and magpies) and fish. Please don't just throw eggs in the bin because this won't stop them developing, neither will a short spell in a fridge or freezer (because the eggs thaw out when removed and start developing again). Extreme heat is 100% effective and very fast. So you can either throw the eggs into a garden fire or stove, or tip them into a bowl and pour boiling water on top. It is really important not to save too many eggs because they have a high success rate in hatching and it's far better to dispose of surplus eggs rather than have too many living stick insects to cope with.

I am a stick insect grandma! Three hatched this morning! What to do next? Rip up leaves or not? Ventilation holes or not? Help! (They are Indian stick insects).
Congratulations! Place the baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in a HAP pot. This is a clear container that Small-Life Supplies manufacture and supply, because the HAP is ideal housing for baby Indian stick insects. We use lots of HAPs in the Small-Life Supplies breeding facility. Baby Indian stick insects prefer less ventilated conditions, and so air/ventilation holes are not recommended. There is plenty of air in the HAP and fresh air enters when you lift the lid off to replace the bramble leaf. No need to waste your time ripping up leaves! Indian stick insects easily eat leaves as they naturally are; stick insects have mouthparts specially designed to cut and eat the edges of the leaf. However, baby Indian stick insects are thirsty and so it's important to place a slightly wet bramble leaf in the HAP, so the stick insects can drink from the water droplets on the leaf. So lightly mist the top of the bramble leaf with cold tap water before you put it into the HAP. Use a disposable HAP Liner on the floor of the HAP to ensure the stick insects are kept in clean surroundings.

The ELC stick insect enclosure has been highly recommended to me, so I would like to order one. Can I specify delivery to be by Wednesday 8th September (because that's my son's 15th birthday)?
Yes, just mention the birthday when you order, and ask for delivery for the day before, Tuesday 7th September 2021. The ELC cage is fantastic for many species of stick insect, and very easy to keep clean (using the disposable ELC Liners and Cleaning Sponge). If you upgraded to the ELC bundle, you would receive those items as well, and also the Sprig Pot (designed to keep the bramble leaves fresh in water and also preventing accidental drownings at the same time). The ELC cage is dispatched ready assembled in bespoke packaging, and so is ready for immediate use.

I bought a large potted eucalyptus plant from Small-Life Supplies a few months ago, and now that summer is nearing the end, I would like to plant it in my garden. I am not a gardener and so please can you advise me on the best way to do this.
The best time to plant a eucalyptus in the garden is when a prolonged period of settled weather is forecast, so please check the weather forecast first. Delay planting if a very hot or very cold spell is predicted. Choose a sunny spot in your garden and dig over the soil well using a long handled spade. Break up any clumps with a long handled garden fork. (If you don't possess these tools, you may be able to borrow these from a neighbour, or by putting a request out on a local Facebook group). Dig a deep hole, a bit wider than the diameter of the plant pot. It is important that this hole is at least one metre away from the boundary fence (to allow space for the plant to grow outwards). Immerse the whole plant pot in a bucket of cold water for one hour and, when it feels heavy, carefully lift out the wet soil ball of roots (leave the soil attached) and discard the plant pot. Lower the plant into the hole, so the top of the soil is flush with the surrounding ground. Fill in any spaces with the soil you have dug out. Then stamp on the top with your feet so it is well anchored into the ground. Water in the evening every day for the next few days. After this time, a weekly water in the evening will suffice (unless there is a hot spell in which case increase the watering to daily, so do this every evening). But don’t over-water. It is easy to tell if you are over-watering because instead of the water draining quickly into the soil, you will see puddles of standing water remaining on top of the soil. Continue to feed the plant, an easy way to do this is to use the stick insect and caterpillar droppings (called frass). Just tip these on the soil around the plant. The frass contains nitrogen and is an excellent fertiliser.

I'm enjoying my new venture of photographing insects, particularly moths, around where I live, in Berkshire. I attach a photo of an unusual looking one with a sort of geometric pattern on its wings. It has similarities to the Angle Shade moth, but has differences too, so I am hoping you can enlighten me with your wisdom and tell me what it is?
Your photo is of the British Orange Swift moth (Hepialus sylvina). 2021 seems to have been a good year for these moths, with many people reporting sightings of them. The wing pattern bears some similarities with that of the British Angle Shade moth (Phlogophora meticulosa). However, the British Orange Swift moth interlocks its wings differently from many other species of moth, so when this moth is resting, its wings are slanted upwards instead of laying flat. Another obvious difference is the texture of the thorax - it is fluffy and orange in the British Orange Swift moth but is smooth and grey in the British Angle Shade moth.

Sorry if this question has been asked before, but please can you tell me how long I have to wait before using a plant that I've bought from the garden centre to feed my stick insects? There's so much conflicting advice online, I thought I'd ask someone who knows!
Many commercially grown potted plants have pesticides in the soil. These remain active for 12 months and are taken up by the plants roots and distributed within the plant, through its stems and into the leaves. An insect is unable to detect pesticides and so any insect that eats a leaf will ingest some pesticide and be poisoned. The effects are immediate; the insect twitches and loses co-ordination of its limbs. Death follows within hours or days (depending on the size of the insect). Washing the leaves is pointless because the pesticides are inside the leaf, not on the outside. So, if you purchase a plant from a garden centre, it is best to wait one year before using it to feed to your stick insects. A better option is to source plants grown without the use of pesticides, but to be sure of this you will need to find a reputable supplier that is truthful. Small-Life Supplies do sell potted bramble and eucalyptus plants, grown specially without the use of pesticides, so please get in touch if you'd like to be added to the waiting-list for these.

I'm setting up the ELC stick insect cage in readiness for my four Indian stick insect adults that are arriving next week. What is the optimum length of each bramble sprig? Do I need to cut the thorns off? Should I cut off the bottom leaf - will it smell if it's stood in the water in the Sprig Pot?
Cut two sprigs of bramble (blackberry), each 40cm long. Fill the Sprig Pot with cold tap water and then push the thicker end of each of the bramble stems into the water. Don't submerge a leaf, so remove the lower leaf if it looks like it will be in the water. (Submerged leaves will smell and discolour the water.) No need to waste time cutting off the thorns, these are not an issue for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). When you receive your Indian stick insects, lightly mist the bramble leaves with cold tap water (direct the water spray towards the leaves from the Mister Swivel), this is so the stick insects can drink from the droplets on the leaves. Don't randomly spray inside the cage, and avoid getting the actual stick insects wet.

OK, so after eighteen years, I think I finally have a male Indian stick insect! I attach a photo, fingers crossed he is a boy? I also breed Pink Winged stick insects, do rare males occur in this species too?
Congratulations! You have a true male Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus). It matches the photo of a male Indian stick insect in the book "Keeping Stick Insects". A male Indian stick insect is very rare, occurring 1 in every 10000 females. The gynandromorphs (which show both male and female characteristics) are more common (though still rare). But your stick insect is a true male because he shows no female characteristics. He cannot produce or lay eggs (unlike the gynandromorphs). He will try and mate with an adult female Indian stick insect. This usually happens when it's dark and it is only at this time his green genitalia will be visible. And yes, male Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do occur, these are extremely rare, even more rare than the male Indian stick insects. The few I have been fortunate enough to rear have been slimmer than the females, and extremely hyper-active, making them very difficult to photograph because they keep taking off to fly!

Will Small-Life Supplies be exhibiting at the Kempton Park insect show this October?
This event has been cancelled for the second year running, due to COVID. Prior to 2020, Small-Life Supplies has regularly exhibited at this annual insect event (recognised as the largest event of its kind in the UK). It was a pleasure to meet old and new customers whilst showcasing the stick insects, snails and caterpillars that we breed, alongside the specialist insect cages that we manufacture.

I collected bramble from a new place, it looked OK when I cut it, but now I'm back home, the leaves have started to turn black? Like big black blotches, appearing within hours? There's a bit of a musty smell too? Will they be OK for my stick insects?
This happens when the area around the bramble bushes has been too damp for too long, and so I'd avoid collecting any more bramble from that area for at least a few more weeks. You need to dispose of that lot of bramble and collect fresh from a different area. Stick insects need to eat green bramble leaves which look OK, so no, never try to feed them with leaves that are obviously bad (because this will not be good for the stick insects' health).

How are hermaphrodites different to gynandromorphs? And what does this sentence mean: "the word gynandromorph means a form having both gynaecoid and android features"?
Creatures which are hermaphrodites, such as Giant African Land Snails, look the same. They mate and then they both lay eggs. This is because they all possess both male and female reproductive parts. So hermaphroditism is the standard method of reproduction amongst these creatures. However, gynadromorphs are a rare occurrence and this sometimes happens in stick insects. The insect looks deformed because it visibly displays both female and male characteristics. So, for example, with an Indian stick insect gynandromorph, the abdomen looks corrugated and a few eggs are produced, but with difficulty because at the end of the abdomen the green male genitalia are visible. The sentence you need help with, is saying that a gynandromorph has both female and male characteristics, by using terms derived from ancient Greek words to convey this fact. ("Gyne" is ancient Greek for woman and "andr" is ancient Greek for male).

I loved seeing your baby stick insects on YouTube, so cute! How long does it typically take for a stick insect to hatch out of the egg?
Yes, baby stick insects are very cute and each species looks and behaves so differently! Hatching is incredibly quick, usually less than a minute. The baby stick insect (called a first instar nymph) is all squashed up in the egg and so when the baby stick insect emerges it's legs are the correct length, but its body is much smaller and looks funny as it is out of proportion. Within minutes the body inflates and the resultant stick insect looks like those featured in the video.

I found an old glass tank in the garage, would it be OK as an enclosure for Pink Winged stick insects if I rigged up a mesh lid for it? It's about 25cm high.
No, it wouldn't be suitable because it would be far too small and too stuffy for Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). Stick insects grow by sliding vertically downwards out of their old skins, and so need plenty of height to be able to do this successfully. The ELC stick insect cage is 51cm high which is twice the height you have. Pink Winged stick insects do well in airy surroundings and the ELC cage has two mesh sides which provide the through-draught of air these stick insects need. A tank with ventilation just on the top does not let enough air into the cage and people who house their stick insects in such tanks comment that their stick insects spend all their time on the lid (trying to get to the fresh air!).

How long is a stick insect’s memory for?
Quite a while! For example, if you keep New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and place their Sand Pit in one part of the cage for several days and then remove it, you will see adult the females go to the site where the Sand Pit should be and wait for it to return. (It's rather like a wild woodpigeon waiting on a garden bird table to be fed in the morning. And woodpigeons are acknowledged as being more intelligent than many other wild birds). Also, if you handle your stick insects at a regular time during the day, they soon learn this and remember to become active at that time.

Are there any stick insects that prefer less ventilated surroundings?
Yes, there are a few species that need to be housed in less ventilated enclosures. These include the: Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus), Giant Sabah stick insects (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) and the Guadeloupe stick insects (Lamponius guerini). So, if you intend to house these species in the ELC cage, it is important that you attach the Ventilation Control Panel to one or both of the mesh panels, to block off the air-flow. The Ventilation Control Panel is completely clear and so does not affect the light entering the cage, and because it is fitted to the outside of the mesh, the stick insects can still hook their claws around the mesh side and climb up the wall easily. Small-Life Supplies can supply the ELC cage with the Ventilation Control Panel fitted, or, if you already have the ELC cage, you can purchase the Ventilation Control Panel separately.

Help! My neighbour wants to cut the privet hedge between our two gardens. It's my hedge but he even wants to come into my garden to cut it on my side! He's elderly and very condescending towards me (I'm a 31 year-old female). Any tips on how to handle this tricky situation are most welcome. I have Indian silkmoth caterpillars but don't see why I should have to divulge this to him.
Legally, he can cut the privet hedge on his side, but the hedge guidance states that hedge trimming should not occur during bird nesting season (1st March to 31st August,). So, if you think there may be any nesting birds in the privet hedge, you could explain that it is a criminal offence to disturb nesting birds (see the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). At least this conversation gets it across that you know your facts and appreciate nature. Unfortunately there is a "neat and tidy" brigade of people who think they can go and bully others into their point of view. It is your hedge, in your garden, and he needs to back off! The problem with bullies is they expect people to cave in, for a quiet life. So I suggest you politely explain to him that you will continue to maintain your hedge on your side. Explain that you already have the tools to do this, so are declining his offer of help and will trim your side of the hedge when you see fit. You could also stress that you enjoy looking at a natural hedge, rather than a neatly clipped one, and that scientific studies have shown that an appreciation of the natural world enhances mental health and a sense of well being. Try to keep the tone cordial and don't divulge the other reason why you need the privet, because that is none of his business.

Curious as to why you are calling Thailand stick insects Baculum thaii, when some other people are saying the name has changed to Ramulus thaii?
Many professional entomologists (and botanists) are dismayed when attempts are made to change Latin species names for no good reason. The whole point of having the binomial Latin species name system (devised by Carl Linnaeus and explained in his book "Systema naturae", the 1758 edition), is that one species name is uniquely assigned to an organism. This means that anybody from anywhere in the world can refer to this insect or plant by its Latin species name and everyone knows which species they are talking about. Occasionally, mistakes are made in the classification, and in these cases, the original Latin species name allotted may need to be revised. However, there are many more examples where people try to change the name for no justified reason, so one can only speculate at their motives. Unfortunately, the result is massive confusion and this threatens the status quo of the classification system. So, in these situations, many professional scientists choose to ignore the proposed new name and continue to use the established species name for the species. Like many scientists, I have the benefit of years of Latin education, and know that "Baculum" is a Latin word for "stick", whereas "Ramulus", is a Latin word for "little branch". So, when classifying the Thailand stick insect, which has the appearance of a long thin stick, it is clearly absurd to create confusion by attempting to abandon the word Baculum in favour of Ramulus. That is why I, along with others, continue to refer to the Thailand stick insect by it's established Latin species name of Baculum thaii.

I'm so worried about Fern, my largest stick insect. She is an Indian stick insect and shed her skin a couple of days ago. She is now fully grown, I think, but something is wrong. She is hanging from the bramble with her head facing the floor but there is a sharp crease in her body (in the abdomen section), which means it has folded back on itself, and so the end of her abdomen is facing the floor also. What's going on and is there anything I can do to help?
This doesn't happen very often, but when it does happen, it is important to act quickly, before the body sets in this position. I have seen this occur in some Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and a few Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). Following her final skin-change, Fern is weak and the surface of her body is soft and not fully hardened yet. In very simple terms, the inside of her body is basically a tube that needs to be reinflated around the crease. So, place your thumb and forefinger at each end of the crease and squeeze gently so that this area inflates again. Then, carefully place the stick insect (with her head uppermost) on some good quality bramble leaves that you have lightly misted with water. This should encourage her to eat, which is important because she needs energy to complete the exterior hardening process of her new skin.

I'm hoping to get some giant silkworms from Small-Life Supplies soon. There is a privet hedge further down my street, but is there anything else I can use as food?
Small-Life Supplies breeds giant Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini) in large numbers and the caterpillars (also called silkworms) will be up to size soon and ready to send out to customers. Keep them in the TTQ cage and push cut stems of fresh cut privet through the holes in the Privet Platform, so that the caterpillars have easy access to food that is standing upright (rather than laying horizontally in the cage). You have the option of purchasing fresh cut privet from Small-Life Supplies, or gathering your own privet from privet hedges. Or, another option is to feed these caterpillars with fresh cut Eucalyptus gunnii, again the best method is to push these stems through the holes in the Privet Platform so the sprigs of leaves are standing upright.

I live in Camden but have a friend in the US who has "stick bugs" which she insists are Vietnamese? Do you happen to know what species they may be? They have short antennae and little flaps on their legs and she says their bodies are a bit like sandpaper to touch.
Yes, in the USA, phasmids are called "stick bugs" or "walking sticks", whereas in the UK they are called "stick insects". In the USA, there are a few species that are kept as pets, with the Vietnamese stick insect (Baculum extradentatum) having been a popular species there for decades. And your description perfectly describes this species. This Vietnamese species is not commonly kept in the UK, I used to rear them many years ago, but no longer have them. I remember another unusual fact about Vietnamese stick insects is that their shed skins often had a pinkish tinge, which is unusual because shed skins (exuviae) of other stick insect species are white or cream.

Thank goodness I have found you, Professor, a source of expert insect advice. I am intrigued by the behaviour of the really rare male Indian stick insects. I have never seen one, but hope to one day! I believe they are hyper-active, but do they like to hang out with the females?
I have reared a few male Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) over the decades I have been keeping stick insects. Their occurrence is extremely rare, with only 1 male for every 10000 females, and so it is always nice to spot one! The male Indian stick insect looks very distinctive (with red underside of thorax, slim smooth tan coloured body, and two sloping red marks on the upperside of the thorax) and he behaves differently too. A male Indian stick insect is very active and walks quickly. And yes, the male Indian stick insect hangs out with the females. I have one adult male Indian stick insect at the moment, and he rests on the mesh side of the ELC cage with his girlfriends. This behaviour is exactly the same as sexual species of stick insect, where a male and female are together, often with their feet on each other. And, as with those species, when the male Indian stick insect is ready to mate, a green blob containing his genitalia appears from the end of his abdomen and he moves this over to the end of the female's abdomen. Others have observed Indian stick insects mating, but this occurs at night and is quick, so it has not been filmed yet.

I'll be getting some Macleays Spectre stick insects soon and am trying to source the best enclosure for them. They'll be young ones, so will need appropriate moulting perches. Do they have a preference of where to moult from?
The ELC cage is the best enclosure to house a few Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). The holes in the two white mesh sides of the ELC cage provide a superb foothold for these stick insects to get a firm grip (they hook their claws around the holes) and shed their skins successfully. Most stick insects, including the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, favour shedding their skins by starting at the top of the mesh side and then sliding downwards, against the mesh side. Dangling from a branch or from a mesh roof is far more risky because the stick insect can sway around more and there is more clutter underneath, so this is why the stick insects choose to moult their skins (this process is called ecdysis) on the mesh sides of the ELC cage. Small-Life Supplies house and breed large numbers of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects successfully in our best-selling ELC cages, which have two mesh sides and solid crystal clear front, back and roof.

Are there different levels of complexity amongst stick insect species regarding stick insect care? I know there are amongst tropical fish, but I confess I know very little about stick insects. My daughter has expressed an interest in the "Jungle Nymph", please can you tell me if that would be a suitable one for a novice seven year old (and her Dad)?
Some species of stick insect are much easier to keep than other species. Also, some species are more robust and easier to handle than others. The "Jungle Nymph" is usually called the Malaysian stick insect (Heteropteryx dilatata), and is a very impressive large chunky stick insect with bright lime green females and brown spiky males with plum coloured wings. Malaysian stick insects are suited for experienced stick insect keepers and require care during handling, so are definitely not appropriate for a novice (of any age). Fortunately there are easy-to-keep species of stick insect that would be suitable for you and your daughter, these include the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and the Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). She can handle these stick insects and hatch out some of their eggs. Both these species eat bramble (blackberry) leaves and do well in the ELC cage, and you can even house these two types of stick insect together in the same cage.

I want to have four Macleays Spectre because they look awesome and just what I want, so I always want to do the right husbandry so they will have happy lives with me. I was thinking of buying a glass sided cage with mesh top because I was worried about winter time as my home gets cool like down to 13c at night when I'm sleeping.
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) prefer more ventilated conditions, and so a smooth sided glass tank would be too stuffy for them and is not recommended. A night time temperature of 13 degrees Celsius is not cold and is no cause for concern. Most commonly kept stick insects are fine at night time temperatures of 12 degrees Celsius and a daytime temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius. The ELC cage is a great enclosure for up to six adult Australian Macleays Spectre. You can clearly see the stick insects through the crystal clear front, top and back, and the stick insects rest on the white mesh sides because they can comfortably hook their claws around the correctly sized holes in the white mesh. Small-Life Supplies breed Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects and our eggs are hatching now, so the nymphs (immature stick insects) shall be ready for sale in a couple of months.

I was sent some of the "Unarmed stick insect" eggs from my Uncle Fabian, who lives in Devon, and has these living in his garden. Four have hatched so far. I don't have a HAP Pot and so I have been keeping them in a small plastic clip-lock box and putting in fresh wet bramble leaves. The stick insects are still alive and are eating, but they are losing legs, one has six legs, one has five legs, and two have four legs. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, please let me know what to do, because I want the best for my stick insects.
Great to hear that these stick insects are living successfully in your Uncle Fabian's garden! The "Unarmed stick insect", originally came over to the South West of the UK in the 1900s, accidentally brought over on cargo ships from New Zealand, together with another, more spiky species. The Latin species name of the smoother stick insect (hence it's name the "Unarmed stick insect") is Acanthoxyla inermis. The Latin species name of the spiky species is Acanthoxyla prasina. The best way to look after these New Zealand stick insects is to house them in the ELC cage from birth. So, for this species, do not use the HAP or any other unventilated container because this results in leg loss, as you have observed. Set up the ELC cage, with a Liner at the bottom and push two or three long bramble stems with nice looking leaves into the Sprig Pot of water. Lightly mist the leaves with cold tap water in the evening. The New Zealand stick insects prefer to rest on the leaves, but well away from each other, so they do not cluster together like many other species of young stick insects.

We are keeping stick insects at my secondary school. We've moved them from a plastic tank with a mesh lid (not very successful), to a mesh container. Much better. I want to give them a proper home, and make it easier for the students to see them. Next term, maybe add a new species. I'm very glad to have found your website and all the information.
Fantastic that you are keeping stick insects at your secondary school. Stick insects are very easy to keep in schools and are a great educational resource as well as being a popular pet for both the students and staff. The ELC cage is used in many schools, it is a robust cage and has a crystal clear front, back and roof, so it's really easy to see the stick insects inside. The ELC cage has been designed after decades of research and development into what conditions stick insects need to thrive, and so this cage has two ventilated sides and is 51cm tall, so the stick insects have optimum ventilation and plenty of room to grow properly. And yes, you can mix some different species of stick insect together, so for example, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can live together successfully with Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) and Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). All these stick insects eat bramble (blackberry) leaves, and these leaves should be misted lightly with cold tap water, ideally every day. However, it doesn't matter if you miss a day or two, so not misting over the weekend is not a problem.

Can Indian stick insects and Black Beauty stick insects live together?
Yes, you can house Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects (Peruphasma schultei) together. For best results, keep them in the ELC cage and put in two Sprig Pots; one containing bramble (for the Indian stick insects) and the other containing privet (for the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects). Be careful when keeping Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects because they can emit a spray that can cause sneezing in sensitive people and other pets. That is why Small-Life Supplies do not breed or supply Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects. The spray is a defence mechanism and so the more relaxed your stick insects are, the less likely they are to spray. So it's important not to overcrowd the cage with stick insects because this will cause the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects to be stressed and therefore more likely to spray.

I get that British Cinnabar caterpillars have the warning colouration as a means of protection, so birds see these bright colours and don't eat the caterpillars because they know they will taste bad. But if birds don't eat Cinnabar caterpillars, what does?
Like many species of caterpillars, the parasitic Ichneumon wasps kill Cinnabar caterpillars. These tiny black wasps lay their eggs inside the bodies of the Cinnabar caterpillars. The eggs hatch and the larvae live and grow inside the caterpillar, eating it from within. The caterpillar is alive during this time and continues to feed and move around normally so, in a young caterpillar, it is not obvious that it has been parasitised. When the caterpillar is fully grown, the Ichneumon wasp larvae are fully grown too, and they burst out of the body of the living caterpillar, killing it in the process. That is why they are called parasitoids, rather than parasites. The fully grown Ichneumon larvae then transform into pupae, encased in torpedo-shaped white cocoons. The adult Ichnemon wasps emerge a week or so later and fly off. After mating, the females go off in search of more caterpillars to inject with their eggs. Populations of Cinnabar caterpillars are particularly easy for them to spot, because they are brightly coloured and cluster together at the top of ragwort plants.

I am so pleased to have finally found you, a qualified insect expert, professor! I have just spent the last hour reading your answers on this page and have learnt so much! I am planning to start keeping stick insects soon and so am learning as much as possible first. Of course I'll be buying the "Keeping Stick Insects" book too, does it make any difference to you if I buy it direct from Small-Life Supplies or from numonday.com? I'm in Bournemouth.
Thank you for your kind comments, much appreciated. If you just want the book at this time, then it is better for us if you order it from www.numonday.com. The reason being it helps our ratings on that platform and you can leave a review. And it is easier for you because you can order online from www.numonday.com anytime 24/7.

How confident are your Indian stick insects at being handled? I had some years ago and remember they liked running up my arm! I've just ordered four fully grown ones from you.
Yes, our Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are used to being handled and benefit from this interaction. Indian stick insects can get used to a routine, so if you handle them once a day, at the same time every day, the stick insects will soon learn to become active at that time. Indian stick insects can walk across your hands, or up your arm, or across a table. The larger species of stick insect need more exercise, and so if you progress to keeping the large New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) or the even larger Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata), I recommend letting these adults walk across the floor or carpet.

I see you have British Vapourer caterpillars listed on your website. I'd like some of those, also do you have any other types available now?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies has three types of caterpillar in stock now: (1) British Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua), these have a fast lifecycle and eat bramble leaves. (2) British Cinnabar (Callimorpha jacobaeae), these eat ragwort leaves and will emerge as bright red moths next year. (3). Indian Eri silkmoth (Samia ricini), these have a fast lifecycle and eat privet leaves. For more details, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358, or check back on the website soon, because all these species shall be listed for sale very soon.

Can Indian stick insects and Black Beauty stick insects live together?
Yes, you can house Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects (Peruphasma schultei) together. For best results, only keep a few in the ELC cage and put in two Sprig Pots; one containing bramble (for the Indian stick insects) and the other containing privet (for the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects). Be careful when keeping Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects because they can emit a spray that can cause sneezing in sensitive people and other pets. That is why Small-Life Supplies do not breed or supply Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects. The spray is a defence mechanism and so the more relaxed your stick insects are, the less likely they are to spray. So it's important not to overcrowd the cage with stick insects because this will cause the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects to be stressed and therefore more likely to spray.

What enclosure is best for stick insects? Is bigger necessarily better? I'm hoping to get some Indian stick insects for my lad.
The ELC stick insect cage is the best enclosure for most stick insects, including Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). The ELC cage is tall, 51cm (20 inches) and this is the optimum height of cage for most of the commonly kept species of stick insect. Crucially, the ELC cage is a properly designed stick insect cage and so has the correct ventilation requirements for stick insects. It is also robust and very practical, and you can easily see the stick insects through the crystal clear plastic front, back and lid. And no, bigger is not better. In fact, trying to use a stuffy glass tank or a massive draughty netting enclosure is not recommended because these habitats have the wrong ventilation, are too heavy (or too flimsy) and have visibility issues too.

My daughter has been really good at looking after her stick insects that we got from you earlier this year. She has now expressed an interest in Giant African Land Snails. My question is regarding disposal of unwanted eggs. We use the hot water method on the Indian stick insects eggs, would we need to do the same with the Giant African Land Snail eggs? Ideally we'd like to hatch some out, but don't want too many!
Snail eggs are very different from stick insect eggs. The incubation time of Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica) eggs is approximately three weeks, which is much faster than the four months that Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs need to develop. So it is important to act quickly to dispose of unwanted snail eggs before they start developing properly. Giant African Land Snail eggs only develop if they are wet, they must glisten at all times or else they will quickly dry up inside and disintegrate. So, you could use the hot water method, or you could spread the eggs out over kitchen roll and they will soon dry up, look dull and stop developing. The snail eggs which you wish to save need to be kept wet, a good tip is to mix them with a bit of soil, spray some cold tap water on top, and store in a small plastic container with no air-holes (such as the HAP). You may also like to distribute your spare eggs to interested friends. When the eggs hatch, place one potato peeling and one carrot peeling on top of the mixture because the snails will want to eat straight away. Unlike stick insects where the baby stick insect is much larger than the egg, the baby snail is the same size as the eggshell from which it emerges.

I was listening to Radio 2 and they had a man talking about Cinnabar caterpillars. I haven't seen these for years, are they easy to rear?
Yes, British Cinnabar caterpillars (Callimorpha jacobaeae) are very easy to rear, providing you have a good supply of ragwort. This is a tall weed, often seen on country road verges, with distinctive ragged green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Ragwort has long roots and does not thrive as a potted plant, so if you 'd like to keep these caterpillars, please ensure that you have ready access to these plants growing wild. I have some ragwort plants in my garden, they are very easy to grow and come up year after year with no care required! In fact this is a good strategy because the bright red British Cinnabar moths do not fly far and so it is one of the easiest species to establish in your garden and you get the benefit from seeing the bright red moths flitting between the flowers during the day. The caterpillars are bright orange with black hoops and so add a splash of colour too. They start eating the ragwort leaves from the top of the plant and work their way downwards. Birds leave them alone because this warning colouration signals they are poisonous to eat.

Will Small-Life Supplies be getting some new species of stick insect in soon? I want another species!!
Small-Life Supplies breed several species of stick insects, and only when these are in stock in large numbers are they are listed on the website. So yes, as well as the species currently listed, we breed other species too. Our large New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are coming up to size, and so will be listed on the website soon. And later in the year, the chunky Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) should be ready (their eggs are hatching at the moment). All the species of stick insect that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply are harmless, used to being handled, and do well in the ELC cage or the larger AUC cage.

I'd like to try my hand at Giant African Land Snails. I see you do the kit, but what about the snails? Do you sell these, or have any tips on what to look for, or avoid?
Small-Life Supplies do breed Giant African land Snails (Achatina fulica). Please get in touch if you'd like to go on the waiting-list, we should have some more eggs for sale soon. Or, if you would prefer to get the actual snails, you could maybe find someone who is selling their surplus and can show you actual photographs of the snails. This is very important because it will help you decide if they are healthy or not. It's best to start with medium-sized snails with a shell length of approx 3cm, you can tell if the snail is healthy because it's shell will be nicely patterned and shiny (don't purchase ones that are plain and dull, or have white patches). Giant African Land Snails like company and so I'd recommend purchasing 2, 3 or 4 individuals, all of a similar size. You can keep them properly in the HLQ snail cage and use the wet HLQ Liners to maintain the humidity (without having the inconvenience of fly infestations that result from using wet soil for this purpose). Our general advice sheet on caring for Giant African Land Snails is supplied free with their housing (developed by Small-Life Supplies, this is called the HLQ cage, and manufactured in the UK).

My guinea pigs show emotion, so do my cats, but even I was surprised to see my stick insects show emotion! Pixie and Brutus (my New Guinea stick insects) were coming up to three years old, sadly Brutus died last week and Pixie stayed by his dead body for three days. She's moved away now and so we'll bury him this evening. Have you see this behaviour in stick insects too?
Yes, some stick insects certainly do grieve. I have seen this many times, particularly with New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), and people have contacted me before to recount their detailed observations of this, like you have. What you describe is normal behaviour for two stick insects that have had a close bond for years and and then one has died from old age. Usually the surviving one dies a week or so later, and so be prepared that Pixie will probably pass soon.

We have three young Macleays Spectre stick insects but my daughter is a bit concerned that the HAP tube should have a breathing hole? Though I have explained that if the eucalyptus is changed every day it will refresh the air, so just making sure that is correct? Also, I assume we don’t need to put the sprig in water if it’s being changed every day?
Small-Life Supplies has invested decades in research, development and testing of different methods of hatching stick insect eggs, and also rearing the different species of stick insects throughout their development. So, from these results, we know the HAP works really well for rearing young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum), because it is the optimum size and has no ventilation. In fact, we use lots of HAPs at the Small-Life Supplies stick insect breeding facility to rear the young Macleays Spectre, because using this method is phenomonally successful, usually 100% successful! And yes, just place the fresh sprig of eucalyptus in the HAP, do not stand it in water. However, rather than replace it daily, every few days is best, so you don't bother the stick insects too much. There is plenty of air in the HAP and so don't feel pressured to lift off the lid daily, this really is not necessary or recommended. And definitely don't make air holes in the HAP because this will cause the eucalyptus to dry up and become inedible. After a month or so, your stick insects will be larger and at that stage should be transferred to a bigger, more ventilated enclosure, the ELC cage is ideal.

Any tips on incubating Giant African Land Snail eggs? We have our first clutch!
Congratulations! It's important to keep Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica) eggs moist. So scoop them up, gently mix in some damp soil, and store in a small closed plastic container. Store this separately to your cage of snails. In a few weeks time, the eggs should start hatching and you will see the baby snails on the surface. As soon as you see them, place a carrot and potato peeling on top, so they can start to eat straight away.

My 20 month old stick insect died today and her baby, Sprig, is by herself. I don’t want her to be alone. Please can you help me persuade my parents into getting some more insects by saying they need to be in herds of stick insects.
Sorry to hear that your 20 month old stick insect has died, she got to be a good age. Stick insects definitely benefit from having the company of other stick insects, so it is not recommended to keep one on its own. They can have company of their own kind, or, depending on the species, can be mixed with another species. I don't know what species Sprig is, but if she is a long thin stick insect, she could be mixed with Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), and Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). All these species eat bramble (blackberry) leaves and do well in the ELC cage. Small-Life Supplies breed all the above species and so you rest assured that these stick insects are all safe to keep and harmless.

Can stick insects eat lettuce?
No, lettuce is not recommended as food for stick insects in the UK. The stick insects become waterlogged and die. So please do not give your stick insects lettuce if you live in the UK. This question keeps being asked because some American keepers of stick insects claim to have some success with feeding their stick insects with "romaine lettuce". This is not the case in the UK, because romaine lettuce, flat lettuce and little gem lettuce are all fatal for stick insects. So, either "romaine lettuce" is different in the US from the UK, or the species of stick insects surviving on being fed romaine lettuce in the US are different from those being reared in the UK.

I'm hoping you might be able to advise on our recently hatched Indian stick insect egg! We collected four eggs on 28th March and were surprised to find a nymph had already hatched last week! We put a damp bramble leaf in the Q-box and she's been eating day and night. None of the other three eggs have hatched and we're wondering if Willow is early? Also, because of the damp leaf (which we replace every two days) I'm not sure if the other three eggs will be OK as the liner of the Q-box is also getting damp. We changed the liner today and had to gently remove then replace the eggs. Are we doing the recommended care?
Yes, Willow has hatched very early! If the room temperature is very warm, Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) can hatch ahead of the standard four month incubation time. (Our eggs from the batch laid on 1st March 2021 batch are hatching now, so only one week faster than expected). It's important to keep your remaining three eggs dry, so place these in a bottle top and place on the QBOX Liner. You are looking after them well, just take care to angle the wet bramble leaf away from the eggs so they don't get wet.

Will stick insects eat each other?
Not if they are being looked after properly. However, if the stick insects are starving, or short of water, or very overcrowded, then they will fight and nibble each other's knee joints and worse. If you are keeping stick insects, it is important to look after them properly and so you should never see any cannibalism.

When do stick insects sleep?
Stick insects sleep mostly during the day. Stick insects can get used to a routine, so if you regularly handle them at a certain time during the day, they will become active around this time.

We purchased your ELC cage and we’re very pleased with it. We’re planning for a holiday so how can we keep the stick insects watered during that week.
If you are leaving your stick insects at home, choose the coolest room in your house because this will minimise their activity and food intake during the week you are away. Stick insects do notice a change of routine and will panic and eat more when you go away, so it is important to give them at least twice as much food before you depart. The bramble stems must have enough water to last the week, so use several Sprig Pots filled with cold tap water rather than cramming more stems into one Sprig Pot. Fortunately, most species can easily manage a week without the leaves being misted with water. The exceptions are the chunky New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and the Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) . So if you have either of those species, place a shallow ramekin dish of cold tap water in the cage.

We got our male thorny stick insect about a year ago and he was quite big back then so guessing he must be old. Over the last few days, we noticed a blue thing on the end of his body (his genitalia I later learnt) and that he wasn’t moving quite as much as usual, although he did perk up when we cleaned the tank and put new leaves in. However, the blue thing had really grown this morning and he was struggling to move and was on his back any ideas? Have attached pictures. He’s alone in the tank.
Stick insects are named after their native country, and so "Thorny" stick insects are usually called Sabah stick insects (Sabah is near Borneo) and Aretaon asperrimus is the Latin species name. In this species, males and females occur in approximately equal numbers and mating occurs regularly throughout their adult lives. Unfortunately your male is not living with a female and so that is why you have not seen his blue genitalia before. The genitalia are only visible when mating is imminent or when death is imminent. Your male is now at the end of his life and that is why he is weak and has his blue genitalia on show. Dying stick insects are thirsty and so the kindest thing for you to do is to prop his mouth on a wet bramble leaf so he can drink from the water droplets.

I was wondering why my Indian stick insects were eating the ELC liners, the sticks of the bramble plants and the petals of the bramble flowers... is something wrong with them and will they be okay?
This is classic behaviour shown by Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) that are trying to get extra nutrients and water. They won't be harmed by what they have eaten but there are steps you can take to help. Try to gather bramble that doesn't have flowers on the end, because the flowerless stems have darker green leaves that are more nutritious for the stick insects (see the latest Small-Life Supplies YouTube video #6, which explains this in more detail). You could also add some hazel leaves or wild rose leaves if you can find these growing locally. And a light misting of the leaves in the evening is recommended. Indian stick insects do not like their surroundings too hot, so you could move the ELC cage to a cooler place in your home, one that does not get above 25 degrees Celsius. (Ideally the temperature for Indian stick insects should be between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius during the day).

I currently have 2 Pink Winged stick insects and I love them. They have recently developed their wings and are a bit trickier to handle now. I have 2 questions: firstly, I’m concerned about some contradicting things I’ve read on the irritant that they can spray as a defence. I’ve certainly smelt it before when trying to clean out their enclosure etc. Some people say it’s harmless and others say it’s very dangerous. Could you shed some light on this? And secondly, approximately how soon after developing wings should I expect them to lay eggs? I don’t want to breed them so I want to be disposing of the eggs as soon as possible.
Rest assured there is no danger from the spray from Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). Small-Life Supplies is a reputable firm and we only breed and supply safe species of stick insect to schools and homes across the UK. There are some species of stick insect that can emit harmful sprays (even causing temporary blindness and breathing difficulties) but the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) is not one of those! Pink Winged stick insects usually start to produce eggs a couple of weeks after becoming adults and acquiring wings. The eggs are glued onto surfaces. If you attach a Hatch Mat to the outside of the mesh on the ELC cage, the stick insects will poke their abdomens through the mesh and glue eggs onto the Hatch Mats! When the Hatch Mat is full, you can remove it and stick on another Hatch Mat. You can purchase Hatch Mats from Small-Life Supplies, price £3 for a pack of six, plus delivery.

I have seen an advert for "ET stick insects", do you know what type these are? The seller says they need to eat eucalyptus leaves as babies but can eat eucalyptus and bramble leaves when older. I've got a massive eucalyptus tree in the garden so they sound a good fit for me but I would like to know a bit more about them before I commit to buy.
Yes, " ET" is the seller's abbreviation for "Extatosoma tiaratum", which is the Latin species name for the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect. These are chunky stick insects with conical heads and leafy looking legs. The adult males have wings and are good fliers, so need to be taken out of the cage every few days so they can fly across a room. It is great that you have easy access to eucalyptus leaves because the newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects thrive on eucalyptus leaves from birth. And if you continue to feed them on eucalyptus leaves, they have a longer lifespan than if they were switched to bramble leaves. The ELC cage is a great cage for this species because they like a cage with two mesh sides. Be prepared that Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects have large appetites, particularly in the summer months! And, only give these stick insects a minimal amount of water because too much water can make them ill, so only mist the leaves very occasionally. More details are in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd which has a whole section on this species. Be sure to examine at a current photo of the actual stick insects for sale and only proceed with your purchase if they have their tails curled up (floppy abdomens indicate severe illness in this species).

I just got back from work and my room temperature is 28 degrees. I opened the window but it's only cooled down to 26 degrees and my Indian stick insects don't look well. They are adults and I haven't had them long, will they be OK (they're in the ELC cage)?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have been reared in captivity in the UK for over one hundred years and have acclimatised to normal room temperatures of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius during the day, and cooler at night (10 - 12 degrees Celsius). So these Indian stick insects struggle to cope with much higher temperatures, and start showing signs of stress at temperatures exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. So you need to cool them down by placing them in a cooler room, or switching a fan on with a wet tea towel in front of it. Mist the bramble leaves with cold tap water so the stick insects can have a drink. Tomorrow, when you go to work, please place the ELC cage containing the stick insects in the coolest part of your home and keep the curtains or blinds closed in that area to prevent the room from warming up too much.

I'm intending to use the Indian silkmoth for my new art project "Unexpected Beauty". I think it will be cool to see them emerge too! When they've died, how fragile are they to handle?
That's an excellent choice for art, the Indian silkmoth (Samia ricini) has beautifully patterned wings and a furry stripey body. When these silkmoths die from old age (they only live approx one week as moths), they can still be handled relatively easily without being damaged. So we already have customers who create naturalistic scenes with the dead silkmoths glued onto twigs etc. At the moment the living silkmoth cocoons are being dispatched and so you can expect to see the giant Indian silkmoths emerge within weeks. We also have a few dead specimens (these have died from old age) of these Indian Samia ricini moths, also some British Pieris brassicae butterflies and some British Orgyia antiqua moths, so please get in touch if you'd like any of these too.

What is wrong with the bramble leaves this year? I picked some for my Indian stick insects but the leaves were wafer thin and went black a few hours later!
People across the UK are reporting problems with the quality of bramble (blackberry) leaves this year (2021). It's because we had a very dry April , followed by a very wet May. These unusual conditions were last seen back in 1997 and the results are the same; the bramble has suffered terribly but other wild plants such as nettles, buttercups and dandelions are having a bumper year! If possible, try and include other leaves for your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), suitable leaves include wild rose leaves and hazel leaves, both of these are now available. Many bramble leaves are very thin and not as nutritious as they should be, so try to delay harvesting those until they have recovered, hopefully later in the year.

I am looking forward to getting some of the British Pieris brassicae caterpillars. I saw your YouTube video about the brassica plants, I don't have such a field nearby but I have noticed some similar looking plants with yellow flowers bordering the bridleway. Is there an easy way to tell if these are brassica plants?
The easiest way to spot a brassica plant is to count the number of petals on the flower. So if the yellow plants you have found have four petals, they will be brassica plants. It's always best to feed the British Pieris brassicae caterpillars on leaves gathered from wild brassica plants, or from home-grown cabbage plants, or from nasturtium plants grown from seed in the garden or windowbox.

Can you please tell me how the lichen variant in Macleays Spectre stick insects came about?
The credit for this goes to a secondary school science teacher in Northern Ireland. I was speaking to him at a science conference back in 1990 and he had discovered that if he put twigs covered with lichen into his cages containing young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum), interesting colour variations would occur amongst those stick insects. So this isn't a genetic change, it is purely caused by the environmental conditions. The resultant offspring of these stick insects will be the standard colour unless they too are reared in cages full of lichen.

What is the best way to clean the HAP? My Large White butterflies flew off today, it is the first time I have had these and all of them metamorphosed successfully and so I am well pleased. I would like to do this again which is why I want to clean the HAP but it has lots of silk threads stuck inside to the main part and also the lid. The empty pupal cases came off easily but the silk threads seem well stuck on!
Congratulations on successfully raising your British Pieris brassicae caterpillars and releasing the butterflies outdoors. An easy method to clean the HAP is to dismantle it and place the three parts (main body, lid and base) into the dishwasher. We wash ours on the 45 degree Celsius temperature setting with 30 minute duration. These caterpillars do spin a lot of fibres on the inside of the HAP but just one session in the dishwasher at the settings above will clean the HAP effectively and not distort it. Even the HAP label will stay on because it is a dishwasher proof label. To purchase more British Pieris brassicae caterpillars from Small-Life Supplies, please get in touch and explain that you'd like a caterpillars refill pack.

How many original stick insect cages have Small-Life Supplies created over the years?
Small-Life Supplies specialise in designing and manufacturing (in the UK) insect cages. Since the firm was created in 1985, we have created twelve designs of stick insect cages that have been put into production, all manufacturing taking place in the UK. Old designs are phased out as new cages are developed. The ELC stick insect cage is currently in production, so new ELC stick insect cages are being manufactured every day and dispatched ready assembled to customers across the UK.

I bought some adult Indian stick insects from you towards the end of last year. Their eggs have now produced babies - 17 of them, about 6 weeks ago! At the moment they are housed in a fish tank with net over the top to stop them escaping! At what stage do they go into an ELC stick insect enclosure please?
Congratulations on your baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)! You can transfer them into the ELC stick insect cage when they are approximately 3.5cm long (that is the total length including the front legs outstretched). Indian stick insects reach that size when they are about two months old and as yours are six weeks old now, they should be ready to be transferred within the next couple of weeks.

How quickly is Small-Life Supplies sending out stick insects? My daughter's birthday is Friday 11th June, what's the deadline for ordering to ensure delivery by then?
Small-Life Supplies breed stick insects in large numbers and all the species listed on the website are in stock and ready for dispatch. Small-Life Supplies also manufacture the ELC stick insect cages in the UK and so these cages are in stock too. Orders are usually dispatched a few days after receipt of order. So, if you require delivery the day before your daughter's birthday, on Thursday 10th June 2021, you would need to place your order by Monday 7th June. Or, instead of leaving it to the last minute, you could have peace of mind by placing the order now and request delivery for Thursday 10th June 2021.

I bought two Crowned stick insect nymphs on the 5th April. They both shed their first skin at around the same time. Then one of the stick insects started looking nice and fat and as predicted she shed another skin around 10 days ago, so she now looks a lot bigger than the other one. The other one still looks tiny and all thin, I see it eating and it's lively enough, but it doesn't look like it's going to shed any time soon. It this OK? Or is it a bad sign when one keeps growing but the other seems to have stopped? (We are in Adelaide so it's winter here).
The Crowned stick insect is an Australian species, Latin species name Onchestus rentzi. In general, male stick insects usually grow faster than female stick insects. So if your larger one is a male, there is nothing to be concerned about. If not, there could be three reasons: 1). Occasionally, a stick insect has endocrine issues and does not grow. This is more common amongst caterpillars, but does sometimes happen with stick insects. But it's too early to say if this is what is happening here. 2). The fact it is winter in Adelaide (Australia) means that the leaves may not be at their most nutritious. Poor quality food can slow down growth. To combat this, always select the best quality leaves you can find for your stick insects. 3). The smaller individual may naturally just be less vigorous than the other one or, in very rare cases, is being bullied by the larger one? You could try putting additional leaves in there, on the other side of the cage, so the smaller one can access food without being disturbed by the larger one.

Is it better to feed Indian stick insects a variety of leaves or is it better to just give them bramble leaves to eat?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do really well if fed exclusively on bramble (blackberry) leaves. However, if your bramble supplies are limited, you can switch Indian stick insects over to wild rose leaves and/or hazel leaves when these leaves are available during the summer months.

Are there really stick insects living wild in Cornwall? If so, are they escaped Indian stick insects?
There are small populations of New Zealand stick insects living wild in Cornwall. People are finding these nymphs on bramble bushes, rose bushes and conifer trees during the Spring and Summer months. In the late Autumn, sightings of the adult stick insects are reported on people's exterior brickwork of their houses (the adult stick insects are attracted to the warmth of the buildings because the nights are now getting much colder). These New Zealand stick insects are the Acanthoxyla genus, and are usually the Acanthoxyla prasina species and the smoother bodied Acanthoxyla inermis species. They can be either brown or green. If they are green, the colour is much more of a vivid green than the green colour seen in Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). Another easy way to tell them apart is that New Zealand stick insects always have short antennae, whereas Indian stick insects have long antennae (unless these have been damaged and parts have broken off). New Zealand stick insects arrived in the South West of the UK on cargo ships in the 1900s and so have been naturalised in Cornwall for over one hundred years.

My cabbage white butterflies have started to emerge which is very exciting. I released a couple on Wednesday when it was lovely and sunny. I'm assuming it's not a good idea to release them in this awful wind and rain? As it's looking bad for the next few days what can I do to keep them healthy until the weather is better. They're in a large net cage and I've popped in a sprig pot with some wild flower cuttings. Is there anything else I can do?
You've done the right thing in delaying release and putting some wild flowers in the cage. The butterflies of Pieris brassicae do feed, they uncurl the proboscis and suck up nectar, and flowers such as yellow dandelions and white hawthorn blossom are suitable. It is also a good idea to put in some cotton wool balls soaked in 10% honey solution, because this is a favourite food for these butterflies! This is easy and quick to make, to see how it's done, please look at the short Small-Life Supplies YouTube video #002, here.
And yes, please keep them indoors for a few days until the weather becomes more pleasant, then you can let them go.

There's such conflicting advice on-line, I am so glad I have found you, Professor. Can you switch the type of leaves that Indian stick insects eat, or must they stay on the same type all their lives? The description of Indian stick insects on this site says they can eat bramble leaves and hazel leaves, so does this mean you guys feed them on both these leaves from birth?
It is a myth that Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) must only be fed on what they ate when they were young. All the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) reared at Small-Life Supplies are fed exclusively on bramble (blackberry) leaves for the first two months of their lives (when they live in QBOXES and HAPs). These stick insects are then 3.5cm long (total length which includes the front legs outstretched and the body) and transferred to ELC cages. When they are in the ELC cages, they are fed with bramble (blackberry) leaves and also given other leaves such as wild rose leaves and hazel leaves to eat. Our Indian stick insects have no problem at all in eating all three types of leaves with enthusiasm. So no, we don't feed hazel leaves to baby stick insects, because it not necessary. Indian stick insects can all be started on bramble leaves and will readily eat hazel and rose when they are larger.

How much is delivery of an ELC cage bundle to Aberdeenshire? And if I bought two ELC bundles, both to be delivered to me, what would the delivery price be? Finally, how long does delivery usually take?
Unfortunately there is a delivery surcharge imposed by our couriers to all Aberdeenshire AB postcodes. The total delivery to AB postcodes is currently 18.69 pounds. So, delivery for one ELC bundle would be 18.69 pounds, and delivery for two ELC bundles would still be 18.69 pounds. Small-Life Supplies continue to process orders quickly and so your ELC cage bundles would be dispatched within days and are usually delivered the next day, so are only one day in transit.

We are thrilled with our four girls: Opiris, Morea, Elidia and Mystis (all Indian stick insects!), we received these from you last month and they are all doing well and laying eggs! We have been collecting bramble leaves every week as per the instructions and pouring hot water over the eggs that we don't need. I know the eggs aren't sentient but I find that part a bit difficult, is there an alternative?
I am pleased that your Indian stick insects are doing well and providing enjoyment for your family. In the wild, each Indian stick insect would lay hundreds of eggs over it's lifetime, the reason so many eggs are produced is because over 99% perish, either by being eaten by predators, or being crushed, or being water-logged. Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) take four months to develop, and so most people dispose of the surplus eggs when they are at an early stage of their incubation when there is just liquid in the egg, not a fully formed baby stick insect about to emerge. Hot water is by far the most effective and fastest method, instantly denaturing the contents of the egg and stopping further development. Another option is to toss the eggs into a garden fire or wood burning stove. Or, a useful alternative is to feed the eggs to garden birds or fish, this is a good choice at this time of year as these creatures have their offspring to feed and so demand for any additional food is high. If you sort out the Indian stick insect eggs and place them on a white saucer on the bird table, you should soon see them being eaten by blackbirds and magpies.

Should I try freezing some bramble? Or is this not a good idea? I'm in Derby, UK.
Freezing bramble doesn't work well, and so I don't recommend this for you. Living in Derby you should be able to find wild bramble all year round, it grows in woods, on disused railway lines, overgrown canal embankments, derelict sites earmarked for building houses etc. Or, you can plant your own bramble plants, they do well in poor soil and so can even thrive at the edge of a sunny gravel drive!

Thank you for sending me the HAPs and HAP Liners, so well packaged too! Is the HAP dishwasher safe? The HAP dismantles into three parts for easy cleaning. The lid and main body need to be washed by hand (use warm, not hot, soapy water and rinse well). The black base is made from a different type of plastic and so this base is dishwasher safe.

I have two Giant African Land Snails (Dakota and Ash), they are much more lively since I upgraded them to the HLQ tank and those wet liners are super cool! I noticed in the field today some large dandelion leaves and so I picked some for Dakota and Ash. I also saw ragwort leaves, would ragwort leaves also be suitable for Giant African Land Snails to eat?
Great that your Giant African Land Snails are prospering in the HLQ cage. Being able to actually clearly see out of the clear sides of the HLQ cage make the surroundings much more interesting for snails and so that is one reason why they are more active. And yes, Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) benefit from a varied diet, and so it's good that you are giving them different leaves to eat. Both dandelion leaves and ragwort leaves are popular with Giant African Land Snails. They also need other foods such as sweet potato, courgette, red pepper, marrow and pears, so they have a balanced nutritious diet. Also rinsed out hen egg shells (as a source of calcium) and dish of fresh cold tap water to drink.

We keep our stick insects in the conservatory but we now seem to have lots of ants! How can we get rid of them?
You need to sweep or vacuum up the ants and put them outside, at the furthest point from your house. And for the next couple of weeks, increase the cleaning in the conservatory, so sweep or hoover the floor more frequently and clean all shelves and tables. The ants are looking for crumbs of food and so will search elsewhere if you keep the room spotless. In the short term, the stick insect cage needs to be cleaned out more frequently too, to deter ants from entering the cage. Ants will harm stick insects and eat their eggs, so it is imperative to encourage the ants to move elsewhere as soon as possible. Don't be tempted to use any commercial insecticides because these chemicals will kill your stick insects.

Thank you for quick delivery of the ELC cage, looks fantastic! Are you getting any other species of stick insects in soon ?
Small-Life Supplies breed various species of stick insect in large numbers. The species listed on the website are ones which are available now. We are breeding other species and these will be listed when the nymphs (immature stick insects) are large enough to travel safely. Live arrival is guaranteed and we only send out nymphs when they are optimum size to travel safely. Small-Life Supplies take great care in selecting which species to breed and sell. The species of stick insect that Small-Life Supplies breed are chosen because they are safe for children and adults to keep (so do not emit irritating chemical sprays which can harm people, even causing temporary blindness in the case of the Florida stick insect, Anisomorpha buprestoides), look attractive and thrive in the ELC cage.

I have been successfully keeping Sungaya inexpectata and having a good success rate with hatching. Unfortunately today one of my second generation females died unexpectedly, and I just can’t work out why. She had reached full adult size and was sat quietly on the floor of her enclosure yesterday - something I’ve observed others doing frequently, so didn’t think much of it. Today she is very definitely no longer with us. The rest of the sticks in the enclosure seem absolutely fine (some of them are quite old - about 18 months); humidity and temperature are on point, bramble comes from my own garden so is free from pollutants, chemicals etc; no sign of a fungal infection. I thought she might be looking for somewhere to lay so didn’t disturb her at the time but now am kicking myself. Any idea of what else could have caused her premature death?
A shallow Water Dish is recommended with this species, the Philippines "Sunny" stick insect, Sungaya inexpectata. Adult females drink a lot, and so this may have been a contributing factor. So I'd advise putting a shallow dish of water into the cage now, this will also be of benefit to your older stick insects (the very old stick insects require more water than younger adults). Another factor could be the quality of the bramble, at this time of year it isn't the best nutritional quality because the old leaves are dying off and the new growth is being very slow to get established due to the unseasonal lack of rain in recent weeks in the UK.

So glad that Small-Life is on Youtube at last! Will you be posting videos regularly? And how much does it is cost to subscribe to your channel?
The Small-Life Supplies youtube channel will be regularly uploading videos on stick insect care, butterfly and moth care etc. It is FREE to subscribe to our channel, just hit the "subscribe" button under the video and then tick the box that you want to be notified when new Small-Life Supplies videos are posted. You will then be notified by Youtube when this happens.

What are the defining features of a male Indian stick insect?
Look at the adult Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) and check he has ALL of the following characteristics: two sloping red marks on the top of the thorax, red underside to thorax, abdomen is smooth and straight (not corrugated or lumpy), body colour is tan/light brown, hyperactive, slim, and when in "straight stick" mode, the back legs are longer than the abdomen. Male Indian stick insects are very rare, occurring 1 in every 10000 females. If your stick insect only has some of the above characteristics, it is not a male, but an insect with both female and male attributes, this is known as a "gynandromorph" derived from the three Greek words for female, male and form.

I'm hoping you can let me know where I've gone wrong with this large white chrysalis - I have attached a photo. The caterpillar made their chrysalis on the lid of the HAP pot so I moved the lid without touching it to a large net cage where I usually hatch my pupae. Today I have found it flat and dark brown and there is also some dark brown fluid near it. Has something got in to the cage and predated it?
A pupa leaks brown fluid if it has been damaged or has died inside. A dead pupa often smells bad and so I suggest you sniff it and discard it if it smells bad. Tiny parasitic wasps (which look nothing like a standard yellow and black garden wasp that most people think wasps should look like) are common and responsible for the majority of deaths of Pieris brassicae in the UK. So it is possible that your pupa might have been injected by a parasitic wasp. Or this pupa may have succumbed to an air borne bacterial or viral infection. If this has happened it will disintegrate into a brown smelly mush as soon as you gently prod it with a small paintbrush. It is wise to do this anyway because if it is still alive it will twitch at the pointed end.

Someone has given me their collection of Aretaon asperrimus stick insects because they lost interest. There are 26 of them, in a glass tank and they are all huddled at the bottom. I want to care for them properly and so would like to purchase the ELC cage but am concerned the massive increase in ventilation may be a shock to them? What do you think?
This species, the Sabah stick insect (Aretaon asperrimus) is unusual because all stages prefer less ventilated conditions. So it is essential to block off one of the mesh sides of the ELC cage, so there is no through draught ventilation. Small-Life Supplies do this for you, so when you order the ELC cage, just ask for the "Ventilation Control Panel" to be fitted over the fixed mesh side to block off the ventilation on that side of the cage. (This costs an extra £2). The Ventilation Control Panel is clear and so does not affect the light entering the cage. And the mesh holes are still on the inside so the stick insects can still climb up both mesh sides. You will also need to provide a shallow Water Dish and a Pot of Sand (for these stick insect to bury their eggs). The same set-up is also required when keeping the Giant Sabah stick insect (Trachyaretaon brueckneri).

I am beginner on caring for stick insects and I have some problems. So three days ago I got my first stick insects "Sungaya inexpectata". The problem is that they don't eat. The temperature and wetness is good, I gave them raspberry leaves. But I found one insect dead. Maybe you will know where the problem is?
I think you have already answered your question, they are not eating the raspberry leaves. So you need to give them bramble (blackberry) leaves to eat. The Sungaya inexpectata is found wild in The Philippines and is sometimes called the "Sunny stick insect". A daytime temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius is ideal, dropping to 12 degrees Celsius at night. Lightly mist the bramble leaves (but not the stick insects) with cold tap water once a day and also leave a shallow dish of cold tap water in the cage so these stick insects can drink water from the water dish. It is unfortunate that you have started with this species. A much easier species to begin keeping is the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus).

If I ordered some stick insects from Small-Life Supplies, would they be sent with six legs? I'd prefer six legs if that's possible.
Of course! Small-Life Supplies breed stick insects in large numbers and we only sell healthy stick insects, which have all six legs. This has always been our philosophy, over the last 36 years of trading, and will remain so. It beggars belief that some other sellers are charging full price for the stick insects but warning potential customers that they may receive stick insects with legs missing! Also, leg loss amongst healthy stocks of stick insects is rare and not commonplace.

Remind me again, what's the safe size of new growth bramble leaves? There's loads near me but the leaves look so small and I don't want to harm my Indian stick insects!
Yes, at the moment it is difficult in many parts of the UK to find bramble leaves large enough (3cm long) to be safe for stick insects to eat. The problem is caused by lack of rain. If you do an online search for "How to feed stick insects in the Spring youtube", you should find the short Small-Life Supplies youtube video on this topic.

The shed in my garden is overgrown with bramble. I rather like the idea of making it a permanent outdoor home for British caterpillars. Would this work? I see you breed the British Vapourer caterpillars, do you offer the caterpillars as a bulk buy without the housing? How many would you suggest to form a sustainable community? Or am I being too ambitious? I live in Witney, Oxfordshire.
This is a great idea and something I have been doing for years and so I know it works. And the British Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) is particularly suitable for establishing outside because the females can't fly off (they don't have wings), and so remain on the bramble, laying eggs. Before embarking on this venture, it's important to establish that the bramble patch is not going to be hacked back by the council or ripped out by building developers, but as your bramble is on your own property, it will be safe for as long as you live there. So yes, I'd recommend proceeding and you can look forward to seeing generations of British Vapourer caterpillars on the bramble on your shed for years to come! Fifteen caterpillars is a good number to release, together with about five pupae. Small-Life Supplies have plenty in stock, and can supply these without the housing, so when you receive them, they are ready to be carefully placed on your bramble outside. To order, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 and ask for the "outdoor Vapourer pack".

My hands and eyesight are failing me and sadly my limited mobility is affecting my life. I would so love to set some butterflies free in my garden, I have been a keen gardener and so my garden has plenty of flowers. But I can't cope with fiddly things and so won't be able to feed caterpillars. I wondered if you ever have any pupae for sale? And if so, how I could buy some? My friend is typing this email for me, so I can't order on-line and I don't use PayPal anyway. Would my Lloyds bank card details be safe if I phoned to pay? I know you have been in business for many years and so that gives me some confidence, but one can never be too careful!
Small-Life Supplies breeds the British Large White butterfly (Pieris brassicae) in large numbers. Most customers purchase the caterpillars and enjoy watching the fast lifecycle. However, I understand why you would want the next stage, the pupae. The good news is that these are also supplied, three pupae are sent in a ventilated container with a twig already inserted (the freshly emerged butterfly climbs on this and stretches out its wings). The pupae do not eat, so all you have to do is look at this clear container every day and if a butterfly has emerged, wait a few hours (this allows time for its wings to harden and become strong enough for flying), then take the lid off and let the butterfly fly off. These butterflies like to feed from flowers and so your garden sounds lovely. The British Large White butterflies mate and then lay eggs on brassica plants, so if you have any nasturtiums in your garden, these would be ideal for the eggs. If not, the butterflies will fly off in search of brassica plants in other gardens or fields. Regarding paying with a card over the phone, you can rest assured that your details are safe with Small-Life Supplies. This is because Small-Life Supplies is fully compliant in the "Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard" scheme which means that we follow strict practices whilst we have your sensitive information to ensure that it is safe. And your card details are destroyed as soon as the order is processed. To place an order by phone, please call Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 during office hours.

Our Cabbage White caterpillars that we bought from you are now big and still and looking like they are ready to enter the pupation phase. I really would like to see this change of a caterpillar changing into a pupa and wondered if you knew when this is likely to happen, I mean morning or afternoon? And how long does it take?
When the Pieris brassicae caterpillar is about 4cm long it stops eating and becomes very still. After a day or two it shrinks a bit (it can reduce to 3cm). Just before embarking on its final skin change, the caterpillar twitches and then its outer skin splits down the middle of its thorax, behind its head. This duration of this final skin change is approximately 14 minutes. It is amazing to watch, most of ours have been doing this mid-morning, but a few do this metamorphosis in the afternoon and a few do this at night.

I’ve had more stick insect babies hatching now and it’s getting hard to tell them apart. Is it OK to draw a dot in sharpie on their exoskeletons (once they’re adults). I like knowing which stick is which .
There are different types of Sharpie pens. Some are strong smelling because they give off solvents, and so shouldn't be used on stick insects. But a small dot of coloured water-based paint from a water-based Sharpie pen would be OK. The best place is on the top thorax of the stick insect. The thorax is the area between the head and the abdomen, all six legs are attached to the thorax. It is best to avoid trying to mark the abdomen because this is where the breathing holes (spiracles) are located and you would not want to risk any liquid entering a breathing hole by mistake.

I have put an order in for your Pieris brassicae caterpillars and I am looking forward to receiving them next week. I've thought of two questions already ... Will they eat lettuce as well as cabbage? And I have an old fish tank, would this be OK for keeping them in (it looks larger than the HAP containers you supply and so they'd have more space).
Great that you're getting some of these nice yellow Pieris brassicae caterpillars, we're sending out lots at the moment! This type of caterpillar only eats brassica leaves, which means that the leaves must be classified as belonging to the brassica family. So suitable leaves include cabbage, nasturtium and broccoli. But not lettuce because lettuce is not a brassica. Please house the caterpillars in the HAP supplied, this is a clear container which we know works really well for raising these caterpillars into butterflies. Your fish tank would be too large (there is a risk that the caterpillars can wander off the leaves and starve to death). Also, if you have a window open, there is a risk that tiny parasitic insects can fly in and inject their eggs inside the caterpillars in your fish tank. This happens so fast you would probably not even notice but your caterpillars would be doomed and would never develop into butterflies. Fortunately the HAP has a drop over lid and this prevents the tiny parasitic insects from getting to the caterpillars. In the wild, the vast majority of Pieris brassicae caterpillars are attacked by tiny parasitic insects (called ichneumons) and die before they become butterflies. Detailed information is supplied with the Pieris brassicae caterpillar kits and so please follow this advice to ensure success with rearing these Large White butterflies.

I currently have six Indian stick insects (third generation with me). Three have 'normal' tapered back ends and are a sandy colour but three are very different in this region: a sort of split with green gelatinous looking matter. They're also a darker brown colour. From what I'd read these may be 'male' but they were clearly laying eggs recently (please see attached photos). I've read there is a male/female possibility with stick insects, please could you let me know what you think is going on. I'm extremely curious about it!
Thank you for emailing the photos of your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). None are males. The males are much thinner and have a red underside to their thorax. Yours are female (which is why they are able to lay eggs) but have some male characteristics (the green part is the male genitalia). Such individuals don't lay many eggs and tend to die prematurely, so it's best to not save their eggs. So instead, keep some eggs from your other three standard females, because these individuals are more healthy.

A work colleague is retiring and told me he plans to rent out his bees for pollinating plants? I had never heard of this before, I thought bees were kept to produce honey, but he said honey was a bi-product and more money is to be made from hiring bees out as pollinators. Is this right?
Hiring honey bees out as pollinators is big business and has been for years. The bees are transported in big lorries to crops and released to pollinate the plants. Afterwards they are gathered up and taken to the next pollinating job. Occasionally this hits the news because the lorry transporting the bees is involved in a road traffic accident and hundreds of thousands of bees escape. Recently the industry has come in for criticism because some unscrupulous owners are overworking their bees and making them pollinate too many plants, and not letting them rest enough. In the natural world, bees do rest for several months and do not work as pollinators at all during the winter. But, unfortunately some unscrupulous owners ignore this fact and continue to work their bees very hard throughout the year, leading to the inevitable consequence of premature death for these overworked bees. Hopefully your colleague is more "in tune" with his bees and will look after them properly.

Is there a difference between "Indian" stick insects and "Green Indian" stick insects? I have seen both types for sale on-line on general seller platforms.
No difference, they are the same and so both have the stick insect species name Carausius morosus. Indian stick insects are usually called Indian stick insects , but the alternative name "Laboratory stick insect" has been in use for decades. "Green Indian" is a bit of a silly name because Indian stick insects are not always green. Although many are green, lots are beige, fawn, or occasionally black; the colour variation is correlated to how humid their cage is and what leaves they are eating.

Have you had experience with Giant African millipedes? I am thinking about getting some, but the seller I've found suggests keeping them in a glass tank, saying they don't climb, they stay on the ground? But I have seen wild millipedes climbing up trees, so don't rate this guys advice.
Yes, millipedes like to climb, and in the wild they do climb up tree trunks. I have seen huge millipedes climbing up trees in the wild in the tropical island of Reunion Island (near Madagascar) when I visited there. So when keeping millipedes in captivity, it is vital to provide vertical surfaces they can easily climb. You can use the ELC cage to house millipedes, because they can climb up the white mesh sides. If you purchase millipedes from this seller, you will need to insert extra twigs and bark in the ELC cage to encourage them to climb. This is because they will not have climbed for a very long time if they have been kept incorrectly in a tank with no possibility of being able to climb, and so those millipedes will need to learn how to climb again. Because these millipedes have been kept in bad conditions, they may be infested with mites. So before purchasing from this seller, please ask if the millipedes have mites. Poor sellers will say yes, it is normal for millipedes to be invested with mites. It is not! Small-Life Supplies used to keep various species of giant African millipede and they liked to rest on the mesh sides of the cages with their heads curled round. We fed ours with dead oak and sycamore leaves, also slices of orange and cucumber. Millipedes also need protein pellets. Our millipedes never had mites crawling all over them.

We're looking at lifecycles next term and I wondered if comparing and contrasting the lifecycles of the Pieris brassicae and the Orgyia antiqua butterflies and moths would work? I'm keen on having some life (apart from the students!) in class and this seems a better bet ethically than hatching out chick eggs in school. Please can you tell me what you think, I like the idea of getting the deceased specimens too and the information leaflet looks helpful.
Yes, raising caterpillars in school is easy to do and our kits are very educational because they involve the caterpillars eating real leaves (instead of artificial food). Also, our caterpillars are not in sealed units, so they can be taken out of the HAP enclosures and observed more closely. We breed all the caterpillars here at Small-Life Supplies and supply species that are widespread across the UK which means they have a good chance of surviving outside when they are released as adults. If the school has a "nature zone" in its grounds, the students can see them released there. Or, if the school does not have this facility, a staff member can release them in her garden and film this on her phone. Either way, there is great transparency on the welfare of the creatures. It's a great idea to compare and contrast fast lifecycles of different species, and really fortunate at the moment because both species are in stock now. The information leaflets contain concise, accurate information on metamorphosis and so should assist teachers greatly. And the bagged deceased specimens can be examined in great detail using phones or microscopes.

My daughter loves butterflies and so I intend to put an order in for a Pieris brassicae kit this weekend. We'll be getting your broccoli leaves too. But what happens if they eat all these leaves... can we purchase more quickly? And if so, what would the delivery price be? (We live in Berkshire).
Great that your daughter likes butterflies and I'm sure she will enjoy watching her own caterpillars grow and transform into the British Large White butterflies. These caterpillars eat various leaves of the brassica family, so will also eat cabbage leaves and nasturtium leaves. It is important that the leaves are green and not yellow (the leaves turn yellow when they are starting to decompose). And yes, if you need to buy another bag of broccoli leaves, the price is £2.50 per bag of leaves + £6.95 express courier delivery (for next day delivery).

I am researching gender discrimination in science, in particular regarding language used. In this regard, do you have any examples of female stick insects being referred to differently from male stick insects?
Well done for researching this issue, as usual the more people who highlight a problem, the more chance there is of corrective action being taken. And now with a spotlight once again being shone on sexism, it's a good time to look at how language is used. To answer your question, one phrase I have heard is that female stick insects are "just egg machines" but of course I have never heard anyone say male stick insects are "just sperm machines". It's comments like that that illustrate the issue you are highlighting. (Also, of course the term "machine" is inappropriate in this context anyway, because stick insects are animals, not inanimate objects).

I heard there are far more British moths than British butterflies, but by a factor of what? Ten times? Twenty times??
Forty-two times! So there are currently approximately 60 species of British butterfly and approximately 2500 species of British moth. Small-Life Supplies breeds some of these and so you can enjoy taking care of the caterpillars and then release the butterflies and moths outside in the spring and summer months.

I have four Giant African Land Snails (two very large and two medium). With the recent sunshine, they have become much more active and are often exploring the HLQ tank and hanging underneath the lid. Today I saw Dmitri (one of the smaller ones) having a piggyback ride on Maurice (the largest snail). Honestly, it looked as they though they were playing but my boyfriend said I was being silly and anthropomorphising. But I'm not so sure, I think there is more to snails that people give them credit for, what are your views?
Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) do show emotion. For example, I had one adult pair that had been close for many years and when one died of old age, the other one remained with the corpse for a few days before sealing itself in its shell. It was four moths before it emerged and then only became more active when it was put with some new younger Giant African Land Snails. That snail had clearly been very depressed but fortunately has recovered now. I too have noticed younger ones having a ride on the shell of a larger snail, occasionally I have seen three younger snails all on the shell of a larger snail at the same time! It seems clear that the snails are enjoying themselves. Similarly, they are more active when they are happy, so there is lots of anecdotal evidence of snails exploring the HLQ cage more when they have had a new type of food to eat which they have enjoyed eating. So you are correct. I am pleased Dmitri and Maurice and your other snails are happy and being well looked after.

The bramble patch local to me now has a mixture of older large leaves (in varying condition) and pale green buds. Over the past few days some of the pale green buds have sprouted small leaves. I know the tiny leaves can be toxic to stick insects and should be removed, but what size is it safe for these new leaves to be given to the stick insects? I have Indian stick insects.
At this time of year (Spring) the old green bramble leaves are harder to find because they are dying off because the new soft green leaves are being produced. These very small pale green soft bramble leaves should not be given to your stick insects because they can contain toxins. So, only choose stems which have some older dark green leaves on, and snip off the young shoots before putting the stems in the Sprig Pot of water. In a few weeks time, the new growth will be larger, and when each part of the bramble leaf is 3cm, it is safe for the stick insects to eat. Most bramble leaves are made up of three smaller leaves, and so each of those needs to at least 3cm long down the middle (the longest part).

Please can you tell me do I just spray the leaves with water? Or do I spray inside the cage? I have just purchased an ELC cage and transferred my eight Indian stick insects that were living in a net pop-up.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) need to drink water and so yes, it is necessary to lightly mist the bramble/blackberry leaves with cold tap water from the "Little Mister" or the "Mister Swivel". Late afternoon or early evening is the best time to do this. Try to avoid getting the actual stick insects wet. Do not randomly spray water inside the ELC cage because this will make the surroundings too damp which is unhealthy for the Indian stick insects. Also, if too much water drops onto the cage Liner, the Liner will curl up.

Ooops... we kept rather too many Indian stick insect eggs, we are novices and didn't realise so many would hatch, well actually all 38 of them! We love our stickies and will keep ten but want to find good homes for the rest. Your cages are excellent and we wondered if you have any discount deals on multiple cage purchases?
Yes, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 and ask about the lightly used ELC cages, these are in very good condition but are discounted as they have been lightly used. These cages are cleaned before dispatch and supplied ready assembled, so are ready to be used immediately. It is really good that you are looking for good homes for your surplus stick insects and this is easier to achieve if you can supply the proper cage at the same time so the new owners have the correct equipment. The ELC cage is great to house Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) that are 3.5cm long or larger. Baby Indian stick insects should be housed in the HAP (because when they are babies they prefer less ventilated surroundings).

I'm on the list for your British Large White butterflies and am looking forward to receiving them after Easter. Do they have any preference regarding what they eat, I mean is red cabbage OK or must it be green?
The caterpillars of the British Large White butterflies (Pieris brassicae) eat leaves from the brassica family. So this includes both red cabbage and green cabbage leaves. If you feed them red cabbage there is a possibility that the wing colour of the adults (that will emerge a few weeks later) is slightly darker, but this aberration is hardly noticeable. Other brassica leaves that are suitable food include nasturtium leaves and broccoli leaves. Looking ahead, now is the optimum time to be planting nasturtium seeds in your garden or windowbox or hanging basket, these will provide good leaves for the next generation of British Large White butterflies.

Are some types of stick insect livelier than others during the daytime?
Yes, Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are one of the livelier species of stick insect, being active during the day. The adult male Thailand stick insects are particularly active.

Does Small-Life Supplies have any African sun beetles for sale? And what's the best housing for them?
Yes, we breed African fruit beetles (sometimes called sun beetles) and they are in stock. These are large yellow and black patterned beetles that are easy to keep, eating oranges and dead sycamore leaves. These African fruit beetles (Pachnoda sp) like to climb and so it's important to house them in a cage with white mesh sides that they can climb easily, so the TTQ, ELC and ELS cages are all suitable. These beetles like the sunshine and so place the cage in a sunny position. When they defecate they make a bit of a mess and so you need to regularly wash the cage with warm water and bleach (rinse thoroughly afterwards) to keep the cage clean. When it is hot the beetles fly within the cage, you can also take them out of the cage and let them fly across a room (they make a buzzing noise like a bee when they fly).

Would it be better to start off with two Indian stick insects or four Indian stick insects in the ELC enclosure? I know stick insects mustn't be on their own, but I don't want too many eggs!
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) like to group together in the ELC cage, so I'd recommend four being better than just two. (And of course there is plenty of room in the ELC cage for many more, the ELC can house up to twenty adults). When Indian stick insects are fully grown (adults) they lay eggs every day without mating. So every week, when you change the Liner in the ELC cage, just tip the contents of the Liner into a bowl. You may wish to save a few eggs, but it is important to discard the rest properly, and so you can feed the eggs to garden birds or fish. If this is not possible, you can throw the eggs into a fire, so they are destroyed at once. Or, it may be easier to boil a kettle and pour the hot water over the eggs. The extreme heat denatures the egg structure inside, instantly preventing further development. In the wild, so many eggs are laid because 99% are destroyed by being crushed, water logged, burnt or eaten. It is much more responsible to dispose of the eggs rather than keep hundreds of eggs and then have hundreds of baby stick insects to re-home. Indian stick insects have a very high hatching success rate and so it is essential to only keep a few eggs, to avoid the problem of having too many stick insects. Indian stick insect eggs take a relatively long time to incubate, typically it's four months before they hatch.

Our two Macleays stick insects, Kingsley and Queenie, were coupled most of yesterday and the pink spermatophore is still attached to Queenie.(We know this having consulted the book!). A friend said Kingsley will die soon, and Queenie will be fertilised for life...I think she's talking rubbish (she's got this info on-line) but I thought I'd just check with you?
Yes, your friend is incorrect, unfortunately there is some rubbish advice about stick insects swirling around on-line, and this is one example. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) mate frequently throughout their adult lives, with the male producing a spermatophore (bag of sperm) each time. So Kingsley and Queenie should live another seven months as adults, or even longer if they are fed on eucalyptus instead of bramble. The spermatophores vary in colour, they can be pink or white.

I'm a newly qualified teacher and I'll be doing lifecycles with my class after Easter. The on-line resources focus on the Monarch butterfly, which seems very odd to me because we don't have Monarchs in England! My grandma used to be a biology teacher and she said she always used "Cabbage White" butterflies in school . Is this something you could help me with, or do you breed and supply any other native English butterflies?
I agree it is crazy to be studying the lifecycles of non-native species whilst completely ignoring lifecycles of native British species of insects! Keeping caterpillars in school is an easy and quick project and brings science alive, which is far better than just reading about it on-line and in books. Small-Life Supplies breeds various species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). The British species we currently breed that have very fast lifecycles include the Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) , these have very colourful caterpillars that eat bramble/blackberry leaves and are in stock now. And soon we should have the the British Large White Butterfly, also known as "Cabbage Whites" (Pieris brassicae), these caterpillars eat nasturtium leaves, also cabbage leaves and broccoli leaves.

Do any British arthropods eat stick insects?
Yes, some British spiders can eat stick insects. They spin fibres around the stick insect's body and then slowly devour the dead stick insect over several days. So, if ever you knock over the cage of stick insects and they escape, it is important to find them quickly before the house spiders do! In the summer, some people take their stick insects out into the garden for some fresh air. If you do this, it is important to be watching the stick insects the whole time, otherwise garden wasps will appear and start eating the live stick insects!

Do stick insects have brains?
Yes.

Please explain why you're not supposed to disturb a stick insect that is changing her skin?
Stick insects grow by climbing out of their skins every few weeks. This process is called ecdysis and, depending on the size of the stick insect, takes approximately ten minutes to one hour to complete. The stick insect is very vulnerable during this time and must not be disturbed for the following three reasons. (1). A jolt to the cage may cause the stick insect to fall to the ground and it will then struggle to complete its skin-change successfully (unless you quickly re-attach it by sellotaping part of its old skin to a high point in the cage). (2). Loud noise can panic the stick insect, causing it to become motionless and stop the ecdysis. This is disastrous because the new skin is soft but quickly hardens and the inside of the old skin is wet but quickly dries, so it is essential the process is completed without interruption before the new skin hardens and the old skin dries, making it impossible to separate them. (3). Often, stick insects shed their skins at night when it is completely dark. Switching a light on will cause the stick insect to panic and become motionless and stop the ecdysis. So if you inadvertently do this, it is essential to turn the light off immediately so the stick insect can complete the skin-change successfully.

Would a water jug be OK as a temporary home for baby Indian stick insects? Just until the HAP pot arrives?
A water jug is a bit too large, so a clear tumbler would be better. The size is important because if it is too large, the cut bramble leaves will dry up too quickly. You need to cut paper circles to line the floor of the container and replace these every few days to ensure that the stick insects are kept in clean surroundings. Place a wet bramble leaf in the container and cover the top with cling film. Do not make air holes because this will let too much air in and dry up the bramble leaf.

Please help me because I am getting so confused and want the best for my stickies! I have kept Indian stick insects for years and have always fed them privet leaves. Now I would like to get another sort, but you don't list privet as food for any of the ones you sell? Is this because privet is bad for them or is it because bramble is better that privet?
There are only a few species of stick insect that will thrive on privet leaves. These include the Peruvian Black stick insect (Peruphasma schultei) and also (depending on the strain) the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus). The Indian stick insects reared at Small-Life Supplies suddenly refused to eat privet many years ago and still refuse privet. That is why we recommend feeding this species with bramble (blackberry) leaves. And they will also eat rose leaves and hazel leaves. However, your Indian stick insects are OK with privet and so you can continue to feed yours with privet. The vast majority of other species of stick insect do NOT eat privet and so should not be offered privet because it is not a suitable food source for them. So they would starve to death. Most of these species of stick insects eat bramble (blackberry) leaves. The species that Small-Life Supplies breed and sell all eat bramble (blackberry) leaves and so it is important to locate some bramble bushes growing wild in your neighbourhood before purchasing the stick insects. Or there is always the option of purchasing wallets of fresh cut bramble from Small-Life Supplies. There are a few species of stick insect that eat other types of leaf, for example the Peruvian Fern stick insect (Oreohoetes peruana) eats fern leaves and the Javanese stick insect (Orxines macklottii) eats rhododendron leaves, but Small-Life Supplies no longer breeds these species.

Would there be space in the ELC cage for 4 Indian stick insects and 6 Thailand stick insects?
Yes, there is space in the ELC cage to house these two species together. Both like airy surroundings and both eat bramble (blackberry) leaves. It's easy to tell them apart at all stages by looking at their antennae. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have long antennae but Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) have short antennae.

I have been picking out the Macleays Spectre stick insects eggs from the cage liner today, and some eggs are mostly cream but others are mostly chestnut brown. Both types have marbled effects, are shiny, and the same size. I have two adult pairs in the ELC cage, do you think one female is laying the cream eggs and the other one the brown eggs? And if so, is one colour more likely to hatch than the other?
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) lay large hard round eggs and so it is easy to pick them up with your fingers. For best results, store these eggs in the HUA Pot and wait for them to hatch approximately six months later. You are correct in deducing that the different colour versions are from different females. This is just natural variation and so both versions have an equal chance of hatching. Eggs which are less likely to hatch are smaller than normal, or mishapen. When your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs hatch it is strongly recommended to feed the hatchlings with eucalyptus leaves. This is because their survival rate can be as high as 100% if fed exclusively on eucalyptus for the first few weeks of their lives. After that time, you can either keep them on eucalyptus or introduce bramble/blackberry leaves as a supplement.

We have welcomed four Indian stick insects to our family and have enjoyed caring for them since November. With Spring just around the corner, we are considering having some butterflies? As we are all new to this, please can you give us some advice on the best species to purchase and a little guidance as to what this would entail?
I am pleased that your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have been a success. Small-Life Supplies also breed various easy-to-keep species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), and supply these as caterpillars. Their care is very easy, just feed the caterpillars with the fresh leaves suggested, keep them in the housing supplied, and watch them grow! Our British Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) and the British Large White (Pieris brassicae) both have very fast lifecycles and can be released outdoors in the UK when they are adults. If you want a giant tropical species, we also breed the Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini), these have a slower lifecycle and need to be kept in a warm room indoors throughout their life. Our British Vapourer caterpillar kits are in stock now, the other types should be ready in a month or so.

We were given some Indian stick insect eggs and were delighted when six hatched. We followed the information sheet provided and gave them ivy leaves to eat. Four died soon afterwards which we are upset about. Two are doing OK and have shed their skins for the first time. On reading your advice I think we did wrong?
Ivy leaves are really a last resort, it is much better to feed Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) with bramble (blackberry) leaves. Baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) are thirsty and so it's important to put a slightly wet bramble leaf into the HAP pot so they can have a drink. Losing four out of six is well below what the success rate should be, so it is unfortunate that you were given poor advice. I recommend you give your surviving Indian stick insects bramble (blackberry) leaves to eat (mist these leaves lightly with water once a day). But short-term do continue giving them ivy as well because this is what they are used to and it may take a few days (or longer) for them to switch over to eating the bramble (blackberry) leaves. Keep the leaves fresh by standing the stems in the Sprig Pot of cold tap water.

Thank you so much for the ELC cage, my Pink Winged stick insects look so much happier in their new home! I would like to house another type in there, what would you recommend? Fortunately we have loads of bramble in the woods nearby.
Great that you like the ELC cage, it is ideal for Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) because as well as being the optimum size and having the correct ventilation, the smooth sided holes in the white mesh sides are the perfect size for the eggs (Pink Winged stick insects glue their eggs in there). You can mix Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) in the same ELC cage as Pink Winged stick insects, also Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). All these three species look completely different and so it is easy to tell them apart. They all eat bramble (blackberry) leaves.

I am interested on your views of poor genetic stock circulating amongst Indian stick insects. I have noticed people posting photos of their Indian stick insects with deformities, specifically those females with partial green mating apparatus permanently on show. I see that many of these stick insects and others do not look in the best of health and are being reared in cramped and poorly ventilated tanks.
There has been a recent surge in people selling their surplus Indian stick insects, and unfortunately some of the stock offered for sale is of poor quality. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) reproduce by parthenogenesis, and the really deformed individuals that you describe only lay a few eggs, unlike a healthy female who lays several hundred eggs during her lifetime. So, of more concern are the conditions in which these stick insects are being housed. It is sad when people don't look after their stick insects and think it's OK for their stick insects to be eating each other and losing legs! All the Indian stick insects that Small-Life Supplies sell are the direct descendants from one original stick insect that was born in 1976. So these stick insects are a very healthy strong strain. All our Indian stick insects are reared in QBOXES and HAP pots (when very young) and then ELC cages which provide the optimum conditions for second instar nymphs up to adult stick insects (seventh instar).

Ages ago I got some "grade B" ELC cages off you, via ebay(?), I can't remember because it was over a year ago. Anyways, how do I buy more "grade B" ELC cages ? I need another couple, they're definitely the best around!
Please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 (daytime during office hours) and ask if there are any "grade B" ELC cages in stock. These cages are brand new but have minor marks and scratches and so are sold at a reduced price. (This means they always sell really quickly!). ELC cages are dispatched ready assembled and so can be used straight away. Unfortunately the ebay fees for business sellers are now so high it is no longer economically viable for us to sell our cages on this platform. ELC cages are precision made in the UK and so have a relatively high manufacturing cost. It's easy to purchase items from Small-Life Supplies and you can choose to pay by credit/debit/AMEX card or PayPal or bank transfer.

We noticed a ladybird sitting on one of our Indian stick insects! It looked quite funny, but will it do any harm? (I know ladybirds eat aphids but surely a stick insect is too big for a ladybird to eat?). We live in Basingstoke and have been caring for stick insects for about eight months now, and loving it!
The ladybird was probably hiding in a bramble leaf (this is a common place for ladybirds to hibernate during the winter months), and so has been introduced into your cage when you replenished the bramble food. The ladybird has now woken up in your warm home and is exploring the cage, and has settled to rest on a stick insect. Active ladybirds need to eat small insects to survive, and you are correct in stating that their normal diet is aphids. You need to put the ladybird back outside in a bramble bush, so it can go back into hibernation mode again. Please don't keep it in the cage with your stick insects because it will be hungry and needs to eat. You don't really want to have aphids living inside your cage because they leave a sticky residue on the sides of the cage. If there no aphids to eat, your ladybird may try to nibble part of a stick insect, but if your stick insects are large, they will shake the ladybird off and so it will starve to death. So it's best to put the ladybird back outside in a bramble bush today or tomorrow. And when you next gather fresh bramble, just check underneath the bramble leaves for hibernating ladybirds (they usually cluster in small groups) and hide any you find back in the bramble bush.

Back in October of last year we purchased from you four Indian sticks - they have been a joy for us and thoroughly enjoy taking care of them. They are so lively, and love to have a walk about on our arms and hands regularly! We put in fresh bramble but recently the bramble to choose from outside has become pretty dry and not too healthy looking - naturally I guess as the weather at this time of the year does dry it up. Are there any other suggestions as to what they would like and thrive on as an alternative?
The quality of the bramble leaves is vary variable at the moment, so it's best to seek out different bramble/blackberry sites so you can choose the best of what is available. Leaves with a few blotches are still OK for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) to eat. Indian stick insects also eat eucalyptus leaves, and so you can supplement their bramble diet with a bit of eucalyptus if you have a eucalyptus tree growing nearby (these trees are evergreen and have silvery green leaves). And ensure that the leaves are misted with water every evening so the stick insects can have a drink. Please don't be tempted to purchase a potted plant on-line or from a garden centre unless you can be absolutely certain that no pesticides are in the soil (many commercially grown plants are treated with chemicals that remain active for a whole year and will kill any insect that eats the leaves).

I gave my two Giant African Land Snails, Bloomer and Bayer, some sweet potato yesterday, which they started eating immediately! And now I have spotted a clutch of shiny white eggs in the food dish! Are the two events related or is it just a coincidence? This is their first time and there are dozens of eggs, I've decided to try and hatch around half of them, but what is the best way to dispose of the rest? Will the garden birds eat the eggs?
Congratulations to Bloomer and Bayer. Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) eggs need to be kept moist in order to develop properly and so you need to scoop them out of the dish with a spoon and place them in an unventilated container (with no airholes). It's best to use a clear container (such as the HAP) so you can see that they are still glistening and moist, and spot the baby snails when they hatch in a few weeks time. Unwanted snail eggs can be spread out on kitchen roll and they will soon dry out and cease developing inside. You can put the eggs on the bird table outside but be aware that these eggs quickly dry up in the sunshine and so the birds will need to be quick! Giant African Land Snails mate when they are happy (or at the other extreme very stressed), so yes it appears they really liked the sweet potato.

We saw the photo of your Malaysian stick insects mating on the Small-Life Supplies Facebook page with the comment that they had been going at it for 6 hours! Is it usual for mating to take this long or is this couple especially amorous? Can they move around or do they stay in the same place?
The adult Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteyx dilatata) featured on the Small-Life Supplies Facebook Page, finally uncoupled after twelve hours! They stayed at the top of the ELC cage the entire time. Malaysian stick insects are large and bulky and so tend to stay in the same place during mating. Some smaller species , for example the Sabah stick insect (Aretaon asperrimus) can walk around during mating, sometimes the female walks over to a bramble leaf and starts eating it, despite the male being on her copulating! The time two stick insects spend mating depends on the species and on the individuals, some take a few minutes, others several hours, a few longer still, so many hours.

How are the stick insects in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, going to survive with the unexpected snow and minus 18 degree Celsius temperatures? When I lived there I loved seeing them on my tires, they were the Diapheromera femorata species.
Unfortunately the extreme cold weather that is happening now in Texas will kill many wild animals and birds. Cold blooded animals such as insects are more suited to tolerate extreme temperatures than warm blooded creatures, and some insects can effectively drastically reduce their metabolism and appear lifeless but are actually still alive and ready to recover when the temperature increases. The chances of their survival increases the shorter the cold snap is. And stick insect eggs are even better protected than the actual stick insects at surviving extreme cold. So it is likely that although many of the American stick insects will perish on this occasion, some will survive and many of their eggs will survive. I am aware that these stick insects like to rest on car tyres in Texas, but am not sure why they do this.

I've just been given 8 adult Indian stick insects (I assume they're adults as they have little pink/red patches on their legs). Out of the 8, only 4 have all 6 legs. The other 4 range from 3-5 legs. Some of these have part legs, and some have legs completely missing. I have read that stickies can lose a leg and can regrow with their next moult but as these are presumably adults, I've started to worry. How have the insects lost so many legs? Can they survive with only 3 legs?
Oh dear, it's not normal for adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) to have lost so many legs. When they are kept properly, the vast majority should have all six legs, and it's rare to see one with only five legs. So it appears whoever had them before you was making some mistakes with their care. If Indian stick insects are very stressed they fight and this causes them to lose legs, unfortunately adult stick insects are unable to regenerate legs. You need to ensure they don't lose any more legs, so check the following; (i) make sure their cage is suitable (the ELC cage is ideal, being 51cm high, with two mesh sides) (ii) ensure they have enough water, so lightly mist the bramble/blackberry leaves every day or so (iii) give them nice green bramble/blackberry leaves to eat (iv) switch the room light off at night (v) keep them in a room that is not too hot, ideally 18-21 degrees Celsius during the day and approx 12 degrees Celsius at night. The front legs are the most important and so I hope the stick insect with three legs still has her front legs. Stick insects can adapt to having missing limbs, but you can help by inserting climbing props into the cage to help the disabled stick insects to access their food more easily.

Could you please help me with one thing? I’m not sure about the water. Do I spray the leaves? How often? What if the water gets on them?
Yes, it's best to lightly mist the bramble/blackberry leaves with cold tap water. This is best done in the late afternoon or evening. It doesn't have to be every day, so don't worry if you miss a day or two. Stick insects do obtain some moisture from within the leaves, but also like to drink water directly from water droplets on the leaf surfaces. Stick insects do not like getting wet, so it's best to use a plant sprayer that emits a fine mist rather than a strong jet, and direct this spray at the leaves and not the actual stick insects. If a stick insect gets wet it usually walks away. Small-Life Supplies have two designs of plant sprayer available, the Mister Curvy and the Mister Swivel. We pre-set the adjustable nozzle to a fine mist setting before they are dispatched to customers. The Mister Swivel has the advantage of having a directional nozzle which makes targetted spraying into the cages even easier.

Our school purchased some stick insects off you last year. At first eggs were discarded unknowingly but once I took them on, I spotted the eggs in the bottom. I started collecting them under the impression they wouldn't all hatch. I was wrong...... The time has come and so far 36 have hatched, all staying within school however I counted the eggs left and I have up to 300 unhatched. Problem is they were all put in the box together so I'm unaware of which will hatch next. I've started discarding newly laid eggs but the thought of killing nymphs about to hatch is causing me stress.  My concern is they are already formed inside.
Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs take about four months to hatch, so yes, it's best to dispose of unwanted eggs soon after they have been laid. And remember to label the eggs you keep with the month they were laid. I suggest you put your remaining eggs in the garage because the cooler temperature will slow down the development of the eggs you have, thereby giving you more time to find homes for the hatchlings. The easiest way to distribute Indian stick insect babies is to include a suitable home for them and information sheet. These stick insects like company of their own kind and so are best offered in groups. Small-Life Supplies sell clear HAP Pots (costing just a few pounds) which are suitable housing for up to twelve baby Indian stick insects (they can live in here until they are two months old). Perhaps you could distribute these set-ups to some of the children at school? (Either as pets or as part of a school topic). If you'd like to do this, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 so we can put together a package for you and include several free colour stick insect information sheets.

I was reading below about “sub standard” eggs and how the stick who hatches from it is unhealthy. Anyway one of my stick insects, Paty, only ever laid deformed or small eggs in her lifetime. She was always the energetic one out of all her sisters but she died recently even before her oldest sister Splinter, who is still alive. When they hatch they are probably going to be undersized sickly nymphs and die young like their mother but I kind of miss Paty and want to have a new generation of Patys or should I kill them?
Yes, you can keep Paty's eggs and see what happens. The hatching success rate of deformed and small eggs is low, and sickly nymphs are more likely to die than healthy ones. But it will be interesting to see if the ones that do make it to adulthood show the same behavioural characteristics as Paty. I have noticed that undersized Indian adult stick insects (Carausius morosus) are often more lively than their standard sized sisters. Rare male Indian stick insects are very lively too. But it's also worth saving some of Splinter's eggs so you retain some healthy stick insects in your cage.

I woke up in the middle of the night because I needed to check if I had locked the front door. When I switched the light on in the hall, I saw all my New Guinea stick insects very active, marching up and down the walls of the ELC cage. I have never seen them so lively! Is this species nocturnal?
Stick insects of all species are most active at night but have spells of activity during the day too. You can get them used to a routine of activity, so if you handle them at a specific time every day, they will soon learn to become active at that time. Adult New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) like a lot of exercise, so it is recommended to take them out of the cage regularly and let them have a good walk across a hard floor or carpet. It's important to watch them though because they can quickly climb up a table or chair leg, and you don't want to lose them!

How common is parthenogenesis amongst insects?
Parthenogenesis (virgin birth) is quite common. Stick insects including the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) reproduce by parthenogenesis and males are exceedingly rare (I have only ever seen a few males of these species over the decades!). Some grasshoppers and moths can also switch to parthenogenetic reproduction if no males are present. Aphids produce parthenogenetic viviparous (live birth) generations of females in the summer. And in honey bees the queen's unfertilised eggs hatch into drones.

We received our Indian stick insect egg kit last month (January) They were laid on the 10th of October. We followed the instructions and they are in their little container, in the Qbox with a Qbox Liner on the bottom. All completely dry (as I had to double check this as kept seeing online advice saying it should be slightly damp but was assured that it should all be dry). It's now the 10th of February and we still have no stick insect babies. Should they be hatching by now?
There is no need to worry, the vast majority of our batch of Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) laid on 10th October 2020 have not hatched yet. The earlier batches are still hatching well, and so the current incubation time is slightly over the four months expected. This sometimes happens during the winter months. Your set up is correct, so please be patient as you are doing everything properly.

One of the children in my class would like to ask you a question about the stick insect eggs: Do the stick insect eggs die if you freeze them? We'd love to know your response.
Probably, as long as the eggs are exposed to this extreme cold (a domestic freezer is typically set to a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius) for a long time, preferably months. However, if the eggs are only put in the freezer for a shorter time, there is the risk that a few eggs may "shut down" inside but then restart once they are taken out of the freezer and warm up again. So that is why freezing eggs is not a method recommended by scientists for disposing of unwanted stick insect eggs. A faster and 100% effective method is to use extreme heat because this permanently distorts the contents ending development forever. So tip the unwanted eggs into a dish and pour boiling on top. Or throw the eggs into a fire or hot stove. If you would like others to benefit from your surplus eggs, they can be distributed to other people to hatch out, or fed to birds and fish.

How do insects stop themselves from freezing in the winter?
University research is still being done on this topic because there are several factors involved. It is already known that before an insect goes into hibernation, it reduces its water content. The insect also changes the composition of its haemolymph (blood) by increasing the level of glycerol, thereby lowering the freezing point. The method for eliminating the nucleating agents which trigger freezing is still being investigated.

What's best to put on the floor of a stick insect enclosure? Paper or kitchen towel or soil? Particularly for the species that need to bury eggs?
Definitely paper because you can replace this every week and it is very easy to collect the eggs and dispose of the rest. Kitchen towel/roll is not recommended because it is absorbent and so absorbs some moisture from the surroundings which is detrimental to the leaves and stick insects. Soil is the worst option because this traps all the eggs and poo/droppings/frass, leading to unhygienic surroundings and a population explosion of baby stick insects in a few months time. If you have stick insects that need to bury their eggs, for example the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) then keep these in an ELC cage with a paper liner on the floor and just put in a pot of dry sand for the female to bury her eggs in. You can then sieve this sand every week (using a large metal sieve), and put the pot of sieved sand back in the cage and store the eggs separately in a HUA Pot.

We are very excited to have received our new stick insects (two Pink Winged stick insects) from you. We followed the instructions exactly and are delighted that they are now exploring their new home (the ELC enclosure). The email said to wait an hour before opening the box of stick insects because it is very important that they warm up slowly, not quickly. We did this, but wondered the reason why? My husband wanted to put them on the radiator but I insisted no, we must follow the advice from the supplier!
Thank goodness you did follow our advice, we email all customers this advice because it is so important to let stick insects warm up slowly, and not quickly. So just letting them warm up at room temperature for an hour is recommended, but putting them near a hot heat source such as a radiator is not. This is because the exoskeleton of a stick insect (called its cuticle) has a waxy layer and this can melt if the stick insect gets too hot, leading to death of the stick insect. (In the summer this is what happens if a stick insect is left inside a parked car on a very hot sunny day, because the temperature within the car quickly soars). It is always best to follow the advice from reputable suppliers, such as Small-Life Supplies, as we do know what we are talking about! I am pleased your Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are settling in well in their ELC cage, you can look forward to these stick insects acquiring their nice pink wings in a couple of months and also gluing their eggs in the holes in the ELC white mesh sides.

The bramble plants in my garden have some dead branches, some are whole dead branches and some are part branches. I know they are definitely dead because they are a tan brown colour and very dry. I can see buds on the other stems and there are still a lot of green leaves left on those stems and so I am confused! Why are my plants dying? Is there anything I can do? It has been a lifeline having these plants growing in my garden to feed my stick insects. I only have one cage of stick insects so not that many, but I want to continue to take good care of them. I am in Northampton.
The good news is that your bramble plants are not dying, what you are seeing is the death of a few stems and branches which is completely normal for bramble/blackberry bushes. This is just how bramble plants are, many stems stay alive year after year, but other apparently healthy branches die off, shedding all their leaves and the prickly stems turning a light brown colour. In wild overgrown areas, the new stems grow on top of the old dead ones. But to cultivate bramble bushes in your garden , it is recommended to cut out the dead stems completely. February is a good time to do this because the new leaves have not yet appeared and so you can easily snip off the dead stems and branches and pull these out of the skeleton bramble bush. It's easiest to snip the dead bits into sections and pull these out, you will need some sharp seccateurs and thick gardening gloves.

My daughter enjoys collecting her Indian stick insects by letting them roll off the liner. She says it's very relaxing (she's 22 and like others is finding working from home in this lockdown a bit of a struggle). Anyhow, amongst all the more or less perfect eggs is a very small one, still perfectly formed but much smaller than the rest. Will this one hatch?
Yes, I agree with your daughter that repeatedly tilting the ELC Liner to encourage the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs to roll off is a mesmerising and calming activity. And as you have observed, most Indian stick insect eggs are standard looking ones, and the majority of these will hatch into healthy baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs). Occasionally a tiny egg is produced, such eggs are "sub standard" and an undersized sickly stick insect will emerge (if the egg hatches). When keeping stick insects, it's best to keep and breed healthy specimens and so I don't recommend saving eggs that are undersized or deformed.

I'm a first timer at keeping stick insects and have just received your Egg Kit with eight Indian stick insect eggs. I have set it up following the instructions included. Out of my eight eggs, how many are likely to hatch?
There is a very high success rate of hatching our Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus), providing that you strictly follow the instructions included. Feedback from our customers indicates the hatching success rate is between 6 and 8 eggs, so very high!

Have you any information about the stick insects turning up in Cornwall on people's houses? Is this a consequence of the climate crisis?
This has been happening for decades, we know this because every autumn and winter, some residents of Cornwall contact Small-Life Supplies very excited because a large green stick insect has appeared on the wall of their house or on their door! There are two species of stick insect, both transported accidentally on cargo ships from New Zealand to South West England in the early 1900s, and have become naturalised in balmy Cornwall. As winter approaches, the adult stick insects seek out the warmth from buildings, which is why they can be spotted on people's homes! The species are Acanthoxyla prasina and the smoother bodied Acanthoxyla inermis. Both have vivid green and brown forms. (There is a photo of the Acanthoxyla prasina adult on the cover of the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd, see the green stick insect on the bottom left of the group photograph). The New Zealand stick insect populations survive outdoors in Cornwall, they live about one year, with the adults dying off in the winter and the eggs hatching in late Spring. The climate crisis has had no effect on these populations, because they are still small in number and have not migrated further north and so are still restricted to the South West of England, particularly Cornwall.

A parent has given our nursery four giant African land snails, all around 4cm long. I want to give them the best home and so have just ordered your HLQ snail tank bundle. Unfortunately the lady who donated her snails just kept them in a storage tub half full with soil and said they were always buried in the soil which is why she and her son lost interest. I don't think she knew much about how to care for them . Anyway, I am worried that such a dramatic change in enclosure might be a bit of shock to them? What do you think? Should I maybe put a bit of soil in the new enclosure? I will be guided by your expertise!
It's great that your nursery school now has some Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) to look after. These snails do really well in nursery schools because they are warm environments with lots going on (snails are very curious and are most active when they see lots happening around them). I suggest you set up the HLQ tank following the instructions supplied and place the special wet grey HLQ Liner on the floor (this increases the humidity and also provides a soft landing area should a snail accidentally fall off the roof). Then, gently hold each snail under a running tap of lukewarm water (not hot water) for a few seconds and gently rub the shell to remove the traces of dirt. Be very careful not to let any water enter the snail's breathing hole (this is a really obvious large hole underneath the snail). Once the snails are in their new clean enclosure they will start to explore and this will delight the children. Don't be tempted to put in any soil yet. You only need a small pot of soil when the snails are ready to bury eggs and yours aren't large enough to do this yet.

Is the ELC stick insect cage cat-proof? Tabitha my ten year old tabby cat takes a keen interest in nature! I hope to purchase the Thailand stick insect nymphs and the ELC cage bundle.
There have always been cats at Small-Life Supplies and so we know how appealing stick insects are to most cats! (Although it very much depends on the individual cat, most cats are interested in the stick insects but a few cats are not). The ELC cage is a strong cage with very robust sides and so will not be damaged if a cat repeatedly taps the side of the cage with its paws and claws. Having kept various breeds of cat including Tabby, Bombay black, Maine Coon and British Shorthair, I know none of these could work out how to lift the lid off the ELC cage, but there have been reports of Siamese cats knowing what to do! As Tabitha is a tabby cat interested in insects, you need to place the cage somewhere where she cannot knock the cage off. The ELC cage would be a suitable cage for your Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and will not be damaged by Tabitha patting the sides. (Don't be tempted to use a cage made from fabric or fine metal mesh because this will quickly be torn or dented by her claws and paws).

Please can you tell me if Pink Winged stick insects are included in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd? If so, I would like to buy a signed copy, how do I go about this? I live in Bristol and am working at home for the forseeable!
Yes, there is a whole section on Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) in the book "Keeping Stick Insects", giving details on sizes of these stick insects, how to encourage the adults to fly and descriptions of the eggs and the unusual behaviour of gluing the eggs to rough surfaces. New copies of this book are being dispatched to customers across the UK by courier. So delivery to Bristol is no problem and the driver will knock on your door and then stand back 2 metres to observe social distancing. You can order a signed copy over the phone, by calling 01733 203358. Or send an email to cindi@small-life.co.uk saying you want to buy a signed copy of the book. Or you can order a signed copy on-line from nu monday, here is the link: https://www.numonday.com/product/book-keeping-stick-insects-signed-copy-on-request/

I'm looking to purchase one of your stick insect kits for my little girl who will be 5 in three weeks time. She already has a strong interest in nature and will take good care of them, under my supervision of course. Would you advise us getting the Indian stick insects or the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects? We'll be getting the ELC bundle as well and we are lucky enough to live in the country so there is lots of bramble around us.
It's great that your daughter likes nature and I am sure she will retain this interest for many years to come. I expect she will want to handle her new pets and so I recommend selecting the option of four adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) rather than four nymphs (immature ones). This is because at 11cm long the adults are twice the size of the large nymphs and so are better suited for being handled by a young child. These adults are just starting to lay eggs and so your daughter can have fun in collecting some of these eggs and she can look forward to hatching out the baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) in four months time. The Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) are a bit harder to keep, prefer eucalyptus to eat, and also the adult males have wings and need to fly, so keeping that species is more challenging so not recommended for someone just starting out with keeping stick insects.

I'm completing a school topic on insects and am stuck on question three "name an insect that protects its young and explain how it achieves this". Can you help?
Yes, the female earwig (order Dermaptera). Unlike most insects, the female earwig takes great care of her eggs and young. She lays about forty eggs in a hole. Every day she licks each one clean! She broods her eggs like a hen. She even helps the young out of their eggshells. The offspring are white & stay with her in the hole. She then makes boxing gloves out of dried mud and puts these on her back feet. She uses these to punch enemies! She stays in the same place to lay more eggs. This is so she can protect her first family while guarding her next batch of eggs. The young earwigs look like their parents except they are much smaller and white instead of brown. Earwigs grow by climbing out of their skins and are adult within six months.

My question is about misting. Is there anything special about your "Mister Curvy" sprayers or would any plant sprayer suffice? I think I have one lying about somewhere but I don't know what's it's been used for in the past, so I'm thinking it would probably be a good idea to buy a new one to be on the safe side?
When keeping stick insects, it is important to lightly mist the leaves with water so the stick insects can drink from the droplets on the leaves. Ideally this should be done once a day, preferably in the late afternoon or evening. (However, this frequency is not critical and so it doesn't matter of you forget and miss a day or two). Try to avoid getting the actual stick insects wet and don't randomly mist inside the cage, instead direct the water spray at the leaves only. A fine mist is preferable to a strong jet of water and here at Small-Life Supplies, we set the adjustable nozzle of each Mister Curvy to emit a fine mist before we dispatch them. So the Mister Curvy you receive is set correctly and ready for immediate use. It is very risky to use an old plant sprayer if it may have contained liquid with harmful chemicals, so I'd definitely recommend playing safe and purchasing a new Mister Curvy specifically to use on the leaves in your stick insect cage.

Our two Malaysian stick insects that we purchased from you last year don't seem to be that active in their ELC cage, but when we take them out they both go for a good explore across the floor! Is this normal? They are really great by the way and have provided us all with much entertainment and enjoyment. We are thrilled as the female, Martha, is now gifting us with huge eggs and so we very much look forward to those hatching next year!
I am pleased your Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are doing well and yes, the behaviour you describe is completely normal for that species. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we regularly take out all our Malaysian stick insects out of their ELC cages and let them walk across the floor because they do like to have a lot of exercise. And yes their eggs are relatively large for stick insects, being 8mm x 5 mm. Hatching of Malaysian stick insect eggs does take a very long time, typically one and a half years, but is well worth the wait!

My Indian Eri are all in cocoons. When they emerge, what do the adults eat? And can I breed them? If not, can I buy some more from you?
It's good news that your Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars/silkworms have successfully pupated and are undergoing their metamorphosis within their pupae protected by their white cocoons. You can look forward to the adult Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini) emerging in a couple of weeks or so. If you are lucky enough to have both males and females, they will mate in the TTQ cage and then the adult female will start to neatly glue her white eggs in rows on the sides of the TTQ cage. These silkmoths are large but generally not very active within the cage. So it is recommended to take them out of the cage in the evening and let them fly within the room. Some are keen to fly, others less so. After a few short flights, they can be placed back inside the TTQ cage. The adult Indian Eri silkmoths do not have mouthparts and so do not eat or drink. They live about one week and then die. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we continue to breed Indian Eri silkmoths and our next batch of caterpillars/silkworms should be ready to send out in the Spring.

I live in Cumbria and would very much like to purchase one of your ELC stick insect cages as my existing home-made tank needs upgrading! The issue is that I don't have PayPal and work nights so I can't phone you and pay by card. How can I proceed?
You can purchase the ELC cage safely anytime online on the https://www.numonday.com/product/elc-stick-insect-cage-enclosure/ website. Pay there securely online and we shall dispatch the cage to you promptly. As you are asleep during the day, please let us know where the driver can safely leave the parcel without disturbing you (for example in the porch, or in the garden etc).

Any tips on how to get my Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects to eat more? They are all OK but I'm concerned because they don't seem to be eating that much. They just seem to nibble at the bramble and eucalyptus, I put one stem of each into the Sprig Pot and replace these once a week.
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) should have hearty appetites, so you are right to be concerned if yours are just having small nibbles of the leaves. At this time of year (January), the leaves are of poorer quality and a bit drier than they are in the summer months. So, I'd recommend putting more leaves into the cage, we use two Sprig Pots full of leaves rather than just one Sprig Pot full during the winter months. Give them the thick juicy looking green bramble leaves instead of the thin, drier looking types. And try to gather eucalyptus leaves that don't look too dry and ones that don't have small nobbles underneath the leaves. Garden rose leaves are still nutritious at this time of year and so you can also give your stick insects these leaves (provided of course you haven't sprayed them with any pesticides last summer). Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects also benefit from direct sunshine, so try to position the cage in a room that is south facing and gets lots of natural sunshine (but don't put the cage on a windowsill because this is subject to extreme temperatures). Many stick insects do well at a daytime room temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and night time temperature of 12 degrees Celsius, but Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects will eat more at hotter temperatures and so you could also move them to a warmer place in your home (and preferably with a south facing window as explained above).

We are so pleased because all 8 of the eggs you sent us for Christmas have hatched! The hatching was spread out but we are so pleased to have had 100% success! One stick insect shed her skin this morning, it was so exciting for us to see. I am so glad I found your company. We have the ELC cage and are looking forward to seeing our stick insects grow.
That's great to hear, I am delighted that your Egg Kit with Indian stick insect eggs has been such a success.

I am seeing conflicting answers on the stick insect forums about exactly what is the green blob that appears at the end of the adult male stick insects. Some people say blood, some say "naughty bits". Enlighten me please?
It's usually the male genitalia. So when the adult male is ready to mate, his equipment is on show and this is within the green rubbery blob that appears at the end of his abdomen. It's usually green, but can be blue or brown. After mating, it is put away and so is no longer visible. Stick insect blood is green but is a liquid and so looks completely different to the genitalia. Also, the blood does not disappear but dries to form a dark green scab. Stick insects can cut themselves if they fall on a sharp bramble thorn but usually the sightings of the green blob on the end of the male's body are his genitalia or in your words his "naughty bits". Stick insects mate regularly throughout their adult lives and so it is not uncommon to see this if you keep them in a cage at home. Mating usually continues for several hours.

Do you sell rooted bramble plants? We would like to have stick insects again and I thought it would be best to buy our own plant to source their food rather than collecting it on walks around the village.
Small-Life Supplies do sell rooted bramble plants, but these will be available later in the year. However it takes about two years for these to become large sprawling bramble plants, so this is more of a long term solution. The best place to plant them is by a sunny fence or wall. You can use our "climbing hooks" to train the bramble to grow upwards and cover the fence or wall. Please ask to go on the waiting list and you'll be contacted as soon as the plants are ready to send out. Please don't be tempted to buy a potted bramble plant from a garden centre because many are routinely grown in compost containing pesticides which are active for 12 months, and these poisons are taken up within the plant stems and so can't be washed off.

I got some Indian stick insect eggs from you for Christmas and the label says they were laid on 26th September 2020. They haven't hatched yet, should I be worried?
No, don't be worried. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we label up when eggs are laid and always keep control batches corresponding to those dispatched to customers. Eggs laid earlier in September 2020 are hatching out nicely, but our control batch of eggs laid on 26th September 2020 have not started to hatch yet, so there is no cause for concern. Just be patient and you will see the little babies (called first instar nymphs) hatching in January!

We received our stick insects earlier this month, they are great, thank you. They were active at first but now are not moving much. We see the poo on the Liner and bits missing from the leaves, so they are definitely still alive! The only change we've made since getting them is to place the cage by our Christmas light display, this is on 24/7 so could this be affecting them? I'm not sure how aware stick insects are of their surroundings?
Stick insects are very aware of their surroundings, as well as having two "normal" eyes either side of their head, they also have extra "simple" eyes on the top of their head (to detect light intensity) and their antennae are full of sensory hairs inputting data from their surroundings. When keeping stick insects, it is really important that they have light during the day and complete darkness at night. So your permanent light display will be causing massive stress to your stick insects and this is why they are now so inactive. Fortunately you can easily resolve this issue by moving the cage of stick insects somewhere else in your house which has light during the day but is dark at night. Or you could switch off your light display after 10pm at night.

I have always given Babs and Mags (my two female Macleays Spectre adults) fresh eucalyptus every week. Knowing how busy I'd be with all the festivities, I put in extra eucalyptus two weeks ago, thinking it would last and the weird thing is that although there are still lots of leaves in there that are green, they are so very dry and some just drop off when you touch them. As soon as I realised this today I raced to rescue Babs and Mags but they have both died, nestled in these dry leaves. I feel so awful, these stick insects were not old and so I know I am responsible. I know you can't help on this one, but thought my sad tale may help others from making the same mistake.
I am sorry to hear this and can sympathise, because the appearance of eucalyptus leaves from a distance can be very misleading. At this time of year (winter) the eucalyptus leaves can dry up within about one week, even when stood in a Sprig Pot of water, but this is not immediately obvious unlike bramble (blackberry) leaves which shrivel up when they have died. So as you have observed, dead, inedible eucalyptus leaves may still look OK, but feel brittle and readily fall off the stem. So it is very important to give Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) fresh eucalyptus leaves every week, and to be on the safe side, you can also put in some fresh bramble (blackberry) leaves, also stood in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water to keep fresh.

What's the maximum size of Indian stick insect that I can keep in the QBOX enclosure?
When an Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) reaches a total length (including body and front legs outstretched) of 3.5cm she should be transferred from the QBOX to the larger more airy ELC stick insect cage. But don't transfer her on the day she sheds her skin and becomes this size because she will be weak after her skin-change (ecdysis). So wait a few days to give her time to regain her strength. Remember to lightly mist the bramble (blackberry) leaves in the ELC cage once a day so she can drink from the water droplets on the leaves. And stand the cut stems of foodplant in the Sprig Pot of cold water so that the leaves will stay fresh for approx one week.

I'm gutted as Ginny, my favourite New Guinea stick insect, has died of old age. She was two and a half and was a real character, always the first to walk out of the cage and up my arm! I am going to bury her in the garden. My brother says I'm too soft and she was only an insect, but I felt a special connection to her. He says I should chuck her in the bin. What do you think?
You sound like a sensitive person who has indeed formed a special bond with Ginny. So ignore your mean brother and bury Ginny in the garden with dignity. Many people are genuinely upset when their pets die and this is nothing to be ashamed of. Also you are correct in realising that New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) have different personalities.

I'm keeping Peruvian Black Beauty (Peruphasma schultei) stick insect nymphs and they currently aren't showing any size difference, so wondering if they're perhaps a group of all the same sex. Although I know they reproduce sexually, I've read one of your previous answers which I believe said "all stick insects can reproduce parthenogenetically" - so does this include these guys? I'm not particularly fussed about breeding either way, but it'd be good to know if I'll be expecting eggs if I did end up with an all girl group.
Normally, the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects (Peruphasma schultei) have males and females in roughly equal numbers, so the adults mate regularly and the females lay fertilised eggs. However, if no males are present, the female stick insects revert to "emergency mode" and reproduce by parthenogenesis. So yes, expect eggs if you have only have females. With sexual species such as this, it is always better to have males because the resultant offspring will be more healthy.

Will Small-Life be open between Christmas and New Year?
Small-Life Supplies will be answering the phone and responding to emails on 29th, 30th and 31st December 2020. And of course, being an insect farmer, we are still feeding and looking after all the insects (and snails) that we breed every day! Small-Life Supplies continues to follow government guidelines and is not permitting any visitors to our premises during this COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to accept orders to be delivered to customers' homes and workplaces, these orders shall be dispatched in January to customers nationwide.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that when I owned stick insects (over forty years ago!) mine ate privet? They were just the common or garden ones.
Yes, you most probably had the Indian stick insect, Carausius morosus. For decades these did indeed do very well on privet leaves. But about twenty years ago, for some unknown reason, many Indian stick insects (including the ones reared at Small-Life Supplies) suddenly refused to eat privet leaves! This was very strange, but fortunately they ate bramble (blackberry) leaves enthusiastically and have been eating these leaves ever since. Our Indian stick insects will happily eat other types of leaves, including wild dog rose leaves and hazel leaves, but most still refuse to eat privet leaves which is why we recommend bramble leaves for them.

Are there any aquatic caterpillars in the UK like the ones in Japan?
It is not common, but yes, there are some aquatic caterpillars (larvae) in the UK. For example, the Brown China Mark Moth (Nymphula nympheata). This belongs to the Pyralid family of moths. The eggs are laid underneath the leaves of aquatic plants (pondweed, bur-reed and frog-bit) and hatch in July. The larvae make floating oval shelters from the leaf fragments and then stay in the water, eating the leaf from underneath for the next eleven months! After this time, they pupate between leaves just above the water surface and emerge into a small brown patterned moth approx 1.5cm long.

Angela, my Indian stick insect, has just started to lay eggs! Reading your advice, I see I need a QBOX for her eggs. My question is should I put kitchen roll in the bottom of the QBOX? Or do I need your QBOX Liners? I am so excited, she has made me very happy!
That's good news and Angela will continue to lay eggs every day for the next seven months, so don't save too many eggs or you will have too many baby stick insects! Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs are best stored in an empty QBOX with the lid on. So don't put any floor covering in the QBOX for the eggs. The Liners are needed when the eggs hatch and you are housing the baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) in the QBOX. It's important to keep stick insects in clean surroundings and so the QBOX liner should be replaced every few days. QBOX Liners are not expensive, a pack of twenty is 1.20 pounds. Kitchen roll is not recommended because it is absorbent and dries out the surroundings too much.

I have a leopard spotted gecko but can I allow some stick insects to live with him? Will he eat them they are about half the size of him .... not sure of their genus or species as they were gifted to me as their owner had to rehome them.
Please house the stick insects separately from the gecko. As you know geckos are insectivorous and need to eat live insects. So it would be very stressful for the stick insects (and potentially fatal for them) to be housed with this lizard.

I wondered if it was possible for the Indian stick insect egg kit to be delivered nearer to Christmas as it is a surprise Christmas present for my son & I was hoping he would get to watch the eggs hatch?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies is still processing Christmas orders. We will try to arrange delivery nearer to Christmas, but it's best to be as flexible as possible regarding delivery because we can only dispatch stick insect egg kits during mild nights (when it is warm enough for the eggs to travel safely). We are monitoring the nightly weather forecast daily and will let you know in advance when delivery will be. The eggs we are sending out for Christmas are due to hatch late December 2020 and so your son shouldn't have to wait too long before seeing the babies (called first instar nymphs). Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs usually hatch at night and the process of hatching is very fast (within minutes), so it is unlikely he will get to see the actual hatching process, although not impossible because some eggs do hatch out during the daytime.

I was out earlier today getting bramble for my stick insects from a disused area by the town carpark. I noticed a lot of the leaves now have some dark spots on them. I gathered the best looking ones, so TBH they don't look too bad, they are still green, but they are not as pristine looking as they were in the summer. This is my first year at keeping stick insects, so should I be concerned or is this just a winter thing and nothing to be concerned about?
There is no need to be concerned about bramble leaves that have minor marks or discoloration. You are correct in assuming that in the winter months the bramble leaves are going to be of poorer quality than in the summer months. And you are doing the right thing in harvesting the best looking ones. As long as the bramble (blackberry) leaves are mostly green and look "juicy" and not dry, it does not matter if they have a few marks on them. The leaves to avoid are the brown and yellow leaves, and also ones which are covered in black spots on the uppersides or covered with orange blotches (called "rust") on the undersides. At this time of year, the best bramble bushes to harvest from are those with two-tone stems, half green and half purple.

My son's gutted because both his Indian stick insects have died. We had been feeding them with bramble leaves but heard they liked rose and so I bought a small potted rose plant. I washed the leaves to wash off the pesticides but the stick insects were jerking which I was told was pesticide poisoning?
Never buy a potted plant and feed it to your stick insects without first checking with the supplier that no pesticides have been used in the soil. Many potted plants are routinely grown with pesticides added into the soil and these chemicals are active for a whole 12 months. These pesticides travel from the soil to within the plant and so are inside the leaves, meaning they cannot be washed off. Any insect that eats these leaves will unknowingly consume the pesticide, and then suffer a slow death, twitching uncontrollably because the insect's nervous system is damaged by these chemicals. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can eat rose leaves but these must be from a safe source, for example dog rose plants that are found outdoors, growing in wild overgrown areas (similar to where bramble (blackberry) is found).

I have just ordered some of your Indian Eri silkworms by phone. I already have the TTQ cage and was advised to also purchase a Privet Platform, so I did, but please can you explain to me how I should be using this?
The Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) that we are currently sending out to customers are 2cm long and are living in the HUA Pot. When they outgrow this container, the caterpillars should be transferred to the TTQ cage (this has one ventilated side and so is ideal for these caterpillars). The Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars like to eat privet from stems that are vertical (rather than being piled horizontally in a heap). So the Privet Platform is ideal for this because it is full of holes, each one being the diameter of a privet stem. So just push eight or so stems through eight holes in the Privet Platform (space them out so the caterpillars can climb up and eat the leaves easily). If you push each stem about 2cm though the hole, the Privet Platform will be stable and the privet will keep standing upright. Do not stand the stems in water because, like many caterpillars, the Indian Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars do best if fed with fresh cut stems. Obviously take out the bare stalks and replace with fresh privet sprigs as necessary.

Is it too early to order stick insects for Christmas? Can I request delivery week beginning 21st December?
You can order stick insects for Christmas now from Small-Life Supplies. Most orders should be delivered week beginning 14th December 2020, and we'll let you know in advance what day delivery will be. The stick insects (and stick insect egg kits) can be hidden in a wardrobe or a spare room until Christmas Day. And, if you order fresh cut bramble, that can be delivered at the same time to make feeding easy. The week beginning 21st December is Christmas week and the express delivery services are likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of parcels, leading to delays. We always prioritise the welfare of the creatures and so we won't be dispatching livestock that week.

Is there any benefit in replenishing the bramble twice a week rather than once a week? How tall should the stems be? I'm planning on acquiring four Indian stick insects and one of the Small-Life ELC enclosure bundles.
Changing the fresh bramble leaves once a week is recommended. Just push a couple of bramble sprigs about 35cm tall into a Sprig Pot filled with cold tap water. Always choose the best looking sprigs you can, those with nice healthy looking green bramble (blackberry) leaves (because these will be the most nutritious for your stick insects). Mist the leaves lightly with cold tap water, preferably in the late afternoon or early evening, because that is the time of day when Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) like to have a drink. Replenishing the food twice weekly is wasteful, and can cause unnecessary stress to your stick insects.

I'm housing Thailand stick insects and North East Vietnamese stick insects in one of your AUC cages and they all seem to be thriving. It's the first time I've kept North East Vietnamese stick insects (I got them from Small-Life Supplies as nymphs earlier this year), and so I don't know what their eggs look like?
The AUC cage is excellent for adult Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina), and I am pleased your stick insects are doing well. The eggs of the North East Vietnamese stick insect really are very unusual because they are so very long and thin, they are over four times the length of Thailand stick insect eggs! A photo of these two species of stick insect egg side by side has recently been uploaded on the Small-Life Supplies Facebook page, so if you visit that page you can see the difference!

Have you still got some of those "grade B" ELC cages for sale? I work at a rescue and someone dropped off a tank rammed full of Thailand stick insects. Some of the dear souls have got curved bodies, from being so overcrowded, so I need several cages!
Small-Life Supplies manufacture ELC cages in the UK. Completed cages are checked at quality control and any cages that do not meet the quality control standard are put aside and labelled as "grade B". Such cages are still brand new but have minor scratches or marks on the panels, and so are offered cut-price. Please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 to check current availability of "grade B" ELC cages. It is sad when people overcrowd their stick insects because such overcrowding does lead to deformities, notably curved bodies as you have seen. If this curvature is in the adults, it can not be corrected. However, the nymphs can straighten out their bodies a bit at each successive skin-change (ecdysis) if kept in the proper cage (ELC cage) and not overcrowded.

We have managed to successfully hatch some nymphs (Indian), at what point can they go into the big cage from the cube, as I am conscious the cube doesn't have air holes in it?
You don't need to worry that the QBOX is not ventilated, plenty of fresh air enters the QBOX when you lift the lid off to insert a fresh wet bramble leaf every couple of days. (You can even leave the QBOX closed for up to a week and the stick insects will not suffocate!) Indian stick insects do best in non-ventilated surroundings for the first month or two of their lives and then they need more space and air and so should be transferred to the ELC cage. It is important no to overcrowd your stick insects in the QBOX so only keep up to twelve baby stick insects (first instar nymphs) in one QBOX, or up to six second instar nymphs (approx six weeks old) in one QBOX.

Is it true that Indian stick insects will only eat certain species of leaves later on in life if they have eaten those types of leaves as babies? So, for example, if I want to feed Indian stick insects with rose leaves later on, is it imperative to feed them rose leaves before these stick insects complete their first moult? My Indian stick insects are young and eating bramble leaves, but when I stay with my gran (I hope!) in the summer I am hoping to use some of her rose leaves to feed them?
No. The claim that older stick insects can only eat what they ate as first instar nymphs (babies) is false. Our Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are only given bramble (blackberry) leaves to eat for the first few months of their lives, but this does not stop them eating rose leaves when they are older. In fact they like to eat wild dog rose leaves, garden rose leaves, hazel leaves and eucalyptus leaves. So your stick insects should be fine if you give them rose leaves from your gran's garden. But first, please check that she hasn't sprayed her roses with any pesticides, and also make sure that the rose bushes have been in the garden for at least one year (because it takes 12 months for the pesticides in the potting compost to break down and not be harmful to insects).

I’ve got a male Macleays Spectre and its just recently shed and now has full size wings. Although one wing appears not to have opened out properly and a couple of its legs now seem to be backwards. He’s walking like he can’t control the direction of his legs properly. He was fine before this shed. Anything I can do?
Unfortunately, occasionally, stick insects make a mess of their skin-change (ecdysis) and this is what has happened to your male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum). There is nothing you can do to mend his legs or wing. It is now up to him whether he wants to continue with life, so you will need to wait and see if he continues to eat and live, or decides to stop eating and die. Small-Life Supplies has some fully grown young adults (with perfect wings and legs) of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect for sale, so please get in touch if you'd like to purchase some. They are dispatched with smooth eucalyptus leaves so they travel safely (and there is no risk of their wings being torn by sharp bramble thorns in transit.)

I collected bramble for my stick insects today and as I was pushing it into the Sprig Pot, I spotted two ladybirds cuddled up together under one of the leaves! I put them in a QBOX and they soon started moving around, so my questions are (i) is it normal for ladybirds to be around in November in Dagenham? and (ii) will they be OK overnight in the QBOX, or should I head back to the bramble area now ?
Ladybirds hibernate over winter, typically hiding in curled up dead leaves or clustering on the underside of slightly curled green bramble leaves. The ladybirds you found will have become active because they have warmed up in the QBOX in your home and feel exposed, causing them to seek shelter. So you should put a bramble leaf in the QBOX for them to hide under. You can wait till tomorrow before putting them back in the bramble area if it's too dark to go there now.

With Lockdown 2.0 now in action, please can you let us know if you are still open?
Small-Life Supplies are remaining fully operational throughout Lockdown 2.0. We continue to dispatch parcels daily. Customer visits to our premises are not permitted. For those in our Production & Dispatch teams, we are following COVID secure guidelines. The courier drivers continue to adopt the ‘No Contact Delivery Practice’ and so will take a photograph as proof of delivery instead of a signature.

I looked up the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon before I taught the children in my class and came across this: "Cocoons are specific to moths, while chryslises are formed by butterflies. Moths spin silk around themselves and molt inside the silk casing. This provides extra warmth and protection from the surrounding environment." But - yikes - I've just seen your answer to someone else with a similar query (pupa vs chrysalis) and read your response. Do I need to 'unteach' my children this information, is this not accurate? It's quite overwhelming for us primary school teachers who are not given this information from one reliable source - we have to research many things before teaching and I really want to make sure we get it right!
Oh gosh, yes you do need to re-teach the children, so they have the correct facts. My earlier answer explaining that "chrysalis" is the word used for a gold pupa is correct and the examples I gave were for British insects. Of course there are other insects across the world which also have gold pupae and so these can be called chrysalises too. The American Monarch pupa is green but has gold dots and so that is why many people refer to that pupa as a chrysalis. However, most butterfly pupae do not have any gold and so should not be called chrysalises, the correct term is pupae. The claim that "moths spin silk around themselves" is misleading. Actually the majority of moth species do not do this, they have hard brown pupae, hidden just under the soil. There are some moth pupae (included silkmoths and some other families) which are surrounded by silk (spun by the fully grown caterpillar as it enters pupation). And other moth pupae are surrounded by a loose sac they make out of soil granules or bits of leaf they stick together. Some butterfly pupae, for example the Skippers (Hesperiidae), also fabricate cocoons out of silk and bits of leaf to protect the pupae. So the claim that "cocoons are specific to moths" is incorrect because some butterflies have cocoons too.

Still got the boxes of eucalyptus in stock? Would be good for my Macleays. Never given eucalyptus to my Pink Winged though, would they eat it?
Lots of our fresh cut eucalyptus is being sent out at the moment because it is on special discount! When it is sold out, it will disappear from the website, we only list items that are in stock and ready to be dispatched. Your Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) should eat (and enjoy) the eucalyptus leaves. I advise putting both bramble leaves and eucalyptus leaves in their cage because your stick insects have never seen eucalyptus before and so may be a bit cautious about eating it at first. Our Pink Winged stick insects are keen to eat eucalyptus. Pink Winged stick insects that eat eucalyptus have bodies that are greener in colour, than those that eat bramble.

Do I need a heat mat for my stick insects? When I got up this morning the digital reading was 13 degrees. I am working at home and it is 20 degrees in the day. My stick insects seem OK (I got them from Small-Life Supplies and have four Indian stick insects in an ELC enclosure) but I thought I'd check because I want the best for them.
You could check what temperature your room thermostat is set to at night. Many people set this to 12 degrees Celsius. This means that the room temperature will not dip below 12 degrees Celsius at night and this is fine for many species of stick insect, including Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). So an early morning reading of 13 degrees Celsius is no cause for concern. I do not recommend heat mats because they can dry out the surroundings (and the leaves) too much, which can be detrimental to the stick insects. Stick insects need a warm daytime temperature, ideally between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius, so at 20 degrees Celsius during the day, your stick insects are in an optimum environment! Remember to mist the bramble leaves in the late afternoon or early evening so the stick insects can have a drink form the water droplets on the leaves.

My daughter's birthday is in a couple of weeks and she's been pestering me for ages about having her own stick insects. So three questions, are you still able to send out the ELC bundle and stick insects (what with this latest lockdown)? And could she have two species together, she wants both Indian stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects? And should I order now or later (are you likely to run out of stock?)
The Small-Life Supplies website is frequently updated and so any item listed on the website is in stock. We breed large numbers of easy to keep species of stick insect and currently have lots of Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in stock, with more hatching daily. Our Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) temporarily sold out , but more nymphs are just coming up to the optimum size for sending and so this species will be back listed on the website very soon. It is really important that stick insects are shipped when they are robust enough to travel and so that is why we do not send out baby stick insects. You can house Indian stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects together safely in the same ELC cage, there is plenty of room for four of each type. Small-Life Supplies is still allowed to work, despite this second lockdown, and so yes, we can dispatch the ELC bundle and the stick insects to be delivered for your daughter's birthday. Please order now and request delivery nearer to her birthday.

I have found a eucalyptus tree overhanging the pavement and I thought great, a handy food supply for my eight Macleays Spectre. But on closer examination, the leaves feel rough and have nodules on the underside. Will these be OK for my stickies, or should I look elsewhere?
Don't give the stick insects diseased leaves (unless you have absolutely no other choice). Eucalyptus leaves should be smooth and healthy. At the moment Small-Life Supplies is sending out fresh cut eucalyptus leaves, we have just uploaded a photo to show that our leaves are nice and healthy. We have loads at the moment and so it is on special offer.

One question about Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects - on the note enclosed with the stick insects it said that these stick insects prefer leaves not to be misted, should I provide water in a different form for them to drink?
When keeping Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) there are two things you need to do to be successful with the large nymphs. Firstly, they like an airy cage, so the ELC stick insect cage is ideal. Secondly, unlike other stick insects, Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects do best if they are not given additional water. They get enough moisture from the leaves. So don't mist the leaves or provide a shallow dish of water. If you ignore this advice, it is likely you will see that these stick insects become addicted to drinking water, and unfortunately soon fall ill and succumb to the virus which affects this species (manifesting in the classic symptoms of floppy abdomen and death a few weeks later).

If I just got one Indian stick insect, could I keep her in the TTQ cage?
This is not recommended. Stick insects like company of their own kind and so that is why Small-Life Supplies sells them in small groups of four. So we would not sell one on its own. Indian stick insects do best in a cage with two mesh sides, so the ELC cage is ideal. The TTQ cage only has one mesh side. And of course the ELC stick insect is the correct height for most stick insects (51cm tall), whereas the TTQ cage (which is primarily a cage for a praying mantis or large silkworms) is only 38cm tall. It is so important to keep stick insects in a tall cage so that they have plenty of room to grow properly.

Just wondering if you had any ex-display or used stick insect cages for sale at the moment?
We don't at the moment but we do have a few "grade B" ELC stick insect cages in stock. These are brand new but are reduced in price because they have minor marks and scratches. So the price is £42.50 per "grade B" ELC cage or £49.99 for the "grade B" ELC cage bundle. Delivery extra. These cages are supplied fully assembled in a large box and so are ready to be used immediately. They are offered to customers within mainland UK only. To place an order, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 , or email cindi@small-life.co.uk

On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is the most important) what figure do you give to the importance of having a mesh lid on a stick insect enclosure which has adult Indian stick insects living in it?
The answer depends on where else the ventilation is in the cage. So, if you are keeping stick insects in a properly designed stick insect cage with two mesh sides (such as the ELC cage), my answer would be 1 because that cage already has optimum ventilation and adding a mesh roof would make the surroundings too airy. However, if you are housing stick insects in a glass tank (with four solid glass sides) then the answer would be 5 because adult Indian stick insects need ventilation in their cage. However, just roof ventilation is far from ideal because it does not provide the circulation of air that stick insects need.

I received four female Indian stick insects a few weeks ago and now have collected some eggs which I have in a QBOX. Will these hatch? I’m worried they won’t hatch if I have no male stick insects so the eggs won’t be fertilised? I’m hoping to demonstrate life cycles to my year 5 children so would really like them to hatch.
The eggs are very likely to hatch, so it's important not to save too many eggs or you will have too many stick insects! Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) reproduce by "parthenogenesis" which means that females lay eggs (without mating) that hatch into more females. You are very unlikely to see a male Indian stick insect (they occur 1 in every 10000 females), males are not required for this species to reproduce.

The Indian Eri silkmoths we got from you laid eggs and we noticed they are changing colour, no longer white but dark grey, are they going mouldy? Thing is I don't see how as we haven't misted them and they are glued on the white mesh side (of the TTQ cage).
No, they aren't going mouldy, they are about to hatch! So congratulations and tomorrow, be prepared for seeing baby caterpillars, they are tiny, about 3mm long, and cluster around their empty eggshells. You can carefully transfer them to a QBOX (using the end of a small artist's paintbrush) and place a privet leaf in there. They will slowly congregate on the privet leaf and start eating it.

Please can you mention the recent death of Martin White on your page?. Many of us are releasing healthy larvae and seeing the success of this, and I feel such efforts should be acknowledged and applauded.
Yes, for decades Martin White was actively rearing British butterfly and moth larvae for "rewilding", both by himself and via his customers. He kept accurate records of his work and was keen to encourage others to help nature. The release of native healthy caterpillars has undoubtedly boosted the British populations of certain butterflies and moths. The species of British caterpillars that Small-Life Supplies rear are naturally widespread across the UK and we too encourage people to breed and release these in their gardens to help new populations get established. Of course this has to be combined with providing the correct foodplant for the caterpillars, so, for example with the British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua), it's important to encourage bramble (blackberry) to grow by a fence or wall in the garden.

I'm trying to teach my kids about insects and am getting so confused I thought I'd ask you! We have been gripped by watching our British Vapourer caterpillars develop, and I know the scientific word for caterpillar is larva. Your information sheet says they become "pupae" but a lot of the other educational resources on-line say that larvae become "chrysalises"? So please tell me what the difference is between a pupa and a chrysalis?
Caterpillars (larvae) grow by climbing out of their skins, until they are as large as they will grow. The caterpillar then undergoes a massive transformation by shedding its skin for the final time and becomes a pupa. A few species of caterpillars make gold pupae, these are called chrysalises, after the Greek word "chrysos" which means gold. The caterpillars which are able to make these gold coloured pupae/chrysalises are small in number, and belong to the Vanessid family of butterflies (these include the familiar British Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies). However, the vast majority of pupae are not gold in colour, they are brown, and so it is incorrect to call these chrysalises, they should just be called pupae. Pupae can be encased in a cocoon spun from fibres (as seen with the British Vapourer) or many pupae are buried just underneath the soil.

Do stick insects get ill? My Macleays Spectre are dying one by one, they can't seem to hold their tails up anymore, they're still young but look sick?
Stick insects should not get ill if they are hatched from healthy adults and looked after properly, so this means housing them in the correctly ventilated cage and giving them suitable fresh leaves to eat. However, one species, the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) can succumb to a viral infection, showing the symptoms you describe. Death follows within weeks and it is important not to replenish the cage immediately with new stocks because the infection can pass to them with fatal results. When purchasing Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, it is essential to only purchase them from breeders who are sending out healthy specimens (which can curl their abdomens up and walk around with the abdomen curled above the body). Avoid buying these stick insects if they are dragging their bodies and advise the seller that these stick insects are unwell and should not be sold.

Would a UV lamp be beneficial to my stick insects?
No, a UV light is not necessary. Your stick insects will be fine if kept in an ELC stick insect cage that is in a room with or without a window. Here at Small-Life Supplies we have reared large numbers of stick insects in rooms with and without access to natural light and for most species of stick insect it makes no difference to their health. The exception is the Guadeloupe stick insect (Lamponius guerini) which benefits from direct sunshine, and so if you intend keeping that species, I'd recommend you house them in a cage kept in a sunny room.

Does your ELC Cage come apart? For cleaning? If so, is it easy to put back together again? And what is the best cleaning product to use?
The ELC cage is supplied ready assembled in a large box and should NOT be dismantled. A soft Cleaning Sponge is included with the ELC cage bundle (and you can buy additional Cleaning Sponges separately at £1 each). Every month you can take the stick insects out of the cage and then wash it with lukewarm (or cold) water. Any stains can be easily removed by pouring some "Parozone stain remover" (sold in hardware outlets in a silver bottle) onto the Cleaning Sponge and gently rubbing the affected area. Rinse well with cool water. Never use hot water because this will permanently distort the plastic panels. Dry the cage with a soft cotton tea towel.

Are you selling stick insects for Christmas? I'd like some for my daughter, she's been asking for some for ages.
Small-Life Supplies breeds stick insects in large numbers and also manufactures stick insect cages, here in the UK. So there is no shortage of supply of these items. In previous years, December is always a very busy time, because stick insects are a popular Christmas gift. However, this year there may be an issue with express deliveries before Christmas due to the delivery drivers being overwhelmed by huge numbers of parcels and potentially more COVID-19 restrictions, who knows? There are no delivery problems at the moment and so we are recommending customers get their Christmas presents delivered early this year, just in case the delivery situation gets a lot worse in December.

I have long regarded Small-Life Supplies as the trusted source for stick insect advice, and have recommended you to others. I have several adult Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects in the ELC cage (of course!). I have noticed that Freddie (one of the adult males) has recently started to look darker, but is still behaving as he normally does? He completed his last ecdysis in March and loves to fly. He's not reaching the end of the road is he?
Thank you for your positive comments and I am pleased that your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) have been a success. Darkening can occur in this species when the stick insects are old and nearing the end of their life. As Freddie has been adult for seven months, he is quite old now and so won't have long to live. I have noticed that male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects that like to fly a lot often die earlier than their less active brothers, so that is probably why he is the first to darken in colour.

I have only just discovered your page, despite being stick insect daft for years. We have one that was a surprise addition when buying a Prickly insect and we have no idea what it is. Can you help to identify from these pictures please? We have had it two months and it has tripled in size.
Your photos show a nice green healthy Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus). She is fully grown (as shown by her red tops to her front legs), so keep a look out for her round brown eggs with yellow lids that she will be dropping on the floor of the cage. She will lay eggs every day for the next seven months or so, and it is important not to keep too many eggs or you will have too many stick insects! Like your Prickly stick insect (usually called the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect, Extatosoma tiaratum) your Indian stick insect does well in a well-ventilated cage (such as the ELC stick insect cage). Store her eggs in the QBOX and they will start hatching after approximately four months. Indian stick insects reproduce by parthenogenesis which means that they are all female and the eggs laid by an adult female will hatch into more females.

I wonder what cage is most suitable for leaf insects?
There are different species of leaf insect, the commonly kept ones do well in the TTQ cage when small and then transferred to the ELC cage when they are medium sized nymphs. Adults do well in the ELC cage.

I have just ordered some Sprig Pots as I had a bit of a drama with one of my Indian stick insects dropping in the jamjar of water! I fished her out and she didn't move, so I thought she's drowned. But then a few hours later she was OK again! What happened?
Stick insects have breathing holes (called spiracles) regularly spaced along both sides of their abdomen. If the stick insect is submerged in water, it can close these spiracles for several hours. When the stick insect is rescued it takes a while for her to recover, but usually within several hours she is back to normal. This is what happened to your stick insect, which is why she did not drown. It is fortunate you found her when you did, because stick insects can only close their spiracles for a few hours. If it had been the next day before you spotted her, she would have been in the water too long and would have died. The Sprig Pots are excellent for preventing stick insects dropping in water because the Sprig Pots just have one central hole and are supplied with a cotton wool ball to plug any gaps around the bramble stems.

My room gets chilly at night, so I'd like to get one of those oil-filled radiators you recommend. Like others, I'm not going anywhere at the moment due to COVID-19 and so I'm hoping you can recommend somewhere that can deliver one to me fast (before the cold weather arrives!). I'm in Daventry, Northants. I am the proud owner of fourteen Indian stick insects and they live in the ELC cage.
Yes, an oil-filled radiator is an excellent choice for people who keep stick insects in a room that gets chilly at night. It is important to purchase the 500 Watt model (and not a more powerful one) , this can be left safely switched on all night and will emit a gentle warmth. Place it by the table which has your ELC cage on, positioning the radiator about 50cm away from one of the mesh sides. Radio Spares online has these 500 Watt oil-filled radiators in stock at the moment, price £28.36, and they deliver to your home in Daventry. Here is the link https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/space-heaters-radiators/7126073/

Absolutely love the snail HLQ cage, totally fabulous, thank you. Can my GALS eat fruit?
Yes, Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) can eat some fruit. They like apples and pears, so you can place cut slices (or just the outer peelings) on a dish and place this on the wet HLQ Liner. Don't use bananas because these decay very quickly and can attract small fruit flies.

My Indian sticks are all now mature and producing eggs. How long can I now expect the adults to live? During the warm summer they only took 3 -4 months to reach maturity. Is it OK to feed the surplus eggs to my chickens as a treat, any risk to the chickens/problem with the food supply given we eat the (chicken) eggs? Otherwise is pouring boiling water over the eggs the best way to ensure they don't hatch?
Adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) usually live approx seven months. And yes, there are no health issues with feeding their eggs to the chickens, we have customers who have been doing this successfully for years! If you stop keeping chickens, then the most effective method of disposing of Indian stick insect eggs is to pour hot water over the eggs, just tip the eggs and frass /poo/droppings from the cage Liner into a dish , boil a kettle and pour the hot water on top of the mixture.

I have about 9 juveniles that I raised and they eventually mated and laid eggs. About 20 eggs have hatched within the last 4 days, and I noticed that about half of them have some sort of deformity - missing two legs, slightly bent bodies and bodies that are bent back on itself. So far, 5 of them have died. I really don't know why this is the case as I have stored the eggs very carefully in the suitable environment.
This could be due to poor genetic stock, or it could be due to the container the eggs were stored in. As with all animals, it is best to purchase your stick insects from a reputable breeder who keeps strong healthy strains of each species. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we only save the eggs from the best healthy specimens. We store our stick insect eggs in QBOXES which are manufactured from a type of plastic that does not emit harmful fumes. There are other types of plastic that can emit low levels of fumes and these chemicals can cause deformities amongst stick insects.

I only have a few ELC Liners left, so am about to order some more . Do the stick insects have any colour preference when it comes to Liners?
ELC cage Liners are available in green, blue and pink. For many stick insects the colour of cage Liner doesn't seem to matter. However Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do seem to prefer to glue their eggs onto pale blue paper. It's best to use an ELC Liner on the floor of the ELC cage and replace this every week. ELC Liners are much better than kitchen roll, this is because the latter is absorbent and so tends to dry out the surroundings.

Like you, I "get" nature, and I try to spread this message to others. Please can you remind folk of the crime of HS2 that is continuing, especially the cutting down of ancient woods in Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire that is happening now! More on-the-ground support is needed, and financial donations too. Search for the "stop HS2" group and the "HS2 rebellion" group, both are working hard to stop this madness. Giving up is not an option for us.
Yes, it is utterly absurd that the HS2 high speed rail link building project is continuing in England. It is even more ridiculous now because in the UK there has been a massive shift towards home-working (due to COVID-19), with all indications that this will be a permanent shift in British working behaviour. Train usage has plummeted whilst the demand for access to green wild areas has massively increased. Hardly reported on the news, the few remaining precious and much loved ancient trees (some 300 years old) are still being cut down, more cherished nature reserves are being destroyed, and the rampant disregard for all wildlife continues. Yet there is still a bewildering belief amongst the people in charge that this ill-thought out scheme should continue and that mass ecocide is OK? The insults fly at these individuals and organisations on social media, the accusers being traumatised at witnessing such obscene vandalism. And the claim that this wilful catastrophic ecological damage will be offset by mass planting of trees and shrubs being planted elsewhere in the UK is false, a convenient myth perpetuated by non-biologists.

I want stick insects but I feel bad about the idea of destroying the eggs. Would a solution be for me to just get males?
Whilst it is true that you won't get any eggs from male stick insects, keeping only male stick insects is not a good solution. This is because adult stick insects mate regularly throughout their adult lives , which can be at least seven months, and so it would be mean to have only males in the cage. So it would be better to have a mix of both genders. Female stick insects do lay a lot of eggs during their life and this is because in Nature, the vast majority of the eggs perish. The eggs may be eaten or crushed by other creatures , or succumb to being water-logged. So you shouldn't feel bad about stopping eggs from developing. The quickest method is every week to tip the mixture of eggs and poo/droppings (frass) on the cage Liner into a dish. Boil a kettle and and then pour some boiling water on top of the mixture in the dish. Allow to cool and then discard, safe in the knowledge that the eggs are no longer viable.

I'd like to send an ELC cage to Belfast for my sister's birthday later this month. I see that delivery is £9.95 in England, but what is it to Northern Ireland? I am used to paying surcharges to get stuff over there!
Yes, delivery for the ELC cage within mainland UK is £9.95 and the ELC cage is supplied ready-assembled in a large box which is very strong (we have this packaging made specially). Deliveries to Belfast, Northern Ireland, are calculated on the volume of the box, so for these deliveries, we send the ELC cage flat-packed to minimise the volume. The delivery price to send one ELC cage to Belfast, Northern Ireland is £18. When you have ordered, we email you a short video to show you how to assemble the ELC cage, this is easy and quick to accomplish.

My Indian stick insects usually rest on the white mesh of the ELC cage, near the top. They are not at all camouflaged there, so I am surprised at this. I thought they would prefer to hang off the bramble stems?
The behaviour of your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) is normal for pet stick insects. Indian stick insects like to group together with each other, so it is normal to see several grouped together, sometimes at different angles. The healthiest specimens always congregate at the top of the cage, leaving the weakest ones at the bottom. Indian stick insects like to rest on the white mesh of the ELC cage because they can get a firm grip around the optimum sized holes in the mesh. This means the stick insects can relax, safe in the knowledge they will not fall. Hanging off bramble stems is not as comfortable for them, which is why these stick insects prefer to rest on the white mesh sides.

I'm with David Mitchell who was saying this week on BBC Radio 2 how ridiculous it is when equal weight is being given to opinion and scientific fact. The flat earth numpties being a case in point. So just a large thumbs up to you to carry on spreading the science about insects!
Thank you for your support. I do agree with you and David Mitchell, unfortunately some people are now accusing David Mitchell of being a "grumpy old man", which seems to be the default insult!

I have a small collection of just four Pink Winged stick insects but they have been a great help to me over the recent difficult months. I have just returned from a brisk walk with more fresh bramble for them. I don't have a dog and have always felt a bit self-conscious walking around fields by myself before, but now I am getting bramble I have a focus and feel much more confident. Today I noticed a large wild rose bush next to one of the brambles, the leaves are still green and I wondered if I should get some for my Pink Winged stick insects? I have only ever given them bramble leaves before and so am unsure if they would be brave enough to eat it?
I am pleased that you are enjoying keeping stick insects and are benefitting from the experience. And yes, Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do like to eat wild rose leaves. So I suggest you snip a couple of rose stems and push those into the Sprig Pot of water along with the stems of bramble leaves. This gives the stick insects a choice of what to eat, but I expect they will be tempted by the rose leaves! It doesn't matter that your stick insects haven't eaten rose leaves before, the preferred foodplants of Pink Winged stick insects are bramble, rose and eucalyptus.

Would there be an award for videoing a male Indian stick insect mating with a female Indian stick insect? I'm thinking yes, surely?
It would certainly be major news in the insect world to capture this rare event. Hopefully someone will record this event soon, the race is on! Male Indian stick insects are extremely rare, occuring 1 in every 10000 females!

I purchased an AUC cage from you a few months ago, I need another for my Thailand stick insects, but can't see AUCs on your site? Will they be back in stock soon?
The original AUC cage had a white aluminium frame and blue mesh. These are currently out of stock, but a new version, the same size but with a black aluminium frame and blue mesh will be listed soon. If you have a lot of Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) then housing them in the AUC cage is an excellent choice because this cage is much larger than the ELC cage and so can accommodate lots of Thailand stick insects.

I'm after a Stick Insect Egg Kit for my daughter, for Christmas. Do you still sell these?
Yes, the Small-Life Supplies "Stick Insect Egg Kit" is always one of our most popular products at Christmas. The eggs that are included are due to hatch early January, so just after the hustle and bustle of Christmas! Please contact us directly to go on the waiting-list for this item and you will be invoiced nearer the time of dispatch. Eight Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs are sent together with the appropriate housing and advice sheet.

The Malaysian stick insects we bought from you this year have grown into majestic adults, evidently smitten with each other as they mate every few days, for hours at a time! Is this normal? No eggs yet though?
Our adult Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are mating a lot too, and other customers who have received insects from this year's batch are reporting the same, so this is a good sign and there is no cause for concern. It usually takes a few weeks before the adult female's body swells with eggs. When she has a very fat body, you need to place the Sand Pit in the ELC cage (by a mesh side) so she can bury her eggs in the dry sand. Adult Malaysian stick insects have large appetites and so it's a good idea to put two Sprig Pots of juicy bramble leaves in the cage. Adult Malaysian stick insects also drink a a lot of water, so as well as misting the bramble leaves in the evening, you can also put a shallow Water Dish on the Liner in the ELC cage. Fill the Water Dish with cold tap water and replace this water daily so that the water is clean for them to drink.

Is it my imagination, or is the bramble in better shape this year? My patch is full of green leaves, with new growth even! Last year some was yellowing and so I had to hunt further afield.
You are correct, it is a great year for good quality bramble (blackberry) leaves. Our bramble bushes are still lush and green, and like you have observed, still producing new leaves, even though it is autumn. Perhaps the increased light intensity (due to lack of air travel and associated "global dimming") is partly responsible, or maybe it is just that the weather conditions have generally been more favourable to bramble plants this year. Either way, it is great that there is so much nice green bramble leaves leaves around, so ample food to feed people's stick insects!

We bought 4 Indian and 2 Australian stick insects from you last week which my son loves, thank you!! I am just slightly concerned as because of the two types living together, you advised to take the Indians out every 2-3 days onto a second Sprig Pot to spray with water. The problem is the insects seem to be in “stick” mode most of the time, not sure if this is normal? I am worried that they won’t drink in the time they’re out as they seem so inactive and if there is a better way to do this? The Australians are doing really well and the Indians are laying eggs so I presume they’re OK but why are they just hanging most of the time?
Your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are still settling in to their new surroundings and so will become more active over the coming weeks as they relax and get used to you and your son. It can help to handle them at a particular time in the day, so they get used to the routine and become more active around that time. Their ears are by their knees and so it's a good idea to talk to them in a calm voice because this will help them to relax. It's best to lightly mist the bramble leaves with water first and then take the Indian stick insects out of the cage, handle them and place them on the wet leaves whilst talking to them. Late afternoon or early evening is a good time to handle them and encourage them to have a drink of water.

Do you send your cages to Belfast?
Yes, ELC cages, TTQ cages and HLQ cages are all sent to Belfast (Northern Ireland) via UPS courier. These cages are dispatched flat-packed and we email you a short video showing how to assemble the cage. Assembly is easy and quick, only taking a few minutes. Flat-packed cages are only dispatched to customers who live outside mainland UK. (Customers living in mainland UK receive cages ready built).

I have four adult Indian stick insects 13 months old. I had fifteen eggs hatch in May. All apart from one are a lovely pale green. I have one very thin, delicate brown one with red on on the thorax and it's really pretty.  The antennae are much longer than the others. Could it be a male?  It's end is different from the green ones. I know that the chances are one in 10000. I have attached photos.  Also tonight when I was taking out the adults and the young ones from the big tank into a big plastic tub so I could clean out their tank, I noticed the brown one climb on the back of one of the adults. It curled the end of its tail around the back end of the adult female then put the end of his body  inside the end of the female's body for a couple seconds then took it out. Could I have a rare male? Is this mating? I was like wow!!
Congratulations! Yes, I can see clearly from your photos that you have a really rare adult male Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus)! He looks nice and healthy and it's great that you have witnessed him mating. Next time, please be ready to take a photo or video of him mating because this is such a rare (and quick) event, it would be a huge achievement if it could be recorded.

My cat, Fluffs, loves to chase butterflies and other insects in the garden. Do you think she will bother my stick insects? I plan to order the ELC bundle and Australian stick insects later this month and am trying to work out where the best place would be for them.
Many cats are interested in insects, so it sounds like Fluffs will show an interest in your stick insects! Fortunately the ELC cage is strong and sturdy and so even if she pats the sides with her paws, she will not damage the ELC cage. The cats at Small-Life Supplies show varying amounts of interest in the stick insects but none have ever managed to get into any of the cages or cause any harm to the stick insects. The best place for a cage of stick insects is on a table or a shelf. Avoid windowsills because these are subject to extremes of temperature and avoid the floor because this is too draughty. With pet cats it is worth remembering that if you use "Stronghold spot on" flea treatment (or a similar product applied to the back of the neck of the cat), you must keep the cat in a different room to the stick insects for at least 24 hours, to prevent the chemicals used in this treatment from killing your stick insects.

About twenty Indian stick insect eggs have hatched in the past four days, these are eggs laid from my adult stick insects and have been incubated by me so I know they’ve been stored safely and correctly. So my problem is, I had a nymph hatch around three days ago, I woke up and saw her newly hatched in the tank. All of the others are normal, however the front of her body is completely twisted back on itself. I hoped it was due to hatching and it would straighten but it’s been over three days and she’s not changed one bit. She can walk but not in a straight line and falls over a lot. I’ve been putting leaves right in front of her in the hopes that she will eat however I haven’t seen her doing so yet. What do you think the cause of this is and will it correct? Is there anything I can do to help her (photos and video attached).
Unfortunately this is a severe deformity and she's unlikely to survive. Stick insects are very occasionally born with slightly bent bodies, and can cope with this. However, your stick insect's thorax is bent back on itself, which means that as well as having difficulty in walking, she will not be able to perform her first skin-change successfully. That is why she has decided not to eat and effectively bring her life to an end quickly. Thankfully your others are OK and so it appears that this stick insect is just very unfortunate. She has freed herself completely from her eggshell which is good, however her thorax is too badly bent for her to continue with life. As with all dying stick insects, the kindest action is to place wet leaves near her so she can drink water to ease her final hours.

We were hesitant about transferring our Indian stick insect nymphs up to the ELC cage, but since we have they have blossomed and are growing fast! Would two Sprig Pots be better than one? They eat a lot of bramble!
Yes, many people keep two Sprig Pots of fresh cut bramble in the ELC cage. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) like to see a lot of bramble (blackberry) leaves and so it's always best to be generous with the amount of fresh leaves you provide for them.

My Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are now adults, the males have lovely big wings and are terrific at whizzing around the room. Yesterday, it was late and I noticed both of them had a tan coloured rubbery thing coming out of their back ends. They still had a fly around the room, with this on show, is this normal?
As you have probably guessed, the "tan coloured rubbery thing" is part of the male genitalia. So your males were both preparing to mate with the females, but when you offered them the opportunity to have a fly around the room, they could not resist. It sounds like they are very good at flying (some are better than others) and enjoy flying . They usually fly without their genitalia on show, but are able to fly with the genitalia out if the opportunity to fly presents itself and they are really keen to fly.

I'm getting Indian stick insects for my Year 7 class. We're so excited! I am planning on leaving the cage at school over the weekend but am concerned it may get a bit chilly in the winter? Any tips? Our school was built in the 1970s and takes a while to warm up on a Monday morning in winter.
Many schools keep stick insects successfully in the classroom and lab, and Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are a great choice because they are one of the most hardy stick insects. Ideally the day time temperature should be around 18 - 21 degrees Celsius, and the night time temperature approximately 12 degrees Celsius. Schools with poor insulation will get cold at night, but most have frost-stats to stop the temperature dropping below freezing. (Indian stick insects must always be kept above freezing). So your stick insects should be OK but you can help by taking the following steps. You could purchase a portable 500 Watt oil-filled radiator (price £29 from Radio Spares), position this near the ventilated side of the ELC cage, and plug it into a wall socket on Friday afternoon. It is safe to leave switched on all weekend and is very economical to run, costing approximately 10 pence per hour. It is really important to purchase the 500 Watt oil-filled radiator and not a more powerful one, because the stick insects just require a bit of extra warmth and this is what a 500W oil-filled radiator achieves very effectively.

My daughter wants some Giant African snails for Christmas and so I am chuffed to have found your site. All around I am seeing prices go up and so I am just checking that if I ordered now could you guarantee supplying the items in December at today's prices? And are your stocks of cages held in the UK or are they coming in from China?
Right from its inception in 1985, Small-Life Supplies has always designed and manufactured insect cages and snail cages in the UK. It is a core company policy! So our cages are precision made in the UK and stored in the UK ready for dispatch. And our insects and snails are captive-bred in our breeding facility in the UK. We routinely delay dispatch of orders for birthdays and Christmas etc, so yes, please proceed and order now, requesting delivery nearer to Christmas. You will be debited at today's prices and not charged any more.

Thrilled with the Macleays you sent us, they have been an instant hit with the whole family. We shall be keeping some eggs for sure. Our garden isn't huge but there is a sunny bit at the back where we could plant a eucalyptus. But the eucalyptus plants have disappeared from your site, when will they be back in stock? Can the plant be delivered safely?
Small-Life only have a few large potted eucalyptus plants left in stock, so please get in touch if you'd like one. All are approx 1 metre tall but have varying amounts of leaves and so are priced accordingly (the most expensive are the bushiest and the cheapest are the ones that have been pruned). They are all growing well and so will continue to produce more leaves. Thinking ahead, you will need eucalyptus leaves next Spring when your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) eggs start to hatch, so it makes sense to plant the eucalyptus now, to give it time to get established. Our eucalyptus plants are expertly packaged in bespoke packaging and so will arrive in excellent condition. They are sent on a next-day courier to minimise transit time.

I think it would be reasonable to keep 4 Indian Stick Insects and 2 Australian Macleays Spectre together in an ELC cage, could you confirm if this would be OK for the insects?
Yes, there is plenty of space in the ELC cage to house these numbers of stick insects. And both Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) do well in the ELC cage because this cage is tall (51cm) and has two ventilated sides with the correct size of holes (that don't snag the claws on the feet of the stick insects). However you do need to be aware that these species have different water requirements. Unlike many other species of stick insects, the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects do best if the bramble (and eucalyptus) leaves are NOT misted with water. But the Indian stick insects DO like the leaves to misted with water (so the stick insects can then drink from the water droplets on the leaves). So, when keeping both these species together in the same cage, it is important to never mist the leaves inside the cage. Instead, have another Sprig Pot containing bramble leaves outside the cage and every few days mist those leaves with water and then carefully take the Indian stick insects out of the cage and place them on the wet leaves. Indian stick insects only drink water for a short time (a few minutes maximum) and so when they start to move away from the wet leaves, these stick insects can be placed back inside the ELC cage.

I read online that every day you need to move stick insects onto the leaves so they can eat. That seems like a lot of faff! Is it fake?
When keeping stick insects you certainly should not be having to move them onto the leaves every day. If they are being housed correctly stick insects can move around unaided. So before keeping stick insects it is important to look at the size of the holes in the enclosure. Unfortunately some enclosures have holes that are far too small and these trap the claws on the stick insects' feet, making it difficult for the stick insects to move around freely. In such circumstances, you will see the stick insects moving awkwardly and tugging to free each foot as they walk. The solution is to rehouse the stick insect in a cage with larger hole size mesh. The stick insects can then walk freely around the cage and onto the leaves when they are hungry. All the stick insect cages that Small-Life Supplies design and manufacture have the correct sized holes for housing stick insects.

Our North East Vietnamese stick insects that we got from you earlier this year are now enormous! At the time you only had pink AUC Liners, which my son isn't too keen about! We have almost finished the packet and wondered if there are any other colours available? Also, what's the best enclosure for their eggs?
Glad your North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina) are doing well, these are certainly very impressive stick insects, some have stripes and large lobes on their legs. They do well in the AUC cage and you can pick up their really long eggs and store these in the HUA Pot. The nymphs can be housed in the TTQ cage or the ELC cage until they are too large and then they can be transferred to the AUC cage so they have plenty of space to grow properly. The pink AUC Liners have all been sold and now we have green AUC Liners available.

 I was just wondering at what age the Indian stick insects could move from the QBOX to the ELC insect house? Do they need something in between? The holes look too big in the side of the insect house to contain them.
The QBOX is ideal for housing up to twelve baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), these are called "first instar nymphs". When they are about one month old, the stick insects will have completed their first skin-change and can be transferred to the ventilated ELC cage. The stick insects are now called "second instar nymphs". Or, if you prefer, you can keep them in QBOXES for a few more weeks until they have completed a second skin-change, and become "third instar nymphs". Only keep up to six second instar nymphs in a QBOX. We rear large numbers of Indian stick insects using these methods and know that they definitely do not get out through the holes in the ELC cage. So, you can be confident that the QBOX to ELC cage method works really well and you do not have to worry about escapees!

I'm looking for a cheap pet for Christmas for my daughter, who is eight. Someone suggested stick insects are cheap pets? Is this true? Do you sell stick insects for Christmas? She loves animals but there's no way I can afford to buy pet food now that I've lost my job and my car.
Stick insects are cheap to feed, because you can collect their food (bramble leaves) from wild overgrown areas. Hopefully you have suitable areas nearby which you can walk or cycle to? You will need some gardening gloves and a pair of seccateurs to snip the bramble (choose the stems with juicy green leaves). Stick insects are low maintenance because they only need feeding once a week, you keep the stems with leaves fresh by standing them in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water. Stick insects can be handled by a sensible eight year old, and so I am sure your daughter will enjoy having her own to look after. The main outlay is the ELC stick insect cage (£52.50) , but it is important to have the correct housing so that the stick insects are kept in the proper conditions so will be healthy. The Christmas stick insect orders are dispatched in mid December, but you can place your order anytime from September onwards and request "Christmas stick insect delivery". The Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are a popular choice for a novice stick insect keeper, these are easy to handle and look after, and eat bramble/blackberry leaves. Everything is delivered together and the cage is supplied ready built so there is no assembly to do.

One of my stick insects suffered a really bad moult and so I put her on the birdtable. A magpie soon swooped down and ate her. I thought I'd share this with you and your followers because it gave me some comfort to know that her misfortune was not in vain.
Yes, in nature some birds eat insects and so you did the right thing. The magpie had a meal and the injured stick insect died quickly.

 What do you do if a stick insect is hatched but the egg is still stuck to her tail?
Hold onto the eggshell with your fingers and you will feel her pulling as she tries to break free. Usually she will be successful and and be able to pull her abdomen out of the eggshell completely. An unsuccessful outcome is when she frees herself from the eggshell but in so doing the inner white sac lining the eggshell is pulled out of the eggshell and this remains attached to her abdomen. The reason why it is important to intervene when an eggshell is still attached to the tail is because this prevents the stick insect from defecating. If the eggshell is attached to one or more legs but not the tail, the eggshell should be left alone for it will come off at the first skin-change, still attached to the old skin.

 Following your advice, I bought some of your bramble plants and planted them by my wooden fence earlier this year. They are doing really well but are now started to trail across the ground? Is there anyway I can encourage them to grow upwards?
Yes, it's really easy to get bramble to grow up a fence. Just buy some "32mm cup hooks" and screw these into the wooden fence, at various heights. You can then position the bramble across the fence, using the hooks to secure the stems. This needs to be done carefully so you don't damage the stems. For extra security, thicker stems can be tied to the cup hooks with a piece of string (tie the string very loosely around the stem so as not to constrict it's future growth).

 I saw your site and it's been very informative, especially with the misinformation out there. My partner and I have four lovable munchy Eurycantha calcarata's, and I was wondering if there is a stick insect equivalent to catnip or alcohol? I know other insects like to indulge in the odd sip of alcohol, but it seems strange since their brains and blood don't work the same way as ours. No experimentation done, just curious.
Yes, it is funny to see wasps staggering around, drunk on the alcohol from fermenting pears and apples that have dropped to the ground. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) certainly benefit from a lot of handling and being talked to. There is anecdotal evidence that they prefer some types of music too. And of course, taking adult New Guinea stick insects on a car journey encourages them to mate. Sometimes these stick insects eat petals from bramble plants and occasionally suck the blackberries and stems of bramble, but none of these illicit any unusual behavioural response. So I don't think there is an equivalent to catnip or alcohol that these stick insects would be likely to encounter in their natural environment.

 My daughter was gifted some stick insects and told to push the bramble stems into a pot of wet earth. The issue is the leaves droop so quickly we are having to collect fresh leaves every other day! I see you recommend a "Sprig Pot", does this keep the leaves fresh for longer than a day, even in hot weather?
Yes, the Sprig Pot is a handy container which you fill with cold tap water. The depth of water is approx 6cm and so this is deep enough to supply enough water to cut stems of bramble for up to one week. You can see the water level by looking at the outside of the pot and so can always top it up with water during very hot weather (when obviously the cut stems take up more water than usual). Sticking cut stems into wet soil is not recommended because there is not enough water available for the stem to suck up and so the leaves will wilt very quickly (as you have witnessed). Similarly a very shallow tub which you can only fill a couple of centimetres deep with water is not suitable either because the cut stems soak up much more water than this within days. Sprig Pots also have the advantage of having one central hole so it is easy to push the cut stems through the hole and plug any gaps with the cotton wool provided. Our Sprig Pots are made in the UK, are dishwasher safe, and always have red lids.

 Professor Phasmid, kindly tell me if you are American or British? And is your alma mater the leading university in the UK?
British, and yes, educated at one of the UK's top two universities (Cambridge University).

 Yesterday our Australian stick insect shed her skin and I have left the exoskeleton in with her but she has not eaten it? Should I remove it now?
Yes. Some stick insects eat their shed skins, others do not. For those stick insects that choose to eat their old skins/exoskeletons (the scientific word for this is exuvia), this is always done immediately after the skin-change has been completed, when the cast off skin is still soft and wet on the inside. If the cast off skin is not eaten, it soon dries and hardens, and so within hours it is too difficult to eat and so is discarded. So you need to carefully pick it up and remove it from the cage. Although brittle, the exuvia can be examined closely and is an interesting specimen. The exuviae do not degrade and so are suitable objects to be framed or used in nature art displays. Here at Small-Life Supplies we have some exuviae in plastic display boxes dating back 20+ years!

 I got a stick insect enclosure online but it's massive! I have had to put it on the floor. Which means Mrs Purrs (my cat) is interested and she has already dented the mesh in several places. Are the ELC cages cat-proof ?
The ELC cages are sturdy cages that have thick strong white plastic mesh sides that cannot be dented or damaged by a cat. Even if a cat wees on it, the mesh panel can be washed spotlessly clean. The cats at Small-Life Supplies sometimes like to watch the stick insects but the cats cannot damage the cages. It is not a good idea to have a stick insect cage on the floor because this is likely to be too chilly for the stick insects in the winter months, with cold draughts blowing across the floor. We recommend positioning the ELC cage on a shelf or table. The base of the ELC cage is fixed and so during the weekly clean-out, you can turn the cage upside down and give it a shake to dislodge any debris that may have sneaked under the ELC Liner. The ELC cage is not heavy and so can easily be lifted up and moved around (unlike glass tanks which are cumbersome and heavy).

 Is the insect fair at Kempton Park happening this October?
No, this annual event has been cancelled due to COVID-19. However, Small-Life Supplies continues to send out stick insects, caterpillars, beetles, snails, insect cages, leaves, plants, books etc and has done so throughout this pandemic. The delivery drivers are still following the "no contact delivery practice" and so you don't need to sign for the parcels when they are delivered, photographic evidence is used instead as proof of successful delivery.

 I took out my stick insects this morning and I was shocked when one of them suddenly dropped her middle leg off! These are my fully grown Indian stick insects, I have twelve in an ELC cage and so they're not overcrowded. I usually handle them in the evening but I was up early this morning and so broke the routine. Do you think this was the reason? And will she be OK?
Stick insects can get used to a routine, and so yes, she could have been alarmed at being handled at a different time and panicked. Or, very occasionally, a stick insect can panic for no obvious reason and discard a leg. Because this is an adult stick insect, she will not be able to regenerate her leg and so will have to adapt to life with five legs. She will still be able to walk OK and will have no difficulty eating because she still has both her front legs. However, she will have some hearing loss because she has lost a leg and stick insects have their ears located near their knees.

 If male stick insects only show their thingummy when they are mating and male Indians have not been observed mating, how does anyone know the colour is mid-green?
The rubbery green mass is something that the male stick insect displays just prior to mating. It surrounds the actual mating "tool". And if the male is disturbed, he can quickly retract this mass again and not proceed with mating. Male Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are very rare, with one male occuring for every 10000 females. The male Indian stick insect cannot lay any eggs and he looks completely different to the female, having a slender light brown brown body with a red underside to the thorax. At the end of his abdomen is a bulge, typical of that seen with male adults from other stick insect species where males are common (occuring in 50% of the population). When the adult male Indian stick insect is "in the mood" he displays a mid-green rubbery mass from the bulge at the end of his abdomen. Here at Small-Life Supplies Indian stick insects are reared in huge numbers and so male Indians do occur from time to time. So I have been fortunate to have witnessed this pre-mating behaviour in Indian stick insects which is why I know the colour of this rubbery mass is mid-green.

How do you distinguish a cranefly pupa from a moth pupa? I dug up a shiny brown thing in my garden that twitches at one end - I think it is a pupa of some sort?
Although both are buried just below the soil, these pupae look completely different. The crane-fly pupa is elongated, looking uniformly tubular, and has protuberances at both ends. Moth pupae are much fatter at one end and more like a teardrop in shape, and have a smooth outline. Moth pupae twitch at one end and are usually dark brown or russet brown. So you have unearthed a moth pupa. You can either pop it back in your garden, just underneath the soil, or, if you are curious to see what type of moth emerges, keep it in a HUA Pot with a little bit of soil at the bottom and some twigs arranged at angles so that the emerging moth can climb up one of these and pump out its wings properly. The pupa does not eat, but you know it is still alive because it can twitch when disturbed. Crane-flies are classified as belonging to the family Tipulidae and the order Diptera. Moths are classified as belonging to the order Lepidoptera.

The bramble plants we purchased from you have yielded lots of blackberries! Aside from crumbles, any ideas on what to do with them all? It has been a pleasure to watch the blackbirds eating them, even feeding them to their young, but there are so many some are even starting to go mouldy on the plant, so we can take a few more!
If you have a nutri-bullet or similar juicer, you can quickly make some smoothies. Use a handful of ripe blackberries, a ripe banana, a splash of orange juice and a cup of cold water and blend these for a few seconds. Store in the fridge for an hour and then you have a refreshing cold drink to enjoy later!

I interrupted my New Guinea stick insects last night. Boris was on top of Sheila and there was this blueish rubbery looking mass coming out of his bottom. Without being rude, I presume this is his ding-a-ling? Do all adult male stick insects have this strange looking "equipment"?
Yes. You have glimpsed the outer genitalia of a male stick insect. Most of the time this is not visible, but obviously when mating is imminent the adult male brings it out. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) usually mate at night. The colour varies according to the stick insect species. It is mid green in the rare Indian stick insect male (Carausius morosus).

I see so much conflicting advice online about using oak, ivy and even lettuce as foodplants. But I trust you guys and as you don't mention these foodstuffs, I guess they are not recommended? I don't want to risk harming Garth and Hetty, they are my New Guinea stick insects, whom I'm giving bramble and hazel leaves to eat (stuffed into two Sprig Pots!).
It's great that you're giving Garth and Hetty plenty of food, because New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do have large appetites! They also need a Water Dish , so hopefully you've already got one in the cage, filled with clean cold tap water? Unfortunately there is quite a bit of rubbish advice posted on-line, often by people who have no experience of successfully keeping stick insects! So always check the provenance of advice before following it. Ivy can be used as a last resort to feed Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). I do not recommend using oak or lettuce to feed stick insects. It is always sad when people contact me to say they have just fed their stick insects with these leaves and their stick insects have died soon after. As well as feeding bramble/blackberry leaves and hazel leaves to your New Guinea stick insects, you can also give them rose leaves (either garden rose or wild dog rose) to eat. Obviously if you are using garden rose leaves please check first that the rose bushes have not been sprayed with pesticides and that the plants have been in the ground for at least one year (it takes this long for the pesticides in the commercially supplied compost to break down).

Can we keep different stick insects together? We are thinking about some Thailand stick insects and Indian stick insects.
Yes, you can mix Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in the same ELC cage. Both these species do best in a cage with two mesh sides and both eat bramble/blackberry leaves (lightly mist the leaves with water in the evening so the stick insects can drink from the droplets on the leaves). It's important not to overcrowd stick insects, so a population of four Thailand stick insects and four Indian stick insects in the ELC cage would be a good choice.

 Can we take our stick insects on our staycation? We have booked a week away at a self catering cottage, surrounded by woodland, so there should be no shortage of bramble leaves! Do the stick insects travel OK in the car, we have four Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects in an ELC cage.
Yes, stick insects travel fine in the ELC cage, you can support the cage with a seatbelt in a passenger seat. Put a large piece of cardboard underneath the cage first because this will prevent you accidentally knocking the central foot off! It is very important to be aware of the temperature inside the car when you stop for breaks, because on a hot sunny day the interior temperature of a car can quickly soar to lethally high levels and kill your stick insects. So it's always best to park in the shade and leave someone standing outside the parked car with the stick insects. Never risk leaving the stick insects in a hot car because they can overheat and die very quickly, within ten minutes. You also need to contact the owners of the self-catering cottage now and request they remove all plug-in air-fresheners, in advance of your arrival, citing "allergy issues". With the alarming increase in human allergy issues, more hotels, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering cottages are receiving requests to remove their air-fresheners and so will happily comply with this request. Unfortunately the chemicals released by these products can induce bad headaches amongst sensitive people (and of course can harm your stick insects).

Is it possible to overfeed a stick insect, like it is with goldfish? I ask because I am putting in two Sprig Pots of eucalyptus and my female adult Macleays are massive, their abdomens are huge and a bit sweaty looking?
Adult female Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) stick insects do have large appetites and to have such fat looking insects as you describe is a sign that you have really healthy specimens! So please continue to give them plenty of food. Some of our Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects get so fat they look ready to burst, but fortunately they don't, they just keep laying lots of eggs! The abdomens of healthy female New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and Guadeloupe (Lamponius guerini) swell up in a similar dramatic fashion, particularly during the summer months.

Tips please for Miranda, our much loved Indian stick insect who has just started to lay eggs. Best pot to store the eggs? And how likely are we to see a male, will we ever?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) lay eggs every day throughout their adult lifespan which typically lasts for seven months. So every week, when you change the paper Liner in the ELC cage, just tilt it and Miranda's eggs will roll off. Save some of them in a QBOX and discard the rest (feed to garden birds or pour hot water over the eggs to stop them from developing further). Even if you saved all of Miranda's eggs (approximately 600) you would be unlikely to see a male because these are so rare, with one male occuring for every 10000 females. Miranda's eggs hatch by parthenogenesis into more females, hatching of Indian stick insect eggs usually takes about four months.

We are researching the correct care of stick insects and are pleased that your site is so informative. Their care seems straight forward, the cage liner replaced once a week and the food replenished once a week also. So why are some other sites complicating things, suggesting isopods, humidity gauges, even electric operated fans?!
There are always people who like to over complicate things, but one of the main advantages of keeping stick insects is that their care is so straight forward. My view is that it is better to keep things simple wherever possible and use methods of animal husbandry that are proven to work. Here at Small-Life Supplies we have tried different rearing techniques over the decades, and have concluded that the best method of keeping most stick insects successfully is in the ELC cages, which we have purpose-designed for stick insects. These cages have two mesh sides so the air-flow is natural (so no need for a fan!) and the solid floor should be lined with a disposable paper Liner, replaced weekly. This is very important because it enables the creatures to be kept in clean surroundings, and it is very easy to save the eggs you want and dispose of the rest. Isopods (woodlice) require damp conditions (soil and dead leaves) to thrive and this is the complete opposite of what most stick insects need. Indeed, having cages with damp rotting substrates (floor coverings) in the home is certainly not recommended because it is unsanitary, smells, encourages flies and mould spores, the latter of course being hazardous to human health.

Thank you so much for the Vapourer caterpillars, they are delightful with such intricate colouring. My question is regarding their preferred foodplant. I have located two bramble bushes, one has small trifoliate leaves, so a whole leaf would fit into the QBOX. The other has large trifoliate leaves, so I would need to cut one part off and put that in the QBOX. Which would be better?
It's the quality of the leaf that is important. So it's best to select a leaf that is dark green rather than pale green. And disregard leaves with blotches or rust. We usually choose the small trifoliate leaves for the caterpillars in the QBOXES and use the sprigs containing the large trifoliate leaves for the stick insects. The British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) will eat both, so it's up to you to decide which of your bramble bushes has the best looking leaves. Before putting the leaf into the QBOX, cut the whole stem off because then the leaf is easier to position inside the QBOX.

We have babies, yay! I believe they are called "L1 Indian Nymphs", is that right? Do we need to cut the edges off the wet bramble leaf to encourage them to eat? We have three so far in a QBOX and seven more eggs, will two QBOXES be enough?
Congratulations! Baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are called "First Instar Nymphs". When they shed their skin (this process is called ecdysis) for the first time , they dramatically increase in size and are called "Second Instar Nymphs". The "L1" term is not correct because it is shorthand for "Larval Stage 1" and stick insects don't have any larval stages, they have nymphal stages instead which are measured in instars. You use the L1, L2 etc numbering system for caterpillars because caterpillars are larvae, not nymphs. And no, you don't need to trim the bramble leaves, it is summer and bramble leaves are in good condition now. (But in the winter, if they have brown edges these should be trimmed off). Two QBOXES are enough, you can transfer the Indian stick insect nymphs to the ELC cage when they have completed one or two skin-changes.

I'm looking for a stick insect starter kit uk for my seven year old son. What would you recommend?
The best stick insect starter kit uk is the ELC bundle and four Indian stick insects. The ELC cage is a purpose designed stick insect cage that is delivered ready assembled. The Indian stick insects are harmless and fully grown so can be handled safely by a careful seven year old. The ELC cage has three crystal clear plastic viewing panels so your son can see his stick insects easily. The cage has two mesh sides which provide lots of ventilation so the cage doesn't steam up inside. Disposable Liners are included to put on the cage floor and a Sprig Pot is included too which you fill up with water and push in the stems of bramble leaves. A colour leaflet is included about stick insect care and everything is produced in the UK with fast delivery and live arrival guaranteed!

We have been keeping Indian stick insects for about 10 months now. We have 20 in a tank which is 45cm high x 30cm x 30cm. Recently, we have noticed that something strange on a few of their legs. It looks as though a chunk is missing, almost as though something has nibbled it! Also some legs seem shorter with a black stump on the end. We feed them well, with plenty of privet which we change weekly. We are worried they are eating each other, but I think this size tank is adequate?
Unfortunately your stick insects are now stressed and have started to nibble each other's legs. There could be one or more reasons for this. It's not the size of the tank that is the issue, but probably the ventilation. If the tank has solid sides and just top ventilation, it could be getting too stuffy inside. The warmer the weather gets, the more of a problem this lack of ventilation is. (In contrast, the proper ELC stick insect cage has two mesh sides, providing the optimum ventilation for Indian stick insects, Carausius morosus). Also, at ten months old, your stick insects are getting old (they usually live twelve months) and will need more water, so it's important to mist the leaves with cold tap water, preferably in the evening. Privet is being eaten by your stick insects, but many Indian stick insects do much better if fed with bramble leaves, so you could try putting both privet and bramble into the tank. The floor of the tank should be covered with a sheet or two of copier paper, cut to size. Avoid using soil or wet coir as a substrate because these materials will increase the humidity within the tank too much. Avoid using kitchen roll because this absorbs moisture and can reduce the humidity within the tank too much.

 I bought a mixed tub of eggs a while back from another seller and now have a mixture of hatchlings. TBH I don't know what I've got, apart from the Macleays Spectre stick insects. The thing is they all have wonky legs and although they are active, they don't live long. I'd appreciate any help you can give me.
It's a sign of poor quality genetic stock if your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) are all hatching out with wonky legs. It is normal to see an occasional sickly stick insect emerge with wonky legs, but the vast majority should have nice straight legs and be holding their bodies up and looking healthy. Many ill hatchling stick insects don't survive . Those that do survive are always unhealthy. So if you want to have a go at rearing this generation, I'd advise against saving their eggs. To give your current Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect hatchlings the best chance of survival, feed them with eucalyptus leaves and house them in an airy cage.

  I have 3x female and 2x male Thorny stick insects (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) who are hitting maturity and starting to produce ova (currently about 1 ova/day between them). I have my thornies in a setup that is 30x30x60cm - how many adults do you think would be feasible to house in this, before I need to invest in another enclosure? And what I should do once I have too many ova? I was thinking about separating the males into a different enclosure (I have a smaller setup which will be the 'nursery' once I have nymphs, and believe this species cannot reproduce via parthenogenesis). However, I have been told this is unethical as it is better to let them behave naturally and go through natural reproduction cycles, then just freeze the excess ova once I have too many.
Female Giant Sabah stick insects (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) bury their eggs in dry sand and so you'll need to put a pot of dry sand into the cage for them. Sterilised Sand Pits are available from Small-Life Supplies, also the metal sieves. Every week sieve the eggs and save those you want. Unwanted eggs should be tipped into a bowl and then pour on boiling water because this will immediately stop the eggs from developing any further. Please do not freeze the eggs because this is not 100% effective. Your enclosure can house up to six adult Giant Sabah stick insects, it is important not to overcrowd them. If you want an ELC cage to house this species, please ask for the Ventilation Control Panel to be attached, because this species needs higher humidity than many other types of stick insect. Also, Giant Sabah stick insects do need extra water and so it's important to put a shallow Water Dish (filled with clean cold tap water) on the sheets of paper lining the floor of the cage. All stick insects can revert to parthenogenesis if there are no males present and so the females will lay eggs regardless. So please continue to house both genders together, ideally with a roughly equal split of males to females, and just control the numbers of eggs you keep by using the boiling water method described.

 We have four very happy munching little Indian stick insects, named Watermelon, Mango, Cherry and Lily! I have noticed today that there appears to be eggs amongst the poop. Do I just keep adding them to the little hatch box as I see them? If so how many can I pop in there?
Adult Indian stick insects lay eggs every day, they drop their round brown eggs onto the cage floor. There's no rush to pick up the eggs, so you can wait till the end of the week when you replace the ELC Liner to sort out the eggs. The easiest way is to tilt the ELC Liner, gently tap it underneath and you can then direct the eggs that roll off into a bowl underneath. You can put some eggs in the QBOX and then discard the rest (you can place unwanted eggs on a white saucer and put this on the bird table for the garden birds to eat). Indian stick insect eggs take approximately four months to hatch, you can keep up to one hundred eggs in a QBOX, but many people choose to only save about twenty or thirty eggs to keep their stick insect population more manageable. If Indian stick insect eggs are kept in the QBOX they have a very high hatching rate (over 90% success rate).

 Your Pachnoda beetles caught my eye. Are they really that big? I thought ladybirds were our biggest flying beetles?
Pachnoda beetles are much larger than ladybirds, about four times the size! And British stag beetles and British cockchafer beetles are much larger than British ladybirds, so ladybirds are not the biggest British flying beetles. The Pachnoda beetles are naturally found in Africa but have been captive-bred in the UK for decades. You can let them walk on your fingers and they are ideal subjects for photography because they are so bright and colourful.

  I am doing life cycles with my Year 5 pupils next year so was wondering what the creature with the quickest lifecycle will be - with the most obvious stages to watch? Also, you say that stick insects should be fed on bramble and hazel - but aren't they both deciduous? What do you give them in winter - or do they hibernate?
Small-Life Supplies breed lots of British Vapourer caterpillars continuously and so these are ready now and we should have another generation ready in September. You get four colourful caterpillars, just feed them with bramble leaves and watch them grow. They spin cocoons on the side or lid of the QBOX and the adults usually emerge after 10+ days. Unlike some other suppliers which feed their caterpillars on artificial food in sealed pots, our philosophy is to encourage the children to watch the caterpillars eating real natural leaves because that is what happens naturally. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can eat hazel leaves, but yes hazel is a deciduous tree and the leaves drop off in the autumn. However, there are different species of bramble/blackberry plants growing wild in the UK and many common types retain their green leaves throughout winter. So you should have no problem in finding fresh green bramble leaves all year in the UK. Stick insects have a slow lifecycle, but you can still see the whole lifecycle within a school year. You need to keep the stick insects inside and they make great classroom pets, and are particularly appreciated by children who have no pets of their own at home. Stick insects do not hibernate. There are school topic ideas in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book.

 I am really enjoying looking after my stick insects and am looking at them much more now that I am working from home. I have four Indian stick insects. Would I be able to add a couple of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects to the same ELC cage? I know the Australians are a more bulky species but the cage looks spacious enough to accommodate both species?
Yes, you can mix Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) in the same ELC cage, providing that you don't overcrowd them. So yes, four Indian stick insects and two Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects would be fine in the ELC cage, both species like a well-ventilated cage and both eat bramble/blackberry leaves. Thinking ahead, if you'd like to breed the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects you could plant a eucalyptus tree in your garden now. Our eucalyptus trees have been grown specially without pesticdes added to the soil and so are safe for the stick insects to eat. For best results, feed the newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects on eucalyptus leaves. These stick insects can eat bramble leaves when they are a bit larger. We breed lots of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects at Small-Life Supplies and more of our medium-sized nymphs shall be ready very soon.

 Please can you advise me the best way to stop being stabbed by bramble thorns? I use gardening gloves to push the bramble stems into the Sprig Pot but some of the thorns still get through and hurt my fingers!
Your question reminded me of how new recruits were trained to feed the stick insects at Small-Life Supplies. Many initially attempted to do what you are doing. However, the correct way is to put the gardening gloves on and then to use the seccateurs to push the bramble stems into the Sprig Pot. Whilst doing this, only use light pressure on the seccateurs so you can hold the bramble stem and push it into the Sprig Pot without cutting through the stem. It takes a bit of practice but this is quite easy to learn and of course you have the reward of no more pricked fingers!

  Do you ship your TTQ praying mantis cage overseas? And if so, how long is the shipping time?
Yes. To minimise export shipping costs the TTQ cage is dispatched flat-packed. It is easy to assemble and we email you a short video showing you how to put it together. We use FedEx International Prority airmail to ship parcels overseas. Current delivery time is still very fast, even next day delivery to some countries. Please allow a few days for us to process your order and package it up carefully so it is not damaged in transit.

 I have noticed large black blotches appearing on the bramble leaves? This is happening a few days after I have collected the leaves. The leaves are green when I collect them so I don't understand what is going on? So I am having to gather twice as much bramble as I used to.
This can happen at this time of year. This phenomenon seems to occur when there hasn't been enough rain. We are seeing it too here at Small-Life Supplies. Fortunately it has rained a lot in recent days and so this problem should disappear. Meanwhile, continue discarding the bramble when you see large black blotches and gather fresh leaves because it is important that the stick insects have nice green bramble/blackberry leaves to eat.

  We would like very much to rear English caterpillars. This is new to us and so please can you tell me if it's easy to do? We live in Bournemouth and have let part of our garden grow wild. It would be fantastic if we could get a little population established there!
Yes, the British Vapourer caterpillar kits are extremely easy and many of our customers report they are so pleased with the experience and have recommended it to others. British Vapourers have a fast lifecycle and so you'd see the adults and hopefully resultant eggs within weeks! And if you purchase more than one kit, you increase your chances of getting males and females and so increase the chances of the population getting established in your garden. British Vapourer caterpillars eat bramble/blackberry leaves and so hopefully you will have some of that growing in the wild part of your garden. If you have ragwort growing in your garden (these are tall plants with ragged looking leaves and clusters of yellow flowers) you could also try the British Cinnabar caterpillar kits. These have a longer lifecycle and so you'd see the red adults next Spring.

  I have had four adult Indian Stick insects for almost a year.  I had eggs hatch from January a few weeks ago. And a couple more each day. I am not keeping anymore eggs, I am freezing them as recommended to be most humane way of disposal. The nymphs are  currently in a tall nano tank. There are ten so far at varying sizes.  I expect my adults will not have a lot longer to live. I am moving the biggest of the nymphs into my 30x30x60 enclosure. The pet shop where I got my stickies is going to take some nymphs from me. I just want enough to keep a steady supply of them so I do not have to buy again.  What I would like to know is once the nymphs reach sub adult hood how many could I keep in the big tank?  There is tons of room  in the big tank but I do not want to overcrowd.
You could keep about thirty sub-adults, or thirty Indian stick insect adults in a cage 30cm x 30cm x 60cm high. It is important not to overcrowd stick insects because this leads to them becoming stressed and fighting each other, snapping off antennae and breaking limbs. You are correct in thinking that Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) live for about one year in total. Indian stick insect eggs have a high hatching rate and so it's important not to keep too many of them or else you will get too many stick insects. Insect eggs are not sentient and so do not feel pain. They can be a useful foodsource for garden blackbirds and magpies, so it's a good idea to sort the eggs and put them on a white saucer on the bird table in the garden. After a few days the birds recognise them as food and eat them very quickly. Freezing stick insects eggs is not 100% effective, because the cold temperature can sometimes just stall their development, so when the eggs are taken out of the freezer they warm up and continue to develop.

I am expecting my Thailand stick insects and ELC cage bundle next week. Should I gather bramble beforehand so that it's all ready for their arrival? And do I need to snip off the bramble thorns ( can the stick insects even hurt themselves on the thorns? ).
Our stick insects are packaged with plenty of food and so there is no need to gather bramble in advance. So it's best to wait till they arrive and then you can gather bramble later day or the following day. Two stems, each approximately 40cm long, is sufficient food to last a cage containing six Thailand stick insects about one week. They won't eat all that in one week, but it's best to replace the leaves after one week because the quality of the leaves will be starting to deteriorate, even though the stems are stood in the Sprig Pot of cold water. Bramble thorns are not a problem for Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) , so no need to waste your time cutting the thorns off. In general the thorns are no problem for stick insects, except for some winged species which occasionally may snag an open wing on a bramble thorn (but this is very rare occurrence).


Do you sell heat pads? I am thinking I may need them for my Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs and my Malaysian stick insect eggs? Also, do I need Sand Pits for both these species?
The best way to hatch out Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs (Extatosoma tiaratum) is to put them in a HUA Pot in a warm room. About six months after they have been laid, very lightly mist the eggs with cold tap water because this helps to trigger hatching the following day. The same method should be used for Malaysian stick insect eggs (Heteropteryx dilatata), but these take much longer to hatch (one and a half years) so delay misting the eggs until 18 months have passed. Don't use heat mats. The Malaysian stick insect female buries her eggs in dry sand and so you'll need a Sand Pit for her. However, the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect female catapults her eggs across the cage and so she does not use a Sand Pit.

I know that stick insects have their ears near their knees, so if a stick insect loses a leg is it's hearing impaired until it regenerates a new leg?
Yes. Fortunately stick insects are able to regenerate legs and the scolopidial organs(required for hearing) are regenerated too, inside the leg. However if an adult stick insect loses a leg, it will suffer permanent hearing loss because adult stick insects are unable to regenerate legs because adult stick insects no longer undergo ecdysis (moulting/ skin shedding).

Some months ago, we ended up with a small number of stick insects - a mixture of Sunnys, Indians and Pink Wings. However, since then they've been breeding like crazy, laying eggs in the substrate without us noticing, and now we have too many babies. Could you please offer some suggestions as to what we can do with them?
These three species: Philippine stick insects (Sungaya inexpectata), Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are easy to breed varieties and so it's important to only keep a few eggs, to avoid getting too many offspring. So, rather than using substrate, where eggs can lay hidden and hatch out months later, it is much better to use a paper Liner on the floor of the cage and replace this weekly, saving just a few eggs. That way you avoid the problem altogether, so I recommend you ditch the substrate immediately so from now on you can easily keep control of the number of eggs saved. As for distributing your surplus stick insects, if you have lots of people walking past your door you could put out a notice saying that you have packs of six baby stick insects for sale inside (so knock on the door). Stress on the notice that an information sheet is included and six baby stick insects are already packaged up in a clear container and that you follow social distancing rules. If you are struggling to source suitable clear containers, Small-Life Supplies sell packs of HAP Pots, which are tall clear containers, ideal for housing baby stick insects. Remember to put a wet bramble leaf in the pot because baby stick insects like to drink water.

Quick question about the QBOX which I'm very pleased with. How many Indian nymphs will it hold comfortably? I've got 7 nymphs already in the QBOX (3 eggs left to hatch). 3 of the nymphs have had their first moult and are now about 3cm long. Should I move the larger ones to the ELC cage now or are they still small enough to get through the ventilation holes. Would I be better waiting for the 2nd moult? I don't want to move them too soon nor do I want it to get too crowded in the QBOX.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can be transferred to the ELC cage after their first moult. So you can transfer your three largest stick insect nymphs from the QBOX to the ELC cage. This will give the remaining ones in the QBOX more room. Continue to put a wet bramble leaf in the QBOX and remember to lightly spray the bramble leaves in the ELC cage so the stick insects houses in that cage can still drink water from the water droplets on the leaves. The bramble stems in the ELC cage need to be stood in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water because this will help keep the leaves fresh for a week or so.

Do stick insects like sugar water?
"Sugar water" is a 10% sugar solution (so to make it you need to mix one teaspoon of sugar and nine teaspoons of warm tap water). It is beneficial for pollinating insects in distress, so can be used to feed exhausted bees. It's also used to feed pollinating butterflies and moths reared in captivity if there is a shortage of available flowers. Stick insects are not pollinators and so have no need for sugar water. However, in extreme cases of starvation, you can offer stick insects sugar water (or slices of an orange) if there is absolutely no foodplant available, and this will help keep them alive for another day. Obviously such extreme situations should be very rare and you should always have plenty of proper food for your stick insects (most species eat bramble/blackberry leaves, but there are a few species which eat other leaves, such as eucalyptus and privet). Stick insects do drink water, and normal cold tap water is best. Simply fill a fine plant sprayer (such as the Mister Curvy) with cold tap water and lightly mist the leaves (not the stick insects) in the late afternoon or early evening.

Is Small-Life Supplies still sending out stick insects and cages to Chertsey during this pandemic? My son's birthday is on 8th July so when should I order?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies is still sending out livestock and equipment on a next day delivery service across the UK (with the exception of Scottish Highlands and offshore islands). So deliveries to Chertsey, Surrey are fine. Everything is packaged really well and of course live arrival is guaranteed. At this time of year we do need to monitor the weather forecast to check that it is not too hot for the creatures to travel. So if the temperature is forecast to be above 28 degrees Celsius we have to delay dispatching orders because the interior of some of the delivery vehicles (those which are not air-conditioned) soar above 30 degrees Celsius and this is too hot for the stick insects. Fortunately these "hot weather delays" usually only last a few days and so we are usually able to resume deliveries quickly. As this is a birthday present, it is best to order now and request delivery on Tuesday 7th July 2020. Be sure to mention that it is a birthday present and then we will make a note and keep you informed of any hot weather delays forecast so you can alter the delivery date if necessary.

I am teaching my children about insects but am unsure how to pronounce certain words! Do you know of an on-line resource that I could use? The three words I am struggling with are: parthenogenesis, ecdysis and vapourer. Also, we are on your waiting-list for the vapourer caterpillars, any idea when these might be back in stock?
Yes, just click on the audio icon on these links: https://www.lexico.com/definition/parthenogenesis, https://www.lexico.com/definition/ecdysis, and https://www.lexico.com/definition/vapourer. You will hear a person pronouncing these words correctly. There is only one correct way to pronounce parthenogenesis and vapourer. But there are two acceptable ways to pronounce ecdysis, the first way (voiced by the man) is the version I use. Here at Small-Life Supplies, it has been an exceptionally good year for breeding British Vapourer moths (Orgyia antiqua) and so we have lots of eggs which should be hatching very soon. Once the caterpillars have grown a bit so they are robust enough to travel, we shall be sending them out to customers across the UK. These caterpillars are brightly coloured with yellow and red patterns, and are really easy to look after, eating fresh bramble/blackberry leaves.

The four Indian stick insects arrived today, thank you so much. Where would you recommend putting them when I clean out their cage?
The Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) usually rest on the white mesh sides of the ELC cage. They have a firm grip and so even if you turn the cage upside-down (to shake out any debris that may have fallen under the ELC Liner) they cling on! So usually you just replace the Liner and the food with the stick insects still in the cage, resting on the sides. Once a month it is a good idea to wash the ELC cage with cold or lukewarm water (do not use hot water because this will distort the plastic) and use the soft Cleaning Sponge to the wipe down the panels. Before doing this, you will need to take the stick insects out of the cage first, and so it's a good idea to put them in a Pyrex basin or a salad bowl, and lay a cotton tea towel over the top to stop them from running out.

I do enjoy reading this page, and I am uplifted by good news, particularly in these difficult times. So here is some more good news for you to share to boost the spirits of all of the nature lovers out there! 11000 native trees have been just planted in a former tip at Magheraglass, Cookstown, Northern Ireland.
Great to hear this, another example of active tree planting and creation of new woodland. It is worth mentioning that it isn't enough just to plant trees. Once planted they need to be watered regularly because this will greatly increase their chances of survival. I am pleased to read that Indiwoods, the organisation behind the Magheraglass scheme, has factored in three years of aftercare, to ensure the ongoing welfare of these trees. It is also wise to plant a mixture of species of tree because this minimises the spread of any disease and also minimises losses (because many diseases are species specific). Fortunately lots of different species of tree have been planted in Magheraglass.

I'm struggling to find privet and bramble for my stick insects. I'm new to this, I am receiving my first two Indian stickies, early next week. I honestly thought privet and bramble were going to be easy to find. I live in a housing estate and I'm struggling. Do you sell bramble or privet potted plants that have been untreated?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best on bramble/blackberry leaves, these can be gathered from overgrown areas such as disused railway lines, canal embankments etc. Or you can buy fresh cut bramble from Small-Life Supplies (this stays fresh for 7-10 days if stood in water). Potted bramble is too slow growing to be viable. Lots of Indian stick insects stopped eating privet years ago, so we no longer recommend privet. However, Indian stick insects also eat wild rose leaves and hazel leaves (hazel trees grow in wet places such as river banks).

My grandchildren would love some stick insects, can Indian stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects be housed together? Also, they have a 40cm netting cube cage, would this be suitable?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) can be housed together successfully. Both types eat bramble/blackberry leaves. A 40cm netting cube cage is not recommended because it is too airy (all netting enclosures let in too much air), and 40cm height is not tall enough. The stick insects will be much healthier in the ELC cage which is the correct height (51cm) and also has two mesh sides which provide optimum ventilation. The other panels on the ELC cage are crystal clear plastic so it's easy to see the stick insects.

I'm getting some Pachnoda beetles. What do they eat?
The Pachnoda beetles are large African fruit beetles, they have chunky bodies with yellow and black markings. Pachnoda beetles are good to handle and easy to look after and do well in the ELC cage or the slightly shorter ELS cage. Both these cages have two mesh sides which is the correct ventilation for these beetles. Pachnoda beetles do best if given slices of fresh orange to eat, they also need a shallow Water Dish filled with fresh cold tap water. Dead buddleia twigs provide extra climbing surfaces for these beetles. During hot days the beetles like to fly within the cage. Sometimes they crashland upside-down on the floor and so to help them get up again it is important to put mesh rectangles on top of the cage Liner. These help the beetles to get a foothold and this helps them to right themselves quickly.

I have noticed the bramble around me has started to flower. But not all the stems. Should I be snipping the stems with the flowers or the ones without the flowers? My instinct is to leave the flowers for the bees!
The best bramble/blackberry leaves are on the thickest stems, these are the primary stems, from which other stems grow. These primary stems grow the fastest and so you can harvest some of them but this needs to be done sparingly because you need to leave as much as possible because these stems are needed to generate lots more bramble during the coming months. So at this time of year, it is probably inevitable that you will need to harvest some bramble stems with flowers. You can always leave most of the flowers behind because the bees will still visit cut flowers. The stick insects eat the actual leaves, but also sometimes eat the petals on the bramble flowers, so you can put a few sprigs of bramble with flowers still attached into your stick insect cage.

I have 7 Extatosoma tiaratum and I think they have parasites or mites on them, most likely brought in from the food. The black ones are on two and only on the mouth parts and are difficult to get off (I haven’t been able to yet without damaging the insects mouth). The red ones ping off quite easily but they are in difficult places and the insects move too much. I was wondering if you had any advice that could help, I don’t want to infest my house also!
The best way to remove detritus from stick insect mouthparts is by soaking the area with water and carefully using the tip of a fine artist's paintbrush. Great care is needed to avoid damaging the maxillary palps. Also, ill stick insects can sometimes have parts of their mouthparts going black, usually this occurs if the stick insects are being housed in surroundings that are too humid. It is difficult to determine from your photos what the black areas in the mouthparts actually are. Flicking mites off the body is best done with a dry paintbrush. Then the stick insects' cage should be thoroughly cleaned and dried to prevent a re-occurence. Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) do best in a dry airy cage, so use a cage with two or more mesh sides. It is not normal for stick insects kept in the correct conditions to have what you are seeing, so it is good that you are trying to address this issue. At the moment, here in the UK, we are having to shake and flick off aphids which are on the undersides of bramble leaves. This is to stop aphids getting into the stick insect cages and secreting their sticky "honey dew" on the walls of the cages!

One of my stick insects started blowing bubbles through her mouth. Is this normal?
This behaviour usually indicates that the stick insect is exercising its mouthparts before eating, in effect "washing" its mouthparts. Extra water is appreciated at this time, so that is why you should mist the leaves in the evening with cold tap water, because many stick insects start to eat at dusk. For those species that require more water (New Guinea, Sabah, Philippine Sunny, Malaysian) put a shallow Water Dish (of cold tap water) on the Liner of the cage.

I am thinking about getting one or two of your potted eucalyptus plants because my Extatosoma eggs are due to hatch next month. My track record with plants isn't great, do you have any tips or are these eucalyptus plants really easy to keep alive?
Our potted Eucalyptus plants are very tall (over one metre) and at this time of year are growing fast. So, for best results, you will need to either plant them outside in your garden (in a sunny place), or re-pot them into a larger plant pot (with holes in the bottom). These plants need feeding, so as well as using the frass (poo/dropppings) from your stick insects which you scatter over the soil, we also recommend using the "Baby Bio" liquid plant food which you dilute and then pour on top of the soil. At this time of year, Eucalyptus plants need daily watering, cold tap water is fine and this is best done with a watering can in the evening. Instructions are included with every plant sent out, but overall they are easy to look after and you don't need to be "green fingered" to keep them alive! It's great that you are planning ahead because it is so important to feed newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) with young tender eucalyptus leaves.

We have so enjoyed looking after our stick insects during the last ten weeks of isolation. Your ELC cage is marvellous, we can actually see the stick insects so well! So far, we have three Pink Winged stick insects and four Indian stick insects. Would there be room for a couple of Macleays Spectre too?
Yes, you could add a couple of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) into the ELC cage as well. But you wouldn't want to add any more stick insects than that because it's important not to overcrowd them. All these species eat bramble/blackberry leaves, and also eucalyptus leaves. Young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are available from Small-Life Supplies now.

What was the bible book on stick insects before the Dorothy Floyd "Keeping Stick Insects" book?
A similar sized hardback book called "Stick and Leaf Insects", written by a British biology teacher called John T Clark, who worked at Uppingham School, England. Published in 1974 this book has long been out of print, but from time to time pre-owned copies pop up on ebay at cheap prices.

I have housed the following stick insects together: Malaysians, young Green Bean and Black Beauty. I have privet, eucalyptus, bramble and oak. But my hatchling Diapherodes gigantea are not interested in the eucalyptus whatsoever, what is your view please?
Some species of stick insects can be housed successfully together in the same cage but unfortunately the combination you have is not recommended, in fact you have chosen three types that should all be housed separately! Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) do best in their own cage because their stripy antennae can be nibbled by other species of stick insect. And they need a Water Dish and pot of dry sand for the female to bury her eggs. The Grenadan (Green Bean) stick insects (Diapherodes gigantea) grow large and so are best kept in their own large airy cage. The Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects (Peruphasma schultei) can emit a spray which can irritate other stick insects (and also sensitive people and pets). The Malaysian stick insects eat bramble leaves and the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insects eat privet leaves. The Grenadan stick insects eat certain species of Eucalyptus leaves, but there are many species of eucalyptus, so perhaps you are giving them the wrong one? Also, hatchling stick insects can only eat the young tender eucalyptus leaves (the older thicker leaves can be too tough for them).

Our New Guinea stick insects are looking poorly. We have had them for two months and they have been eating bramble leaves. I read that oak was a suitable foodplant and so I put in oak which they ate, but now they are dying. I wish I had stuck with bramble now, I feel awful.
Yes, it is best to stick with using bramble leaves for most stick insects, New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) also eat hazel leaves and rose leaves. Ignore people recommending oak because these leaves can cause illness and death, as you are witnessing. Sadly there is a lot of incorrect advice online and on insect forums, posted by inexperienced people who think they are helping but who are actually not.

Does the colour of the ELC cage Liner affect the behaviour or health of the stick insects?
For most species of stick insect, the colour of the ELC cage Liner is not significant. ELC Liners are available in green, blue and pink. However, for adult Pink Winged stick insects, (Sipyloidea sipylus) , there is anecdotal evidence that they seem to prefer to glue their eggs onto the pale blue Liners. However, I don't think this observation has been properly tested scientifically yet.

Can Indian stick insects eat ivy? We have loads of it in the garden.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best if fed with bramble/blackberry leaves. They also eat hazel leaves and rose leaves. Ivy leaves should only be used as a last resort.

Can I keep different stick insects in the same enclosure? If so, any suggestions (I'd want to be able to tell them apart easily!)
Yes, you can mix Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) and Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) altogether in the same ELC cage. It's easy to differentiate these species: the Indian and Pink Winged stick insects both have long antennae, but the Pink Winged have wings as adults and noticeable wingbuds as nymphs. Thailand stick insects have very short antennae. All these stick insects eat bramble/ blackberry leaves and do well in the purpose-designed ELC stick insect cage.

I fancy having a go at keeping the Macleays Spectre stick insect. Is that a type that Small-Life Supplies breed? And any tips on getting the fancy colour morphs or is it just pot luck?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies breed the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) and our nymphs (juvenile insects) and just coming up to be the correct size to send out to customers. For best results, house these stick insects in the airy ELC cage and feed these stick insects with eucalyptus leaves. The interesting colour variations are achieved by placing twigs containing lichen into the ELC cage.

Our Indian Eri silkmoths emerged at the weekend and we now have a cluster of white eggs! Are the hatchlings easy to rear? We'd love to try!
Congratulations! The Indian Eri silkmoth eggs (Samia ricini) are white but darken the day before hatching. The baby caterpillars (called larvae) eat privet leaves and group together underneath the privet leaves. They are very easy to look after providing their surroundings are kept clean and dry (so never give them wet privet leaves to eat).

I commend your efforts on promoting nature and opposing unnecessary building and destruction of green spaces and woodland. I thought I'd share the good news that plans to "develop" 130 acres of greenbelt land near Wigan have been stopped! The government has overuled the local council's decision, thank goodness.
Thanks for sharing the good news, it is important to shout about the successes, which have resulted from campaigners and lots of people emailing and writing objection letters to the authorities. It shows that democracy can still work in the UK and it is always worth members of the public exercising their democratic right to send in an objection to any proposed development that would be detrimental (or completely destroy) natural countryside or green space.

I’m new to keeping stick insects and am interested in Aretaon asperrimus I believe that they’re called thorny stick insects but I’m finding it so hard to find anything about them online! I was just wondering if soil would be a suitable substrate for the bottom of the enclosure and also how to clean the enclosure and how often. Would I have to empty all of the soil and change it every day as it sounds very messy.
Aretaon asperrimus is the Latin species name for the Sabah stick insect, sometimes called the Sabah thorny stick insect because it is a brown spiky stick insect. It's not the best species to start with because they are not very active and can all suddenly die for no apparent reason, which is upsetting. Sabah stick insects prefer less ventilated conditions to many other stick insects, so if housing them in the ELC cage it's important to block off one of the mesh sides with cling film or a Ventilation Control Panel to reduce the air-flow. The best substrate is an ELC Liner or you can cut a large paper sheet down to size. Avoid soil because this is messy, unhygienic and will clog up the sticky pads on the stick insects' feet. When the Sabah stick insects are fully grown, they require a dish of dry sterilised sand into which the females bury their eggs. Sabah stick insects drink more water than many other species of stick insect, and so place a shallow dish of cold tap water onto the cage Liner.

Looking at getting some Australian stick insects, Macleays Spectre. Do they need a heat mat? My room is pretty warm anyway.
No, a heat mat is not necessary and has the disadvantage of drying up the air within the cage. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) do well at a daytime temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius, dropping to a night-time temperature of 12-14 degrees Celsius. That temperature range is common amongst many properties in the UK and so if your room is warm anyway, I don't think temperature will be an issue for your stick insects. Small-Life Supplies breed Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects in large numbers, and ours are hatching now and so shall be ready for sale within a few weeks. This species does best on Eucalyptus leaves rather than bramble and so we feed ours on euclayptus leaves throughout their lives. Our specially grown pesticide-free large potted eucalyptus plants are currently available to mainland UK (excluding Scottish Highlands) and are delivered by express next day courier. Australian stick insects do well in the ELC cage but do grow large, so we recommend keeping a maximum of six Australian stick insects per cage.

What would be best thing that you can supply for housing one or two leaf insects?
Just like stick insects, many leaf insects do best in airy surroundings, so the ELC cage is ideal housing for them. As the well as having two mesh sides, the ELC cage also has the huge advantage of having a crystal clear front, back and roof, so you can easily see the leaf insects. This is much better than the all-netting or all-mesh enclosures being sold by some reptile outlets, which don't offer this clear view. Leaf insects like company of their own kind, so it's best to purchase several leaf insects rather than just one on its own. But be aware that leaf insects are harder to keep than stick insects, and are more challenging to handle because of their tendency to cling onto your fingers and not let go!

Do you sell caterpillar refills? I have my QBOXES from last year and would love to do the caterpillar thing again!
Yes, you can buy caterpillar refills from Small-Life Supplies. The British Vapourer caterpillars are being sent out to customers now. Up to four caterpillars can live happily in the crystal clear QBOX, eating fresh bramble/blackberry leaves. The cocoons are spun on the sides or lid of the QBOX and the adults emerge a week or two later. It's best to release the adults outside, this is a British species naturally widespread across the UK and so it is OK to set them free outdoors. When you order the caterpillar refill, don't forget to ask for more QBOX Liners if you have run out of these.

My five year old would love some pet insects. Stick insects or leaf insects - what would you suggest?
Definitely stick insects. They are much easier to keep than leaf insects, are more robust and are easier to handle. The Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are a great choice and your child can watch them grow dramatically over the next few months as they will shed their skins several more times. Adult Indian stick insects can be handled safely by a careful five year old. Small-Life Supplies is sending out medium-sized Indian stick insects at the moment, live arrival is guaranteed. The best housing for Indian stick insects is the ELC cage and your five year old can help with changing the ELC Liner every week and also lightly misting the bramble/blackberry leaves with water so the stick insects can have a drink from the water droplets on the leaves.

Would you be so kind to bring it to the attention of your followers that the terrible destruction of forests and woodland is STILL continuing in the Congo, the Amazon and the UK (for HS2), DESPITE the Coronavirus pandemic. Consumerism may be faltering but habitat destruction is continuing apace! We all need to be vigilant and keep up the pressure to STOP it.
Yes, it is very depressing that wildlife and nature continues to be destroyed and has not abated in recent months. In the UK it is absurd that HS2 (High Speed 2 rail link) is still continuing, despite recent evidence (resulting from COVID-19 workplace changes) that 44% of the working British public are now able to work from home. The fact that so many people are able to work from home indicates that travel between cities for business is not as essential as many people thought it was. The direct routes chosen for HS2 were done so with speed in mind, that is why there is so much destruction of the British ancient woodlands because the brief was to prioritise speed for business over everything else. Clearly most people travelling between cities for leisure aren't that bothered about shaving twenty minutes off their total journey time, in fact many people prefer a more leisurely train journey where they can relax and enjoy their meals at a relaxed pace. So yes, the fight continues, and it is vitally important for people to continue to contact their MPs, sign petitions, support Greenpeace etc to ensure these issues are kept in the news and ultimately stop this destruction of the natural world.

Considering stick insects as fascinating pets for my kids. Will ivy leaves kill them especially if they've been fed raspberry leaves all summer (we grow a lot of soft fruit but all our plants are deciduous and I am concerned about finding a reliable winter food source). If the raspberry stems are slightly thorny is that likely to be a problem for them?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are an ideal species for your children. You can feed Indian stick insects with raspberry leaves during the summer, and then when these leaves have died off, you can switch to using bramble/blackberry leaves (some bramble dies off but there are other types of bramble that have green leaves available all year). Best to avoid ivy leaves. It's worth investing in some decent gardening gloves so you can collect both the raspberry and bramble sprigs without shredding your fingers! The stick insects are not bothered by the thorns so there is no need to cut the thorns off the stems.

I am a stick insect novice and like the look of your ELC cages! I was told stick insects shed their skins so am unsure how they can do this in your cage as it doesn't have a mesh roof?
Stick insects prefer to shed their skins whilst holding securely onto the wall of the cage. The ELC cage has mesh sides which makes it easy for the stick insect to slide vertically downwards out of its old skin, brushing against this mesh side as it does so. This is far preferable to dangling from a mesh roof and swaying around, being exposed at such a vulnerable time. People who say stick insects need to shed from a mesh roof are saying this because they are housing their stick insects in tanks with smooth sides that do not offer a secure foothold for the stick insects, in other words, their stick insects have no choice but to head for the mesh roof! When we have kept stick insects in cages with mesh sides and a mesh roof, the stick insects overwhelmingly prefer to shed their skins whilst holding onto a mesh side and sliding downwards. Much research has gone into our designs of stick insect cages over the last 35 years and the ELC cage is proven to be a great enclosure for housing stick insects. The ELC cage has two mesh sides, one of which slides upwards so you can reach into the cage from the side as well as via the top (through the lift off lid).

Can giant Macleays stick insects live with green fly aphids? Wondering if I need to remove the brambles and do more without any on it?
Try to avoid putting bramble containing lots of aphids (they usually hide underneath the leaves) into your cage of stick insects. The aphids won't harm your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) but they will produce a sticky residue which looks unsightly. So a good tip is to flick most of the aphids off the leaves when you gather the bramble. And you'll probably need to wash the cage as well before you insert the fresh aphid-free bramble. If you are using an ELC cage, just wash it with lukewarm water (not hot water) and "Parozone stain remover", using the soft Cleaning Sponge to remove the sticky residue from the sides and roof. Rinse well with cold water and dry with a soft cotton tea towel.

Is there such a thing as a dangerous stick insect? I'm guessing not, but thought I'd check!
Yes, there are a few very dangerous species of stick insect. One of the worst is the Florida stick insect, Latin species name Anisomorpha buprestoides. This is dangerous because it can squirt out a liquid that can cause temporary blindness and pain if this lands on a human eyeball or on an eye of a pet dog, hamster, guinea pigs etc. Unfortunately some individuals are now selling these stick insects on-line as "Devil Rider" stick insects and not even warning potential customers of the risk! This is foolish and irresponsible and should be called out. Of course Small-Life Supplies only breed and sell species of stick insect that are safe to keep and handle.

Our garden centre sells thornless blackberry - worth a try or not? We have a lot of Pink Winged stick insects.
No, don't bother. The thornless blackberry leaves tend to be rather thin and so are not that good nutritionally. And it is very high risk to purchase a plant from a garden centre without knowing if pesticides are in the potting compost or if the plant has been sprayed with insecticide. The potted plants that Small-Life Supplies sell are grown specially without the use of chemicals and so are safe for the stick insects to eat. Our large potted eucalyptus plants are in stock and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do well on eucalyptus leaves, the nymphs becoming more green the more eucalyptus they eat.

We are looking for insect cages, specifically for containment of aphids. Can you forward a price-list?
Small-Life Supplies manufacture the "GSC aphid cage", this is a large precision made galvanised steel cage, with a lockable door and four fine stainless steel mesh panels to provide optimum air-flow. These cages are made to order and so please let us know how many you require, so a quotation can be emailed to you. Aphid cages are 60cm x 60cm x 60cm and dispatched ready assembled. They are being used successfully in universities and research establishments across the UK.

How long are your deliveries taking during this Corona virus time? I need another ELC cage for my expanding stick insect collection.
Orders are still being dispatched very quickly, so are only taking a few days to process. Dispatch is by courier on a next day delivery service. Small-Life Supplies is following government guidance regarding safe working practices during this outbreak of COVID-19. The courier delivery drivers are too, so your parcel will be delivered to you safely, observing social distancing and "no contact practice". The ELC cage is manufactured in the UK and manufacturing of these cages is still continuing.

Will a stick insect be lonely if housed by itself?
Yes. Stick insects like company of their own kind. This is really obvious when you keep several in a cage because the stick insects group together on the walls of the ELC cage. That is why Small-Life Supplies always sell stick insects in small groups, rather than individually.

Is it OK to feed young bramble leaves to my Malaysian stick insects?
Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) and other bramble eating stick insects need to eat the bramble/blackberry leaves that are at least 3cm long. Each bramble leaf is made up of at least three smaller leaf parts and each of these smaller parts needs to be more than 3cm. At this time of year, the new growth of bramble wilts quickly and so it's important to put the sprigs in the Sprig Pot of cold tap water as soon as possible after you have gathered the bramble from outside. Cut off the smallest leaves at the top of the stems and discard these because the very small leaves can contain toxins which can harm insects that eat those leaves.

I used to keep stick insects as a hobby at University and Sabahs were always my favourites, so I treated myself to 5 young adults recently. They’re in a 30x45x30 glass tank with mesh lid, partially covered for humidity. The temperature is consistently around 20 degrees and humidity 80-99%. They have water and a dish of sand on the floor, which is covered by kitchen roll. Three of my insects seem determined to spend all of their time on the floor, which I don’t remember seeing previous insects do. Is this normal? Could there be something causing them to do this? The culprits are two females and one male (he has a damaged foot which he arrived with - initially I thought this could be a factor). I am moving them from the floor to the bramble when they have been there over a day, but is this the right thing to do?
It's a very bad sign if Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus) are on the floor so you are right to be concerned. They can do this before dying, so be prepared for the worst. A daytime temperature of 20 degrees Celsius is OK for this species, but it does need to drop at night, preferably to around 14 degrees Celsius. Also, I think your enclosure is far too humid, so I would remove the cover over the top mesh to increase the air flow into the tank. Sabah stick insects are unusual in that they prefer less air-flow to many other species, so we house ours in cages with one mesh side (instead of the standard two mesh sides). It is good that you have provided a dry sand dish and a water dish, but kitchen roll is not recommended because it absorbs moisture and so dries out the air. So replace the kitchen roll with sheets of copier paper, cut to size with scissors. You could also try putting two Sprig Pots of bramble in the tank, we have found this species likes to be surrounded by lots of bramble (and mist the leaves lightly in the evening). Ill stick insects need rest and so moving them onto the bramble is probably counter-productive.

My son’s Indian stick insect eggs have just hatched and the nymphs are currently in an entirely mesh enclosure. I’d like to transfer them to the ELC tank ideally as will keep them warmer but am concerned the holes in the sides might be too big and they’ll escape. Is this tank suitable for nymphs as well as adults?
Young Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best in an unventilated container. The best enclosures are clear and over 7cm tall, so either the QBOX or the HUA Pot. Insert a Liner and a wet bramble leaf because young stick insects like to drink water from the droplets on a leaf. After a couple of months, the Indian stick insects will be much larger and will require a more airy cage, so it is at this stage you should transfer them to the ELC cage. This is a much taller cage (51cm high) and so instead of putting loose leaves on the Liner, it is better to insert two long lengths of bramble sprigs (each approx 30cm long), and push the thicker cut ends into a Sprig Pot of cold tap water. This will keep the leaves fresh for a week or so. Lightly mist the leaves with cold tap water (from the Mister Curvy), but avoid getting the actual stick insects wet.

I am noticing butterflies with orange tips to their wings in my garden. I haven't seen these before and am unsure if it is because I am in the garden much more nowadays (because of the lockdown) or have conditions been particularly favourable for these butterflies this year?
It is a very good year for the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines), so their population numbers are higher than usual this year. A member of the Pierid (white) family, this species is challenging to photograph with its wings open (showing the orange tips) because this butterfly does not settle on a flower for long! It does rest longer with its wings closed, but the undersides of the wings are patterned and so there is not the striking contrast seen with the white of the upper wing and the orange tip.

I'm sixteen and getting stick insects next week. Seeing as they're from tropical places, do I need a heat mat for the ELC? My room is not super hot, the thermostat is set to 20 degrees Celsius daytime.
Stick insects have been reared in the UK indoors for generations and so have acclimatised to those conditions. The temperature in our stick insect breeding facility is set to 18 degrees Celsius during the day and 12 degrees Celsius at night. So no, do not buy a heating mat.

We made the mistake of going on an insect forum and got such conflicting advice, we quickly came off it! Someone gave my daughter some Indian stick insect eggs and they've started to hatch. We were told they eat ivy, but I understand that we should be feeding them bramble leaves instead? If this is correct, can we switch leaves, or must they stick with ivy?
Yes, you should switch leaves asap because your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) will do much better if they eat bramble/blackberry leaves. There is no issue with switching foodplants for Indian stick insects, they are very versatile and can eat ivy one week and bramble the next week! Forums can be good at encouraging people, but unfortunately some people post rubbish advice which, at it's worst, can have fatal consequences for stick insects. Ivy leaves should only be used as a last resort for feeding Indian stick insects.

I've calculated I have saved over £100 on not eating out (because of Corona) and so have a shopping list of stuff I can now buy from you guys, including Pink Winged stick insects and the ELC enclosure bundle. But I'm freaking out about their wings - how easy are they to catch once they've taken off?
The Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) currently being dispatched to customers are large nymphs, so are up to 9cm long. They don't have their wings yet, these appear when the stick insects are fully grown (in a few weeks time). Don't worry about them flying, they fly very slowly and land on a wall. You can then pick the stick insect up (this is very easy to do) and place it back in the ELC cage. It's a good idea to mist the leaves first because a Pink Winged stick insect that has just had a fly is usually thirsty and appreciates a drink of water from a wet leaf. The ELC cage is excellent housing for this species, it is nice and tall (51cm) and has two mesh sides that provide the through-draught ventilation that these stick insects need to thrive.

Could you please tell me if a stick insect is an easy pet for children? Also the enclosure we would need?
Yes, stick insects are easy for children to look after, they need to put fresh bramble/blackberry leaves in the cage once a week and replace the paper Liner at the bottom of the cage once a week. The best stick insects to start with are the
Indian stick insects, and the best housing for them is the ELC cage bundle.

Do you sell lures for Emperor silk moths?
No. There are some firms that sell pheromone lures for Emperor silk moths (Saturnia pavonia), the idea is to put this product outside and wait for the adult male moths to fly to it. Small-Life Supplies prefers a more natural approach, so we recommend putting the female Emperor silk moth outside and waiting for the adult males to detect the airborne pheromones she releases and fly to her. Mating happens straight away and then the female starts to glue her eggs onto the surface she is resting on. This behaviour is also seen amongst some other day flying British moths, notably the British Vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqua). Small-Life Supplies breed these in huge numbers and they'll be in stock again very soon because we have lots of eggs hatching now.

Is there a reason you don't you sell leaf insects?
Yes, there are several reasons why Small-Life Supplies promote stick insects instead of leaf insects. In general, male leaf insects mature much faster than female ones, and then have a short lifespan as adults, so it is difficult to commercially breed large numbers of leaf insects. Their appeal is less than for stick insects because more skill is needed when handling leaf insects (they tend to be quite clingy on your fingers, so this makes them unsuitable for people lacking manual dexterity and patience!) And leaf insects are generally more delicate than stick insects and so can die prematurely, which is obviously upsetting.

I do hope you are OK doing this pandemic. I bought an ELC cage last year from you at the Kempton Park event and need another. I was going to wait but there doesn't seem much point now. I don't suppose you have any discounted cages for sale at the moment?
From time to time Small-Life Supplies sells off lightly used ELC cages and ELC-se cages, these are very good value because they have only been used for a few months in our breeding facility and so are in very good condition. We have just four of these discounted cages in stock right now and so please phone Small-Life Supplies weekdays between 9am and 6pm on 01733 203358 if you'd like to purchase one. Small-Life Supplies has been operating throughout this pandemic and dispatching cages on a next-day courier delivery service. Fortunately this delivery service is performing very well and so customers are receiving their cages on time. We let you know in advance when delivery will be and safe practices are followed so there is no contact between you and the delivery driver.

Stick insects have helped me so much in my life and I'd like to make a donation to Small-Life Supplies using the "Pay It Forward" idea so someone else who is in financial difficulties can benefit. How do I go about making a payment for your ELC cage bundle (to be sent to someone else)?
That is very kind of you. Just email ange@small-life.co.uk with a message saying that you'd like to order the ELC cage bundle on the "Pay It Forward scheme". You will receive the PayPal invoice and when you pay that we shall have the ELC cage bundle ready to send to someone in financial need. Please rest assured that we do our best to ensure that it will be sent to someone who fits the hardship criteria and will benefit.

Should I cut the thorns off the bramble stems? I've just got Indian stick insects. I tried them with privet but they weren't keen, so I am now using bramble.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best if fed with bramble/blackberry leaves. There is no need to cut the thorns off because the stick insects are quite capable of stepping around sharp thorns and so are not hurt by them. At this time of year choose blackberry leaves which are more than 3cm long , each leaf is made up of three parts and each of those parts needs to be at least 3cm long. This is because the very small bramble leaves can contain toxins which can harm the stick insects. Lots of Indian stick insects (including those reared at Small-Life Supplies) suddenly stopped eating privet leaves en masse years ago, and so it is not surprising that yours don't like privet.

Our first Vapourer moths emerged yesterday and so far we have one male and one female in the QBOX. He is flying around inside the QBOX but is showing no interest in her! He must know she is there - is he avoiding her because they are siblings?
It is OK for sibling British Vapourer moths (Orgyia antiqua) to mate because they still produce healthy offspring. So that is not the reason he is avoiding her. Instead he is one of those males that likes to have a good fly before mating, so the best thing is to release him outside and let him fly off. He should return within a few hours. He can then find her via her airborne pheromone trail and mate. So you need to place the QBOX with the female in an open area of the garden (well away from cobwebs that could trap any visiting males). It's best to put it on a chair or table so it's not on the ground. Of course another male may find her first, but it doesn't matter, you will know she has mated because she starts to lay lots of eggs immediately after mating.

Glad to see Small-Life Supplies is still going through this Corona virus. I would like to purchase an ELC stick insect cage bundle for my grand daughter, but would like to know first how long my order would take to arrive?
It's 17th April 2020 today, and so far all of our ELC cage bundles that we have sent this week and in recent weeks have been successfully delivered to our customers on a next-day courier service. So, if you ordered today (Friday), your ELC bundle would be dispatched on Monday, for delivery the following day, Tuesday.

How often should I mist my stick insects? I have a mixture of Thailand stick insect adults and large nymphs and they eat bramble leaves.
It's best to lightly spray the bramble leaves with the Mister Curvy (filled with cold tap water) once a day, preferably in the late afternoon or early evening. It's not essential to do this every day, so it doesn't matter if you miss a day or two. Always direct the water spray at the bramble leaves only. Avoid getting the stick insects wet and avoid soaking the Liner or walls of the ELC cage.

What do you think of the RSPCA's care sheet on stick insects? A quick critique please!
The RSPCA has produced several care sheets on stick insects over the years. I have just downloaded their current care sheet and generally it is very good advice. It stresses the need for a tall ventilated cage and the need to keep it clean by lining the floor with paper sheets, changed regularly. It warns about the risk of using leaves treated with pesticides and how to spot if you have done this. Bramble leaves are recommended as food, which is correct. There is an error at the end when it says that Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) lay their eggs in a clutch. In fact they do not do this, instead (just like other stick insects) they lay a few eggs every day during their adult lives (approx seven months duration).

I've got some Qs about the Dead Insect Kits. Do ya kill the critters and the plants? How'd ya stick the critters to the plants? Do the critters and plants shrivel up?
No, we don't kill anything. The Indian Eri silkmoths have died naturally from old age in our insect breeding facility. The thistles grow outside, they flowered last year and these are the dead thistle heads from last year. The thistle heads have lots of small spikes and so these hold the dead silkmoths in place. Or, to make your arrangement permanent, you could use a drop of PVA glue to secure the insects and cocoons in place. The thistles on stems and the dead Indian Eri silkmoths are already dried and will not shrivel up anymore. But because they are dry, you need to be careful handling them to avoid bits breaking off.

I'm fifteen and getting my first stick insects next week! Indian ones. Please tell me if I can add another species later on? Is there room in the ELC cage for two types?
Yes, you can mix some different species of stick insect together, but not all types can be mixed together, so it's best to check with Small-Life Supplies first. It is great that you are starting out with Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), these are an excellent choice. You'll receive four Indian stick insects and so there is plenty of room to add three Pink Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) stick insects later on. Or, you could add four Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) instead. All these stick insects eat bramble/blackberry leaves and do best in the ELC cage which is tall and has two ventilated sides.

Thank goodness for my stick insects keeping me sane during these troubling times. Browsing your site yesterday I saw your new "Dead Insect Art", but couldn't see how large these silkmoths are? I'm tempted if they're a good size!
Yes, the dead Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini) offered have died from natural causes and are a good size. The wingspans are between 11cm and 13cm, so approx 5 inches. And the empty white silk cocoons are approx 5cm long, so 2 inches.

I listen to news reports saying one advantage of this dreadful pandemic is that you can hear the birds singing again, but I am not so sure. The birdsong in my garden actually seems quieter than usual. And I am seeing about the same amount of insects as before, the usual butterflies waking up from hibernation, some bees, wasps and midges. I would be interested to read your thoughts?
Yes, I too am seeing no change in the insect populations local to me. This isn't that surprising because although car usage has dropped significantly, the days when huge numbers of insects were splattered on car windscreens are long gone (this cliff edge drop in insect populations was decades ago). And there seem to be fewer garden birds around, which means less birdsong. This is probably because so many birds are starving. Unfortunately in the UK the fashion for slabbing gardens and ripping out bushes and weeds still continues, in fact at the moment it is very prolific because there are so many people at home "tidying up" their gardens. By removing nature from gardens, people are, unwittingly in many cases, not only removing nesting sites for birds but also removing the food source (insects and worms) of carnivorous birds. And although many people continue to purchase seed to feed the herbivorous birds in their gardens, many woodpigeons and gulls that frequent town centres are really starving now because these areas are so deserted. So, in the UK, these desperate birds are having to rely on the dedicated people who make considerable efforts to get into town centres to feed them. However the drop in air pollution is good news and is a direct result from drastically reducing air travel and road trips.

I am at home with the children and we plan to study insects next week. Do you have any deceased insect specimens they could touch and examine?
Small-Life Supplies breeds stick insects, butterflies and moths and so yes, we have a regular supply of insects that have died naturally from old age. And yes, these specimens are ideal for people to examine, view through a microscope, draw etc. The dead stick insects decompose quickly, but the dead silkmoths don't and so I'd recommend these for you and your children. At the moment, we have large Indian Eri silkmoths and also their empty silk cocoons, so we are selling these together, with information about this species (Samia ricini). For more details, please see Dead Insect Art

I feed my stick insects on ivy, I think this is a poisonous plant? I was going to use my dud stick insects for food for my chameleon?
Some people feed their injured stick insects to reptiles, but this should only be done if the stick insects have been feeding on bramble leaves. You are correct in thinking that ivy is poisonous (so is privet) and so it is not recommended to feed chameleons with stick insects that have eaten these plants.

Sorry to be thick, but your website now says delivery is by "no contact delivery practice". What does this mean? I'm desperate for another ELC cage and eucalyptus plant for my stick insects, are you still able to get deliveries to houses? I'm near Bath.
"No contact delivery practice" means the delivery driver knocks on your door, stands back at least 2 metres and takes a photo as proof that the parcel has been delivered. At the moment the UK government is supporting logistics and so the courier networks are still delivering all products to homes across the UK. The budget courier firms are experiencing delays but the firm we use is actually delivering earlier than usual, with some of our parcels being delivered as early at 7.30am! When your goods are dispatched we email you the delivery tracking details and so you can see what time your parcels will be delivered (there is a two hour delivery window). And if you may be nipping out, we can ask the driver to leave your parcels in the garden or porch or other safe place.

I had a stick insect and then she had babies, which are clones of her, but they are very strange colours. Two of my baby stick insects are twins and one of them is really dark brown and the other is white (I think she might be an albino stick insect). Why are they so different if they are clones of Twiggy?
Cloning is not the same as parthenogenesis. Some stick insects reproduce by parthenogenesis which means they lay eggs without mating. But the resultant offspring show natural variations in size, colour and behaviour. One insect hatches from one egg and so twins do not occur. So it is entirely normal for a female stick insect to lay eggs parthenogenetically and for the offspring (called nymphs) to show colour variations, which is what Twiggy's nymphs are like. Stick insects are often pale when they have just completed a skin-change, but soon darken in colour as their new exoskeleton hardens.

Yesterday I released the Vapourers I got from you the other week! How come they have been so superfast with their lifecycle? It was lovely to see them flying off in the sunshine, it actually made me quite emotional (and I'm 58!).
Yes, it is very strange at the moment, we have British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) growing normally, others becoming huge, others pupating early and some becoming adults already - and all of these scenarios are from eggs that have hatched at the same time! Our adults are now mating and laying eggs, so it will be interesting to see if the next generation behave in such a strange manner. I am pleased you enjoyed the experience, and you are not alone in feeling emotional, many customers have said they felt this way too.

Just wondering if my Pink Winged girls would like eucalyptus because they have never eaten it before? And if I ordered a plant today, how soon would I receive it (with all this craziness that is going on right now). I am in Basingstoke.
The fact that your Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) have not eaten eucalyptus leaves before is not a problem, these stick insects should still be able to eat eucalyptus leaves. We start all our Pink Winged stick insects off on a diet of bramble/blackberry leaves and have found no problems when presenting nymphs or adults with eucalyptus to eat for the first time. Our large potted eucalyptus plants are delivered by next day courier and this service is still working well across the UK at the moment, so you would receive your plant next week. We let you know the delivery day in advance and are happy to let the driver know where to leave your parcel, for example by your door, in your garden, in the open garage etc. Please remember to include this delivery instruction when you order (but don't worry if you forget because we shall remind you before dispatching the plant).

Today, my first Indian stick insect hatched from an egg laid on 10th November 2019. I was expecting it to hatch on 10th March 2020, can you offer any explanation as to why it is late?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) eggs usually hatch after four months, but this incubation time is dependent on temperature. So, if your room has been a bit cold for a spell, then the incubation time can be slightly longer. This is the most likely explanation. Our Indian stick insect eggs are stored at a daytime temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and a night-time temperature of 12 degrees Celsius, and they hatch after four months.

Thank you so much for keeping going in these difficult times. My daughter is so happy with the stick insects and cage she received from you. They are the Pink Winged ones. We are now looking out for bramble bushes on our daily walks, but there seems to be a lot with the new growth, which I know we need to avoid. How long will it be before the leaves are safe for the stick insects to eat?
At this time of year (Spring) the old green bramble leaves are harder to find because they are dying off because the new soft green leaves are being produced. These very small pale green soft bramble leaves should not be given to your stick insects because they can contain toxins. So, only choose stems which have some older dark green leaves on, and snip off the young shoots before putting the stems in the Sprig Pot of water. In a few weeks time, the new growth will be larger, and when each part of the bramble leaf is 3cm, it is safe for the stick insects to eat. Most bramble leaves are made up of three smaller leaves, and so each of those needs to at least 3cm long down the middle (the longest part).

I imagine the insect event at Cambridge has been cancelled? I know on-line shopping is allowed, so can I still buy from you? I need another ELC cage for my expanding stick insect collection!
Yes, sadly the Cambridge nature event has been cancelled for this year due to COVID-19, but should be back in April 2021. Small-Life Supplies is following government advice and so we are still sending out our ELC cages and other products to customers across the UK.

What is going on with the privet? Lately I have put it in water but it crisps up within days! My stick insects can't eat that, so I gather more. Nothing has changed otherwise, is it just the time of year? The leaves look good and they have buds on. Any tips?
Yes, it is the time of year that is responsible. Cut privet with lots of buds on does not last well in water. So you need to look at the hedge more carefully and try and snip the bits with hardly any new buds on. These stems last much longer in water. In a few weeks time, the problem will disappear because the new buds will have grown and the privet leaves will last much longer in cold water.

I want to get a Violin praying mantis and have been doing my research. You probably already know that this unique species of mantis needs a lot of heat and a well ventilated cage with a mesh lid. Looking at the range of cages that Small-Life Supplies supply, would the ELC cage with a mesh lid be the best option?
The problem with the Violin praying mantis is the extra heat it requires. The ELC cage is designed to be used at room temperature. So it's really important not to direct a powerful heat source at the ELC cage because this excessive heat will distort the clear plastic front panel and the clear back panel of the cage. So unfortunately the ELC cage would not be suitable. Instead, you could choose a bespoke cage made from aluminium mesh and glass because these materials would not distort with the extra heat. However, this would be a more expensive option and would take longer to manufacture.

I am having to self isolate because of corona virus. I have four Pink Winged stick insects and want to know if you are still sending out leaves for people to feed stick insects during these difficult times? If so, how long would your food last?
Yes, at the moment we are still sending out fresh cut bramble leaves and potted eucalyptus plants by next day courier. Your Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are able to eat both types of leaves. Based on the appetites of four Pink Winged stick insects, the Wallet of Fresh Cut Bramble would be enough food for 7-10 days and the potted eucalyptus would be enough food for at least one month.

I am hoping you are keeping busy and are well. The prospect of lockdown is terrifying and so I am making plans. I am trying to keep calm and reassure my daughters that "life goes on" and so I thought it would help if we watched a caterpillar lifecycle over the coming weeks. How successful are we likely to be with your British Vapourer caterpillars? We have bramble at the back of the garden but I haven't noticed these caterpillars before, so I am not sure how common they are in England?
We breed British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) in large numbers and they are now at the optimum size to be sent out to customers. This species is very easy to look after, just feed them with a fresh dark green bramble leaf (avoid the new soft pale green leaves) every day or so and see them grow quickly and transform into pupae. A couple of weeks or so later you will see the adults emerge, if you have both sexes, they will mate and then the females will lay eggs for you to hatch out if you wish. Or, you can release them into your garden. British Vapourer caterpillars naturally occur across the UK and so any you release will have a good chance of surviving outside and reproducing.

I have female Macleays Spectre stick insects. I've noticed in the past few months that when I pass their cage I can often hear a scratching sound & when I look into it I can see them rubbing their tails with their hind legs, do you know why this is? It looks very strange and I'm hoping that this something natural they do.
This behaviour is seen amongst various species of stick insect. It indicates that the stick insects want to mate. So hopefully you can source some adult male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) soon.

I have Extatosoma tiaratum set up in a large mesh enclosure. I am using kitchen roll but it dries out very quickly. I know they are not a humid species but also need about 60% for safe moulting. (My house is 40-50%). I would like to set up a bioactive tray at the bottom to keep this humidity without spraying the enclosure very often. Does this sound viable?
The bioactive tray idea is flawed and not a route I would recommend. Creatures that live in soil and leaf litter require high humidity environments and one problem with trying to recreate this in captivity is that you are likely to get mould which is a problem for your stick insects' health as well as your own! Also, the species you have, the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) is noted for its need for airy surroundings, in other words the complete opposite of high humidity, so trying to merge the two systems in one cage is not wise. Your assertion about needing 60% RH for safe moulting is false. However, you have been correctly advised about the large mesh enclosure, this is good for this species. You could make an immediate improvement by replacing the kitchen roll with sheets of flat paper (because kitchen roll is known to absorb far more moisture than paper). But the floor covering should not be wet, it should be dry.

With the current situation is the delivery service still available? I am after a TTQ cage for my son's mantid.
Yes, our insect cages are still being dispatched across the UK on a next-day courier delivery service. A mantid (praying mantis) eats live insects and small worms, so when choosing the TTQ cage, please select the version with the small opening flap on the lid. This is very handy because you can just lift this small flap on the lid and drop in the livefood for the mantid to eat.

I'm from across the ditch in Australia & I have 3 Extatosoma tiaratum which I have had for over a year now. All 3 of my female Extatosoma have laid eggs, which I've had in a container with airflow holes & a piece of paper towel which I misted every couple of days but I feel they have just dried out and are never going to hatch. Could you please let me know what type of setup would be best for the eggs?
You don't mention having adult males? The incubation time of six months is for eggs produced by females that have mated with males. If there are no males, the females can still lay eggs by parthenogenesis, but the incubation time is usually longer (8-12 months). Here at Small-Life Supplies we have tried different techniques for hatching Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) eggs. We find that the best method is to keep them in a clear container without airflow holes, so we use HUA Pots. During the months of incubation, we shake the eggs from time to time because this movement leads to an increased hatching rate. We only very lightly mist the eggs with water very occasionally (once a month or so). But when hatching is due, we increase the misting rate to once a day. For best results feed baby Australian stick insects with eucalyptus leaves.

Is there any way you could have the ELC bundle and Pink Winged stick insects and eucalyptus plant delivered to my home? I am a primary school teacher and am worried about school being closed because of the corona virus.
Yes, this last week we have been arranging for school and university deliveries to be delivered to home addresses for customers who have requested this. So, yes, your order can be delivered to your home. And if your school is still open and you are at work when the parcels are delivered, don't worry because the parcels can be left in your "safe place". Just let us know, when you place your order, where you'd like the driver to leave your parcels if no one is at home to receive them.

I have a question about my new caterpillars. I started to change their bramble leaves today only to find that several of them have started to pupate. They haven't been through any skin changes yet and haven't really grown much. Is this normal? I have been keeping them in Q-boxes (3 in each) and changing the leaves everyday and making sure the leaves are dry.
I think you need to check the bramble leaves. The British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) prefer the thick bramble leaves (from the bushes with the two-tone green and purple stems) rather than the thin bramble leaves that are also found at this time of year. And always use the dark green leaves and not the light green soft new leaves. Our Vapourer caterpillars are still in the caterpillar stage, and so it looks like some of yours have panicked and entered the pupa phase early. Sometimes the food is the cause, another possibility is not enough natural light. So check that your QBOXES are in a room where there is natural daylight during the day and darkness at night. But don't position them in direct sunshine because this can cause them to steam up inside and make the caterpillars ill. The ones that have pupated early can usually still emerge as adults OK, although they are usually smaller.

I have a job interview with a butterfly house and am really scared! I have kept Indian and Pink Winged stick insects for years, but that's it. Do I lie and say I've kept other things like praying mantises too? I'm afraid I won't have enough experience to get the job, although it sounds like a dream job looking after lots of insects. Please help.
Never lie at a job interview, speaking as someone who has interviewed lots of people, it's usually obvious and there is no place in a small team for an untrustworthy employee. So, speak with enthusiasm about the stick insects you have, show some photos of your set-ups, explaining what you know about their welfare needs (tall cage, well ventilated, weekly bramble feed). An ability to work fast is essential for employees in small businesses, so if you can think of any examples of past work or activities that can support this, be sure to mention this. Also, check that your appearance is clean and smart, don't wear perfume/aftershave, be on time, and don't take your Mum along! Interviewers make allowances for some nerves, so don't worry about that. Another good tip is to do a bit of research about the firm first, and make sure you tell the interviewer that you know they have been in business since x and they have x number of visitors. This is important because it shows you have a general interest in working there, rather than it being "just a job". Good luck!

Can you get COVID-19 from a mosquito?
No. COVID-19 is primarily spread by respiratory droplets (so via people sneezing and coughing). A secondary spread is by people touching a contaminated surface and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

I am looking for stick insects near me but it's proving difficult. The stick insects are for my daughter's birthday next week, am I too late to order from Small-Life Supplies? I want some easy ones, so am thinking Indian stick insects would be the best?
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are the best type of stick insect to start with. Our Indian stick insects are really strong and healthy and we are sending out young nymphs at the moment so your daughter can enjoy watching them grow over the next few months. Fortunately the weather forecast is for mild nights next week (week beginning 9th March 2020) so we shall be sending out live stick insects again. (We can only send them out when it is warm enough at night for them to travel safely). So please place your order as soon as possible, either by phoning Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 (with debit/credit/AMEX card details), or by emailing ange@small-life.co.uk (if you prefer to pay by PayPal).

The Indian stick insect eggs that we saved from Penelope (sadly no longer with us) have started to hatch. So far we have four in the QBOX. Three of them have no egg attached. But one has the egg still attached to her back right leg. Will this be a problem? What should I do?
Don't do anything. The stick insect with the eggshell attached will manage OK carrying about this empty eggshell on her leg. This will only be for a few weeks because when she is approx three weeks old she will complete her first skin-change (ecdysis) and the eggshell will come off together with the rest of her outer skin (exoskeleton). Please don't try and pull the eggshell off her leg because there is a high risk of deforming her leg, or making her panic causing her to throw off her leg completely (she would then only have five legs).

I'm not having much luck with my Macleays Spectre stick insect babies. The eggs hatch, the little ones eat the bramble and then they start to pass after about two weeks. Any tips? I've hatched out Indian stick insects successfully (in QBOXES) so don't know what I'm doing wrong? I've got loads more Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs so please help!
When Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs hatch, it's best to keep them in the QBOX and give them a wet bramble leaf to eat. This method works well with many other species of stick insect. However, the technique for rearing Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) is different. Newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are very active and so need more space to run around. We keep ours in the HUA Pots, which are much larger than QBOXES. There are lots of different types of bramble, some types are suitable for many species of stick insect but not to the baby Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects. So even though they eat the bramble, they die a week or two later, which is what you are experiencing. So, it's much safer to feed this species on eucalyptus leaves. You can gather eucalyptus leaves from established eucalyptus trees growing outside, or buy the leaves (or potted plants) from Small-Life Supplies. For best results, do not spray the eucalyptus leaves. After a few weeks, you can transfer the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects from the HUA Pot into the TTQ cage, and then when they are larger still, they can be transferred into the ELC cage. These are large stick insects, so only keep a maximum of three pairs in the ELC cage.

What is the best substrate for a stick insect enclosure? I have New Guinea stick insect adults but have read conflicting advice; silica, coir, peat, vermiculite, shredded paper, crumpled paper? I haven't got the ELC cage, mine are in a large tank.
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are large chunky stick insects with large claws and sticky pads on their feet. The best floor covering (substrate) is paper, not shredded or crumpled, but flat. Some people use newspaper cut to size, other people use sheets of office copier paper. If you get the ELC cage, you can purchase pre-cut ELC cage Liners, in green, blue or pink. One reason why a flat paper Liner is so important is that the stick insects can easily walk across it. (Their foot sticky pads care easily clogged with the granules found in sand, peat etc.) And a paper floor covering makes it easy to keep the cage clean and easy to sort the eggs. New Guinea stick insects use their claws to climb rough surfaces and that is one reason why the ELC cage is so much better than a tank, because it enables the stick insects to climb the walls of the cage easily (by hooking their claws around the sturdy mesh sides). So, you'll need to fix some vertical climbing surfaces within your tank, because adult New Guinea stick insects struggle to get a grip on a smooth glass or plastic wall. Also, remember to put a ramekin dish of cold tap water on the floor on the cage (so the stick insects can drink), also some Community Tubes (these are cardboard tubes in which the stick insects like to hide), and a ramekin dish filled to the brim with dry sand (for the females to bury their eggs).

Can you give me an example of two phasmids which belong to the same genus?
Yes, the New Guinea stick insect which is of the genus Eurycantha and the species is Eurycantha calcarata. And a smaller, less spiny, New Guinea stick insect species which is of the genus Eurycantha and has the species name Eurycantha insularis (also called Eurycantha coriacea). If you look at these stick insects you will see they have broadly similar physical characteristics which is why they are both assigned to the same genus.

How often should I spray my stick insects? And how much water should I use?
Never spray the actual stick insects because they don't like getting wet! But do lightly mist the bramble leaves with water, ideally once a day (but it doesn't matter if you miss a few days), so the stick insects can drink water from the droplets on the leaves. If you have Australian stick insects that are eating eucalyptus leaves, do not spray the eucalyptus leaves with water at all. Some stick insects, such as the New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) and the Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus) need to drink a lot of water, and so for these stick insects provide a shallow dish of cold tap water for them to drink. Never spray randomly in the stick insect cage, so when using the Mister Curvy (or similar water sprayer), always direct the water at the leaves. You will know if you are over-doing the spraying because the ELC Liner will get too wet and start to curl up.

How big will your eucalyptus grow? I need to know how much space it is going to need - and is one enough?
The eucalyptus plants we are sending out at the moment have the potential to grow into large trees (as high as a house). They are attractive trees, evergreen and fragrant and their fruits and flowers are enjoyed by birds and bees. However, if space is limited in your garden, you have the option to reduce the height by lopping off the top of the central trunk, and this will encourage the plant to grow outwards rather than upwards. It is important to feed your eucalyptus plants and the droppings/frass (from the stick insects) make excellent fertiliser if you scatter them on the soil and then water. Most people choose to get at least two plants, so they can alternate the harvesting of the leaves between the eucalyptus plants.

Lifecycles of insects is my next science topic at school. Can you supply any insects with a fast lifecycle?
Yes, our British Vapourer caterpillar kits are being dispatched to customers across the UK next week. This species has a fast lifecycle and so you can observe complete metamorphosis of the caterpillar to pupa to adult within weeks! These caterpillars eat bramble/blackberry leaves and so are easy to feed, and we supply the whole kit to you, including the QBOX housing, at low cost.

Thank you so much for being a reputable source of information. There is so much tripe on forums, often the sound advice is drowned out by rubbish "advice"! Anyway, my question is about the cute Malaysians I purchased from you. They are still in their TTQ cage and seem happy enough, one shed its skin yesterday but doesn't seem that much larger. Is this normal? I think you said you were holding some back the same age and so please can you let me know if you have upgraded yours to the ELC cage yet, or are yours still in the TTQ cage?
Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are very slow growing, particularly in the winter months we have noticed. So yes, our Malaysian stick insects are still housed in the TTQ cage. Don't be concerned about the lack of dramatic growth following a skin change, this is probably due to the gloomy weather we have been having and also of course the bramble is never at its best quality at this time of year (just before the new growth begins). Thank you for your compliments, forums enable people to share experiences but it is frustrating when bad advice is posted, particularly on livestock forums where the consequences can be fatal.

How long do stick insects live for?
Most stick insects live for about one year, but some species live slightly less, other species longer. So, the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) usually live just under one year , whereas the Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) live for 14 months, and the New Guinea (Eurycantha calcarata) can live up to three years.

Sauntered into "Pets at Home" looking for a pet for my animal-mad grand daughter who will be thirteen next month. Was astounded that bunny rabbits are 45 pound each, with a recommendation that two be kept. The bearded dragon lizards were cheaper but downside seems to be the pricey kit and the ongoing cost of buying the live locusts as food. So then I had the brainwave... stick insects! But, alas, none in store, perhaps not expensive enough? So that leads me to you, can you do me the whole caboodle with ELC cage and stick insects for south of 100 pounds?
Years ago, Small-Life Supplies used to supply pet shop chains with stick insects and cages to sell on. But we decided to stop, mainly because of concerns about stick insect welfare (unfortunately some pet shops have a high turnover of staff and the animal husbandry knowledge sometimes wasn't being passed on). So yes, you can purchase the correct stick insect kit (called the ELC bundle) from Small-Life Supplies, and a small group of stick insects, all delivered to you quickly and including a colour care sheet, for a total amount of £84.94. If you need help in deciding which stick insects to choose for your granddaughter, please phone Small-Life Supplies, between 9am and 6pm weekdays on 01733 203358 and we'll explain the advantages of the different species.

What are the stick insect enclosure requirements?
Many stick insects like a tall cage, approx 51cm high, with two mesh sides providing a through draught of air flow. Stick insects have claws on their feet and need to hook them around a rough surface so they can climb. So having mesh sides is very important, as are the size of the holes. If the holes are too small, the stick insects can get their claws stuck and they can actually break off (this is serious because the claws do not grow back). The ELC cage is ideal for many species of stick insect, this cage has two mesh sides, a lift off lid, a side that slides upwards so you can easily reach into the cage, and large crystal clear viewing panels so you can easily view your stick insects. The ELC cage is 51cm high and we use lots of ELC cages here at Small-Life Supplies to breed various species of stick insect. The minority of exceptionally long stick insect species of stick insect that grow to lengths exceeding 20cm should be housed in a taller cage, so we house those species in the 70cm high AUC cages.

How soon could I receive a eucalyptus plant? My Macleays Spectre are being born at the mo!
Orders received on Friday are usually delivered on Tuesday. So, to purchase a large potted eucalyptus plant urgently, please phone 01733 203358 with your credit/debit/AMEX card details. These plants are large and bushy and go out in boxes that are over 1metre tall. Our eucalyptus plants are grown without pesticides and so are safe for the stick insects to eat. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) do best on eucalyptus leaves, rather than bramble leaves, for the first couple of months or so of their lives. And there is growing evidence that their lifespan is extended if you continue to feed them eucalyptus leaves rather than bramble for the rest of their lives.

What are hexapods?
This is a term that is used to describe six legged creatures. In other words, insects!

Can my baby stick insects go in with the adults?
It depends on which type (species) of stick insect you have. This is because, depending on the species, some baby stick insects require less ventilated conditions whereas the adults need airy surroundings. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are an example of this, so it's important to house baby Indian stick insects in a small unventilated container (such as QBOX, HUA Pot or HAP Tube), but house the larger nymphs and adults in the ELC cage (which has two ventilated sides). However, another popular species the Pink Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) require airy surroundings throughout their lives, and so should be housed in the ventilated ELC cage from birth.

Is my stick insect dying? It is struggling to grip onto things. It doesn't want to fly anymore either, it's a Pink Wing stick insect.
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) live for about one year. When they are old adults, they look darker than the younger adults and fly less. When a Pink Winged stick insect is very old, the sticky pads on all her feet do not work as well and so the stick insect struggles to grip surfaces. So , yes, I think your stick insect is dying from old age. The kindest thing to do is to give her extra water to drink during her final weeks. This is because dying stick insects appreciate having extra cold tap water to drink.

I enjoy reading this page every week. I am a newbie to stick insects and was thrilled that one of mine shed its skin overnight. My question is about the discarded skin, it has only partially been eaten. Is that normal? The stick insect looks fine. I hope you can answer my question, I know you probably have lots of questions coming in.
Yes, lots of people send me questions, and I try to cover a range of topics. I am pleased your stick insect has shed its skin successfully (most do if kept in the correct housing). Don't be concerned that it hasn't eaten all of its shed skin, the stick insect may not have been that hungry, or may have been disturbed part way through eating its cast off skin. The stick insect needs to consume its shed skin whilst the skin is soft and wet and so it needs to be eaten immediately after the skin-change (ecdysis) has been completed.

I gave my stick insects a bunch of roses as a treat but now their co-ordination is off. I did wash the leaves first to remove pesticides that may have been sprayed on, so don't understand what's going on? How can I help them recover? I will be gutted if they die.
Unfortunately your stick insects have been poisoned by pesticides contained within the rose leaves. Commercially grown plants are often cultivated in soils that are treated with insecticides. These chemicals are taken up by the plant roots and distributed within the plant to the veins in its leaves. So no amount of washing the outside of the leaves is going to remove the poisons that are within the leaves. Stick insects that eat contaminated leaves will die, it's awful to watch because their central nervous system is attacked and that is why the stick insects lose co-ordination of their legs. To avoid this happening with any new stick insects you obtain, please only feed them with blackberry leaves that you have gathered from a safe wild area (such as woods, canal embankments, disused railway lines etc). Or, if you have a species of stick insect that eats eucalyptus leaves, you can buy safe potted eucalyptus plants from Small-Life Supplies (grown specially without the use of pesticides, so they are safe for the stick insects to eat).

I googled pet shops that sell stick insects near me and none came up. So I thought I'd get some from Small-Life Supplies. Do you guarantee they will arrive alive?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies guarantee live arrival of stick insects. We have decades of experience of packaging livestock correctly and so you can be confident that your stick insects will be safe in transit. At this time of year we monitor the overnight temperature forecast because we can only dispatch stick insects during mild nights when it is warm enough for them to travel (so we do not send out stick insects in freezing conditions).

How much space do stick insects need?
The stick insect cage should be 51cm or 20 inches high, this is to provide the height stick insects need to moult successfully (they slide downwards from their old skins when they grow). It is really important to provide ventilation on the sides of the cage, so a cage with two mesh walls opposite each other is ideal. The ELC cage is a successful purpose-designed stick insect cage, manufactured in the UK, and being used successfully by stick insect keepers across the UK and Europe.

Can stick insects eat lettuce?
No, this is not recommended. Lettuce does not contain the correct nutrients that stick insects need to thrive. In the UK people who have given their stick insects lettuce to eat report their stick insects become waterlogged and die. Flat lettuce, little gem lettuce and romaine lettuce have all been tried. Most stick insects eat bramble/blackberry leaves and some species eat eucalyptus leaves. Privet leaves are eaten by the Black Beauty Peruvian stick insect (Peruphasma schultei). Years ago the popular Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) ate privet leaves, but many strains of Indian stick insects, incuding those reared at Small-Life Supplies, no longer eat privet leaves and must be fed on bramble/blackberry leaves.

I am on your waiting list for two eucalyptus plants. Will the delivery be £9.95 or twice that? I know they are large plants! Also, please tell me what species of eucalyptus they are?
Our large potted eucalyptus plants shall be sent out in bespoke strong boxes that are over 1 metre high. They will be very well packaged and dispatched on a next-day courier service. You can get up to three plants delivered for £9.95 delivery, so the delivery price for two plants would still be £9.95. We start sending them out week beginning 17th February 2020. Two species are available; Eucalyptus gunnii and Eucalyptus urnigera. Both are suitable to feed Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) and Grenadan stick insects (Diapherodes gigantea). Both have been grown without the use of pesticides and so are safe for the stick insects to eat. Both are easy to grow outdoors, the Eucalyptus urnigera is marginally hardier.

Where can I buy stick insects online in the UK?
Small-Life Supplies breed and supply stick insects to customers in the UK. We specialise in breeding the easy-to-keep varieties that are robust enough to be handled regularly. The stick insects that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply are harmless, we do not condone the selling of dangerous species which can harm people and pets. An example of a dangerous species is the Florida stick insect (also called Devil Rider), Anisomorpha buprestoides, which can spray a white liquid that can cause temporary blindness in people and pet dogs etc if the chemical spray lands on an eyeball.

I am a regular customer, though to date just for privet for my wonderful Black Beauties. These Pink Winged guys caught my eye. How much bramble and eucalyptus would these four guys eat a week? Are they OK to be housed together like my Beauties? If not, how would you recommend I house them?
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) don't have large appetites and so one wallet of Fresh Cut Bramble (three stems) should be enough food to last four stick insects for 10-14 days. Our insect breeding facility is set at 18 degrees Celsius during the day, but on hot summer days, it gets hotter and the stick insects do eat more if the temperature rises. Long term it would be more economical to plant eucalyptus in your garden, our very large bushy plants shall be ready to send out in just over one week's time. Eucalyptus grows quickly, particularly during the summer months. Pink Winged stick insects do best in an airy cage, the ELC cage is ideal because it has two mesh sides that facilitate a through-draught of air. The mesh version of the ELC lid is perfect for Pink Winged stick insects because it lets even more air into the cage and provides extra areas for them to glue their eggs. The four Pink Winged stick insects will live happily together in the same ELC cage. But I wouldn't advise mixing them with your Black Beauty Peruvian stick insects (Peruphasma schultei) because those stick insects eat privet leaves and can emit a spray that can irritate the Pink winged stick insects.

On another website it says that Eri silkmoth caterpillars will accept rhododendron, laurel and Acuba in addition to privet. Would you agree with this assertion? I was visiting the website because I had an idea about raising some native caterpillars to release the adult butterflies and moths, sort of a mini conservation project! What are your thoughts about such an endeavor? Will it just be too small of an impact? If you feel it is a good idea, any tips on species that would be best to raise in coastal Dorset?
Here at Small-Life Supplies we have a really strong strain of Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini) that we have only ever given privet leaves. When rearing caterpillars, if the foodplant is working well and the strain is not weakening, the best advice is to stick with the foodplant, so we are continuing to exclusively use privet. Several years ago we reared large numbers of British Emperor Moths (Saturnia pavonia) successfully on hawthorn, but then that strain weakened and the next generation refused hawthorn and would only eat bramble/blackberry leaves, producing the largest caterpillars of that species we have ever seen! Releasing small numbers of butterflies and moths is an excellent idea, one that we encourage. A good tip is to only release a few individuals, preferably less than six, in one area and to release them about 5pm. Small-Life Supplies breed various species of British butterflies and moths, the success of the different species fluctuates from year to year, depending on the light intensity etc. So we recommend people go on our "British caterpillar waiting-lists" to be notified as soon as we have any caterpillars available. Our British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antigua) are just starting to hatch and so these should be ready to send out in a few weeks time. They are very colourful caterpillars that eat bramble leaves. They can be released in your garden to start or boost the population.

My Giant African Land Snail looks ill. I am giving it cucumber and cuttlefish but it's shell is looking dry and ridged. It isn't active anymore. The heat mat is underneath the tank with 2cm of soil on top.
An infra red heat mat underneath the tank is ineffective because the heat is absorbed by the tank and soil substrate. So the heat mat should be positioned inside the tank, on one of the sides. It's best to replace the cuttlefish with rinsed out hen eggshells (broken in half) because these have a much lower salt content and are far better for your snail. Your snail needs visual stimulation, so place it in a busy area with lots going on, so it has plenty to see. Ideally get another snail because it will be lonely by itself. And Giant African Land Snails need a varied diet, so you need to put carrot and potato peelings in there, also courgette and slices of marrow. And a Water Dish full of clean cold tap water because snails need to drink water.

I am looking for a stick insect enclosure. I have Sabah stick insects, species Aretaon asperrimus. Would the ELC be OK for these stick insects?
Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus) are unusual in that they need higher humidity than many other stick insect species. So, if you are using the ELC cage to house Sabah stick insects, be sure to use the Ventilation Control Panels as well. These are clear cellophane panels which attach to the outside of the mesh to reduce the air-flow, yet still provide the walls with footholds for the stick insects to climb easily.

What size are your stick insects when you send them out? Are they tiny? And do you use a special courier?
If you buy adult stick insects they are at least 10cm long, depending on the species. If you purchase "nymphs", these are juvenile stick insects which are a few months old and so are usually at least 8cm long. So the stick insects you buy from Small-Life Supplies are a good size when you receive them. Small-Life Supplies has been sending out stick insects for decades and so know the best way to package them for safe transit. Live arrival is guaranteed and a next-day express delivery service is automatically used. We monitor the night time weather forecast daily because we can only send out stick insects during mild nights (when it is warm enough for them to travel safely).

The Malaysian stick insects I bought from Small-Life Supplies in December are doing good and have recently moulted. They are still beige and the longest one measures 9cm in total. I am housing them in the TTQ cage as you advised, please can you tell me if you think they are ready to be upgraded to the ELC cage , or should I wait a few more weeks?
Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are more sensitive to their surroundings than other species, and require the cage ventilation to be increased gradually. So it's important to house them in the HUA Pot and then the TTQ for the first few months of their lives. With a total length (including antennae) of 9cm, Malaysian stick insects should still be housed in the TTQ cage. So you need to keep yours in the TTQ cage for a while longer and wait for them to complete their next skin-change. At that time you will need to wait another week or so (to let them recover from the ordeal of a skin-change) and then they will be ready to go into the ELC cage. Provide lots of lush bramble in the ELC cage and place the shallow Water Dish on the cage Liner so they can have drink of water when they want to.

Four of my stick insects died last week and I don't know why. I bought ten a couple of months ago off someone else (sorry!) and they started off very well, being lively and rushing out of the tank. But they have deteriorated since then and I don't know why? The food is nice, it's eucalyptus from my sister's garden and she doesn't use any sprays. I have a very tall tank for them, 90cm, with glass sides and I spray inside daily. The stick insects are the Macleays Spectre type, and they are about the length of my thumb, so not old.
One very important fact about Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) is that they like dry, airy surroundings. So the correct ventilation is far more important than the overall size of the cage. The issue with your tank is that it is not ventilated enough. It has solid glass sides and these do not let air flow within the cage. So it is no surprise that your stick insects have not thrived in this environment. And unfortunately you have made things worse by misting inside the cage, thereby increasing the humidity even more. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are unusual because they do not need to drink water (unlike many other stick insects species which do need to drink extra water) and so a great tip for successful keeping of this species is not to spray the eucalyptus leaves at all with water. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we house small numbers (up to six) of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects in the ELC cage (with the mesh ELC lid ). The ELC cage has two mesh sides that allows a through-draught of air. Larger quantities of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are housed in the AUC cage which has four heavy duty netting sides that allow plenty of air-flow.

Any news of the eucalyptus yet? My Macleays Spectre eggs are due to hatch soon so I need to be prepared!
Yes, our potted eucalyptus plants are looking really good and will be ready to send out within weeks. We shall notify everyone on the waiting-list first and then list the plants on the website. These plants are supplied specially for stick insects to eat. So they are grown without the use of pesticides, making them safe for stick insects to eat. Eucalyptus leaves are particularly enjoyed by Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum), Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), and Grenadan stick insects (Diapherodes gigantea).

Our Indian stick insects have made yellow/brown stains on our netting enclosure. Their poo is black and so what's causing these stains? And how do I get them off? I'm hoping to get our stick insects a better home, so will get the ELC cage soon.
When alarmed, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can release a dark yellow liquid from their mouths. The nymphs and adults can do this. This is what is staining the sides of your enclosure. Indian stick insects do very well in the ELC cage, this has solid mesh sides and solid clear PVC sides, which can be easily scrubbed clean with the Cleaning Sponge (included as the part of the ELC bundle) and "Parozone bleach plus stain remover" (sold in hardware shops in silver bottles with pink tops). Be sure to rinse well with lukewarm or cold water and dry with a soft tea towel before putting the stick insects back into the cage.

I've kept stick insects since I was 15 and I would love to grow my collection. I have just purchased your book and am tempted by the New Guinea stick insects. But I saw on another site someone warning how aggressive they are? Should I be worried?
Like all animals, the cause of stick insect behaviour is part genetic and part environmental. So if you are keeping stick insects in bad conditions or maltreating them, then obviously the stick insects will be very stressed and be aggressive. This is most obvious in a species that has spines on its legs, like the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), and such an unhappy stick insect can lash out. However, if you are keeping New Guinea stick insects properly (in an ELC cage) and looking after them well (providing fresh bramble leaves and a dish of clean drinking water), there shouldn't be any problems. However, it's also important to purchase your stick insects from a reputable breeder who has been treating them well, so they don't arrive with any behavioural issues. Of course, here at Small-Life Supplies, we treat our stick insects very well and handle them frequently, so they have good temperaments. Many of our customers remark how pleased they are with the New Guinea stick insects and how rewarding these long-lived stick insects are as pets.

I have eight baby Indian stick insects, all happy in a QBOX. I have to go away for five days and am stressing out about my babies! I can't take them with me and don't really want to hand them over to someone else to look after in case they mess it up! Is there enough air in the QBOX to last eight insects for five days? I have left them for two days before and they have been fine, so perhaps I am worrying unnecessarily? My flat heating is on an automatic timer and so there's no worries there.
They'll be fine! There is plenty of air in the QBOX, so you could leave it unopened for a week and your baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) would still be OK. A wet bramble leaf will stay fresh for up to one week in a QBOX and so your stick insects can continue to enjoy eating nutritious bramble whilst you are away for five days.

Regarding taxonomy, I am pleased that you stick (excuse the pun!) with "Phasmida". I feel people who try to change names for the sake of it rather tiresome, I agree with Wikipedia when it says "Phasmida is the oldest and simplest name, first used by Leach in 1815 in ‘Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopaedia’ volume 9, p.119, and widely used in major entomological textbooks, dictionaries and many scientific papers and books on phasmids. As there is no compulsion to select the ‘grammatically correct’ name [which some argue is Phasmatodea Jacobson & Bianchi, 1902], selection of a long established (and simple) name is reasonable, although the probability of persuading all colleagues to agree on the use of Phasmida is unlikely."
Yes, rather like accountants who keep changing financial terminology, seemingly just for the sake of it, there are some researchers who want to keep changing species names of insects, or, in this case the "order" to which stick insects are classified. So I support the view that stick insects belong to the order Phasmida and another word for stick insects is "phasmids". And really, in 2020, to still be going on about implementing a change proposed in 1902 seems tiresome in the extreme!

I'll be fourteen on February 6th and really really want the Pink Winged stick insects. My Dad says Indian stick insects would be better. How can I persuade him to change his mind?
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are easy to look after and eat bramble leaves (also eucalyptus leaves) and do well in an airy cage such as the ELC cage. When they are fully grown (adults), Pink Winged stick insects glue their eggs onto rough surfaces. They like to push their abdomens through the holes in the ELC cage and glue eggs onto the outside. So that's why you tape Hatching Mat onto the outside of the mesh wall and the Pink Winged stick insects will glue their eggs onto the Hatching Mat! The adults like to fly outside the cage and so you can take them out and wait for them to take a short flight across the room. They usually land on a wall or a window. They fly quite slowly (so are nothing like a budgerigar flapping about) and are very easy to pick up again and place back in the cage. If your Dad is concerned about them flying fast and being difficult to catch again, you can dispel these concerns. Pink Winged stick insects are easy to handle and a sensible teenager should have no problems at all with handling them. The best cage for Pink Winged stick insects is the ELC cage which has two mesh sides providing the ventilation they need and the height (51cm) they need to grow properly. Small-Life Supplies supply Pink Winged stick insects as nymphs so you can see them grow and look forward to seeing them get their wings when they are adults (in a few months time).

Just wanted to check if "bramble" is the same plant as the large blackberry bushes that grow by the allotments? I pick bowls of the large purple blackberries in the late summer and make apple and blackberry crumble!
Yes, it's the same plant. There are lots of types of bramble, some die off in the winter but others keep their green leaves. The type of bramble/blackberry bush you describe is great for providing bramble leaves for stick insects to eat and the blackberry fruits make delicious puddings as you already know!

Is there such a thing as too much ventilation in a cage? I've seen some mesh enclosures going cheap, but not sure if one would suit my New Guinea stick insects?
Unfortunately there is such a thing as too much ventilation in a cage. So whilst all mesh enclosures can be tolerated by a few species of stick insect (for example the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect, Extatosoma tiaratum), they are far too airy for many other species. So your New Guinea stick insects would be at risk in such an airy environment. However, the ELC cage is a purpose designed stick insect cage, with two mesh sides. So that cage is ideal for your New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata). Also, the ELC cage has a clear front and back and roof so it is easy to see the stick insects inside the cage. Another big problem with all mesh enclosures is that they are difficult to see into.

Are you against HS2?
Yes, primarily because to build this high speed railway involves far too much destruction of the environment. To propose destroying 108 ancient woodlands, 32 sites of special scientific interest and 693 local wildlife sites in the UK is unacceptable. With the climate crisis, air pollution and increasing numbers of people with mental health issues, the UK government needs to urgently promote nature and not destroy it. The huge budget that HS2 requires should be spent elsewhere, to help alleviate the suffering in the UK.

I got some eggs from my Indian Eri silkmoths, what is the best way to care for the eggs?
Pull the eggs off the sides of the TTQ cage and place them in a QBOX. The eggs are white. In approx ten days time the eggs will turn grey, this indicates that hatching will occur in the next day or so. When the eggs hatch place a QBOX Liner and loose green privet leaves in the QBOX. Remember to dry the privet leaves first if has been raining because these Indian Eri caterpillars (Samia ricini) become ill if they eat wet leaves.

What 6 practical steps can I do to help the climate crisis? I am fifteen and my parents set me this task!
1) If you holiday abroad with your parents, try to persuade them to book a car trip by ferry (to Holland, France or Ireland), because this avoids flying and aviation pollution is very damaging to the environment. 2) Follow Greenpeace on Facebook because this reputable environmental organisation has lots of goods practical ideas. 3) Reduce your energy consumption, so ditch the hair straighteners, turn off lights, watch less TV, fill a kettle sparingly, turn the room thermostat down etc, 4) Reduce your consumerism so buy fewer new clothes and instead mix and match outfits you have, and try out retro and vintage shops. 5) Keep reminding your parents to make some behavioural changes, for example in the supermarket always buy loose apples in a paper bag rather than ones pre-packaged in single use plastic packaging. 6) Plant trees, bushes, any native British grown plant. Most people can find somewhere to do this, even if you have very limited space you can still plant a bramble plant by the fence or wall. Green plants consume carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen.

I am getting back into stick insect keeping, having lapsed for a while due to work commitments. I'm after an easy to keep type , but not Indian (as I've had those before).
Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are a good choice. There are males and females, they look quite different, so it's easy to tell them apart. The adult females starts off green but becomes more brown as she ages. The adult male is dark purplish brown with yellow eyes and is very active! Thailand stick insects grow to 18cm so are much longer than Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) which typically grow to 11cm. Thailand stick insects eat bramble/blackberry leaves and do well in the ELC cage which has two mesh sides and a drop on lid.

I have some Jungle Nymph stick insect eggs hatching now. What is the best way to care for these stick insects? I already have HUA Pots.
"Jungle Nymph" stick insects are also called Malaysian stick insects, Heteropteryx dilatata. Malaysian stick insect eggs take a very long time to hatch, typically 18 months! For best results, keep the baby stick insects in the HUA Pot and give them a wet bramble leaf to eat. These stick insects are slow growing, but in a couple of months they should be large enough to transfer into a larger cage. We transfer them to the TTQ cage (with the green mesh side) and house them in this cage for a few more months before transferring them to the more airy ELC cage. Most other species of stick insects can be transferred from the HUA Pot directly to the ELC cage, but we have found that the Malaysian stick insects need to have the ventilation increased more gradually which is why you need to house them in the TTQ cage with the green mesh side as an interim measure. Malaysian stick insects are spectacular (the females are huge, wide and are a vivid lime green, and the males are brown with deep purple wings). As adults, they are active stick insects and like a lot of exercise, so it recommended to take them out of the cage every few days and let them walk across the floor or a large table.

Do you have any medium size Macleays Spectre stick insects?
Small-Life Supplies do breed the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, Latin species name Extatosoma tiaratum. But at the moment we don't have any nymphs (young stick insects) for sale. We have lots of eggs though, and so this species should be back in stock in a few months time.

Seen people talking about "inverts". Is this because introverts like insects?
No. "Inverts" is slang for "invertebrates" which is the term used for creatures without backbones. Insects don't have an internal skeleton (backbone), they have an exoskeleton instead. There are many types of people who like insects, so that includes introverted people, also extroverts and the range inbetween! Also, many people who like insects also like other creatures (cats, birds, guinea pigs, dogs etc) and trees and plants, so appreciate the natural world.

Please can you help me identify which of these trees are Eucalyptus gunnii? One has oval shaped leaves and one has round leaves but my grandad says they are both the same?
Your grandad is correct. Eucalyptus gunnii leaves are a different shape, depending on the age of the tree. Young trees have thick round leaves, but when the tree is a few years old the leaves are all oval shaped and thinner.

We have just had our first two nymphs hatch. They are still in the egg tub with the other eggs. Do we need to give them brambles in there? When do we move them in to the cage with the adults?
Congratulations! Baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) need to have a drink and so it's important to put a wet bramble leaf in there. You don't say what species you have, but assuming they are Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) you keep them in the QBOX with a QBOX Liner and wet bramble leaf (insert a fresh leaf every few days) until they are a couple of months old. At that age the stick insects will be much larger and require more ventilation and so should be transferred to the ELC cage.

Our Indian Eri silkmoths have emerged and one was starting to flutter in the cage and so I let him out and he flew to the window. He's been resting there for a few hours now. What is the best way to pick him up to put him back in the cage? I don't want to damage his wings.
Some Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini) are keen to fly, but most seem to prefer to rest. You did the correct thing in letting the one that was fluttering to go for a fly in your room. It's really obvious which individuals want to fly because they start to shake inside the cage (to warm their flight muscles up) and then start to flutter, as you have observed. Here at Small-Life Supplies , we let them rest where they have landed (usually a window, or a wall ) for a few hours and then gently pick them up by their large hairy abdomens. So yes, it is best not to touch their wings because this can knock off some of the scales on their wings. You can place the silkmoth back in the TTQ cage, preferably on a dead buddleia stem (because this is easy for the moth to grip onto). Most of the Indian Eri silkmoths that like to fly are males, but a few are females. If you have a female that is resting outside the cage, it is important to move her back to the TTQ cage before she starts her egg laying session!

I got a really big net enclosure thinking it would be OK to house stick insects. But unfortunately the stick insects I put in there all died within a week! They were the Guadeloupe Lamponius guerini type. There's loads of nice bramble in my garden, so why do you think the stick insects died? Could it have been unhealthy stock? (They looked OK though, they had all six legs and seemed fine when they arrived). I don't use air-fresheners, so it can't be toxic poisoning. I'd like to know what went wrong before I get replacements.
One of the problems with the large net enclosures is that they are extremely airy, indeed far too ventilated, for many stick insects. So they should only be used to house those species of stick insect that thrive in very airy environments. Unfortunately the Guadeloupe stick insect (Lamponius guerini) prefers less ventilated conditions and so should never be housed in a big net enclosure. Even the ELC cage which has two mesh sides (which is ideal ventilation for many species of stick insects) is too ventilated for Guadeloupe stick insects. So please don't purchase more Guadeloupe stick insects. Instead, you need to find a type of stick insect that will thrive in airy surroundings. The Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) would be the best choice. Also, Thailand stick insects also have small feet claws and so can cope with the fine mesh holes found in the large net enclosures. Here at Small-Life Supplies we breed Thailand stick insects in large numbers and have nice healthy ones for sale now.

We're looking forward to receiving our Indian stick insects and ELC cage bundle from you next week. We have also ordered a Mister Curvy from you and I'd just like to check what type of water we put in it?
Mild nights are forecast for the week beginning 6th January 2020 and so Small-Life Supplies shall be dispatching stick insect kits to customers across the UK. (We can only send out living stick insects during mild nights so it is warm enough for the creatures to travel safely). The ELC cage is ideal for Indian stick insects. You shall receive a Sprig Pot (included in the ELC bundle package). Just fill the Sprig Pot with cold tap water and insert two 30cm long sprigs of bramble (with nice looking green leaves). Fill the Mister Curvy with cold tap water and lightly mist the topside of the bramble leaves in the late afternoon/early evening. This is so the stick insects can drink from the water droplets on the bramble leaves.

When you refer to bramble/blackberry, do you mean the same thing?
Yes. Many species of stick insect eat bramble leaves. Bramble leaves are the same as blackberry leaves. There are different types of bramble/blackberry plants, some lose a few leaves during winter months, whereas others keep most of their leaves. Some bramble/blackberry plants are ground sprawling low level bushes, whereas other types are high level plants climbing up walls. Some bramble/blackberry plants have thick leaves and large thorns on the stems, whereas other types have thin leaves and smaller thorns, and some types have no thorns at all! Fortunately, most stick insects are not fussy about which type of bramble they are offered, although during the winter, it appears that the thicker leaves with the large thorny stems are the most nutritious.

Will Indian stick insects eat privet leaves?
No, it is not a good idea to try to feed your Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) exclusively on privet leaves. Whilst some strains of Indian stick insects will eat privet leaves, many other Indian stick insects (including the ones that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply) no longer eat these leaves and will starve to death unless you feed them their preferred foodplant of bramble/blackberry leaves. The "big switch" happened over ten years ago, suggesting a mutation in the stick insects. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we used to feed our Indian stick insects on privet leaves, but then they suddenly all refused to eat the privet leaves, so we switched them over to bramble/blackberry leaves. (Most other species of stick insect only eat bramble/blackberry leaves). Our Indian stick insects did much better on the bramble/blackberry leaves, noticeably becoming more lively . So we have kept feeding them with bramble/blackberry leaves ever since. From time to time we give them other leaves to eat, and our Indian stick insects will happily eat rose leaves and hazel leaves, but still reject the privet leaves. There is another species of stick insect, the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insect (Peruphasma schultei), that still does well on privet leaves and must be fed exclusively on privet leaves. And our Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars (Samia ricini) will only eat privet leaves, so we are confident that our privet leaves are still nutritious, it is just that they are no longer palatable to our strain of Indian stick insects.

Can I put woodlice in with my stick insects as a clean up crew? Any help. Please.
No, this is not recommended because these creatures require completely different conditions. Woodlice like it cold, damp and dark, that is why you find them huddled together under stones in damp places outdoors. In contrast many species of stick insect like their surroundings to be warm, airy and light. When keeping stick insects as pets in the home, it's important to have then in a clean environment, and so that's why a disposable paper Liner on the floor of the cage works well. Using this method also enables you to sort the eggs easily and just keep a few eggs (so you don't get overrun with baby stick insects).

Our Indian stick insect eggs have started to hatch! Two so far. I have put them in a QBOX with a nice green wet bramble leaf. Do I need to do anything else? Someone else suggested cutting the leaf up into smaller pieces so that it's easier to eat?
You have done the right thing. Newly hatched Indian stick insects (called "first instar nymphs") are thirsty and so it's important to give them a wet bramble leaf so they can drink from the water droplets on the leaf. Young Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) prefer less-ventilated conditions, so the enclosed surroundings of the QBOX are ideal. When these stick insects grow larger, they need more ventilation and so should be transferred to the ventilated ELC cage. Newly hatched stick insects eat the edges of the leaves, and so provided the bramble leaf is green to the edges, there is no need to cut it up. However, if the bramble leaf has brown edges, these should be snipped off with scissors. Stick insects do best if fed nice looking leaves, so always select those leaves which look juicy and green, and avoid those that are discoloured, blotchy, dry looking, or are yellow or brown.

Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a store that carried tons and tons of insect cages? Or does this place exist and I don't know it yet?
Unfortunately the number of independent pet shops has long been declining in the UK. And the chain pet shops tend to concentrate on products with high profit margins. As a British manufacturer of insect cages, Small-Life Supplies know that proper insect cages cannot be produced in the UK at a pittance, so regretably we can not offer our range of insect cages to the big chains to sell on. However, you can view our insect cages online, and ask to go on our emailing list if you'd like to be informed as to when the next public nature/insect event is happening that Small-Life Supplies are exhibiting at. It's always nice to meet our customers in person, and at these events you have the opportunity to see our range of insect cages and decide which one you'd like.

I have two gorgeous Malaysian stick insect adult females and one male. Lately I have noticed that one of the females has a small black area where her leg joins her thorax. She can still move the leg but movement seems a bit restricted, if that makes sense? It looks a bit like rot and so I have a suspicion that I may have been overdoing the misting? They are in an ELC cage.
Yes, this "black area" can occur with Malaysians if the surroundings are too humid. So, when spraying the leaves with water, just direct the water at the leaves and not at the actual stick insects. And don't spray the sides of the cages, there should never be water streaming down the inside walls of the ELC cage. Malaysian stick insect adults do need to drink water through, so it's a good idea to take them out of the cage and let them have a good drink from a saucer of cold tap water. The adult female stick insects' abdomen will visibly swell as she drinks and then she will walk away from the water when she has had enough to drink. You can also put a shallow dish of cold tap water on the cage Liner, thus providing a constant source of drinking water for the stick insects. Unfortunately you can't reverse the damage already done, but if you do the above, the "black area" should not occur on any of the other leg joints. This affliction seems to be unique to Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata).

My daughter only wants two Indian stick insects. Would the TTQ cage be suitable for just two Indian stick insects, or does she still need to get the ELC cage?
The ELC cage is the best cage to house between 1 and 20 Indian stick insects. (Indian stick insects like company of their own kind so it's best to keep them in groups rather than just keeping one on its own). So the ELC cage is the best housing for two Indian stick insects. This is because the ELC cage is tall (51cm high) and has two mesh sides that allow a through- draught of air which is what Indian stick insects need to thrive. The TTQ cage is not tall enough (38cm high) and only has one mesh side, so there is reduced air-flow. The TTQ cage is best suited to house large caterpillars or a praying mantis.

I received a pair of Macleays's Spectres from you in April and they have been wonderful. Sadly, the male has passed away this week. I would guess he was about a year old as they were large nymphs when they arrived. The female matured a lot more slowly than the male and has only recently become an adult. They never mated so I guess if I do get any eggs from her now they will likely not hatch? Do you think it is worth trying to get another male to keep her company or would it better to let her live out the rest of her life as a "widow"?
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) have males and females in approximately equal numbers and so it's best to get another male for your female. Then they can mate (they do this regularly throughout their adult lives) and the resultant eggs should hatch into healthy stick insects. If no male is present, the female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect will still produce eggs, but these will be by parthenogenesis. This is effectively an "emergency back up system" for this species and the eggs that are produced in this way tend to take much longer to hatch and the resultant offspring tend to be weaker individuals than those produced from fertilised eggs. Here at Small-Life Supplies we don't have any male Macleays Spectre nymphs for sale at the moment, so you will need to source one from elsewhere. Try to get a large male nymph (these are really obvious because they have smooth bodies and prominent wing buds). A large male nymph will travel much better than an adult male (who has large wings). And don't be tempted by fancy markings and light colour forms. This is because the most healthy male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect nymphs are a golden brown colour and so choose one that looks like that.

I just read that a male praying mantis cannot copulate with a female praying mantis while his head is still attached to his body, is this true?
No, it is false. Here at Small-Life Supplies we used to breed praying mantises (these insects are also called mantids) and the vast majority of the time they mated successfully without the male being decapitated! The trick seemed to be to ensure that the female was well fed before introducing the male to her. And then after mating to remove the male to a separate cage.

Our pet shop sells "Sunny" stick insects and "Indian" stick insects. Which would you recommend for our little girl (she's seven)? I've just ordered the ELC cage from you.
Definitely the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). These are ideal as a first stick insect pet, they are easy to handle and if your girl keeps some of their eggs she can look forward to them hatching four months later (Indian stick insect eggs are very easy to hatch). She can safely handle her Indian stick insects (they like to walk from one hand to another). And she'll enjoy seeing the special trick that an Indian stick insect can do - it can suddenly clamp all its legs alongside its body and fall into a straight stick, and then spring to life again when you gently blow on it! Hopefully the pet shop has healthy Indian stick insects (with all six of their legs), I'd recommend purchasing large nymphs or adults (fully grown ones) because these will be easier for your daughter to handle. However, if the pet shop only has stick insects that have legs missing , I'd recommend you buy the stick insects from somewhere else. Small-Life Supplies sells healthy Indian stick insects with six legs. Indian stick insects do best if given green bramble/blackberry leaves. And it's great that you've ordered the ELC stick insect cage because this is the best cage to house Indian stick insects.

I'm so glad I found your site, my first wallet of bramble has been delivered today and it's great. I'll be ordering more, but what do I do over Christmas?
Small-Life Supplies send out green bramble/blackberry leaves all year. We still have to feed our stick insects over Christmas and so continue to gather nice quality bramble. So wallets of fresh cut bramble will be dispatched week beginning 16th December. The following week, bramble can be posted on one day only, Friday 27th December. The week after, bramble can be posted on Thursday 2nd January 2020. You may like to order now and request dispatch on those dates, so you can rest assured your order will be processed and your stick insects will not go hungry!

We are hoping to get some Thorny Stick Insects for our two daughters and we are busy collecting everything ready and learning all we can beforehand. I just wanted to ask about what water you use for misting the enclosure - do you use tap, cooled water from the kettle, rainwater?
Stick insects are named after their native country and "Thorny" stick insects are usually called "Sabah" stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus) or "Giant Sabah" stick insects (Trachyaretaon brueckneri). Sabah is a state in Borneo. Unfortunately Sabah stick insects are more difficult because they need high humidity and so can't be mixed with stick insects that need airy surroundings (these include the popular Indian, Pink Winged, Thailand and Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects). So Small-Life Supplies no longer breed the Sabah or Giant Sabah stick insects and don't recommend them for beginners. However, if you do go ahead and purchase Sabah stick insects, you will need to increase the humidity in the cage, so if you have an ELC cage you can use the "Ventilation Control Panels" which are clear cellophane panels that attach to the outside of the white mesh. So the ventilation is reduced but the stick insects can still hook their claws around the holes in the white sides and climb. Another tip is to place two Sprig Pots of fresh bramble in the cage, instead of just one. And Sabah stick insects also need a shallow Water Dish because they drink more water than many other types of stick insects. Adult Sabah females need a Sand Pit in which to bury their eggs. You don't mist the enclosure, it is the bramble leaves that need a light misting. Cold tap water is OK to use. So fill the Mister Curvy (or equivalent plant sprayer) with cold tap water. Also use cold tap water in the Sprig Pot and in the Water Dish. But ultimately I'd recommend not getting Sabah and instead choosing an easier to keep type of stick insect (preferably Indian stick insects or Pink Winged stick insects, or even both types because they will live happily together.)

Do you ever have Jungle Nymphs for sale?
Yes, here at Small-Life Supplies we breed Malaysian stick insects (also called "Jungle Nymphs"), species name Heteropteryx dilatata. In fact they are being sent out at the moment (during mild nights) . There is always a very high demand for this species and so we are currently supplying the people on our waiting-list first, before we can list them on the website. If you'd like to be added to the Malaysian stick insect waiting list , please get in touch.

My son wants a lizard for Christmas, he's only five, so I said no. I thought a stick insect would be a better choice, what do you think?
Yes, stick insects are great pets for five year olds, providing you choose a species that is robust and moves fairly slowly. So the best types are the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus), we have adults he could handle (carefully of course). Or, if he likes lizards, then the prehistoric-looking New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) might be a better choice. These are slow moving stick insects with very wide bodies that can be stroked by young children. Small-Life Supplies sell stick insects in groups of four (because they like company of their own kind rather than being kept on their own). And the ELC cage has been designed specially for stick insects and so provides the correct ventilation and space requirements. You'll need a source of fresh bramble/blackberry leaves, so it's best to start looking now at disused railway lines, overgrown canal embankments, wooded areas etc to make sure you know where to find juicy green bramble leaves.

My question is about privet leaves. I have been foraging leaves from a hedge outside a council building for my Indian silkworms. But the council have just trimmed the hedge and the privet leaves have turned purple! I have seen yellow privet leaves before in the autumn, but not purple ones. I googled this and some people suggest it's a result of "honey fungus" and the hedge is doomed. But the leaves have been fine up until the trim so I wondered if you know what's going on? Fortunately I have now found another hedge with green leaves.
I am glad you have found another privet hedge with green leaves. It's really important to feed caterpillars (and the privet-eating stick insects) with juicy looking green privet leaves because these contain the right nutrients. The purple privet leaves and the yellow privet leaves are not nutritious and should not be collected. One common reason why green privet leaves suddenly turn a purplish/brown colour is extreme stress. So in your case, the hedge outside the council building has been subjected to a trim just after a long period of excessive rain and wind followed by plummeting overnight temperatures! It is absurd that so much gardening knowledge has been lost from so many council workers and they cut trees and hedges when the conditions are not suitable, leading to unsightly and stressed plants. These staff need better training so they appreciate the plants are alive and living, and use best practice regarding their maintenance. Unfortunately the line about purple privet leaves only being caused by "honey fungus" is an excuse used far too often. Even worse this wrong diagnosis can then be used as a justification to rip out the entire hedge (to stop the spread of the fungus)!

I need to find eucalyptus and someone said Small-Life Supplies sell pesticide-free eucalyptus plants? I can't see them on your site, I hope you have some available because I'm fast running out of eucalyptus for my Diapherodes gigantea and they won't eat anything else!
Diapherodes gigantea is the Latin species name for the Grenadan stick insect, sometimes called the "green bean" stick insect. This is a large bright green stick insect that does best on eucalyptus leaves. At the moment Small-Life Supplies is sending out wallets of fresh cut Eucalyptus gunnii leaves to customers (but stocks are limited which is why it isn't listed on the website). So please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 if you'd like to purchase fresh eucalyptus leaves. You can store it in the bottom of the fridge to help the leaves stay fresh for longer. Our potted eucalyptus plants are sold out, but we do have a waiting-list for next year's plants, so please get in touch if you'd like to be added to that waiting-list (there's no-obligation to buy).

During my biological studies we were told that the human population was predicted to crash around 2030. We discussed the possible causes (disease, war etc). But now I hear that some insect populations are already crashing, I am thinking it could be the insects that will be responsible? What do you think? I wish the scientists were in charge so the planet could be saved.
Scientists have been warning against excessive human population growth, rising global temperatures and resultant rising sea levels, over consumption, pollution, destruction of nature etc for decades, but unfortunately big business and politicians (many of whom have very little scientific knowledge) have not listened. Now, finally, the message that the world is in a climate emergency is getting across. But still the fires in the Amazon and Australia rage and our news channels in the UK still focus on local murders and road traffic accidents, completely ignoring the "bigger picture" concerning the environmental catastrophe that is happening now. And yes, insects are essential to the survival of the human race, so if they go, so do we. It is alarming and very depressing that so many people have no idea how important insects are. The basics of ecosystems and how plants and insects interact has not been taught effectively in many schools. Obviously being a biologist you will already know that insects pollinate plants and this is essential for plants to reproduce. And insects are the main food source for a lot of birds and other animals. The scientists need to be more assertive at this crucial time and urgent corrective action taken, based on biological knowledge.

We'd like stick insects for Christmas. Can they be delivered on Christmas Eve (as it's a Tuesday)?
The Christmas orders are being dispatched week beginning 9th December 2019 and the week beginning 16th December 2019. It is best to be as flexible as possible regarding the delivery date because we are reliant on the weather being mild at night for the stick insects to travel safely. So we can only dispatch stick insects during mild nights and we will have to wait till nearer the time before we have accurate weather forecasts. Small-Life Supplies are accepting stick insect orders now for delivery nearer to Christmas. It is helpful to include delivery instructions (including which neighbour or safe place to leave your parcel if you are not there when delivery is attempted) when placing your order. The cage of stick insects can be hidden in a wardrobe or spare room until Christmas Day. Unfortunately it is much too risky to attempt delivery on Christmas Eve (we cannot risk livestock being held up with the huge volumes of Christmas parcels).

I am new to keeping stick insects and so am doing my research before I purchase some. Please can you tell me how often I need to change the cage liners? I am thinking of getting four Indian stick insects (adult size) and the ELC cage bundle. Do Indian stick insects produce a lot of poo?
The ELC cage is perfect for housing four Indian stick insect adults (Carausius morosus). Indeed this cage will house up to twenty adult Indian stick insects, so it is a good idea of you save some of their eggs and wait for these to hatch out in four months time. Regardless of whether your ELC cage is housing four or twenty stick insects, it is still best to replace the ELC cage Liner once a week. Remove the Sprig Pot of food, and then carefully lift out the cage Liner. Then hold the Liner above a bowl, tilt the Liner and gently tap it underneath. The Indian stick insect eggs are round and will roll off the Liner and into the bowl. Transfer some of these eggs into a QBOX and stick a label on with the date (because this will help remind you when the eggs are due to hatch, four months later). Four Indian stick insects will not produce much frass/poo/droppings in a week, but it is important to keep the surroundings clean and so that is why a weekly change of ELC Liner is strongly recommended.

You ship the book to the US? Sure, I'd like a signed book.
Yes, new copies of the "Keeping Stick Insects" book are sent to the USA (and the rest of the world). At the moment, new signed copies are on Ebay internationally at a discount rate! So the total price, including shipping by airmail post to the USA, is approx 14 GBP (approx 18 USD). Delivery time is approx one week. Just go on ebay and search for eBay item number: 174102673390

I mentioned that I'd like to encourage my teenage daughter (who loves animals) to have some stick insects and a co-worker suggested I could use her old glass vivarium which has a mesh lid. So I have compared this to the ELC cage you recommend, and I see that it is larger but has the solid sides and no side access. Would the benefit of a larger cage outweigh the disadvantage of the the solid sides and no side access? I don't want to get the wrong thing as I strongly believe in caring for creatures correctly.
No, the disadvantages of the glass vivarium you describe strongly outweigh the minor benefit of a bit more space. And don't forget how heavy a glass tank is, and that this heavy weight means that it is difficult to move around to clean and wash. The ELC cage has been specially designed as a stick insect cage, and so has the key features that stick insects require, including two mesh sides and the correct height of 51cm. It is sturdy yet light enough to be moved around easily and so can be placed on a sink draining board and washed every month. The weekly care is very easy, just place a pre-cut disposable ELC Liner on the floor of the cage and add a Sprig Pot (filled with cold tap water and fresh cut bramble sprigs). When your daughter wants to take her stick insects out of the cage, she can reach down from the top of the cage, or she can slide up one white mesh panel and reach sideways into the cage. Most of the time the stick insects will be resting on the white mesh sides, this is because the ELC sides are full of holes that are the correct size for the stick insects to hook their claws around and get a good grip.

A couple of my Vapourer moths emerged from their cocoons this morning, both are females. I put them outside on the garden table under the wooden gazebo, but so far no males have flown to them. It's getting dark now, so I have brought them back inside. I'll try again tomorrow, do you think I should use the same place or try a different location? I don't want them to be gobbled up by birds! Also, is the black wiggly thing coming out of their bottoms the method they use to release the pheromones?
Yes, try again tomorrow, using the same location. It's important to give the Vapourer female moths some protection from hungry birds and so by placing them underneath a wooden gazebo is ideal. At this time of year (November) there are fewer British Vapourer moths flying around than in the summer months, and so it can take a day or two before you see any wild males arrive. If you have some more Vapourer cocoons waiting to emerge, you can hope that you get a male. A good tip is to release the male outdoors near the females. Depending on the individual, some males fly to a female immediately and start to mate, whereas other males like to have a fly around the garden first and then mate. And some other males like to fly out of the garden and then fly back a few hours later to mate! The best time for an adult female Vapourer moth to mate is within the first five days of her adult life. After that time her body shrinks and she becomes weak, dying a couple of days later. You don't have to sit watching your female moths to see if they have mated because it is only after mating that the female starts to lay hundreds of eggs, neatly arranged on the QBOX lid. Unmated females produce a haphazard line of up to ten eggs, these are not worth saving because they are unlikely to hatch into healthy insects. And yes, the black pulsating body part is releasing the pheromones.

I really like the very long stick insects. What is the longest type of stick insect that you sell?
The North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina) is the longest type of stick insect Small-Life Supplies are breeding at the moment. Our eggs are hatching now and these stick insects grow quickly and eat bramble/blackberry leaves. You keep the young nymphs and medium sized nymphs in the ELC cage (51cm tall). But the large nymphs and adults need an even larger cage, so the AUC cage (70cm tall) is ideal. The North East Vietnamese stick insects need a well-ventilated cage and so the four mesh sides of the AUC cage are ideal for these stick insects. The females grow especially long, adult females can reach lengths of 27cm, adult males 21.5cm! If you'd like to go on the waiting-list for these impressive stick insects, just get in touch and we'll let you know as soon as they are ready to send out.

Just wondered if Small-Life will be at any of the smaller insect shows being held this year? I'd like to buy a stick insect cage for Christmas.
Small-Life Supplies is already accepting orders for Christmas dispatch and so you're welcome to order now and request delivery of your stick insect cage nearer to Christmas. Small-Life Supplies does exhibit at the major insect and nature events, but not at the small shows, so our next event is in 2020.

What would be the maximum number of Indian stick insects to have in a tank size 45cm high x 30cm x 30cm? I have just inherited a tank with adults and nymphs in it, and I am worried there are too many for the size of the tank. What is the MOST humane way to dispose of the eggs? I clean out the tissue paper every few days. I currently separate out the eggs and put them in the freezer. Would it be a humane option to throw them onto a burning log fire as then I wouldn't need to separate eggs from tissue paper/poop? I could pop it all on the fire at the same time. But my main concern is that I do whatever is most humane.
You could house up to twenty adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in your tank. And yes, scrunching up the tissue paper and throwing the contents into the burning log fire is the most humane way to destroy unwanted stick insect eggs. This is because exposure to fire is very fast and totally effective. Please do not put any more eggs in the freezer because exposure to cold can sometimes just arrest the development of the eggs, which means the eggs can start developing again when they are removed from the freezer. Another humane method which can be used (for people who don't have a log fire) is to pour hot water over the eggs and droppings (frass).

I would like to help establish some butterfly/moth colonies in my small garden. For the last two years I have trying to transform it into a wild garden, so now there are loads of weeds and self seeded wild flowers. The insects are moving back in, some I have never seen before and had to look them up to identify them! I have seen you breed the British Vapourer caterpillars, if I got some of those do you think there would be a chance of them establishing a self-sustaining colony in my garden? I have loads of bramble!
It's great that you are doing this and yes, it is usually easy to establish new butterfly/moths populations in "semi overgrown" gardens. A garden filled with insects and native wild British flowers and plants is far more interesting and calming than a manicured piece of lawn (or worse still astro-turf)! Your chances of success are high providing you have the correct foodplants for the caterpillars (larvae) and plenty of native British flowers from which the adult butterflies and moths can feed. The British Vapourer Moth is a good one to establish, I recommend releasing up to twelve individuals outside. The British Speckled Wood Butterfly is another easy one to establish outside. These caterpillars eat grass. To begin with you can rear the caterpillars indoors and then release the adult moths/butterflies in your garden. The best time to release the adult moths/butterflies is between 5pm and 6pm to minimise their chances of being eaten by birds. Again, low volume releases of up to twelve are more successful than if you release large numbers (this is because large scale releases are noticed by the birds who then feast on the insects).

I am getting some Indian stick insects. Will they do better on bramble leaves or privet leaves?
Here at Small-Life Supplies, we feed all our Indian stick insects on bramble leaves. We stopped using privet leaves many years ago, because when given the choice, our stick insects chose to eat bramble leaves rather than privet leaves. Also, we noticed our Indian stick insects became more active when they were eating bramble/blackberry leaves. As a general rule, active stick insects are healthier than sluggish ones.

Please can you tell me how long Macleays Spectre stick insects live for? I hatched out five eggs in October 2018, these became four males and one female. One of the males died early on, but the others have been doing well until recently when the began to show signs of slowing down, presumably because they are old? Anyway, the last male died yesterday, and now Margot (the female) looks darker. She is still eating eucalyptus but not as much as she used to. I fear she is nearing the end?
It has long been thought that Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) have shorter lifespans than many other stick insects, so typically live just under one year. However, if they are fed exclusively on eucalyptus (rather than being transferred over to bramble from eucalyptus), this appears to extend their lifespan to approx one year. So your experience supports this view. And yes, you are correct in deducing that very old stick insects look darker, move more slowly and have a reduced appetite. So Margot is nearing the end of her life, but hopefully you will have saved some of her eggs and can look forward to rearing the next generation.

I have had a cage of Indian stick insects in my classroom for the past 8 months - the children love to observe their behaviour and handle them from time to time. My question is, now that the colder weather is setting in, do I need to provide a heat source for the insects, to be used at night and over the weekend? The heating is turned off completely at school during these times. It is an old Victorian building and can get very chilly. I bring the insects home with me during the holidays, but I turn off the heating at night (an energy saving measure instilled by my parents, and more environmentally friendly I feel). Would covering the cage with blanket at night be of any use?
Yes, covering the cage with a blanket at night certainly helps. Another tip is to also place a hot water bottle near the cage (but obviously this will go cold after a few hours). A safe and low cost option is to buy an oil-filled radiator and plug this in near the cage. If you plug it into a timer, you can programme it to emit gentle warmth throughout the night. Free-standing oil-filled radiators are low-cost (approx £20) and the best one to choose is one that emits 500 Watts. Avoid the more powerful ones because these emit too much heat and will dry up the leaves in the cage. The running cost is only 9 pence per hour. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are robust and do well in schools, but if the school building is old and chilly then they do need a bit of extra heat at night during the cold autumn and winter months.

Our Indian Eri caterpillars are massive and having upset tummies? The privet is the same as normal and so I don't know what could have caused the upset?
When a caterpillar is fully grow and about to pupate (transform into a pupa) it has an "upset tummy" and so excretes wet waste (instead of dry waste). The caterpillar then shrinks a bit and if it is the Indian Eri caterpilar (Samia ricini) , it changes colour from white to pale yellow. Then it starts to spin a silk cocoon and will transform into a pupa within this cocoon. So there is no cause for concern for your caterpillars, they are simply fully grown and about to embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Just to clarify, a young stick insect is called a nymph?
Yes, all stick insects that are not adult/fully grown/imago are called "nymphs". And these nymphs are categorised further according to their size. So, a newly hatched stick insect (baby) is scientifically called a "first instar nymph". When this stick insect sheds its skin for the first time (which happens when it is a few weeks old) it dramatically increases in size and is now called a "second instar nymph". Most stick insects shed their skins six times in five months, and so when the stick insect reaches its seventh instar, it is no longer called a "seventh instar nymph" but instead is called an adult (or imago).

I have asked my boyfriend to get me stick insects for Christmas. With the ELC bundle obviously. I have chosen Thailand stick insects, my concern is if you can deliver stick insects in December? I'm thinking possible snow...
Many people want stick insects for Christmas and Small-Life Supplies is geared up for this busy time of year. We prioritise the welfare of the stick insects and so can only send them during mild nights (when the overnight temperature is above freezing). So it's best to be as flexible as possible regarding the delivery day. Fortunately the very cold snaps in December usually only last a few days and so we have always been able to dispatch all Christmas orders successfully to our customers. We let you know in advance when delivery will be and can make arrangements for the parcel to be left with a neighbour or in a safe place if you are nipping out. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are an excellent choice, they are lively stick insects which darken as they mature.

The Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars that I bought from you are doing really well, as are my Pink Winged stick insects that I purchased from you previously. Now that the nights are getting colder, I was wondering what temperature I should set my room thermostat to at night?
You need to set your room thermostat to 12 degrees Celsius at night, to make sure that your insects do not get too cold. And a daytime temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius is ideal for your stick insects and caterpillars.

My stick insects are in a tub with a mesh top, they spend all their time on the mesh lid? Why is this? Is it because they like to be upside down? They are Indian stick insects.
Your Indian stick insects are trying to get to the air. So no, it is not because they want to be upside-down, they are resting on the mesh lid because they like to be near the fresh air. When you keep Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in the ELC cage, the stick insects rest on the two vertical mesh sides, they do this because these sides are ventilated.

How do you pronounce Vapourer caterpillar? I presumed it was "Vapour"- "er"? But my teacher said "Vap"-"aura"? Has she made a mistake? She's the art teacher.
Yes. You are correct. It is pronounced "Vape"-"or"-"rer". This is an easy to breed British moth which has colourful caterpillars (with red, yellow and black markings). They don't look like a conventional smooth looking caterpillar but have hairs and four yellow tufts, so they are great subjects to photograph and draw! Small-Life Supplies breed and supply these caterpillars, they eat bramble/blackberry leaves and are easy to look after. And being a native species to Britain (Orgyia antigua) , you can release them outside when they are adults.

Is it a good idea to keep a pot eucalyptus plant indoors? I live in Bristol.
No. Potted eucalyptus plants should be kept outside. This is because they needs lots of sunlight (and to be watered well). The potted eucalyptus plants that Small-Life Supplies sell can be kept outdoors in a pot, or, better still, transplanted into your garden. Our next batch of plants should be ready next Spring, so please ask to go be added to our waiting-list now, and you'll ne notified when the plants are back in stock. Our eucalyptus plants are grown specially without pesticides which means the leaves are safe for the stick insects to eat.

Should I provide a bowl of water for my Indian stick insects? They are in a large net enclosure with a zip, but seem thirsty? I am saving up for an ELC!
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) usually obtain sufficient moisture from the bramble/blackberry leaves which they eat. It is a good idea to lightly mist the leaves (but not the stick insects) with cold tap water from the Mister Curvy, preferably in the late afternoon/early evening. This does not have to be done every day. One problem with your current housing is that there is too much ventilation for Indian stick insects because this cage has all-round ventilation, making the surroundings too dry and this is what is making your stick insects extra thirsty. So yes, you could insert a shallow dish with some cold tap water (only filled do a depth of a few millimetres to prevent accidental drowning). Put paper on the floor of the cage (avoid kitchen roll because this is absorbent and will dry out the surroundings even more). When you get your ELC cage, you can remove the Water Dish because the ELC cage has two ventilated sides and two solid sides, so provides the optimum conditions for Indian stick insects.

Am looking to plant some bramble plants by my fence. I remember you saying you can supply these, can't spot them on your site just now, so please tell me when they'll be back in stock and what's involved?
Small-Life Supplies supply "bare-rooted" bramble plants. This means we dig them up in the morning, pack and dispatch them in the afternoon, for delivery to the customer the following day. The customer then needs to plant them outside later that day. Obviously all this takes some planning, so it's best for the customer to have already decided where the plant is going to be planted. You have already done this, and a spot by the fence is ideal. November is a good time to be planting bramble and so we have a waiting-list for customers who want to receive bramble plants in a couple of weeks. You can choose to buy just one plant or several plants, the delivery charge is the same regardless of the size of order. The important thing is to plant them out the day you receive them and water them afterwards. You don't have to prepare the ground in advance, just dig a hole and insert the plant when it arrives. Don't try and put the bramble plant into a flower pot, this is because a bramble plant needs space to sprawl and so is an outdoor plant.

I have just ordered an ELC cage bundle and am looking forward to it arriving later this week. I know it comes with a cleaning sponge, please can you explain the best way to clean this cage and how often this needs to be done? It is for my African fruit beetles.
The ELC cage is perfect housing for African fruit beetles (Pachnoda marginata). These large yellow and black beetles climb the white mesh sides of the cage and rest there during the day. Once a week, you need to replace the ELC Liner on the floor of the cage and wash the cage also. So remove the contents and then wash the cage using cold or lukewarm (not hot) water. Stubborn stains can be easily removed using the cleaning sponge and "Parozone bleach plus stain remover" (this is sold in silver bottles from "Savers" stores in the UK). Rinse well with cold water. Dry with a soft old cotton tea towel. African fruit beetles defecate on the mesh sides and this is why the cage needs a weekly wash. You can place chunks of orange and apple on the ELC Liner and insert dead buddleia twigs in the Sprig Pot so the beetles have more places to explore. Remember to add a dish of John Innes potting compost too, this is so the beetles can bury their eggs in the compost. When these eggs hatch, put slices of orange and apple on the top so the beetle larvae can eat these.

Do Giant African Land Snails grieve? Tom, my snail that I'd had for four years died a week ago and Tina, his mate, hasn't come out of her shell since. (I know they are hermaphrodites but my son chose these names!)
Yes, Tina is grieving. When Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) are upset they can upturn their water dish and tip over their food dishes. However when a snail's mate dies, the surviving snail becomes very subdued. Sometimes the snail stops eating and will retreat into its shell for months, sealing the entrance with a white covering. If this happens, do not disturb the snail, but obviously check on it daily to see if it has emerged (because it will then need food and water). In our experience, the grieving process takes several months and then the snail starts to behave normally again, eating and being active and curious again.

My pair of Malaysian stick insects are still fawn, I have had them for several months! I thought the female nymph was supposed to be green? She is definitely female, I can see her ovipositor.
Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are very slow growing, so it is normal for them to be fawn coloured for months. When the female nymph is medium sized she becomes green and retains this colour for the rest of her life. So large female nymphs and the adult females are a bright lime green colour.

My female Macleays Spectre stick insects always seems to be mating, often for hours on end! Sometimes there are two males on her. Is she OK? She eats loads of eucalyptus, is very fat and is laying lots of eggs.
Yes, it is normal for Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) to mate frequently and for long stretches of time. The adult female is much larger than the male and the female can easily shake off the male if she wants to. Your description of your female shows she is nice and healthy.

We saw some New Guinea stick insects at the show and the stall holder told us their ovipositor can detect humidity and temperature and so help the stick insect assess suitability of the substrate for egg laying. I know insects are amazing but this seems a bit far fetched?.
Adult female New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) have a hard ovipositor, it is shaped a bit like a shovel. When the female is ready to bury an egg, she digs a little hole in dry sand, releases an egg, and then uses her ovipositor to flick sand back over the egg to bury it. However, if a dish of dry sand is not available, she will bury her egg in whatever is nearby. So I have seen female New Guinea stick insects bury their eggs in thick carpets and rugs, in dry oasis blocks, underneath the ELC Liner, and even inbetween human fingers! So it is unlikely that the ovipositor of the New Guinea is adapted in the way this person was claiming. However, there is another stick insect, the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) which does have sensory hairs on its ovipositor. This stick insect takes great care selecting a site to glue her eggs, you can see her testing suitability of a potential surface by repeatedly touching the surface gently with her ovipositor. However it is the texture that she is assessing because the stick insect needs to be sure that her eggs will adhere to the surface she selects.

I got some massive snails from Kempton on Saturday, do you sell cuttlefish?
Giant African Land Snails need calcium to help their shells grow properly. Up until about twenty years ago, many people were buying cuttlefish bone and putting that in the snail tank for the snails to gnaw on and consume the calcium. Then it was discovered that rinsed out hen eggshells were a much better alternative. This is because they are also a source of calcium but have a lower salt content. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we made the switch to eggshells about twenty years ago and immediately noticed the improvement in our snails' health. We have been using rinsed out hen eggshells ever since. Just put the two halves of the eggshell in the tank and the snail puts its head inside the eggshell and eats it from the inside. We have tried offering different types of hen eggshells to the snails to see if they have a preference. As expected, the snails prefer to eat the most expensive free range eggs!

The Indian Eri caterpillars I bought from you are doing fantastically well and growing really fast! I am now preparing a larger enclosure for them, as per the instruction sheet. My question is about the Privet Platform. My understanding is that it keeps the privet upright but without the use of water. But won't it wilt quickly?
Great to hear your caterpillars are doing well. And yes, you are correct, the purpose of the Privet Platform is to keep the stems of privet upright, without standing them in water. The caterpillars can easily climb up the stems and eat the privet, and their droppings/frass accummulates at the bottom of the platform so does not contaminate the leaves. The Indian Eri caterpillars (Samia ricini) have large appetites and so you will need to insert fresh privet every day. The privet will wilt after a couple of days but the caterpillars will have eaten it before it has a chance to wilt! It is really important to keep the caterpillars in clean surroundings and so insert a fresh piece of paper to line the floor of your enclosure daily. You can tip the droppings/frass in the garden because insect frass is an excellent fertiliser.

My work colleague shocked me by saying there was no such thing as an "ethical vet" and that all vets were only in it for the money. Worse still, other colleagues wholeheartedly agreed, so I kept silent.
Your colleagues are wrong to condemn an entire profession in this way. Like other occupations, there are good vets and bad vets, but obviously ethical vets do exist. Unfortunately there are some people who think all self employed people are only "in it for the money". Ironically, these people such as your colleagues, are in work themselves and being paid, but seem to think the self-employed vets should give their services free of charge! In reality of course, some vets do give some services free, but obviously only in exceptional circumstances when there are compelling compassionate grounds.

I have the cage and all the bits and pieces but what do I need to feed them with? They are Pink Winged stick insect nymphs.
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) eat bramble/blackberry leaves, so you need to find a source of bramble growing wild outdoors. The best places to look are overgrown areas, disused railway lines and woods. Gather a couple of sprigs of bramble (each approx 40cm long). Push these into a Sprig Pot (filled with cold tap water) because this will keep the leaves fresh for a week. Lightly mist the leaves with water (from the Mister Curvy). After one week, replace the ELC Liner and replace the food.

We are hoping to attend the insect fair you are publicising, but I have a concern that there may be snakes there? We went to a bug fair in a sports hall but had to leave because my husband has a phobia of snakes and there were tubs of snakes there!
Many of the smaller insect/bug fairs in the UK allow the sale of reptiles. However, the big annual insect fair on Saturday 12th October 2019 is different because it is exclusively insects, spiders and equipment. Reptiles are not allowed. So your husband will be able to enjoy this event. Doors open at 11am, adult entrance is £4, the venue is indoors at Kempton Park and the postcode is TW16 5AQ. There are two floors of stands, the Small-Life Supplies display is on the ground floor.

In a recent email you mentioned silk moths. Can you tell me, please, if, when the silk moths have hatched, they can survive outside in our climate? If not, what would I do with them?
It is too cold for the Indian Eri silk moths (Samia ricini) to survive outside in the UK. These insects should not be released outside. Instead, keep them indoors in the TTQ cage. They are easy to handle and so you can take them out of the cage and let them walk across your hand. Some individuals will fly across a room, others are not keen to fly but will walk across your hands. The silk moths do not eat or drink. They live about a week, during which time they mate and then the female neatly glues her eggs onto the side of the cage. When she has died, just pull the eggs off (they are hard and so not break easily) and store them in a takeaway tub or QBOX. They should hatch after 10+ days. Or, if you do not want the eggs to hatch, just pour hot water over them to stop them developing any further.

Do males and female stick insects grow at the same rate? I have New Guinea stick insects and the males seem to be maturing first. Is this normal?
Male stick insects usually mature ahead of females. So it is completely normal for your male New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) to be reaching adulthood first. The females will catch up and be adults in a few weeks time.

Any tips on avoiding bramble thorns in my fingers?!
Gardening gloves and seccateurs. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we always use gardening gloves when feeding stick insects with bramble/blackberry. We then use the seccateurs to push the bramble stems into the Sprig Pot, rather than grasping the stems with a gloved hand. The same technique is used to pull out the eaten sprigs. The best gardening gloves are the premium "Town and Country" brand which are lined and have a suede outer. The best seccateurs are the premium "Wolf" brand. Buying cheap seccateurs is a false economy because the blades blunt very quickly and you need sharp blades to cut bramble stems!

It's good that more people are planting trees, but what about saving the trees we already have? They take such a long time to grow. Any ideas on how can I help protect the trees from the stupid HS2 train development?
Fortunately Chris Packham, the Woodland Trust and Leigh Daw Law (a law firm based in London) have mounted legal action to stop the madness of destroying what few ancient woodlands we have left in the UK just to make way for this new railway line. Who can support the destruction of ancient woodlands just so passengers can shave approx twenty minutes off their journey time? Especially when you can easily be queuing for ten minutes in the station car park to pay for your car parking by machine before you can leave! Please lend your support to the above organisations and encourage others to do the same. Many people want HS2 to be cancelled when they realise just how large the scale of destruction of ancient British woodland would be.

At our reptile centre they advised me to use the coir bedding in the base of the Pink Winged Stick Insect enclosure, yet you use liners, are both suitable? How long to the nymphs stay green? When should I transfer the stick insects into a larger cage? Do they like to climb on bark or branches or prefer a clear enclosure with just bramble leaves?
Liners are best because they don't trap dirt and eggs. Pink Winged stick insect nymphs are green for the first couple of months of their lives. Then most become fawn or beige, but a few still stay green. If you feed them eucalyptus leaves the percentage of stick insects remaining green increases dramatically. Pink Winged stick insects should be housed in the ELC cage from birth to adult. These stick insects like to rest on the white mesh sides of the cage because they can hook their claws around the mesh. If you are feeding them with bramble leaves, don't put too much in there because the stick insects can snag and tear their wings if the cage is too cluttered. It is a good idea to take adult Pink Winged out of the cage once a week so they can fly across the room.

Quick question about your AUC cage. It's housing my adult Thailand stick insect population, and is fantastic. Just wondered if I could mix in a few large Pink Winged nymphs as well? They are in the ELC at the moment but need thinning out a bit so I need to know if I have to buy another ELC or not?
The AUC cage is great housing for adult Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). And yes, you can certainly mix in a few large nymphs and adult Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). Thailand stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects both like well ventilated surroundings and the adults do particularly well in the AUC cage (with it's large hole ventilated sides). So you can hold off getting another ELC cage for the time being!

One of our female (just matured) Sungaya inexpectata spent a fair amount of time at the bottom of the tank walking on the liner. She passed away shortly after. She didn't have any antennae and her front leg was missing its 'hook bit', but she could get up to the leaves. Any idea what this meant and if you think that had anything to do with her dying? The other three sticks (one female, two male) seem to move around nicely and have never been down to the liner.
The antennae of a stick insect are very important because they provide the stick insect with a lot of sensory information. It is most unusual for a stick insect not to have any antennae, and this is the main reason why she has died. Stick insects can lose their antennae in fights or a skin-change that has gone badly wrong. It doesn't sound like this was a healthy stick insect at all, especially as her front leg was also damaged. Such individuals try to stay close to the food and water dish because life is difficult for them. It is a good idea to put a shallow Water Dish on the Liner (filled with cold tap water) for the Sungaya inexpectata stick insects.

How do I reserve an item to collect from Small-Life Supplies at the Kempton insect fair? I'll try and be there at 11am but you know what traffic's like!
Small-Life Supplies are already taking orders to be collected from the Kempton insect fair on Sat 12th October 2019. To place your order, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 or email your order to ange@small-life.co.uk with a note saying that you want to pay now and collect from the show. The event is open all day, doors open at 11am.

I am in Northern Ireland and am confused as to whether I have to pay a delivery surcharge to receive a cage? It is the ELC cage bundle that I would like. This would be for my four Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects.
Small-Life Supplies are currently subsidising some deliveries to Northern Ireland. So, the good news for you is that the price to purchase one ELC bundle is £59.99 + £9.95 delivery, which is the same as for our customers elsewhere in the UK. However, instead of being sent to you by courier, the parcel would be dispatched by Royal Mail post. Your Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) stick insects will do really well in the ELC cage because this cage provides the optimum space, size and ventilation for this species.

Help! I have too many stick insects, I foolishly kept too many eggs, not realising that so many would hatch. Any ideas on who might like some (I am thinking the nursery school but I don't think they have a suitable cage)? I was shocked to read somewhere else about putting stick insects in the freezer but that would be animal cruelty wouldn't it?
Never put living creatures in a freezer, this is very cruel. Freezing to death is a slow and agonising way to die, and no one should pretend this is humane. Many nursery schools enjoy keeping stick insects and so by all means you could approach your local nursery school. Small-Life Supplies sell ELC cages to nursery schools and so you are welcome to pass on our details to them.

My stick insects can't stand up properly. I put in a supermarket plant yesterday which they ate. I scrubbed the leaves first to wash off any pesticides, so don't understand what's gone wrong?
Many potted plants sold in supermarkets and garden centres have pesticides in the soil. These chemicals are taken up by the plant roots and are distributed within the stems and leaf veins of the plant. So no amount of scrubbing the leaves on the outside will remove the pesticides because these poisons are already inside the plant! Unfortunately your stick insects have been poisoned by the pesticides and will die within days.

I am intrigued by the prospect of the Kempton insect fair! Is this sort of thing popular or quiet? Our family has just started getting into bugs and it sounds like an interesting day out, but I'm curious as to who goes to this event? Would it be suitable for novices like us?
This insect event at Kempton (near London) happens once a year and is always really busy! There are stalls selling living insects and equipment, these are mainly located on the ground floor (so be sure to visit the Small-Life Supplies stand!), and upstairs there are also displays by insect societies and conservation groups. The event opens at 11am and is exceptionally busy at the start, so you may want to arrive a bit later (unless you are hoping to pick up a bargain because these are snapped up very quickly!). The visitors come from all walks of life and are a good spread of ages, so this reflects the fact that entomology (the study of insects) appeals to all. It's certainly worth visiting and no pre-booking is required, just turn up on Saturday 12th October 2019 and pay the entrance fee (£4 adult, £1 child). Novices are most welcome, as are people who have been keeping insects for years and academics too.

Our British Vapourer caterpillars (that we got from you) are now snug in their cocoons. Can you tell us if they are more likely to emerge during the day or at night?
British Vapourer (Orgyia antigua) moths can emerge from their cocoons both night and day. However we have noticed this month that more are emerging during the day than at night. It is important to wait until the male's wings have stiffened and are strong enough to sustain him in flight before releasing him outdoors. So, if he emerges during the day, you need to wait a few hours to allow his floppy wings to stiffen and become strong.

My daughter was wondering if our Sungaya inexpectata stick insects would enjoy thornless varieties of blackberry/bramble as much as the standard shrub?
Stick insects do best on bramble leaves which are thick rather than the thin, more translucent, leaves. The problem with the thornless varieties of bramble is that the leaves tend to be thin. So it's best to find a source of bramble growing wild that has thick leaves and spiky stems (the type with the two-tone purple and green stems is the best becuase the leaves are nice and thick and are the most nutritious for stick insects).

I don't understand how parthenogenesis works. Do Indian stick insects mate and then the females somehow store the sperm and pass it down to future generations? Or is it truly virgin birth as in the Biblical sense?
Males are not involved in reproduction of the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus). That is why they are so rare, 1 male Indian occuring for every 10000 females. So yes, it is virgin birth, and this is the translation of the word parthenogenesis, "partheno" is Greek for virgin and "genesis" is Greek for birth. So when you keep Indian stick insects, they will all be females and they will lay eggs (without mating), and these eggs will hatch out into more females.

I am taking the train down so I can visit the Kempton insect fair. So I won't be able to carry much back, but I would like to meet you and pick up some more HUA Pots. Will this be OK? How will I find you?
Small-Life Supplies will be on the ground floor, just look out for our large yellow and blue banner saying "Small-Life Supplies". You can also ask the organisers (at the entrance) to direct you to our stand. We look forward to meeting you, if you'd like to reserve the HUA Pots now, please phone us soon so we can process your payment and have them ready for you to collect from the show.

I have a couple of pairs of Achrioptera fallax that are currently laying eggs and have been asked by someone in Taiwan if they could buy some. Unsure about the situation of sending these to that part of the world from the UK. I have had a look around the web for guidance but am still at a loss.
You can't post out stick insect eggs from the UK to Taiwan without completing a customs declaration at the Post Office. This is attached to the parcel and needs to be completed honestly. These are viable eggs and so they are likely to be stopped at customs and destroyed. So you need to explain to your Taiwanese contact that it is illegal to send eggs to him/her and so you can't do it.

I have a question about Indian stick insect eggs. Will I suddenly end up with hundreds of stick insects? We only have space for the one cage so I wouldn't want them to be cramped if they keep having babies! The internet seems to have conflicting information with one site saying they can lay between 1-1000 eggs at any one time!
It is very easy to manage your stick insect population just by controlling the number of eggs you save. Every week when you replace the Liner in the ELC cage you decide how many eggs you wish to keep. Indian stick insect eggs are easy to spot, so just pick up a few with your fingers and place them in a QBOX. Whatever site says stick insects lay 1000 eggs at a time is talking rubbish, Indian stick insects are only capable of laying one egg at a time, and typically lay about three eggs per day (a few hours apart). In nature, stick insects lay hundreds of eggs during their lifetime because most eggs are destroyed by water or predators. So, when keeping stick insects in captivity, it is important to mimic nature and ensure that most eggs are destroyed. Pouring hot water over eggs is fast and effective. Or, if you have a garden bird table, then blackbirds will eat Indian stick insect eggs. Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) take four months to develop, so there is no danger of suddenly having a population explosion if you have forgotten to clean out the cage one week.

Please can you tell me more about the Kempton insect event? My grand daughter and I share an interest in bugs and I was wondering if this is the sort of event both of us would enjoy? Are there lots of insects for sale?
This is an annual event, this year it is on Saturday 12th October 2019, at Kempton Park (near London), postcode TW16 5AQ . There are lots of stands, spread over two floors, selling living insects, cages, plants, books etc. On site parking is available, and you pay £4 entrance on the door (no pre-booking required). The Small-Life Supplies stand is on the ground floor, and we shall have stick insects for sale and our popular ELC stick insect cages. This event is large and definitely worth visiting. And if your grand daughter is under 16 , her entrance is only £1.

Can different stick insects be mixed together? I have Indian stick insects in an ELC cage (eating bramble), and am looking for another type to mix in. I can't decide between Thailand, Sabah and Guadeloupe? Which would be best?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) like an airy cage and so the ELC cage is a great cage for them because it has two mesh sides providing a through draught of air. The Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) also like airy surroundings and so also do well in the ELC cage. You can mix Indian and Thailand stick insects in the same cage successfully. In contrast, the Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus), the Giant Sabah (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) and the Guadeloupe stick insects (Lamponius guerini) , all require less ventilated surroundings. This means they need a cage with reduced air-flow and so it is important not to keep these in a ventilated ELC cage. In general, stick insects can be divided into two groups, those that like airy surroundings and those that do not. It is important not to mix types from these two groups together. So, because you already have the ELC cage and Indian stick insects, you need to look at types that require well ventilated surroundings. Such species include: Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii), New Thailand stick insects (Baculum sp), Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), New Guinea (Eurycantha calcarata), Corsican (Bacillus rossius), Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum). There are other species as well, but these are examples of types that are commonly listed for sale in the UK.

There's a boy at school who brought his stick insects into school and I saw they were miserable and much smaller than mine. I keep mine in the ELC cage and have Thailand stick insects and Indian stick insects . His tank is only about 30cm tall and he has earth at the bottom. I was shocked when he said he gives stick insect help online!
Oh dear, it is a shame when people do not look after their stick insects properly. The reason why this boy's stick insects look so miserable and are stunted is because his cage is far too small and not ventilated enough. Also, soil on the floor of the tank leads to unsanitary conditions. Unfortunately there are inexperienced people like this boy who are very active on insect/pet/reptile forums and keep spouting rubbish advice. They don't say that they are new to the hobby! As a result, they do a lot of harm by causing suffering to many creatures by giving incorrect advice. By the time someone realises they have taken incorrect advice from someone who knows nothing about keeping stick insects, it is often too late and they may have even killed their stick insects! So, as with all advice, it is essential for people to determine if the person giving the advice is qualified to do so. This will help them to decide if the advice is worth following or not.

Do New Guinea stick insects eat eucalyptus?
No. You need to feed New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) with bramble/blackberry leaves. These stick insects will also eat hazel leaves and rose leaves.

I was hosing down my ELC cage in the garden and it blew over and one of the black feet broke. How do I go about buying a replacement foot?
When you next purchase some ELC Liners, just let us know that you need a replacement ELC foot and we'll include one free of charge in the same parcel for you.

Please can you tell me how long does it take Indian stick insect eggs to hatch?
The incubation time for Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) is four months. But if the room is hot, this can be reduced to three months. The actual time it takes for the baby (called a first instar nymph) to emerge from the egg once it has pushed off the egg lid (operculum) is a few minutes. Freshly emerged nymphs initially look out of proportion because their bodies are too short; the stick insects quickly rectifies this situation by pumping out its body. The legs are already the correct length because they have been wrapped up tightly in the egg.

Do you sell those blue stick insects?
There are lots of different species of stick insects that can be kept as pets, and Small-Life Supplies concentrate on breeding easy-to-keep varieties. This is because we want people to be able to enjoy keeping stick insects and not be disappointed (or even put off the hobby) by attempting to keep types that are challenging to keep alive. The blue type you mention are trickier to keep and so that is not a type we wish to promote. We also do not breed the dangerous species. All the stick insects that Small-Life Supplies breed are safe to keep and easy to handle.

What's the best container for Indian eggs- QBOX or HUA Pot?
Either container works well for storing Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) and the hatchling nymphs. The QBOX will last longer, because of how it is made and the fact that you can put it in the dishwasher. Also, QBOXES are cheaper than HUA Pots.

I got an ELC cage from you last year, it had a mesh lid. My Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects love it and so I'd like to buy another cage, but I can't see the mesh lid option on your website? Why isn't it listed?
Yes, the mesh lid option is still available for a small supplement of £2. So when you order the ELC cage or the ELC cage bundle, just mention that you'd like the mesh lid instead of the standard lid and that you accept that it costs £2 more. The reason why it isn't listed is because it was causing too much confusion, with too many people thinking that most species of stick insect benefit from the mesh lid. In reality, most species do best with the standard clear lid, it is only a few species, including the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) and the Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), that benefit from the mesh lid.

Could I grow privet in a pot and keep indoors on my windowsill? I have just been given some Black Beauty Peruvian stick insects and have been told they must eat privet.
Growing privet as an indoor plant doesn't really work, so don't waste time trying. This is because privet has very long roots and so needs a lot of depth in the soil to grow properly. Also, it doesn't want to be in full sun, so is best suited to planting outdoors in partial shade. Privet takes a year or so to get established and then grows quickly. The white blossom that it produces is great nectar for bees and other pollinating insects. You can plant just one privet plant and let it grow into a large flowering bush, or you can plant a row of privet plants to grow a semi-wild hedge. It is nice to see the white privet flowers and so it's important not to keep trimming the hedge. Also, the less you trim the privet, the larger the leaves become, which means there is more food for the Peruvian Black beauty stick insects (Peruphasma schultei). Fresh cut privet can be purchased from Small-Life Supplies, and the rooted privet plants are sometimes available too (at the moment there is a waiting list for these and so please get in touch if you'd like your name to be added to the list).

I got a pair of New Guinea stick insects from a seller who told me they needed water to drink, so I put a bowl in there. But then on a forum, some people are saying that you don't give New Guinea stick insects water to drink and all you need to do is spray the leaves? Who is right?
The seller. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are unusual because they do drink a lot more water than other species of stick insect. So it is very important that you provide a Water Dish (filled with clean cold tap water and replenished daily). Not doing this is cruel and will cause the stick insects to become stressed and start fighting.

Fascinating to read about the pink grasshopper that a British woman photographed in her garden! I love grasshoppers but have never seen a pink one before, have you?
Yes, many years ago I saw a pink grasshopper in France, I was having a picnic at the time but managed to photograph this unusual insect.

Our children are very keen on insects and I admit I am sharing this new found interest too! Are there any insect themed events we can visit?
There is an annual insect event, held indoors at Kempton Park racecourse, near Staines, Middlesex. The date for the next event is Saturday 12th Oct 2019. There are lots of stands, with stall holders selling livestock, equipment, books, and artwork. The event is open to the public, no pre-booking required, just turn up on the day after 11am and pay £4 entrance at the door. Small-Life Supplies will have a display of stick insects, caterpillars and cages on the ground floor, look out for our large yellow and blue banner!

I'm new to keeping stick insects. I've seen tanks 30cm high, would this be OK for Indian stick insects ? Or could I use the TTQ cage?
No, 30cm is not tall enough. You should be looking at a cage height of at least 46cm. The ELC cage is 51cm high and is ideal for housing Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). As well as the height (this is needed so the stick insects have room to grow properly and do not become stunted), the ELC cage has two mesh sides which provide the through-draught ventilation the stick insects require. The TTQ is not suitable, it is only 38cm high and only has one mesh side. Instead the TTQ cage is an ideal cage for housing large caterpillars (or a praying mantis).

I was aghast to hear that the fires in the Amazon forest have been raging for over three weeks! And only now is it being highlighted on the TV news. With the world in Climate Crisis, why are the people in charge at the BBC so slow to react? I haven't heard any statement on this matter from the British Prime Minister, thank goodness President Macron of France is highlighting this catastrophe. Countries should impose trade sanctions against Brazil - this would make them realise that burning the world's lungs is not acceptable.
The deliberate lighting of fires to clear the Amazon rain forest for development and growing crops is unacceptable. This action kills all the animals, insects and plants, and the smoke is making the skies black during the daytime. I imagine the citizens of Brazil are horrified, along with the majority of people living elsewhere in the world. Most people want this to stop immediately. Meanwhile the murders of prominent environmentalists continue (this is largely unreported) so it is essential that the world's media and governments use their powers and harness public support to protect all of our remaining forests around the world. To complain to the BBC about their coverage of this man made environmental disaster please email newswatch@bbc.co.uk or post a letter to : Newswatch, W1 NBH 03D, BBC Broadcasting House, London, W1A 1AA, United Kingdom. As with most things, when a lot of people complain, action is taken.

We had too many Indian stick insect eggs and so after the children had counted them (223!) we put them on a saucer on the bird table. The first few days nothing happened, and then it rained, so I had to tip the surplus water out of the saucer. Then, after about a week, some if the eggs disappeared. Then some more went the next day and so on. They've all gone now. Unfortunately we didn't see who ate them, any thoughts? And why did it take so long for them to go?
Well done for feeding the birds with these nutritious Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus). Birds have to form a "search image" which is a mental image of a food that is safe for them to eat. Your garden birds won't have seen Indian stick insect eggs before and so will not have a search image for them. After a few days, one bird, probably a blackbird, has been adventurous and tried eating a few of your stick insect eggs. If the eggs had been distasteful, the bird wouldn't have eaten any more. But blackbirds like eating Indian stick insect eggs and so this bird has come back for more. In time, other blackbirds will see that it is eating your surplus Indian stick insect eggs and will want to eat them too. So it's a good idea to carry on putting out your spare eggs on the bird table because they will be eaten quickly from now on.

I'd like to buy some caterpillars for my class. I missed out last term, so I'm really hoping I can reserve some for delivery after 3rd September? How do I go about arranging this?
Yes, our British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) are still hatching and so we'll have some ready to send out the first week in September. You get the caterpillar kit which includes the housing (QBOX), Liners and instructions. These caterpillars are colourful and really easy to look after, eating bramble leaves. They have a fast lifecycle and being British, you can release the adults free outside. A full information sheet is included. To reserve your kit(s), please phone Small-Life Supplies, weekdays between 9am and 5.30pm on 01733 203358.

Our eggs from Molly, our New Guinea stick insect that she produced last October have started hatching! Two babies today! Molly is still going strong, she is lovely and we take her out of the cage most days. I want the best for her babies, so which is better the QBOX or the HUA Pot?
Congratulations! New Guinea stick insect eggs (Eurycantha calcarata) can hatch after ten months, this is slightly longer than usual, but this delay seems to be happening a lot at the moment. The baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) are large and do best in the HUA Pot. Like the QBOX, the HUA Pot has no air holes, and these unventilated conditions suit the baby stick insects best. Enough fresh air enters the container every time you take the lid off to insert a fresh leaf. As the HUA Pot is much larger than the QBOX, the HUA Pot is a better choice to house baby New Guinea stick insects (because these stick insects are relatively large). Be sure to insert a wet bramble leaf in the HUA Pot, because the young stick insects like to drink water droplets from the surface of a bramble leaf.

Mating all day, is this normal? My two Australian Macleays are still coupled, I'm concerned she'll be able to eat?
Some species of stick insect, including the Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) mate for hours at a time, so yes, this is normal behaviour for them. If the female wants to eat, she will walk over to a leaf and start eating it, whilst still mating. So there is no cause for concern. It's best not to disturb mating stick insects because the bag of sperm (called a spermatophore) is only tentatively attached to the outside of the female, and can easily be knocked off if the stick insects are alarmed and jerk suddenly.

Has your Thailand stick insect stock (Baculum thaii) remained pure all these years? Or has it been mixed with later imports?
Completely pure. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are very easy to breed (each female lays approx 700 eggs during her lifetime) and all the Thailand stick insects reared at Small-Life Supplies are descended from the original stick insects sent to me back in the 1970s. Thailand stick insect eggs hatch much more quickly than other species of stick insect, with incubation times of 4 - 8 weeks depending on the weather (in the summer months, incubation time is shorter so the eggs can hatch after one month).

Is newspaper or kitchen towel better to cover the floor of my stick insect enclosure?
Newspaper is better than kitchen roll because it is less absorbent. The problem with kitchen roll is that it absorbs moisture from the air and so can dry out the surroundings slightly in the enclosure which is not good for the stick insects. And kitchen roll is often dimpled, so round stick insect eggs do not easily roll off , making them more difficult to collect. However, newspaper does not look very nice in the cage, and so plain paper is a better option. If you have the ELC cage or the AUC cage, then you can purchase pre-cut cage Liners, these are coloured on one side and white on the reverse and because they are the correct size, you do not need to cut them to size with scissors. Round eggs such as those from the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) and the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) easily roll off the coloured side when you tilt the Liner and tap it underneath. Place a bowl underneath to catch the eggs and then store them in the QBOX and wait for them to hatch.

I enjoy reading your answers to people's stick insect questions every week. I don't have any stick insects myself just now, but used to have lots and hope to restart soon when my circumstances improve. A while back you mentioned that you had the original Thailand stick insects in the UK, can you remind me again the story about this? Are your Thailand stick insects likely to be in stock in September?
Yes, our Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are now on their 42nd generation! Our entire stock of Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are descended from just a few individuals sent to me in the late 1970s by the person who discovered them, Mr Anthony Julian-Ottie, when exploring Thailand. Small-Life Supplies breed large numbers of Thailand stick insects and so yes, they are in stock now and will be in stock in September as well.

I'd like to buy stick insect eggs for school. Do you sell these? Or do you just send out the actual living stick insects?
Small-Life Supplies sell two Stick Insect Egg Kits, each includes ten eggs (due to hatch soon), and the HUA Pot (which is ideal for keeping the baby stick insects until they are large enough to be transferred to the ELC cage). HUA Liners are also included. The species for sale are the Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) and the Thailand stick insect eggs (Baculum thaii). Both these species are very easy to hatch and the baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) eat bramble/blackberry leaves. Wet the leaf first because the young stick insects need to drink water from the surface of the leaf.

Do Indian stick insects have a preference in what species of leaves they eat?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best on bramble/blackberry leaves. You can also feed them hazel leaves and rose leaves in the summer, this is useful if you wish to give your bramble stocks a chance to grow in the summer. Eucalyptus leaves are available all year and are a good standby. Privet leaves used to be popular with Indian stick insects, but about ten years ago many Indian stick insects stopped eating privet! Across the UK many Indian stick insects are still very reluctant to do so. Ivy can be used , but there are different types of ivy, some sorts are better than others, and so really ivy should only be used as a last resort.

Like many people I like ladybirds. But I am confused about photos people keep posting online showing baby ladybirds they have seen. The images are of small round insects clustered together on a leaf. These are nothing like the ladybird larvae I have seen - oval spiky insects with no feet.
Ladybirds have "complete metamorphosis" which means that the young (babies) look completely different to the adults. The eggs hatch into ladybird larvae, which as you already know, are oval-shaped insects with six legs that look as though they have been chopped off above where the feet should be. The bodies are usually black (they can have red markings or other markings depending on the species) and have small spines. When mature, each larva pupates (transforms into a pupa) and a few weeks later the round adult ladybird emerges. So people who think baby ladybirds are just a smaller version of the adult ladybird are mistaken and the photos they are posting are of a completely different insect!

My son would like his first pet (he's thirteen) and we are trying to decide between a praying mantis or a stick insect. I am working out my notice and so money is very tight and will be until I find another job. Thank you for any advice you can give us.
Money-wise, it is more expensive to feed a praying mantis than it is a stick insect because you will need to purchase livefood to feed the praying mantis (mantid). You may be able to catch flies yourself in the summer to feed the mantid but in the winter months this is harder to do and so many people purchase flies and crickets to feed their mantid. And a mantid does have a large appetite! In contrast, most stick insects eat bramble/blackberry leaves and you can gather these leaves for free yourself all year round. Stick insects also live longer than mantids and are easier to breed, so your son can look forward to hatching out his stick insect eggs and rearing the next generation. The TTQ cage is suitable housing for a mantid, the ELC cage is suitable housing for a stick insect. Stick insects like company of their own kind though, so it's best to have a minimum of two stick insects rather than just keeping one by itself.

Should I be misting my Indian stick insect eggs?
Not unless they are having problems hatching. So, for best results, store Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) dry in a QBOX with the lid on. About four months later (this can be reduced to three months in the summer) the eggs start hatching. They should hatch successfully, which means the babies (first instar nymphs) leave their empty eggshells behind. However sometimes, the stick insect gets stuck in its eggshell , or hatches but still has the eggshell attached to a leg or its abdomen. It is only in these circumstances that you need to very lightly mist the remaining eggs because this action increases the humidity slightly and solves the problem.

I am new to keeping stick insects and so glad I came across your site! I really want some of the "Large Spiny" stick insects, do you ever have these, and if so, when will they be next in stock? Also, would the ELC cage be suitable for these stick insects?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies breeds New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), also known as the "giant spiny" stick insects. We sell them when they are a few months old, so they are nymphs (immature insects) and are approximately the length of a person's finger. They are a nice green mottled colour at this size and it's easy to tell the difference between males and females. And yes, the ELC cage is perfect housing for New Guinea stick insects. They can climb the sides by hooking their claws around the white mesh sides. When New Guinea stick insects are fully grown, they bury their eggs in dry sand and so you'll need to put the Sand Pit on the cage Liner. New Guinea stick insects also need a shallow Water Dish and also two Community Tubes in which to rest inside. All these items shall be listed with the New Guinea stick insects when they are ready to send out. Our insects are now up to size and ready to go, so New Guinea stick insects shall be listed on the website within the next few days.

My partner found someone selling a mesh enclosure they said was OK for stick insects, what do you think ?
There can be two issues with the all mesh enclosures. Firstly, the visibility is not as good as it is with the ELC cage. Peering through a mesh screen does not give you as clear a view of the stick insects as looking through the crystal clear plastic panels of the ELC cage. Secondly, depending on which species of stick insect you have, an all mesh enclosure can provide too much ventilation. This is a problem because it can cause skin changing problems for the stick insects because the surroundings are too dry. In contrast, the ELC cage has two mesh sides which is the optimum ventilation for many species of stick insect. So the ELC cage is a better cage for housing stick insects. It was launched in 2012 and so has been in production for seven years, with many customers returning to buy another cage.

I have just seen a male Thailand trying to mate with an adult New Thailand! I grabbed my phone to take a picture but they separated! What's going on?
Your male Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii) is probably a young adult and a bit confused. Such inexperienced insects sometimes try and mate with inappropriate things such as knee joints or in the wrong place on the female's abdomen. The New Thailand stick insects (Baculum sp) are a parthenogenetic species and so are unable to mate, that is why your two insects separated so quickly. Hopefully you have adult female Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) in the cage too, so this male can mate with one of them? If not, please contact Small-Life Supplies because we have adult Thailand stick insects for sale.

I need stick insect advice. Do stick insects eggs change in appearance during incubation?
The inside of the egg changes a lot as the cells multiply and the baby stick insect nymph is created. But the outside of the egg looks the same throughout the incubation time. So that is why it's a good idea to put a label on the QBOX containing the eggs with the month and year the eggs were laid because this will help you estimate when they are due to hatch. Different species take different lengths of time to hatch. Some stick insect eggs hatch really quickly, for example the Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii) eggs can hatch after 1-2 months. But other species take a very long time to hatch, for example the Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) hatch after one and a half years!

I have three Indian stick insects in a cage. On the far side of the room, we have recently randomly found a baby stick insect (well it looks like one and I have attached a photo). A few days later we found another one on the same cupboard door. And today found a third one. I dispose of the insect eggs properly every time and not anywhere near this cupboard so I have no idea how we are having baby stick insects! Inside the cupboard houses a boiler and other random storage items. Please check photo and advise.
Your photo shows a newly hatched Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) on an ivy leaf. For best results, house this one (and the others) in the QBOX and wet the leaf so they can drink. Bramble leaves are usually better for Indian stick insects than ivy leaves. Did any of your Indian adult stick insects temporarily escape a few months ago? When an adult stick insect is on the loose, she lays lots of eggs and then of course the eggs hatch about three to four months later. Or maybe you forgot that you knocked over a pot of eggs a while back, and some eggs have rolled along the floor into crevices and are hatching now. It's also worth checking if you have any potted houseplants near the cupboard, just in case you have an adult Indian stick insect living on that plant.

My two boys (male Macleays) now have their wings! I think the girls have one more skin change to go. Is it usual for boys to grow faster than the girls?
Yes, male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) grow faster than the females so it is normal for the males to become adults first. In a few weeks time, your females will be adults too, and then the stick insects can mate and the females will start laying eggs. These stick insects mate regularly throughout their adult lives. Most stick insects live about one year, but Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects have shorter lifespans, so both genders live just under one year.

We were gifted some stick insect eggs at school (as part of an insect promotion) and have been patiently waiting for them to hatch. I thought we may have duds, but took them home anyways (as we're now on summer break) and this morning I saw that two have hatched! I have got them in a tupperware box with a wet bramble leaf and the little fellas seem fine so far! They are the Indian type. Can I purchase enclosures from you now and can you invoice the school? How would that work? I am happy to pay now but would like to claim the money back from school if I can!
Congratulations on hatching out your stick insects! And yes, you have done the right thing in housing the nymphs in a non-ventilated container and giving them a wet bramble leaf. To see the nymphs more clearly, we supply the crystal clear QBOX to house baby Indian stick insects. Simply put a disposable QBOX Liner on the floor of the QBOX and insert a wet bramble leaf. When the stick insects have outgrown the QBOX (in approx 6 weeks time), they can be transferred to the more ventilated ELC cage. Most people choose the ELC bundle because this includes the ELC cage and the other items you need as well, namely the Sprig Pot (fill this with cold tap water and it will keep the bramble leaves fresh for a week), and the disposable ELC floor Liners (replace weekly), and the Cleaning Sponge (wash the cage monthly). You can have all this delivered to your home address next week and we'll email a VAT invoice with the school address as well, so you can present this to the school finance office to claim back the money.

I am a primary school teacher and have decided to keep stick insects in class next term. I'll be getting the ELC bundle and your book, my question is which stick insects to choose? I'm leaning towards the Indian and the Pink Winged?
Yes, four Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and four Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) would do well in the ELC cage. Both species eat bramble/blackberry leaves, just mist the leaves with water in the afternoon so the stick insects can have a drink. You'll receive medium-sized nymphs and so the children can watch them grow (stick insects shed their skins every few weeks and dramatically increase in size after each ecdysis). When they are fully grown, the Pink Winged stick insects have large pink wings and will glue their eggs in the mesh sides of the ELC cage (or onto Small-Life Supplies "Hatch Mats" if you provide these). Stick insects are very educational, very low maintenance and hugely popular with both children and teachers, so make excellent classroom pets. The children can handle them safely and there are some school topic ideas in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book.

How did my Pink Winged stick insect nymph get into my shower room?
Escapee stick insects usually seek out water, so that's why your escaped Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) nymph has walked to your shower room. Assuming your cage is not broken, the stick insect must have escaped when you last had the cage open. Escapee stick insects are often found on taps or kettles, because like shower rooms, these sites are sources of moisture.

Which is the best cage for Indian stick insects?
The ELC cage is ideal for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). The ELC cage has the height stick insects need (51cm), and the ventilation, and suitable climbing walls, and is sturdy and practical too (use the ELC Liners to keep the stick insects in clean surroundings).

How can I encourage more bees to my garden?
Planting bramble/blackberry is an excellent way to encourage British bees. At the moment our bramble/blackberry plants have white and pink flowers and have masses of honeybees and other British insects visiting the flowers, gathering nectar. You can plant bramble/blackberry plants by a sunny fence or wall throughout the year. Small-Life Supplies dispatch bramble plants, these are grown without the use of pesticides and so the leaves are safe for insects to eat. Small-Life Supplies currently have a waiting list for these safe bramble plants and so please contact us if you'd like to go on the list and be notified when the next batch are available. We can also send a Puttin too, this is a large outdoor container that is ideal for growing bramble.

Are there more butterflies this year? I have noticed more in my garden last week when it's been so hot.
Hot weather does encourage more butterflies. This is for two reasons: more migrant butterflies arrive from the continent, and pupae which have been delaying emergence finally decide to emerge as butterflies. So last week during the very hot weather, a lot more sightings of the migrant Painted Lady butterfly have been logged. The hot weather has triggered emergence of the British Vanessids (including the Peacock butterfly). Most of these have emerged from pupae formed earlier this year, but some have emerged from pupae created in 2018 and even 2017! It is a similar situation with the British Small white butterfly (Pieris brassicae).

Have you got any of the silkmoths left?
Small-Life Supplies breed Indian Eri silkmoths (Samia ricini). The very hot weather last week prevented us from sending out the caterpillars (it was too hot for them to travel safely). These caterpillars are now oversized and too large to travel. They will transform into pupa within silk cocoons soon, and we will be listing these for sale. The pupae do not eat, so their care is very easy, just wait for them to emerge in approx four weeks time into giant Indian Eri silkmoths! Please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 to go on the waiting list for the cocoons.

Please can you let me know how long New Guinea stick insects usually live?
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) can have very long lifespans. Many of ours live over two years, and some live just over three years! So this is a lot longer than most stick insect species which live about one year. For best results, house New Guinea stick insects in the ELC cage, this is the correct size for them and they like to climb the sides. They need a Water Dish, a Sand Pit (to bury their eggs) and several Community Tubes in which to rest inside. Bramble /blackberry leaves are their favourite food, but they will also eat hazel leaves and rose leaves during the summer months when these leaves are abundant. Our New Guinea stick insect nymphs are almost up to size and so will be listed on the website soon.

We had a lady come into school with silkworms, they were greyish bald looking things that couldn't walk much and she said they had been bred commercially like this and when they're adults they have wings that don't work and so none can fly anymore. Sounds a miserable life! Are yours happier?
The silkworms you saw would have been the Bombyx mori species, and that species has been specifically bred commercially for silk for so many generations that the creatures have lost their normal attributes. The silkmoths Small-Life Supplies rear are another species, Samia ricini. We rear them like any other caterpillar, so give them fresh leaves and let the adults fly. So our caterpillars can walk normally (they are large so you can handle them). They are blueish white and have little spikes on their bodies. We recommend taking the adult silkmoths out of the cage so they can fly across the room. So yes, our caterpillars are healthy and have no reason not to be happy.

Do different species of stick insects need different ambient temperatures? I am researching their requirements before I purchase. My room is hot and sunny.
Most stick insects do best at an an average room temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. Some species, such as the Malaysian (Heteropteryx dilatata) and the Guadeloupe (Lamponius guerini) also do well at higher temperatures, and the Guadeloupe stick insects particularly thrive in sunny surroundings. Some species, notably the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) do not thrive in hot conditions, so because your room is hot and sunny, it is not suitable for Indian stick insects.

I met up with an old friend and we drove to a country pub for lunch. On the way, he obliterated three butterflies. If I had been driving, I would have slowed down and avoided them all. I mentioned this at lunch and he said it doesn't matter because they only live one day! I put him right of course, but perhaps this is a common view among non insecty people?
Yes, this myth that butterflies only live for one day is widespread. It's like the myth that you can't kill a cockroach. Butterflies live for many months, and it is senseless to kill a creature when it is not necessary. Obviously when driving, there are occasions when it is not safe to brake and so hitting a butterfly or another insect is inevitable. However, if it safe to do so, then yes, slow down and let the creatures live! This obviously applies to birds, deer and horses too.

A eucalyptus plant that I got from you a few years back is now a wonderful large tree in my garden. It is a magnet for the birds and I like the swishing noise it makes in the wind. And of course it is very handy for my population of Pink Winged stick insects! Anyhow, my elderly neighbour is wanting to cut the branches overhanging into his garden. To play for time, I said I'd have to discuss this with my husband. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation? His garden consists of slabs and garden furniture.
Try to have a calm conversation with your neighbour explaining that you and your husband enjoy nature and helping the birds. The blossom that eucalyptus trees provide is very tasty for the birds. Indeed this is why in Malta they have planted so many eucalyptus trees, to attract the birds that they then shoot! Hopefully your neighbour will have heard about Chris Packham's attempts to stop the mass shooting of birds in Malta. The swishing noise from eucalyptus is also calming and scientifically recognised as such. And of course, you need the eucalyptus leaves to feed your stick insects, you can tell the neighbour that yours are a fancy breed originating in Madagascar. The British insects, including bees, are also attracted to the eucalyptus flowers for food. And who doesn't want to help the bees? After all this, hopefully your neighbour will understand a bit more. You could offer to trim the overhanging branches yourself, ideally over time, so you can make use of the leaves to feed to your stick insects. What you want to avoid is the neighbour butchering your tree and flinging the cut branches over the fence! I hope you can resolve this amicably.

We are worried about our Indian stick insects. Their bodies have started to look a bit flat and they seem lethargic. They are adults, but not old ones. They are not laying as many eggs as they used to. Could they be too hot, the room thermometer is reading 26 degrees Celsius?
Yes, they are too hot. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best at a daytime room temperature of approx 18 degrees Celsius, dropping to 12 degrees Celsius at night. The problem with hot summer weather is that these recommended temperatures are exceeded both day and night. So it's best that you move your cage of Indian stick insects to a cooler room. It's also important to give them some extra water during hot spells, so you need to mist the leaves generously with cold tap water in the evening.

I run an entomological club for my students. We have your book and one of the boys asked if you belonged to any entomological clubs when you were a teenager?
Yes, I joined the "Manchester Entomological Society" when I was about thirteen and remained a member throughout my teenage years before moving away to university. That society was open to anyone interested in insects, so had lots of adult members, some of whom had written books about insects and were keen to share their knowledge. My school didn't have an entomological club but it did have a "pets club" which I was also a member of, this enabled me to help care for the school stick insects and also the school guinea pigs.

I have had my first hatchling! S/he is a New Guinea stick insect. What do I do now?
The best housing for newly hatched New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) is the HUA Pot. Place a HUA Pot Liner on the floor, add a wet bramble leaf and then add the newly hatched stick insect. You can add other hatchlings too. Keep them in the HUA Pot and replace the bramble leaf with a fresh wet leaf every couple of days. Keep replacing the Liner every few days because it is really important that stick insects are kept in clean conditions. After a couple of skin-changes, the New Guinea stick insects can be transferred to the TTQ cage, and then a few weeks later, transfer them again into the ELC cage.

Can the Indian Eri caterpillar waste be used for anything? We have the Farmer Pack and can't believe how much they eat and poo!
Yes, the caterpillar poo (called frass) makes excellent fertiliser. So every day, just tip the waste that is resting on the TTQ Liner into a bucket. Cover with cold tap water and stir well. At the end of the week, pour the mixture over your potted plants or garden plants. We do this and have spectacular hanging baskets and strong garden plants!

Can I feed the Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars with mulberry powder?
No. Mulberry powder and mulberry leaves are eaten by another type of silkmoth caterpillar, the Chinese species Bombyx mori. The Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars (Samia ricini) eat privet leaves. You can gather privet leaves yourself from privet hedges, or buy bags of fresh cut privet from Small-Life Supplies. Green privet is best so avoid the variegated privet.

All our North East Vietnamese stick insects are mating this morning, all three pairs are spread around the AUC. Is it usual for them to lay their eggs outside the cage? I don't mind because I can just sweep them up with a dustpan and brush, I hope they hatch soon.
North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina) do mate frequently and for several hours at a time. These very long stick insects (the females can grow to 28cm) do well in the AUC cage and it sounds as though yours are doing really well. And yes, they often drop their very long eggs outside the AUC cage. Being so long and thin these eggs are very distinctive and yes, we also find it convenient to sweep the eggs up and put them in the HUA Pot. The baby North East Vietnamese stick insects look cute with their very long legs.

I have a bit of a carpet moth infestation in my flat at the moment. I have in all honesty been trying to ignore it as I don't like killing any animal, however it's getting a bit much. With all of my stick insect and other invert friends who share my home with me, I would never dream of spraying. Do you think that commercially available moth pheromone traps would interfere with my pets at all. I also have my first generation of new Eri silk moth caterpillars growing up fast - will these traps bother the adults.
I would feel uneasy about using pheromone traps. Instead it would be better to use non-chemical methods. So you could try to pick up the moths, either by flicking them up with a fine paintbrush, or using a "bug katcha" which is a harmless hand held device with a trap door designed for catching insects, and then release the moths outdoors, well away from your flat. You can then move the furniture, wash the skirting boards and hoover everywhere thoroughly. And then use a steam cleaner on the carpet. The steam will kill off any eggs that are there and also clean and freshen the place up. It is the eggs that you need to destroy, so that you break the cycle. Obviously, you'd need to transfer all your creatures to another room whilst you undertake this spring clean!

I'm looking to buy the stick insect enclosure but I am on holiday this week so I'm just wondering how you will pack it? Will you flatten it or post it as it is in a big box?
It is not flattened, the ELC cage is sent fully assembled in a big strong cardboard box. So when the parcel arrives, just take the cage out of the box and it is ready to use straight away. All the cages that Small-Life Supplies currently send out, including the popular ELC, TTQ and AUC, are ready built, so our customers don't have the bother of trying to assemble flat packed kits! We email you the delivery tracking details and this gives you a two hour time window of when delivery will be. You can also request the parcel be left in a safe place or with a neighbour, if you wish to do this, just let us know when you order the items so we can let the driver know.

I've just heard about "bee lawns" and I want one! I figure you may already have one? If so, can you give me any pointers? I have no gardening experience other than mowing my drab lawn so want something that's easy to do!
Yes, "bee lawns" are gaining in popularity in the UK as well as the USA. The idea is to let wild flowers grow amongst the grass, this helps the insects a lot because the wild flowers provide food for the insects, including bees. Dandelions are a great plant to have on your lawn, they are very hardy and spread by themselves. I have a dedicated dandelion patch on my lawn and can mow the leaves in the winter with a lawn mower, just like you would mow grass. Then in the spring and summer you can enjoy seeing a splash of colour, and the yellow flowers are teeming with insects. To get started, just dig over one square metre of your lawn and wait for the wild flowers to appear. Be patient, it usually takes about one year to get going. The only maintenance you need to do is a bit of hand weeding from time to time, concentrating on pulling out some of the thicker grass stems if there are too many of them. I would recommend starting with the square metre idea first , because this is easy to manage and provides great results. Later on, you can add additional square metres. I have done this many times and know it works. Clover, daisies, buttercups and flowering nettle are all doing well on my lawn! Of course, you can let the whole lawn revert to nature, but this requires a lot of time to manage, and so is too ambitious for many people. The square metre idea is more practical and also allows you to use the mowed grassed parts of your lawn for sitting outside etc.

Are there any health issues associated with keeping stick insects? I am worried about my lungs. I am reluctant to use soil and leaf litter and woodlice on the tank floor and would like to hear your opinion.
It is very important to keep stick insects in clean conditions. So it's best to house stick insects in the ELC cage and replace the disposable paper ELC Liner weekly. Every month, wash the ELC cage with lukewarm soapy water and rinse well. Collect fresh sprigs of bramble and put the cut stems into a Sprig Pot of water, replace the water and bramble weekly. This is how Small-Life Supplies breeds stick insects and we know this method works really well. I advise against using soil/woodlice/leaf litter for because this can lead to unsanitary conditions and proliferation of small flies in the enclosure. Damp dead leaves can lead to mould spores and an accummulation of dry frass (stick insect droppings) can create a lot of dust which, over time, will irritate your lungs and cause you to cough a lot. Obviously it makes no sense to put your health at risk like this, but sadly I have seen people who do and are now suffering the consequences.

Can I mix Thailand stick insects with Indian stick insects? Or would the male Thailand stick insects try it on with the female Indian stick insects?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are parthenogenetic and so are all females. They do not mate. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) have males and females in equal numbers and mate regularly. Male Thailand stick insects mate with females of the same species, they are not interested in trying to mate with a female of another species. So you can mix Indian and Thailand stick insects together in the same ELC cage and they will live together happily.

Are bugs the same as insects, I mean I know bugs are insects but are the words inter-changeable?
Strictly speaking, "bugs" are a particular type of insect, characterised by having sucking mouthparts. So, for example, "Shieldbugs" are insects which suck plant sap and so are classified as being "bugs" and belong to the order Hemiptera. In contrast, stick insects have mouthparts designed for cutting leaves and so they belong to the order Phasmida and are not classified as being "bugs". So no, the word "bug" and "insect" do not mean the same thing. However, non-scientists, especially journalists, often refer to all insects as "bugs", and this is what causes confusion.

My Macleays Spectre are approaching maturity, what is the absolute maximum number I can house in an AUC cage?
Adult Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) do really well in the tall airy AUC cage, especially because the holes are oversized, so there is no risk of the claws getting caught in small hole mesh. It's always best not to overcrowd stick insects, but the AUC will accommodate up to eighteen adult Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (nine pairs).

Any chance that you have some discounted ELC cages for sale?
From time to time, we sell used ELC stick insect cages on ebay. These are cages that we have used in our insect farming facility for a short time, and so are still in very good condition, and of course the cages are cleaned before dispatch. We are listing some at the moment on ebay (just search for "ELC stick insect cage" on ebay). These discounted cages are only available to customers living in the UK mainland. ELC cages are sent ready assembled and a free colour care sheet is included.

What is the recommended method of hatching Macleays Spectre eggs?
We store ours in the HUA Pot, with a label attached showing the month they were laid. Every few weeks we shake the HUA Pot because this moves the eggs which seems to promote successful development. Then, after six months, we start to lightly mist the eggs in the evening because this triggers hatching during the night and the following morning.

I have a question about stick insects. Can a stick insect live alone?
It is not recommended to keep a solitary stick insect. This is because stick insects like to group together in the cage. That is why Small-Life Supplies supply stick insects in small groups, usually in packs of four. If you keep different species of stick insect in the same ELC cage, you will notice that they like to group together with their own kind.

We are sooo looking forward to getting the Indian Eri silkmoths! Is it possible to swap the black TTQ Liners for pink ones? We love pink!
Yes, no problem. With the TTQ Bundle, ten Liners are included, and you can choose the colour of these - pink, blue or black.

I am seeing orange and black blobby things stuck to the blackberry leaves. I can't pull them off easily. Will they harm my stick insects? And what are they?
They are the ladybird pupae, so within a week or so will emerge into ladybirds that can fly. It's probably best to return any leaves with this type of pupa back outside. Or, you can put them in a HUA Pot and wait to see the ladybirds emerge before releasing them outdoors. One ladybird will emerge from one pupa. The pupae don't eat and will not harm stick insects. However, you don't want ladybirds amongst your stick insects because they annoy stick insects by walking up their antennae! Also, ladybirds need to eat lots of aphids and blackfly, so you need to put ladybirds outside on a bramble/rose/dock plant which is infested with these small insects.

Our Malaysian stick insects are now full size, they are beautiful! We have one pair in the ELC cage. The male has been riding on the back of the female for the last few hours but there's no action if you know what I mean! Is this behaviour normal?
Yes, there is no cause for concern. Sometimes the adult male starts mating almost immediately he mounts the female, whereas other times he can ride on her back for several hours. It's important to let the adult Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) out of the ELC every few days because they like to have a good walk across the floor or a table. But don't take them out when they are mating or if one is on top of the other. Instead, wait till they are separated and then you can take them out for some exercise. When you put them back in the ELC cage, remember to spray the leaves with water because stick insects like a drink after exercise.

My British caterpillars have gone squishy and died. I had four in a QBOX. I provided them with a fresh bramble leaf on Friday but when I came back from my Nan's on Sunday there was lots of mould in the QBOX and they were dead. I didn't use a wet leaf, even though it had been chucking it down, and so don't understand where this mould came from?
There has been lots of rain in the UK recently and this has made the surroundings very damp. There are lots of mould spores about. This means that outbreaks of mould in confined spaces (such as the QBOX) are far more likely to happen. So even though you put in a bramble leaf that was not wet, it contained spores that quickly developed into mould because the QBOX was not opened for several days. This wouldn't have happened if you had taken the QBOX with you to your Nan's and replaced the leaf daily. It is most unfortunate that your trip has coincided with this spell of rainy weather, because if the weather had been hot, dry and sunny, mould would not have developed in a QBOX that remained unopened for several days.

I have ten large prickly stick insects and they've only had a diet of brambles which I collect from down the road. Not many cars travel there so it's free from pollutants, however recently a neighbour came out to tell me that the leaves had been sprayed with weed killer. So I travelled further to collect some other sort of brambles but I'm worried these ones will make them unwell or even cause death as they have a lot of bright new green leaves. It's been 2/3 weeks since the neighbour told me the leaves have been sprayed, however they are still not dead so maybe she was lying? I want to continue using these brambles as they look a lot more fully grown but I don't want to risk that they have been sprayed, but I feel like I'm also risking their lives by getting bramble leaves elsewhere that are not as good. One of my stick insects currently is releasing a faeces but there seems to be a brown sticky substance along with it and it's not dropping. I'm concerned about my insects health at this point.
Spray on weedkiller is fast acting so most of the affected leaves turn brown and shrivel within days. You need to examine the original patch of bramble and also the weeds around it, if everything looks green and well, then it will be OK to harvest. But if the bramble is green and the surrounding weeds are brown, then do not collect the bramble because it will have low level contamination. As well as eating bramble leaves, your stick insects will also eat rose leaves, so you could look for a source of wild rose/dog rose (like bramble, wild rose can be found in overgrown wild areas). It's best to avoid giving your stick insects the bright green new bramble leaves. The brown sticky substance indicates there is a nutritional issue, so it's important that you source darker green bramble leaves and/or wild rose leaves as soon as possible.

Can I feed my unwanted Indian stick insect eggs to my garden woodpigeons? Or are they too small to be of interest? Three woodpigeons have turned up in my garden and I'd like to encourage them to stay.
I feed my garden woodpigeons with sunflower hearts. Also oat groats (soaked in water overnight first). And a ramekin dish of cold tap water, filled to the rim and changed daily. Woodpigeons also need a source of grit, so you can give them a dish of that too, if you don't have loose gravel nearby. It is blackbirds and magpies that eat Indian stick insect eggs.

I read a question in the back of the Newscientist magazine asking "Do insects have emotions in the same way humans and mammals do? For example, would a fly feel sad if it saw its brother die?" One response mentioned that Charles Darwin suggested animals have emotions and that "Recent research has found that insects have the cognitive and physiological building blocks that might give rise to complex phenomena such as emotion. For example, bees that were given rewards when they reached a certain site became more optimistic than other bees."
Insects do show some emotions. Grief is a really obvious one, sometimes seen in a pair of New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) that have a particularly close bond and have been paired up for years. When one dies of old age, it's partner can stay with the body for a few days, sometimes touching the corpse with its foot. Sometimes the surviving stick insect refuses to eat and will choose to starve itself to death.

Would the ELC cage be suitable for Malaysian stick insects?
Yes, the ELC cage is fine for Malaysian stick insects that are either large nymphs or adults. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we house up to four adults (two pairs) of Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) per ELC cage. Like New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), Malaysian stick insects also need a Water Dish and a Sand Pit in the cage (for the females to bury her eggs). And, like New Guinea stick insects, Malaysian stick insects benefit from extra exercise, so it's recommended to take them out of the cage regularly and let them have a good walk across the floor. Baby Malaysian stick insects should be housed in the HUA Pot, and young nymphs in the TTQ cage.

I'm buying an ELC stick insect cage bundle for my girlfriend, Jessica. It's her birthday next month. I thought it'd be cool if the cage had a label on the front saying "Jessica's stick insects". I see you guys make the cages, so could you find out if you could put two matching labels on the lid (your standard label and my special label)? I don't mind paying a few pounds more.
The ELC cage labels are engraved specially (in the UK) for Small-Life Supplies, and so yes, we can supply a similar label saying "Jessica's stick insects". The label would be the same design and size as our ELC label, so the two labels together would complement each other and look good. Because this is a bespoke label, please allow a few weeks for it to be produced, so please order as soon as possible, so everything will be ready in time for Jessica's birthday. It's easiest to order by phoning Small-Life Supplies weekdays 9am to 6pm, 01733 203358.

My jungle nymph female had her final molt but two of her old legs looked like they'd been ripped off and were oozing green liquid her sides look torn and are also oozing green liquid. I don't know what to do, can you please give advice.
The photo you sent shows her shrivelled up wings, it is unfortunate that she has made a mess of her final skin change. This sometimes happens. The green liquid is her blood. The kindest thing to do is to give her water to drink and see what she decides to do. If she does not want to continue, she will refuse to eat and will die soon. But if she can manage with her remaining four legs and her body tears close up, then she will eat and regain her strength in the coming weeks. "Jungle nymph" stick insects are from Malaysia and so are called the Malaysian stick insect (Heteropteryx dilatata).

What's this nonsense about not releasing butterflies outside? As a lifelong Lepidopterist, I despair at the confused views of some people spouting forth! I have been releasing butterflies that I have captive bred for years and encourage others to partake in this fascinating and highly satisfying pastime.
I agree with you. The whole point about many insects (including butterflies) is that they are moving around in huge numbers. In fact there is a "Vertical Radar System" that measures the vast numbers of insects moving in the wind currents in the skies above us. We can't see them with our naked eyes because they are small and too high up (higher than Canary Wharf), but they are there! So it is normal for the gene pool in wild insect populations to be mixed up. Therefore, releasing some British butterflies (in Britain) that you have reared is to be encouraged. You probably already know that it's best to release small numbers of butterflies (for example up to six) in one location to optimise their chance of survival. Releasing a hundred or so at once is a bad idea because the birds notice and have a banquet!

We have just come back with bramble we have collected for our stick insects. Some of the stems have pea-sized white frothy blobs on them? Any idea what these are and could they be harmful to our stick insects ? We have Thailand stick insects.
The white frothy blobs are commonly called "cuckoo spit" and are seen at this time of year. The white froth is wet and protects the pale green froghopper larva inside. The larva develops and then becomes a froghopper, which is a small green insect that jumps. The cuckoo spit is not harmful to the stick insects. However, if the froth is disturbed a lot by the stick insects, this lessens the survival chances of the froghopper. So you should snip off the bits of stem containing the cuckoo spit and put these back outside on a bramble patch.

Can the Indian stick insects cope alright with the spikes on the bramble?
Yes, stick insects just walk over the thorns on the bramble stems and leaves. So there is no need to cut them off.

We had two adult Australian Macleays stick insects which unfortunately both died early this year, leaving several eggs. So we decided to keep the eggs and they have now started to hatch. So far we have had nine hatch successfully. The eldest is only about a week old and the others have been hatching at the rate of one or two per day so they are all very small still. I ordered two HUA pots from you and I managed to source a Eucalyptus gunnii tree. The insects are currently housed in the HUA pots – and I have been putting fresh dry leaves in as you suggested. I didn’t want to overcrowd them so I split the insects between two pots. Is this right or can they all be housed in one HUA pot?
Each HUA Pot can comfortably house about six young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). And yes, they do best on eucalyptus leaves. Unlike other young stick insects that need slightly wet bramble leaves, the young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects do best on eucalyptus leaves that are not wet, so it is important not to mist the eucalyptus leaves with water, and if you are harvesting them from a tree outside be sure to dry the leaves with a cloth if it is has been raining.

My lecturer said that stick insects can only breed for about twenty generations before there is too much "inbreeding" and then they die out. I can't see the logic in this, do you know anything about this? Also, if it's true, do commercial insect farms such as Small-Life Supplies have to keep buying in new stock to mix up the gene pool?
Unfortunately your lecturer is repeating a myth. Small-Life Supplies breeds stick insects in large numbers, and no, we don't introduce new stock into our breeding cages. Our policy has always been to keep breeding from our strongest individuals and as a result, our stick insects are very strong and healthy. Our Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are now on their 42nd generation! Our entire stock of Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are descended from just a few individuals sent to me in the late 1970s by the person who discovered them, Mr Anthony Julian-Ottie, when exploring Thailand. Whilst "mixing up the genes" can be beneficial for mammals, it can be detrimental for insects.

My question is about Macleays Spectre stick insects. Ours have just started to hatch, they run so fast! Any tips for stopping them from running out of the HUA Pot?
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) run very fast when they have just been born. This is because in the wild, their eggs hatch in ants nests underground and so it is imperative that the newly hatched stick insect gets out of the ants' nest as fast as possible, before it is eaten by the ants. (The ants are fooled by the appearance of the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs and take the eggs down to their nest, thinking they are edible seeds). After a few days, the stick insects stop running around so fast, so it's not a problem keeping them contained in the HUA Pot.

Are stick insect eggs easily distinguishable from poo?
Yes. The poo is irregular in size and shape, whereas stick insect eggs (from the same species) are usually the same size and are all the same shape. Depending on the species of stick insect, the eggs may be round, oval, or an irregular shape.

Sam, my Macleays Spectre stick insect, has started to lay eggs. So I need to plant a eucalyptus, right? Any particular kind you recommend?
Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) eggs usually start to hatch after about six months. These newly hatched stick insects do best if fed solely on eucalyptus leaves, so it's a great idea to plant a eucalyptus now because this means it will have grown a lot by the time your eggs start to hatch. We have tried different sorts of eucalyptus plants, and find Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects like Eucalyptus gunnii and Eucalyptus niphophila the best. Small-Life Supplies grow eucalyptus plants specially without the use of pesticides, and we currently have large potted Eucalyptus niphophila plants for sale.

Two of my Eri silk moth pupae have hatched, they are so cute and beautiful. A male hatched first and was alone for 6 days bless him, although he did enjoy a fly around my living room in the evening. He pounced on the female almost as soon as she had emerged, she didn't even have time to unfurl her wings and they are a sad crinkled affair. The female has now laid a number of eggs and my question is about them. I had the caterpillars in a TTQ cage but moved the pupae into a large mesh cage to hatch to give the adults more room. This is not going to be ideal for the caterpillars however. Can I move the eggs without damaging or destroying them? Or is it better to wait until the caterpillars hatch and then move them? On a related note, I don't think I can cope with all of the eggs hatching into caterpillars, is the hatching success rate usually high? Is it okay to destroy some of the eggs as I do with my stick insects?
Yes, you need to remove the eggs now. The eggs are hard and are laid in clusters. Use your fingers to carefully pull the clusters of eggs off the netting. Place the eggs in a QBOX and wait for them to hatch in approximately ten days time. The hatching rate is usually high. You can pour boiling water over any eggs that you don't want to save, and they won't develop any further.

My friend has five Australian Macleays stick insect eggs and one hatched today! He is so cute and is running all over the place! We don't know where to get eucalyptus leaves (we live in Southampton). Is eucalyptus strictly necessary or just preferable? I ask because Claude (the baby stick insect) has already started to nibble the bramble leaf.
Newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) are very active and run around like crazy! They have black bodies and orange heads and look like "demented ants". It is very risky to give them bramble leaves straight away, because only certain types of bramble species are digested properly by newly hatched Australian stick insects. So you may be lucky and have the correct type of bramble, in which case Claude will be fine. Or, you may have one of the many unsuitable bramble types, in which case Claude will eat the bramble for the next couple of weeks and then die. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we do not take any chances with feeding Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects and feed all newly hatched ones on eucalyptus leaves. These stick insects can then be switched over to bramble (any type of bramble) when they are a couple of months old. Potted eucalyptus plants (grown specially without pesticides) can be purchased from Small-Life Supplies. Or, you may be able to find a eucalyptus tree growing in someone's garden or a park in Southampton. Eucalyptus leaves and trees are quite distinctive and easy to spot once you know what you are looking for.

When do stick insects start to lay eggs? We have had ours for two weeks now and they haven’t laid any. One of them has developed a red marking at the bottom of one of its legs though. Is this normal?
Stick insects usually start to lay eggs a few weeks after they are fully grown. Some species take a bit longer, unfortunately you haven't said which type of stick insect you have? If you have adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) both of the front legs turn red at the end where the legs join the body. If this has happened with only one leg, it could be that the other front leg has been regenerated (to replace a lost leg). Regenerated limbs are always shorter than original legs.

Can you explain, in simple terms, why extreme heat is more effective than extreme cold at destroying unwanted stick insect eggs?
Extreme heat, which you can achieve by from pouring boiling water over the eggs, will immediately denature the structure inside the egg. So the shapes inside change at once, which means it is impossible for the egg to develop any further. Extreme cold is a much slower method to achieve a similar result, and will only work if it is cold enough and also if the eggs are kept cold for long enough. Amazingly, many insect eggs can cope with very cold conditions and simply arrest development until the surrroundings warm up again. So there is real risk that if you place eggs in a domestic freezer for a few days and then take them out, the eggs can start developing again when they are out of the freezer.

I’ve had a few of my black beauty stick insects all show the same symptoms over the last few weeks. Weakness, unable to bend their legs or hold on anymore, eyes going a grey colour rather than yellow and then they just get weaker and weaker and weaker before dying. Is this just a case of a few reaching old age at the same time? I got them from a friend so don’t know ages. I’ve been told they only get wings after their last shed, is this true? Most of them have wings but are still varying sizes. I have one large chunky obvious male but all the others range in size.
Only adult stick insects have wings, so yes, the wings appear after the final skin change (ecdysis) has been completed. Adult female stick insects are larger and chunkier than the adult males. The fresh new shoots of privet can cause health problems and so it's important to feed your stick insects the largest privet leaves you can find. Stick insects dying from old age require more water to drink and so it's best to mist the privet leaves with water, preferably in the evening so they can drink from the droplets on the leaves. Also check that the floor of the cage is lined with paper and not kitchen roll (avoid the latter because it absorbs moisture and can make the surroundings too dry). Black beauty stick insects (also called Peruvian Black stick insects) have the Latin species name Peruphasma schultei. Because they can emit a chemical spray which can irritate sensitive people, this is not a species that Small-Life Supplies breeds (We only breed the species of stick insect that are safe to keep). So I don't know why the eyes are changing colour. The weakness and inability to grip are symptoms of old age.

Have you seen the colourful stick insect in the "new scientist" magazine? It's beautiful !
Yes, it's on page 10 of the 4th May 2019 "new scientist" weekly magazine. This stick insect has orange spiky legs and black wings with blue spots! It was found in Madagascar by German entomologists and has been assigned the species name Achrioptera maroloko. This is a very colourful genus of stick insect, the Achrioptera fallax is another colourful stick insect that is already being reared by enthusiasts in the UK.

Can I get another ELC cage from you with a mesh lid? My Pink Winged stick insects have laid eggs which are hatching and so I need another cage, but couldn't see this version on your website, I do hope it is still available?
Yes, the ELC cage with the mesh lid is still available, there is a £2 supplement for this version because this lid is more expensive to produce. This design is ideal for Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), because they appreciate the roof top ventilation as well as the side ventilation in the cage.

Please can you tell me the methods being used for larval mosquito abatement in the US?
There is ongoing surveillance and monitoring of mosquito populations, which includes counting the mosquitoes and also identifying the species. The vast majority of species of mosquito are not vectors and so are no health threat to humans. For example in Louisiana, USA, there are 64 species of mosquito, but only a handful are vectors for the West Nile Virus etc. Mosquito larvae are aquatic and so there is a "source reduction" policy, which finds and deals with their breeding areas. So receptacles such as discarded car tyres (which fill up with rainwater) are removed. And fish that eat mosquito larvae are added to abandoned swimming pools. If the population of vector carrying mosquitoes is very high, specific "bio-rational" products are applied to areas of standing water. Such products (derived from nature) target mosquito larvae and cause minimum harm to other organisms.

Yesterday my two Indian Eri silkmoths emerged and today they are mating! They have been doing this for hours. I have them in the TTQ cage, will the female lay eggs in there?
Yes, the female will stick her eggs on the side of the TTQ and you can look forward to them hatching in approximately ten days. The caterpillars need to be fed with privet leaves (but avoid the young shoots), or lilac leaves. It's best to transfer the baby caterpillars to a HUA Pot and rear them in there until they are large enough to live in the TTQ cage. It's a good idea to let the adult silkmoths out of the cage at dusk and let them have a fly around the room if they want to. Silkmoths are weaker flyers than hawkmoths, but they usually like to fly a bit in the early evening and need space to do this.

I am keeping some amazing Extatosoma tiaratum in a large mesh cage with their own potted rose bush for a food source and they seem extremely happy and healthy, however the rose is attracting some green fly, is it possible to introduce a ladybug couple to the environment or will they cause any harm to the Macleays?
Ladybugs (these are called ladybirds in the UK) eat aphids and greenfly and so yes, you could put a couple in the cage. Ladybirds have huge appetites though, and so you'd need to release them outdoors when they have eaten the greenfly. Ladybirds won't harm your Macleays Spectre stick insects, but may tickle them a bit if they walk on their bodies. But this isn't a problem because a stick insect can easily shake or knock a ladybird off.

One of my British Vapourer cocoons has emerged into a male moth! He is flapping around inside the QBOX. Will he be OK in there? The other cocoon hasn't emerged yet, fingers crossed it's a female!
Don't keep the male moth captive in the QBOX because this will be very stressful for him and he will die prematurely. So you need to release the male moth outside this afternoon, preferably around 5pm. He may fly off if he detects a female's pheromones in the vicinity. Or, if he can't detect any, he will loiter in your garden, hiding from birds. Hopefully your other cocoon will emerge in the next day or so. If it is a female, place her on your windowsill outside and your original male will detect her pheromones and fly to her. Or another passing male may fly to her. Mating usually lasts for 5 -10 minutes and the female starts to lay her eggs soon after the male has flown off. Do not disturb the moths during mating.

Just after your advice on our Indian stick insect. As in the photo, one morning a couple of weeks we noticed her back end had some kind of injury and an egg seems to have stuck to the green blood/gunk. Since then she has lost a lot of weight but still seems strong enough to grip the cage when I try to remove her. Do you think I should try to remove the egg?
Yes, it's a good idea to remove the egg. I recommend spraying the area with water (from a Mister Curvy) and after a few minutes, you should be able to carefully flick the egg off with a small artist's paintbrush, or lift it off with your fingers. You will probably have to repeat this process every time she lays an egg. Unfortunately the area looks deformed so she'll never be able to lay eggs properly. Such stick insects usually don't lay many eggs, but it is important to keep removing any eggs that are produced otherwise the eggs start to accumulate and this causes problems for the stick insect. Meanwhile ensure she has extra water and nice bramble leaves to eat. If she decides not to carry on, she will make the decision to stop eating and drinking.

I am a new, pleased owner of an Australian walking stick! I named him Fetch! I want to make a custom tank with wood, plexiglass, and screen mesh. It is for when he gets bigger. Is wood glue toxic to Fetch after it dries?
Australian stick insects like airy surroundings, so you need to make a tall cage with two screen mesh sides. You can use a wood framework and wood glue is OK to use, but make sure there is no smell coming from the glue at all when it has dried (there shouldn't be any odour). The mistake many people make is then to use varnish, this can cause problems for the stick insects and so don't use varnish. Avoid paint as well. So just use untreated wood. Line the floor of the cage with paper and replace this weekly so Fetch is in clean surroundings. Stick insects like company of their own kind and so it would be nice if you could get another Australian stick insect so that Fetch is not alone.

I have four Vapourer caterpillars in the QBOX. Three have spun their cocoons in three separate top corners of the QBOX. Now the last caterpillar is well underway spinning a cocoon on top of one of the other cocoons! Should I intervene and try to move it to an unoccupied space? Or is it too late?
It's too late to intervene. This is because your caterpillar has already expended a lot of energy in spinning its cocoon and there is a risk of the caterpillar not having enough strength to finish the process if you forcibly remove it. So let it finish. The Vapourer moths usually emerge around the same time, so hopefully this moth will emerge before the one underneath it, enabling you to peel away the empty cocoon. If the moth underneath tries to emerge first, it may need some assistance, so you may need to snip a small hole with nail scissors in its cocoon if its natural exit is blocked. You can easily see a moth trying to emerge out of its cocoon and so it will be obvious if it needs assistance or not.

"Bird or bash" my lecturer used to say about injured stick insects that were too far gone to recover. Sadly I accidentally trod on one of my Pink Winged stick insects and so I was relieved when a blackbird munched her up within minutes of me putting her out on the bird table. The poor thing did flash her wings but the blackbird took no notice and ate her anyway, thankfully quite quickly. I cringe when people suggest the freezer method, don't they know that results in slow death and agony of cells splitting?
Yes, you did the right thing by feeding your badly injured stick insect to the garden birds. At least the blackbird benefitted from this unfortunate accident and the stick insect was put out of its misery quickly. And yes, death by freezing is slow and cruel and not humane.

Is it possible to keep my six Extatosoma tiaratum nymphs with my Budwing stick insect? (Thailand straight stick insect)?
Yes, both species like airy surroundings and do well in either the ELC cage or the AUC cage.

I enjoyed the Cambridge event very much and meeting you. I believe everyone should keep stick insects at some point during their lives.
Thank you, it was an enjoyable event with a varied range of exhibits. And yes, I agree with your sentiment! Keeping stick insects is a very easy way to become interested in nature.

I have some QBOXES left over from the last time I bought some caterpillar kits from you. I would very much like to try keeping some of your British Vapourer caterpillars and wonder if it's possible to just buy the caterpillars (and QBOX Liners) because I have the QBOXES already?
Yes, of course. Just give us a call on 01733 203358 and you can save some money by just getting the caterpillars and Liners. We find the QBOXES work really well for rearing British Vapourer caterpillars (Orgyia antiqua) and our QBOXES are sturdy and washable and so can be re-used many times.

I've just got some New Guinea stick insects (three males and four females) from the pet shop. They said to feed them bramble, privet and oak leaves and to keep them humid. Is that right?
Not completely. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best on bramble/blackberry leaves, also hazel leaves and rose leaves. Privet and oak are not suitable. New Guinea stick insects do best in a cage with two ventilated sides, so do not require it to be humid. However they do not like very airy surroundings, so avoid housing them in an all-netting enclosure. The ELC cage is ideal for housing New Guinea stick insects, and it's really important to provide a Water Dish, Community Tubes, and a Sand Pit for these stick insects. It's good to have a mixture of males and females and you'll find yours like to pile on top of each other in the Community Tubes.

My giant bud wing stick insect Phaenopharos khaoyaiensis was out walking on me when I noticed orange liquid from her mouth. Is this a defence thing? If so she clearly didn't like me stopping her from climbing onto my head.
Yes, your stick insect was annoyed so she released this orange liquid from her mouth. Your stick insect is also called the "Thailand Straight stick insect" and has other defences too. When alarmed, the adult female has small red wings that she can flash open and she can also emit a defensive odour.

I have received my British Vapourer caterpillars, they are wonderful. I am 24 and am now discovering insects! I am just checking it is legal to release these outside? I live in Brighton, UK.
Our customers are all age groups, so the interest in insects is not age related! And yes, these British Vapourer caterpillars have been captive bred by Small-Life Supplies and are healthy individuals that eat fresh bramble leaves. When they are fully grown and ready for release, you can set them free outdoors (between 5pm and 6pm is the best time to do this). British Vapourer caterpillars occur across the UK and so it is perfectly legal to release ones that have been captive-bred. Such individuals have a good chance of thriving outdoors and hopefully will find a mate and reproduce. The legal (and ethical) situation is different for foreign species and these must not be released in the UK. It would be cruel to do this anyway, because such foreign insects would suffer because it would be too cold for them to survive in the UK climate.

Is the colour of stick insects affected by what leaves they eat?
Yes. We have noticed that most Pink Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) stick insect nymphs become a strong shade of green if they eat eucalyptus leaves, but remain a fawn colour if they just eat bramble leaves. And the medium-sized Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) nymphs that eat bramble leaves are mostly golden coloured, but the stick insects that are exclusively fed on eucalyptus leaves have a noticeable green tint to their bodies and legs.


Can you remind me again, what is the minimum safe size of a soft pale green bramble leaf? It's getting rather difficult to find the old leaves now.
It can be difficult to feed stick insects at this time of year because the old dark green bramble leaves are dying off to make way for the fresh new shoots. It's really important not to feed stick insects with the very small pale green soft leaves because these can contain toxins which can harm your stick insects. However when each leaf segment is a minimum of 5cm long, the leaf should be safe to eat. If you look at a bramble leaf, it is made up of three leaf segments, each of these segments needs to be a minimum of 5cm long to be safe for the stick insects to eat.

We are new to raising Indian stickies but we all love them - especially my little boy! Can I ask, do you know how long they take to reach their full size?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are fully gown within five months, they shed their skins six times during this time, dramatically increasing in size every time. More details are in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd.

Would my chickens eat my surplus stick insect eggs?
Yes, this is very likely. Indeed, our customers who keep chickens have told us that their chickens gobble up stick insect eggs, with no adverse effects.

Is the ELC cage suitable for Indian stick insects that aren't fully grown yet? They're about 3cm in length at the moment. And how many would this hold comfortably?
Yes, the ELC cage is ideal for housing juvenile Indian stick insects that are 3cm long. We rear all our Indian stick insects in ELC cages. It's only the newly hatched baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) that need to be kept in a smaller, unventilated container. But once they have completed a skin change they double in size and can be transferred to the ELC cage, where they will thrive because this cage is large and has two ventilated panels. The ELC cage gives the stick insects plenty of room to grow properly. We recommend housing up to twenty adult Indian stick insects in an ELC cage, or approx thirty juvenile ones (these are called nymphs).

I have just taken delivery of one pair of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, thank you so much, they are divine! I have set up their cage with eucalyptus and bramble and the male is eating already! Someone told me that the males die soon after mating, is that true?
No, the males and females should have the same lifespan, and they mate regularly during their adult lives. Occasionally a male will die prematurely but this is usually because of ill health, or if he is exceptionally active. Some of the males really like to fly and it is the very active ones that fly a lot which have a shorter lifespan. But the majority pair up and grow old together!


One of our female Sungaya inexpectata died the other day and within a few days we were really concerned to see a green larva (looked like caterpillar) growing out the back of its head. It was hard to see then when we came home it was gone. Any ideas?
Dead stick insects should be removed from the cage the day they die, and disposed off. Some species decompose quickly, others more slowly, but it is not good for the health of the other stick insects to have a corpse in the cage. Some insects can be parasitised, but parasitic larvae are cream and not green. The inside of a stick insect contains a greenish translucent tube, this can burst out of the exoskeleton if that splits (this sometimes happens if a skin change goes wrong and the skin of the inner thorax splits as well as the outer thorax) but this hasn't happened to your insect. The most likely explanation is that it was a green caterpillar that had fallen off a leaf and had landed on the back of the head of your dead stick insect. It then wandered off during the day.

Our Indian stick insects eat bramble leaves but at the moment the leaves have spots? New growth is coming through but I think that using this is dangerous?
Definitely do not use the new bramble shoots. These may look tasty but actually can contain toxins (to protect the plant) and so will harm your stick insects if they eat these leaves. Spotty bramble leaves are not ideal but can be eaten safely. Better still is if you can find another source of bramble where there are still dark green leaves available. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) will also eat eucalyptus leaves and rose leaves. If you are really struggling, you can purchase Fresh Cut Bramble from Small-Life Supplies, fortunately we can harvest green bramble leaves throughout the year.

My Extatosoma tiaratum mated for the first time last week. Your book says the spermatophore drops off after a number of hours... Poppy's is still hanging on... They have mated again today and the male now has a matching spermatophore. Is this OK, or should I try removing them? Also how long after maturity and mating will I need to wait for our own eggs of this species? I'm beginning to think I'm too impatient for keeping phasmids!
It's best to leave the spermatophores alone, the used ones will drop off eventually. Not all matings are successful, sometimes the male produces a spermatophore but then can't transfer it across successfully and it ends up being dropped on the floor. Your male is obviously keen on the female and will continue to mate regularly with her. It's really obvious when the female is ready to lay eggs because her abdomen will swell up dramatically as it fills with eggs. This usually happens a few weeks after successful mating. Her appetite will increase. It's important to mist the bramble leaves in the evening so both genders can have a drink of water. Also, always mist the leaves with water when the male is flying across the room so he can have a drink afterwards.

On the news, I saw disturbing footage of large trees covered with huge netting bags. Apparently this is a rouse by developers to stop birds from nesting in the trees (it is illegal to cut down trees that contain nesting birds). I am outraged by this shady practice, and alarmed that it appears to be starting to happen all over the UK. The report I saw indicated that many people are horrified by this cruel action, but didn't mention what we, the public, can do to stop it? And no mention about the insects that will be adversely affected.
Unscrupulous developers entomb trees they want to remove with netting bags, sometimes before they have even got planning permission, and sometimes, allegedly, before they even own the land ! You are correct in the reason they do this, to stop birds nesting. One of the few protections trees have is that you cannot cut them down during the nesting season if birds are nesting in the branches. However, large netting bags also stop birds from resting and roosting in the trees. And stop the insects from living there. Vast numbers of insects depend on trees and so it's important to highlight that insects need free access to trees! So it is essential that this netting practice be stopped. Also, it's not just trees they are netting, it is hedgerows too. You (and others) can contact the owner of the land listing the reasons why the netting action is barbaric and demand it be removed immediately. You can contact your MP asking for this practice to made illegal. You can sign the anti-netting petition, here is the link
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/244233?
fbclid=IwAR1nuR3qKrfnb_hwpXWb5_EBmScipP3ku6wSKCfDKhm88JLraZeIG87n0Uc

It already has over 160 000 signatures so this campaign is gaining momentum. Some local councils are already taking action to remove netting, so it's worth contacting your local borough council and county council too. It's really important to list the reasons why you are objecting to the netting, this will help officials to understand why it is so abhorrent.



I thought silkworms ate mulberry leaves? But the ones you sell eat privet leaves?
There are different species of silkmoth. Their caterpillars are called larvae or silkworms. The silkworms that are used to create silk are Chinese and are the Bombyx mori species. They only eat mulberry leaves. The Indian Eri silkworms that Small-Life Supplies supply are a different species (Samia ricini), these are not reared commercially for silk, but we breed and supply them as pets. They only eat privet and lilac leaves.

I acquired some juvenile giant Madagascan hissing cockroaches about a week ago, but I’m worried as they don’t seem to be eating anything. I have them in a glass viv with a heat mat underneath, they are sprayed daily and have a food dish with water sponge and fruit/veg and roach chow in. The base is coconut fibre (I’m worried it might be getting too dry due to the heat mat despite spraying?) and there is an egg box and some wood for them to hide under. They are out of any direct sunlight and all the house lights are off at night.
Here at Small-Life Supplies we used to breed lots of Madagascan hissing cockroaches (Gromphadhorina portentosa) and found that they did best in ventilated surroundings. So we kept ours in cages with two mesh sides, and observed that the Madagascan hissing cockroaches liked to climb the sides and rest on the sides during the day. They also liked lots of attention and regular handling. A heat mat is not necessary, they should be fine in a room that is comfortably warm. And like the stick insects, a paper Liner on the floor of the enclosure is best. Substrates such as coconut fibre should not be used because the bits can clog up the sticky pads on the insects' feet and also the frass gets trapped in the substrate and this leads to to unhygienic conditions. Spraying the cage daily is not recommended, this will lead to damp surroundings which is not good for the health of your insects. So you need to make some major changes quickly before they die. We fed ours on slices of orange and also provided a dish of dead leaves (they liked dead oak and dead sycamore leaves the best). And a shallow water dish (filled with cold tap water) provides the water they need to drink.

I bought my daughter an ELC bundle and Australian stick insects (she loves them both!) and now I think we'd better get the "Keeping Stick Insects" book because she has her heart set on acquiring more varieties! Your website lists this book at £12.50 new, but ebay has the same book listed at over £50 for used copies? Is it the same book?
Yes, it's the same book. All copies have been printed by the same British printing company and so are of the same high quality paper etc. Obviously it makes no sense to buy a used copy for four times the price of a new copy! You can purchase a new copy of "Keeping Stick Insects" by Dorothy Floyd direct from Small-Life Supplies, or we also sell new copies on ebay. The book sellers who sell this book at inflated prices are doing so because they have limited stocks of this title. Your daughter will enjoy the book because it has a whole section about Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) and also covers other popular types in detail, giving lots of useful tips on how to look after them properly.

We are thrilled with our two Indian Eri caterpillars! They are bigger than I was expecting! My son, Toby, has been drawing them today, he is very interested in detail and we'd like to know if any features change as they grow?
Glad you like them, they are very impressive caterpillars. They will grow quickly and so it's great that your son is so observant. The main change is in the colour, they develop a yellow tinge before a skin change and as they get larger they get more of a blue-ish hue to their white bodies. It's really obvious when a skin-change is imminent because the caterpillar stays still and shrinks slightly. It's best not to disturb a caterpillar for a day or two either side of a skin-change (because the caterpillar needs to conserve its energy during this time). Toby will also enjoy drawing the adult Indian silkmoths, these are large and slow moving, so he could let one sit on his hand whilst he draws it.
 


We have just ventured into the world of stick insects. Could you please tell me what variety of stick insect this is. We have three of them. I’ve looked on line and some photos suggest it might be a Giant Spiny Stick Insect which can spike you with its rear legs - I am slightly concerned as my son likes to handle his new friends!
Your photo is of a juvenile New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata), the pointed end means that it is a female. New Guinea stick insects respond well to regular handling, and so your son can continue to enjoy handling them. New Guinea stick insects do well in a tall cage with two mesh sides they can climb, so the ELC cage is ideal housing for them. They do require more water than other species, so it's important to put a shallow Water Dish in the cage. Bramble/blackberry leaves are the best food for New Guinea stick insects, keep the stems fresh by pushing the cut ends into a Sprig Pot of cold tap water. If the stick insects are maltreated, for example, deliberately hit/kept in poor conditions/ starved or denied water, they become stressed and can be aggressive, however if you are kind to your stick insects there shouldn't be any problems. Here at Small-Life Supplies we supply nursery schools with New Guinea stick insects because they like a lot of attention and have good temperaments when they are looked after properly.

My stick insect lost a back leg whilst moulting and couldn’t get it’s front two legs fully out of its skin so the tips are still covered. Now it can only hang upside down. Will it be able to moult again and successfully be able to release its front legs or will they always be damaged?
Oh dear. Stick insects sometimes mess up a skin change and lose a leg. That is not too serious because they can grow a new leg and this will appear at the next skin-change. Getting stuck in the old skin is much more serious and, if you see this happening, it's important to intervene quickly, by misting the affected area with water and gently peeling the old skin away. Damage to front legs is also more serious than back legs, so unfortunately the prognosis for your stick insect is not looking good.

I have just acquired some juvenile Madagascar hissing cockroaches about 1” long - most of them have damaged antennae - will these regrow at their next shed or are they permanently damaged?
Legs can be regenerated, but not antennae. So unfortunately your Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches (Gromphadhorina portentosa) will be permanently damaged.

I have just seen your Indian Eri caterpillars on your website. I would like ten caterpillars, does this mean I need five HUA Pots, or could I get a larger container and house them altogether?
I recommend the TTQ cage, this is ideal for housing all ten Indian Eri caterpillars together. You'll also need the Privet Platform (price £1.50). This is full of holes so you can push the cut stems of privet through the holes and they stick upright, so the caterpillars can climb up them to eat. This is much better than resting the privet sprigs horizontally on the floor of the cage. And, for caterpillars, it's important not to stand the stems of foodplant water, so the Privet Platform is a great solution.

In September time I'm hopefully going to be doing a degree in animal behaviour and training at university. I am particularly interested in insects though and I would love to pursue a career with them in future. My question is what do you suggest I do after my animal behaviour and training degree that would help me to expand my knowledge of entomology and enable me to pursue a career with insects? I know a few universities nearby do entomology masters degrees but these are more biology/science based and I'm more interested in doing something practical. I would love a formal qualification to do with insects and their care, but have no idea where to start.
The firms and organisations that breed insects tend to train people on the job and so are not looking for someone with a formal qualification in insect care. A natural affinity for insects is essential, as is good manual dexterity, a calm demeanour, and a compassionate nature. (When I interviewed candidates it was immediately obvious if they had a rapport with insects or not). However, science 'A levels' and a degree qualification in insect physiology are important because that demonstrates that you have an understanding of how insects function and this will help you understand their needs. Also, if you are able to show that you have been successful in breeding your own pet stick insects and caterpillars, and appreciate the importance of correct housing, hygiene and best practice, that will help tremendously in securing a work placement at an insect breeding centre, which may lead to full time work if they are impressed with your efforts.

Do all insects have six legs?
Generally yes, but this is for adult insects. The immature stages can be different, for example fly grubs (maggots) don't have distinguishable legs. And the larvae of butterflies and moths (caterpillars) have six small legs at the front (these are called their thoracic legs), but eight stubby legs further back and claspers at the end. Sawfly larvae are similar to caterpillars but have an extra pair of the abdominal stubby legs (these are called pro-legs). Insects which undergo "incomplete metamorphosis" have nymphs looking like miniature versions of the adults, and so both have six legs.

We are looking forward to receiving the Indian caterpillars for nursery. We already have a zip up netting enclosure, would this be a better caterpillar habitat because it's bigger?
No, it's really important to keep the Indian Eri caterpillars in the HUA Pot supplied for the time being. When they outgrow this, a container with only one ventilated side is needed, so you can use a tank or enclosure with netting on the top, or invest in the TTQ cage. A netting enclosure is too airy for these caterpillars. However, when the spectacular Indian Eri silkmoths emerge from their cocoons, you can house them in your netting enclosure at nursery school.

Do you have any tips for hatching Guadeloupe stick insects please? I have lots of eggs…
Guadeloupe stick insect (Lamponius guerini) eggs are usually easy to hatch, but they do incubate for a long time. Just store the eggs in a QBOX or HUA Pot and after about eight months, lightly mist the eggs with water (in the late afternoon/early evening). This action seems to trigger the hatching, and so you should start to see the hatchlings (called first instar nymphs) on following mornings. Keep these nymphs in another HUA Pot and feed them with wet bramble leaves. Older nymphs can be transferred to the ELC cage. Guadeloupe stick insects need more humidity, so ensure there are two Sprig Pots of bramble in the cage, or alternatively cover the fixed mesh side of the cage with cling film (fix to outside). Also, it's worth keeping Guadeloupe eggs for longer than eight months because this species is unusual in that the eggs can still hatch many months after they were supposed to.

Does your Vietnamese Collector Card describe the huge Vietnamese stick insects in the AUC cage?
No, the Vietnamese Collector Card describes the Baculum extradentatum species. The large stick insects you describe are a new type, called the North East Vietnamese stick insect, Medauromorpha regina. A new Collector Card for them will be produced soon.

My female Australian Macleays Spectre, called Poppy, is laying lots of eggs, firing them across the cage! Sadly, her mate died before he matured. So will her eggs be fertile? I feel I should get her a mate, but can you send winged stick insects safely?
The female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) catapults her large eggs and so you can hear them landing in the ELC cage! Unfertilised eggs can hatch, but the incubation time is longer and the offspring are not as healthy as those produced from fertilised eggs. So getting Poppy a mate is a very good idea. Small-Life Supplies has some spare large male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect nymphs at the moment, both six legged ones (at full price) and a few five legged ones (at a discount price), so please get in touch if you'd like to purchase one. The largest ones will be fully grown within weeks and so will be ideal for Poppy. Small-Life Supplies doesn't send out adult winged males because it would be too stressful for them in transit.

I gasped on seeing the destruction at Norbury Park, Surrey. All those healthy ash trees felled. And by Surrey Wildlife Trust. Have you any insight into this?
It does appear to be absolutely scandalous. Large scale destruction of trees (and associated insects etc) by an organisation that is supposed to promote nature beggars belief.

I have some large New Guinea stick insects and I like the way they hide in the Community Tubes! A friend has offered me some of her Aretaon asperrimus stick insects, I notice they look a bit like a tiny version of the New Guinea stick insects and I wondered if they needed the Community Tubes too? Also, please can you tell me where is their native country?
The Aretaon asperrimus species originates from Sabah (a state in Borneo) and so is often called the Sabah stick insect. Like the New Guinea stick insects, Sabah stick insects need a dish of water in the cage, and also a Sand Pit (so the adult female can bury her eggs). Community Tubes are not required for Sabah stick insects. Unlike New Guinea stick insects which do best in a cage with two mesh sides, the Sabah stick insects need increased humidity and so do best in a cage with one mesh side. So if you are using the ELC cage for Sabah stick insects, then cover the fixed mesh side with cling film (attached to the outside). Do not mix these two species together.

We have hatched out some spare Pink Winged stick insects that my daughter's primary school have agreed to take after Easter (when they will be a lot bigger). The school is also keen to buy one of your stick insect cages, but I am not sure what the best way is to proceed with this? Can the school buy direct from you or should I buy it and try and get the money from the school? It would be the ELC bundle with the book.
Small-Life Supplies sell stick insect cages direct to schools. So if you let us know the contact person at the school, we can contact them and arrange it all, including delivery after Easter. We will also provide a receipted VAT invoice, which enables the school to reclaim 20% VAT on the purchase price. It is great that you have done this, enabling more children to benefit from seeing living stick insects in the classroom.

I was looking around the garden centre at the weekend and I saw some blackberry bushes for sale in the "British grown" section. However, the leaves seemed wafer thin and didn't look like the nutritious thick leaves that I gather from the disused railway line. So I didn't buy any. Presumably there are different types of blackberry bush?
Yes, there are lots of different types of bramble. The most nutritious type has the thick leaves and the two-tone colour of stem (purple and green), this wild bramble is often found in disused railway lines and green leaves are available all year. There are types of bramble that produce thin leaves, these are usually found in wooded areas and are not as nutritious for the stick insects. You were wise not to purchase the very thin leaved bramble plants.

Please can you tell me the humidity requirements of Eurycantha calcarata nymphs, age approx four months? And is the best substrate peat or paper?
Medium-sized nymphs and adult New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best in a tall cage with two ventilated sides, so their humidity requirements are the same as many other commonly kept species of stick insect. The best cage for housing New Guinea stick insects is the ELC cage, which can house up to six adult New Guinea stick insects. The best floor covering is paper, or the ELC pre-cut Liners. Substrates such as peat/soil/earth/sand are best avoided because the granules clog up the sticky pads on the feet of the stick insects and the surroundings soon become unhygienic because the stick insects are pooing onto damp substrate, leading to mould growth.

Could you tell me, please, what is the lifespan of Ramulus artemis?
Most stick insects live for about one year, but the Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii), and the New Thailand stick insect (Baculum sp), both of which are often mistakenly sold as Ramulus artemis, have longer lifespans, typically 14 months.

I was absolutely horrified to read in the Guardian that we are in the midst of the sixth extinction. Yet not a mention of this on the television news, who seem intent on filling our heads with tittle tattle and terrorism. We have to act now to stop the planet's destruction...can I join a group or do something?
Yes, the "burying the head in the sand" approach is really not what should be happening when faced with a crisis. You could contact the "Extinction Rebellion" group, who are organising campaigns to raise awareness of this incredibly serious situation and demanding action. Locally, you can plant trees and British grown plants to help the wildlife, and of course encourage others to do the same. As well as planting things, you can also oppose destruction of wild areas and pollarding of trees, both of which are very detrimental to the existing nature of the area.

I've just got my little boy some baby stick insects and I'm trying to find out the best food for them. I've bought some ivy as no privet available at the moment but I'm wondering if all types of ivy plants are safe?
Unfortunately, many potted ivy plants that are sold in shops have been grown in soil treated with pesticides. These chemicals are taken up by the plant's roots and disperse to the plant's leaves. An insect can't detect these chemicals and so when an insect eats the leaf, it consumes the poison and dies. So it is a really bad idea to buy potted ivy plants for your stick insects unless you can be certain they have been grown in organic compost with no harmful pesticides added. You don't say what species of stick insect you have, but if you have the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) (these are a very popular type) then sourcing bramble/blackberry leaves is the best option. You can find green leaves growing wild throughout the year in overgrown areas (woods, disused railway lines, canal embankments). Wallets of fresh cut bramble leaves are also available to buy from Small-Life Supplies.

Two of my son's Indian stick insects have strange growths on their abdomens. They seem like lumps of green jelly. Could you tell us what these are? I have attached two photos. We raised these insects from eggs and both stick insects have shed for the last time and are now in the adult stage, however, they have not started to lay eggs. Also, on the second insect, there is a small appendage above the green blob, could this be a new leg!?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are usually all females. But very rarely, 1 in every 10000 is a male. And even rarer still, estimated at 1 in every 20000, is a female stick insect with male characteristics. That is what you have. So the green jelly is the male genitalia. The brown bumpy looking abdomen is a typical characteristic. Such stick insects can sometimes still lay eggs, but the number is very low, often less than ten eggs (unlike a normal female who lays over 500 eggs). The stick insect in the second photo looks more capable of laying some eggs than the stick insect in the first photo. The small appendage is most unusual, it does look a bit like a foot- does it move or it is fixed?

My Indian stick insects have started to get pink bits where the front legs are hinged to the body. I have been told this means they are ready to lay eggs? Will this colour fade once they start to lay eggs?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) develop the red areas where you describe when they are fully grown and ready to lay eggs. So your Indian stick insects should be approximately 11cm long (this is the total length including the body and the two front legs outstretched). Indian stick insects lay eggs every day during the rest of their adult life, and retain this red colouration throughout their adult life.




Please note that all photographs on this site are copyrighted by Small-Life Supplies and must not be copied or reproduced elsewhere.


Small-Life Supplies, Bassenhally Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough. PE7 1RR. UK.
Small-Life Supplies Ask Professor Phasmid Cages for stick insects and snails Stick Insects and Butterflies/Moths

Liners for cages Lab cages for bees, aphids, flies Fresh leaves for stick insects Events and
Testimonials

Sitemap

Copyright © Small-Life Supplies 2000 - 2021. Terms and Conditions and Legal message

Small-Life Supplies Privacy Policy 2021