|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 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
and check back to see the answer on Friday (sorry, but due to the large
numbers of questions, not all can be answered).
64 pages, illustrations and colour
ISBN 0 9512466 0 7
|Keeping Stick Insects
book by Dorothy Floyd
Stick Insects" has long been the definitive guide for looking after stick
is written by qualified British entomologist Dorothy Floyd, BA Hons
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.
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.
To purchase this book please phone 01733 203358 or email
|Have an insect question? Get it
answered by the insect specialist, Professor Phasmid!
insect and snail questions to
Latest answers posted FRIDAY 23rd October
| 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? Im worried they wont hatch if I have no
male stick insects so the eggs wont be fertilised? Im hoping to
demonstrate life cycles to my year 5 children so would really like them to
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.
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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 wont drink in the time theyre 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 theyre 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
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 theyve 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 its been over
three days and shes not changed one bit. She can walk but not in a
straight line and falls over a lot. Ive been putting leaves right in
front of her in the hopes that she will eat however I havent 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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Is the insect fair at Kempton Park happening this
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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.
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
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/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
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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 havent 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 dont 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
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
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
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.
Im new to keeping stick insects and
am interested in Aretaon asperrimus I believe that theyre called thorny
stick insects but Im 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
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.
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?
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!
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.
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?
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?
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.
centre sells thornless blackberry - worth a try or not? We have a lot of Pink
Winged stick insects.
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
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
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
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 (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. Theyre 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 dont 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?
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.
sons Indian stick insect eggs have just hatched and the nymphs are
currently in an entirely mesh enclosure. Id 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 theyll 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
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
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.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com (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
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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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
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 (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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 Brewsters
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
"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
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?
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.
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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).
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
need stick insect advice. Do stick insects eggs change in appearance during
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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 (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.
the same as insects, I mean I know bugs are insects but are the words
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
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?
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 didnt 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
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.
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
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
Sam, my Macleays Spectre stick insect, has started to lay
eggs. So I need to plant a eucalyptus, right? Any particular kind you
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.
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 havent laid any. One of them has
developed a red marking at the bottom of one of its legs though. Is this
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.
Ive 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 dont know
ages. Ive 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.
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!
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd.
Would my chickens eat my surplus stick
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 Im worried as they dont
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 (Im 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
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.
Ive 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.
insect lost a back leg whilst moulting and couldnt get its 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
I am keeping some Nui Chua Yellow Stripe
Stick Insects having previously kept Indian Stick insects for a number of
years. My current batch of Stripes are adult and seem to be happily feeding on
privet. However over the past few days I have noticed some of the females
eating droppings on the floor of the cage which I have never seen any do
before. Is this a normal thing for any species of Stick Insects to do?
This usually indicates the
stick insect is thirsty, so you need to lightly mist the privet leaves with
water. This is best done in the evening. Only spray the leaves with water, try
to avoid getting the actual stick insects wet. Also, look at the floor covering
of the cage. Kitchen roll is not ideal because it can contribute to drying out
the surroundings, so a paper Liner is much better. If you are using the ELC
cage, the pre-cut ELC Liners are available in blue and pink colour options.
heard an old track on the radio, "Englishman in New York" by Sting. I always
thought the line "see me walking down 5th Avenue, walking cane here at my side"
sounded odd, but I now realise if he'd said "walking stick" the Americans would
think he was taking his stick insect on an outing!
Yes, that's right. Of course, here in the UK we
call phasmids "stick insects", but in the USA they are called "walking sticks".
But here in the UK most people think a walking stick is a mobility aid, but are
unlikely to call it a "walking cane".
You know when stick insects moult their
skins, are these cast off skins always white? And is there a scientific word
for the cast off skin?
Cast off or shed skins of stick insects are usually a creamy white colour, but
there are some exceptions. Large female Malaysian stick insects nymphs
(Heteropteryx dilatata) leave green skins, Vietnamese stick insects
(Baculum extradentatum) leave pinkish skins, and Peruvian Black stick
insects (Peruphasma schultei)can leave black skins. The scientific word
for a shed skin from a stick insect is "exuvia".
I feel awful. I
accidentally snipped off part of my stick insect's back leg while cutting up
the bramble. So Flamingo (she's a Pink Winged) now has 5 full legs and one back
leg that ends half way between the knee and ankle. She has one more moult to
go, will she be able to grow it back?
No, Flamingo will not be able to regenerate the
missing part. Stick insects can only re-grow legs from three places: 1) where
the leg joins the body, 2) the knee, 3) the head (bizarrely if an antenna is
completely lost , a miniature leg regrows in its place!)
I had loads of Macleays
Spectre eggs and some have hatched, but none now for the last three weeks.
Should I throw them away? I collected them last summer from Garth and Minth, my
adults. The largest nymphs have moulted twice, the younger ones once.
Yes, your eggs have
finished hatching now, so can be discarded. Well done for getting some to hatch
and I am pleased they are growing well.
My stick insects are thriving in their new
home (the excellent ELC cage). My previous tank wasn't ideal because the stick
insects need plenty of space to cling onto and prefer a fine mesh underfoot. I
just wanted to express my thanks and support as I run a small business myself
in Yorkshire and know how tough it is running a business!
Thank you for your
support. It has always been the policy of Small-Life Supplies to carefully
design and manufacture cages that meet the needs of the insects and their
owners, so our cages are time consuming to produce and use premium quality raw
materials. The ELC stick insect cage has been in production since 2012 and we
use these cages to breed most of the stick insects here at Small-Life Supplies.
Stick insects need tall well-ventilated cages with sides they can hook their
claws around and so that is why stuffy smooth sided glass or plastic tanks are
I have just bought a set of 8 Ramulus artemis(?) stick insect
nymphs, they are still quite small now but how big will a cage need to be to
accommodate them? Is there any possibility of keeping them in the same
enclosure as millipedes or will the difference in humidity be too much? Also is
bramble still OK for this species?
These will be the same as the Thailand stick
insects (Baculum thaii). (A lot of people are mistaking Baculum
thaii stick insects for Ramulus artemis). They only eat bramble
leaves. They need a tall airy cage and do well in the ELC cage (eight Thailand
adults in this cage is the maximum capacity). Millipedes needs to be housed in
a separate cage which has less ventilation, but still has textured sides that
the millipedes can climb.
How tolerant are Indian stick insects to a switch in their
food? I mean if they have only eaten bramble leaves as nymphs, must they only
eat bramble leaves as adults?
Indian stick insects can be switched to other
suitable diets without any problems. So Indian stick insects (Carausius
morosus) that have eaten bramble leaves as nymphs can eat rose leaves and
hazel leaves as adults. As with all animals, some individual stick insects may
be more fussy than others, so ideally you should include some bramble in the
cage, just in case you have an extremely fussy stick insect who refuses to try
anything new! Such individuals are quite rare though. Here at Small-Life
Supplies, we routinely feed our adult Indian stick insects and adult New Guinea
stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) with hazel leaves during the summer
because this helps conserve our bramble stocks for the winter (hazel leaves are
deciduous and so not available during the winter).
I'd like some Pink
Winged stick insects but wondered how I go about ordering them with this cold
weather? Should I wait till it's warmer?
It's best to order now and Small-Life Supplies
shall hold the order and send the stick insects as soon as it is mild enough at
night to do so. The overnight temperature needs to be above freezing at night
to be warm enough for the stick insects to travel safely. We shall let you know
by email what day your parcel will be delivered, and also send you the delivery
tracking details which gives you a two hour delivery slot on the day of
Do any stick insects jump?
Yes, but not many species have this ability. The Thailand Winged stick insect
(Sipyloidea sp) can jump forwards and backwards. Because of this
behaviour, this species has been the subject of biological studies and the
results published. Small-Life Supplies used to breed the Thailand Winged stick
insects but we no longer do so. The adult female is similar to the Pink Winged
stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) in appearance, but the adult male is
smaller and thinner. Whilst recording the behaviour of these Thailand Winged
stick insects, the biologists also noted that the adult females were five times
as heavy as the males.
I think stick insects are so cool and am planning on getting
my nephew some for his birthday. But my girlfriend thinks they are for geeks?
She's wrong, surely?
she's wrong. Stick insects have been mainstream pets for years, the idea of
them appealing only to nerds/oddballs/geeks is outdated. Our customers include
girls and boys of all ages and adults too. Stick insects have a universal
appeal to people who are interested in nature and easy to keep pets. Obviously
different people prefer different species of stick insect, so some people
really like the thin twig-like stick insects such as the Thailand stick insects
(Baculum thaii), whereas other individuals are drawn to the chunky
prehistoric looking New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata). So
it would be wise to consider which sort your nephew would like. If you are
unsure, then the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) is a good
choice, these stick insects are easy to handle, easy to feed and breed, and do
well in the standard ELC stick insect cage.
I am a proud mamma of two baby Thailand
stick insects! They hatched this morning from eggs laid on 9th December 2018,
so that's just under two months. They are so cute! Is it safe to put them in
the ELC cage with their parents?
Congratulations! And yes, it is best to put newly
hatched Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) into the ELC cage, rather
than a smaller container (which is the preferred housing for many other
species). This is because Thailand stick insects do best in airy surroundings
from birth and like to rest on the tips of the bramble stems in the ELC stick
insect cage. Newly hatched stick insects are are thirsty and so you should
lightly mist the bramble with water before you add the stick insects to the
cage. The young live happily with the adults and you can enjoy watching them
grow dramatically over the next few months.
My Pink Winged ladies are darkening
slightly and don't seem to be gripping as well as they used to. They still like
to fly. Are they nearing the end? I have lots of green babies but will be sad
when the originals pass.
Yes, when Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are very old,
their bodies and wings darken. Also, their feet become less sticky and so they
can no longer grip very well. The best way forward is to allow them out for
regular flights and continue to look after them as usual, ideally spraying the
bramble and eucalyptus leaves a bit more generously with water because older
stick insects tend to drink more. When they are ready to die, Pink Winged stick
insects usually rest on the cage Liner and die relatively quickly.
trying to find out as much as I can about stick insects, but am seeing
conflicting advice on line, and some so-called facts which are obviously wrong,
like stick insects laying 1000 eggs in a clutch! How technical is the "Keeping
Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd?
The book "Keeping Stick Insects" by
Dorothy Floyd contains lots of correct factual information, based on years of
personal observations and a degree in applied biology. This information is
presented in an easy to read style and is not like a stuffy textbook, so is
easily accessible to teenagers and adults. I am sure you will find it very
helpful, new copies of this book can be purchased from Small-Life Supplies
directly or from us via ebay. We don't sell via Amazon. And yes, adult female
stick insects lay a few eggs every day, they certainly don't lay a thousand
eggs in a clutch!
I was sorting through my Thailand stick insects, struggling as
usual because the males kept making a break for it, so they were all over the
table. Then the doorbell went and when I returned PurrFace (my cat) was in the
room with a guilty look on her face. I am now missing an adult female. I have
looked everywhere and I can only conclude that she has been eaten by PurrFace.
Is this likely? And if so do I need to take her to the vet?
Cats react differently to
the different species of stick insects. Very large types such as New Guinea
stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and Malaysian (Heteropteryx
dilatata) are treated with caution, with the cat gently tapping the escaped
stick insect with its paw. Species of stick insect that flash their wings, such
as the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) initially make the
cat jump backwards in surprise, showing that this behaviour is an effective
deterrent. However, there is something about Thailand stick insects (Baculum
thaii) that appeals to the tastebuds of certain cats, who have no
hesitation in gobbling them up! Your cat will be fine, so no need to worry or
bother the vet. However, next time you have your Thailand stick insects out of
the cage, make sure PurrFace is in a different room!
I got some Indian stick
insect eggs. Some have now been born but they're not eating anything. I am
worried. The instructions said to give them ivy leaves, but I am now wondering
if that is correct or would bramble be better?
It is very important that you remove the ivy and
put in a wet green bramble leaf. Newly hatched Indian stick insects
(Carausius morosus) like a drink and so that is why you need to mist the
bramble leaf lightly with water before putting it into the HUA Pot. Indian
stick insects like to eat bramble leaves, and that is why here at Small-Life
Supplies we feed all our Indian stick insects on bramble leaves. Only certain
types of ivy leaves can be eaten, so it is safer to use bramble leaves. In the
summer, you can also gather hazel leaves for your Indian stick insects, and
wild dog rose leaves too.
One of my students has been nagging me to keep some stick
insects in class. I can see the advantages but thought I'd check with you first
before discussing it with the headteacher! I know he'll ask about the risks, so
is there anything to be worried about? If we are given the go ahead, we'd be
starting off with some of Lee's surplus Indian stick insects, we have a ready
supply of bramble leaves in the school grounds, so no worries there.
There are lots of
advantages in keeping stick insects in class. They are low maintenance pets,
and don't smell, they generate lots of interest and are an excellent
educational resource. The young students like to hear about the green blood
that stick insects have and the fact that their ears are by their knees! The
fact that insects grow by climbing out of their skins is easily remembered,
especially if you see this happening with your class stick insects. And of
course stick insects can remain still, making them excellent subjects for
detailed observations via drawing and photography. Indian stick insects
(Carausius morosus) are great for handling, this promotes respect for
living creatures and helps the young students interact with nature. So please
reassure your head teacher that there are no concerns with keeping Indian stick
insects in school. This species is harmless, low maintenance, and because they
do not have fur, stick insects are suitable pets for anyone with asthma. Some
teachers have also noted that having living stick insects in class can spark an
interest in even the most disaffected pupils, which is very positive. And of
course, it's great that you are encouraging your current student Lee who
clearly is already benefitting from having stick insects of his own.
the British media so anti wildlife? Ridiculously anti-pigeon, anti-tree,
anti-spider , what is going on? I have stopped reading newspapers now because
they are so hysterical when they report "invasions" of "aliens" and urging
people to kill things! They can't even get their facts straight, every year
confusing the daddy long legs flies with daddy long legs spiders, being a
classic example. Although I laughed at Jeremy Vine's joke about cockroaches and
Prince Philip being indestructible!
I agree, it is most unhelpful for the British
press to be printing hysterical stories that are factually incorrect about
people being potentially killed by these creatures and trees! Worse still, it
is stoking destructive actions by organisations that have been infiltrated by
people who want to destroy them. This unpleasant movement has been going on for
years and seems to be getting worse. Presumably the people behind it are
working to an agenda, no doubt for financial gain. And yes, as you already
know, there is nothing special about cockroaches, they certainly don't have any
special powers to make them indestructible.
I was told Small-Life
Supplies is the best place to buy stick insects and so far I am pleased with
all the info on your site. I would like to install stick insects in our nursery
school, I think Indian stick insects would be a good choice? My question is
about how best to manage the eggs, we would like to hatch out some but we
wouldn't want too many! How do other people manage? We'd be getting the ELC
cage bundle as well.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are an easy to keep type of
stick insect and the adults can be handled carefully by very young children
under supervision. Adult Indian stick insects lay eggs every day and so it's
important to only save about twenty or thirty eggs, because most of these will
hatch four months later. Eggs that you do not wish to keep can be given to
garden birds to eat. Alternatively, every week when you replace the Liner in
the ELC cage, you can tip the eggs (and droppings/frass) into a bowl and pour
some hot water over the mixture. This will stop the eggs from developing and,
when cool, the mixture can be emptied onto flowerbeds outside (it is an
I have one pair of adult Malaysian stick insects and one sub
adult female in an ELC cage and they all look healthy. The problem seems to be
the male who is always near the sub adult female and not with the female his
own age! They have been adults for a couple of months but haven't mated and it
doesn't look as if they are likely to? Any advice? I'm happy to get another
cage if you think separating them would help.
It looks like your adult male is waiting for the
sub adult female to complete her final skin change so he can mate with her.
Ideally mating should occur at least a couple of weeks after the final
skin-change, this allows time for the new exoskeleton to harden and for the
stick insect to recover her strength. It is important that mating happens when
the female is ready and not before. So you need to transfer your sub adult
female to her own ELC cage. After her skin change you can leave her to recover
for a couple of weeks and then transfer the male to her cage. Mating takes
hours and, when successful, the body of the female swells up dramatically as it
fills with eggs. So when this has happened, you can then transfer the male back
to the original cage housing the other female. Leave them together for a week
or so and then add the younger female, so all three can live together. Your
male then has the choice as to whether to stay with the younger female that he
clearly prefers, or to mate with the older female as well. Mating occurs
regularly throughout the adult lives of Malaysian stick insects
I picked up a pre-owned ELC cage on Gumtree
for my Indian stick insects and am delighted with it. The previous owner used
kitchen roll on the floor but it's not wide enough, so I was looking at getting
some Liners. These would obvs look better but do they have any other
advantages? Also, how long would they last?
Here at Small-Life Supplies we only use the ELC
Liners to line the floors of the ELC cages housing the stick insects that we
breed. As well as looking smart, these pre-cut Liners have other advantages
too. They are great for helping to collect Indian stick insect eggs, this is
because Indian stick insect eggs are round and will roll off the Liner (into a
dish) when you tilt the Liner and tap it underneath. The Liners are pre-cut to
size and so fit the floor of the ELC exactly, this helps prevent stick insects
from climbing underneath the Liner (where they may get accidentally squashed).
Kitchen roll is not recommended as a cage floor covering, this is because
kitchen roll absorbs the moisture from the air and leaves. Indeed people have
commented that their bramble stays fresher for longer when they use the proper
ELC Liners instead of absorbent kitchen roll. ELC Liners are sold in packs of
thirty, so that is over six months supply (assuming you replace the Liner once
a week). And there is free delivery on ELC Liners.
Can you supply cages for
rearing the Black Soldier Fly? It's for a research project.
Yes, Small-Life Supplies
design and manufacture insect cages. We have already worked on rearing cages
for adult Black Soldier Flies (BSF) and also their larval maggot stage. Please
email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements further or phone
Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358.
Is there a scientific term for stick insect
Yes, it is called
frass. It is dry, irregularly shaped and odourless.
I post my stick insect
photos on insta and get some nice comments but I don't know what to do about
someone who has left a comment about my Indian stick insect being
"parthenogenic". The issue is I don't want to offend him but I know he has used
the wrong word, I am a fifteen year old girl.
As you know, the correct spelling of the word is
parthenogenetic. This is made up of two parts "partheno" meaning virgin and
"genetic" meaning birth. Parthenogenesis is how Indian stick insects reproduce,
they are all females and lay eggs without mating that hatch into more females.
As a fifteen year old girl, you should be confident to post that Indian stick
insects are parthenogenetic and correct this man's comment. He may be unaware
of his mistake, so you could include the origin of the word to give your
comment more gravitas. It's worth correcting spelling mistakes because it is
the right thing to do and it makes your page look more professional.
So I am
looking after my neighbour's "Pink Winged" stick insects whilst they are on
holiday. I don't want them to die! She left instructions which I am following
religiously! So this morning I have collected two stems of bramble, spritzed
the leaves with water and put them in the water pot with the red lid. The thing
is the thorns look pretty sharp, should I cut them off? Also, I haven't seen
them fly yet, they are the size of my little finger and fawn. They are in your
ELC cage. Are there wings really small and folded up like ladybirds? I must
admit I find them rather captivating.
If these stick insects are only the length of
your little finger, it sounds as though they are not fully grown yet and so are
still immature. Such immature Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea
sipylus) are called "nymphs" and have wingbuds instead of wings. The
wingbuds are where the wings are developing. It is when the stick insect
becomes an adult and is 15cm long that the large pink wings are seen for the
first time. These wings are folded along the back of the stick insect, but are
not folded up tightly under elytra which is the arrangement for ladybirds.
Stick insect nymphs are able to easily step over thorns and so there is no need
to bother to snip off the thorns.
I need some professional insect cages for
my lab and wondered if you'll be at the "The Association for Science Education"
conference this weekend? If so, I'm coming over on the ferry from Ireland and
could take them back with me? If you're not going to be in Birmingham, how much
would delivery be for 4 ELC cages?
Small-Life Supplies do exhibit at various science
and nature events throughout the year. We have exhibited at the annual ASE
conference several times, but are not exhibiting at this event in Birmingham at
the weekend. Our dedicated Irish courier has informed us that there has just
been a price increase and so the current delivery price of four ELC insect
cages is £28.83 to Northern Ireland, £31.06 to County Dublin and
£33.28 to Ireland. ELC cages are dispatched ready assembled and so you
would receive four large boxes. Transit time can be one day, or two days if
ferry crossings are delayed due to rough weather.
Is there any difference
in the care of leaf insects and stick insects? This is all new to me so I'd
like something easy to keep.
Stick insects and leaf insects both do well in a
large ventilated cage, such as the ELC cage. There are lots of different
species of leaf insect and stick insect, some species are easier to keep than
others. As a general rule, leaf insects are more difficult to keep than stick
insects and definitely harder to breed. This is because male leaf insects
mature much faster than female leaf insects and so can die before they have had
a chance to mate. The stick insects that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply
are the easy to keep varieties. Their care is simple, stick insects just need
the correct housing (ELC cage), fresh food (green bramble leaves), and to be
kept in clean surroundings (so line the floor of the cage with a diposable ELC
Liner and replace this once a week.)
Someone said on-line that you need to
re-bury your stick insect eggs, making sure they are the correct way up? This
sounds dubious to me, I have always just kept my stick insect eggs higggedly
piggedly in a QBOX and they've hatched out fine. Would there be any advantage
in re-burying them? Mine are the Sabah Aretaon stick insects and they bury
their eggs in the Sand Pit I got from you.
It would be daft and very time consuming to start
re-burying stick insect eggs! Like you, we just pass the sand and eggs through
a metal sieve and then tip the eggs into a HUA Pot or QBOX. Small-Life Supplies
does this with all the stick insect species that bury their eggs in sand and
the eggs hatch out fine a few months later. In fact a handy tip for helping the
New Guinea stick insect eggs (Eurycantha calcarata) and the Malaysian
stick insect eggs (Heteropteryx dilatata) to develop properly is to
lightly shake the contents of the HUA Pot and QBOX from time to time. This
suggests that motion of the eggs promotes successful development, something
that would not be achieved if the eggs were reburied and therefore stationary.
Obviously it is important to allow the eggs at the bottom of the pile room for
the nymphs to emerge successfully, and so for this reason, ensure that the
layer of eggs in the HUA Pot or QBOX is less than 2cm deep.
We got the HUA Hatching
Set from you this Christmas and I am so excited because one hatched this
morning! It is in the small pot of eggs inside the HUA Pot. What should I do
next, I have lost the information sheet!
Congratulations! You need to gather one juicy
green bramble/blackberry leaf and mist it with water. Then place the loose leaf
at an angle in the HUA Pot. Don't get the eggs wet. Later today your baby
Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) will walk over to the wet
bramble leaf and have a drink. She will nibble the edge of the leaf later (but
won't eat a lot). Indian stick insect eggs usually hatch at night so you can
look forward to checking the set up in the mornings for more new arrivals.
always wanted a very long stick insect. Which are the longest ones that you
The New Thailand
stick insect (Baculum sp) can grow to 22cm long. This is a
parthenogenetic species that eats bramble /blackberry leaves, we have some
adults for sale at the moment. Larger still is the North East Vietnamese stick
insect (Medauromorpha regina), there are males and females, the latter
can grow to an amazing 28cm! They also eat bramble/blackberry leaves.
Small-Life Supplies have nymphs of North East Vietnamese stick insect at the
moment, they are ready to send next week with the large AUC cage. (This type is
too long to be housed in the ELC cage). You can mix both species together in
the AUC cage.
With Christmas out of the way, I want to start off the new
year with some new stick insects. I have been on your waiting list for
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, can you send these out yet, or is it
too cold (it was frosty this morning).
It's too cold to send out stick insects this
week, because frosty nights are forecast. However, next week is forecast to be
milder and so Small-Life Supplies plans to resume dispatches of living stick
insects in the UK the week beginning 7th January 2019. We prioritise the
welfare of the creatures and so do not send them when it is too cold for them
to travel safely.
My pal got some "Zompros" stick insects, they eat bramble, but
the what's with the name? It makes no sense.
Stick insects have two names, the "common name"
which includes the country where they live naturally in the wild, and the two
word Latin "species name". Unfortunately some sellers make spelling mistakes
and try to abbreviate the names, and this leads to confusion as you have found.
Your pal has the Thailand Marbled stick insects, the Latin species name is
I am looking into getting some Giant
African Land Snails. I was thinking of getting two because I assume they like
company? But my friend says one would be fine because snails don't show
emotions. What do you think?
You are correct, Giant African Land Snails like the company of their own kind
and so it's best to keep two snails together rather than one on its own. One of
our Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) recently died of old age
and its partner, who had been living with this snail for the last five years,
is now visibly upset. The day after the death , the remaining snail started
tipping over the dishes in the HLQ tank and is now hiding in its shell. So your
friend is mistaken.
Why do some people keep going on about the
spurs on male New Guinea stick insects being an issue? My New Guinea stick
insects are adorable and my three year old loves them. I got them from you in
September and they have settled in well (mind you, we do have a menagerie of
chickens, hamsters, goldfish and a duck!).
As with all creatures, if stick insects are
looked after properly, they do not behave in an aggressive manner. The spurs on
the back legs of New Guinea stick insects can be used if the stick insect is
frightened , or being abused in some way (for example, being deliberately
dropped on the floor or hit with a pen). Unfortunately there are misguided
people who think such unhappy aggressive stick insects are funny and desirable,
I have seen people boasting about how nasty and bad tempered they can make
their stick insects! Here at Small-Life Supplies, we breed lots of New Guinea
stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and handle them with care and
compassion so they are calm and suitable to be kept as pets. Obviously you too
are looking after yours correctly which is why they continue to do well, along
with your other animals. Another reason why New Guinea stick insects can become
stressed is if they are short of water, so this is why Small-Life Supplies
emphasises the need for a Water Dish for this species.
I am a newbie to keeping
stick insects, for Christmas I have been given six Indian stick insects in a
glass tank with an inbuilt strip light. I was told to give them cut ivy, it
doesn't seem to last long and now the biggest stick insect has already died, it
was only 4cm long and so I don't think it was very old (it didn't have the red
on the legs). Any advice would be greatly welcomed!
OK, there are several things not right here which
you need to correct. Firstly, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
do best on bramble/blackberry leaves, so ditch the ivy and gather bramble
instead. Snip a couple of stems and place the thickest end of the stem in a
Sprig Pot of water (or a narrow necked vase of water). You need to lightly mist
the leaves with water in the evening so that the stick insects can drink. You
can switch the tank light off. The glass tank is not ideal because it does not
have ventilated sides, so it would be better to stand it on one end, or better
still, purchase a proper ELC stick insect cage, this cage is ideal for Indian
stick insects (Carausius morosus). You are correct in thinking that your
stick insect has died young, adult Indian stick insects grow to 11cm and have
red tops to their front legs.
I was in the bramble thicket today,
snipping bramble for my stick insects, when I spotted another woman doing the
same ! It was nice to chat to a fellow stick insect keeper! She has the "Sunny"
stick insect, I haven't heard of these before. I've been on your waiting-list
for Macleays, are these ready yet?
The "Sunny" stick insect has the Latin name
Sungaya inexpectata and is a nicely patterned stick insect from the
Philippines. We have reared these at Small-Life Supplies but it is not a
species that we rear at the moment. Our Australian Macleays Spectre stick
insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) are still hatching and growing well. They
are still feeding exclusively on Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. They will be
back on the website and listed for sale in January 2019.
I recently placed an order of
ELC bundle from yourselves and I've been charged for that delivery, but a one
off delivery of £10 is quite steep for a place to and from in the UK.
Yes, there is a
£9.95 delivery charge for the ELC bundle within mainland UK. You may
think that is a lot, but it is a fast, guaranteed and tracked delivery. If you
look at Royal Mail website, the price to send this parcel by standard first
class post costs even more! The ELC cage is dispatched ready assembled and so
requires a large box and weighs several kilograms. Small-Life Supplies do not
use the slower cheaper couriers such as Hermes. Instead, we pay more for a
better service. So the courier we use delivers within 24 hours and provides
live delivery tracking information so you can follow the progress of your
parcel online and see the estimated time of arrival (within a two hour window).
keeping three Macleays Spectre stick insects in a HUA Pot and they have now all
managed to moult successfully for the first time. Should I leave them in there
for a bit longer or are they ready to be transferred to the ELC cage?
You can keep them in the
HUA Pot for another couple of weeks and then transfer them to a larger cage. We
transfer ours to the TTQ cage (with the green netting side) and rear them in
there for another month or so before transferring them to the more ventilated
ELC cage. If you do not have a TTQ cage , you could transfer them directly to
the ELC cage. However, if you do this, it is important to block off one of the
ventilated sides with cling film. By doing this you are ensuring that the
ventilation is increased gradually rather than suddenly. And in another month
or so, you can remove that cling film to increase the ventilation for these
Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum).
I was wondering if you
just sold the lids for the cages please? Mine got twisted in the dishwasher.
The ELC cages are
manufactured in batches and so there is slight variation between each batch. If
you look at the lid there will be a manufacturing year label attached, please
let us know what year this is so we can check our stocks. As you now know, the
ELC is not dishwasher safe. The best way to clean the lid and panels is by
using the Cleaning Sponge (supplied with the ELC bundle) and lukewarm water.
Stubborn stains can be easily removed with Parozone Bleach Plus Stain Remover
(supplied from hardware stores in a silver bottle with pink lid). Rinse well
afterwards and dry with a soft old cotton tea towel.
Do you sell the luminous
stick insects, the privet eaters?
As a general rule, the really brightly coloured
privet-eating stick insects are best avoided. This is because they can spray an
irritant chemical mist which can cause an immediate reaction from sensitive
people and cats, dogs etc. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we sell living stick
insect kits to nursery schools, primary schools and secondary schools, and so
we only breed and supply the varieties that are safe to keep. If you are
keeping stick insects as pets in the home, it's best to choose a variety that
is safe to handle and so Small-Life Supplies does not breed or supply stick
insects which could cause harm. We breed and supply a range of stick insects
(these are different sizes, shapes and colours) that are safe to keep and
handle. Unfortunately some other sellers try to sell brightly coloured stick
insects which can be dangerous and cause reactions: a mild reaction can be
sneezing and eyes streaming, a more severe reaction can be swelling and
difficulty breathing. Having witnessed various reactions, I know this to be
fact and not an exaggeration, something which the cavalier "I've kept these
without problems" brigade don't seem to grasp! Before Small-Life Supplies
add another stick insect species to our range, extensive background checks and
our own observational notes on breeding and behaviour of the stick insect
species are undertaken. This is all carefully considered so we can make the
decision as to whether or not to start distributing the new species.
I have a
large sprawling bramble bush by my fence, which I planted, following your
advice, as a back-up food supply for my stick insects. How hard should I prune
it? It has quite a lot of brown dead stems, also dead blackberry fruits, but it
also has some green leaves and even small buds on some of the other stems.
We are pruning our bramble
bushes back at the moment. You need to cut out all the dead stems, these are
easy to spot because they are brown and dry. And remove the dead shrivelled
blackberries. Leave the living stems and the green leaves. It won't look
particularly neat but the green leaves provide shelter for hibernating
ladybirds and are still helping the plant to thrive via photosynthesis. Bramble
bushes can withstand being cut right back in the winter, but we do not advise
this because it removes all the green leaves which are needed for local nature.
Also, if you cut it right back you will remove the little buds which are ready
to make leaves in the Spring, so the plant will have to work much harder to
produce green leaves in the Spring.
We recently purchased a TTQ cage from you
for our Dares philippinensis. They look very happy in there, but I have two
questions... First, with such a small insect, we are struggling to distinguish
eggs and poos! When we change the liner we are currently saving all the debris
in a HUA put, but do you have any tips on raising nymphs from these guys?
Second, if we are successful in this, how many insects can we house in the TTQ?
We currently have about 35, and they look as though they have plenty of space,
but we wouldn't want to overcrowd then.
The Dares philippinensis is a very small species
of stick insect from Palawan, a province in the Philippines. They eat bramble
leaves and produce small round eggs. The eggs are all the same shape and so
with a magnifying glass you should be able to tell them apart from the
droppings/frass/poo which are lots of different shapes. Storing a mixture of
frass with the eggs in the HUA Pot is a good way to incubate these eggs. But
keep the level of this mixture under 2cm high, so that the eggs at the bottom
can still hatch successfully. A gentle shake of the contents every month or so
will help the eggs to develop. The TTQ can comfortably house up to fifty of
these Palawan stick insects.
Do I need to provide additional heating for
stick insects? My flat is nice and warm and because I am disabled, I am at home
most days. I have been thinking about a new pet for 2019 and think stick
insects would be interesting.
The stick insects that Small-Life Supplies breed
and supply are used to "normal" home environments, so as long as the room is
comfortably warm in the day (approx 18 -21 degrees Celsius) and cooler at night
(minimum 12 degrees Celsius), they will be fine. Your flat sounds ideal and so
no extra heating is required. It is important that the stick insects have the
correct caging, so we recommend the ELC cage, this cage was designed by
Small-Life Supplies in 2012 and has been manufactured in the UK ever since. We
breed most of our stick insects in ELC cages, (and we use our other larger AUC
cages for the very long stick insects). Stick insects are very interesting to
keep and we have a choice of different species for sale, so you can choose the
type which appeals to you most.
I thought insects had feelers?
Yes, many insects,
including stick insects have two "feelers", also called antennae. The length of
these antennae varies according to the species and so is an aid to identifying
a species. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) have short antennae,
whereas Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have long antennae.
looking forward to receiving my Thailand stick insects in January. Please can
you tell me what to do with their eggs?
The adult female Thailand stick insects
(Baculum thaii) lay eggs every day, the eggs are dropped onto the floor.
So once a week, remove the ELC Liner and tip the contents into a bowl. Scoop
out a spoonful of eggs and droppings(frass) and tip this into a HUA Pot. Pour
very hot water over the remaining mixture in the bowl, leave to cool and then
discard. This method ensures that you will have some eggs to hatch out the next
generation, and you can look forward to seeing the babies in two months time.
Not all the babies (called first instar nymphs) will survive, so it's best to
have some extras. The hot water method is very effective and quick at stopping
unwanted eggs from developing.
I'd like to buy some easy stick insects for
Christmas. Looking at your site, I think the Indian stick insects would be
best? How easy is it to find bramble leaves?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
are easy to look to after and do well in the ELC cage. A free information sheet
is included in the parcel, and more information is in the book "Keeping
Stick Insects" by Dorothy Floyd which has a whole section on Indian stick
insects. Bramble/blackberry leaves can be found throughout the year in
overgrown sheltered places, so areas such as disused railway lines, canal
banks, wooded areas and building plots awaiting development. Small-Life
Supplies also sell fresh cut bramble by post. Thinking ahead, you can also
plant bramble in your garden (by a sunny fence or wall) but it will take at
least a year to get growing vigorously.
I keep one leaf insect (Phyllium giganteum)
she's in a net cage but I'm finding the bramble is drying out after just two
days. It's in a Sprig Pot and sprayed every evening. I buy my bramble from
yourself so it's not poor quality. Am I doing something wrong? I use kitchen
roll on the cage floor, I attach a photo.
You need to remove the kitchen roll immediately
and replace with paper cut to size. This is because the kitchen roll is
actively absorbing moisture from the bramble, and this is contributing to it
drying out too quickly. The bramble in your photo looks green and juicy and so
should last a week in water. So make sure you keep checking the water level in
the Sprig Pot and top up if necessary, this is because the cut end of the
bramble stems must always be in cold water. A much better cage for your leaf
insect is the ELC cage, this has much better visibility and is less airy than
the all netting cage you are using.
How is your very rare male Pink Winged
stick insect doing? Have you managed to film him?
Sadly he died earlier this week, but he has lived
much longer than expected. He was incredibly active and impossible to film
because he was so quick and liked to throw himself forwards and backwards! He
is only the third male Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus)
that I have ever reared and was quite a character!
My lecturer said the
best way to dispose of surplus stick insect eggs is to "crush, boil or burn".
This seems to be the opposite of sites who advise putting them in the freezer?
I have a large colony of Indian stick insects, thirty at present, and so I will
need to control the number of eggs humanely. What do you advise?
Your lecturer is correct.
Extreme heat denatures the internal structure of the egg and instantly stops it
from developing further. So an effective method is to boil a kettle and then
empty it over the surplus eggs. If you have access to an open fire or stove,
then throwing the surplus eggs in there is fast and effective too. Stick insect
eggs take months to develop and so it's best to dispose of the surplus eggs
soon after they have been laid before the cells have developed. In nature each
female stick insect lays hundreds of eggs because most are destroyed (crushed
or eaten). So crushing eggs is another option. As is feeding the eggs to the
birds. However, the suggestion of freezing eggs in a domestic freezer is not
recommended. This is because cold temperatures slow down and arrest development
of the stick insect eggs but there is a risk of development starting again when
the temperature increases (ie when the eggs are removed from the home freezer).
Necrosia annulipes stick insect cause any allergic reactions or irritation?
Yes, so this is why
Small-Life Supplies does not recommend this species be kept as pets or in the
school classroom or lab. Necrosia annulipes is also called the Malaysian
Yellow stick insect and is a very brightly coloured and patterned stick insect.
This is a clue that it is dangerous, this is because brightly coloured stick
insects often emit a chemical spray when alarmed and this is an irritant. In
nature this is called "warning colouration" and acts as a deterrent to
predators. There are many harmless stick insects that can be kept as pets and
so it is madness to keep the handful that can present a risk to people (and
cats, dogs etc). As a general rule, it is the brightly coloured stick insects
that eat privet leaves that present a risk. Sensitive people react immediately
and start to sneeze. In very sensitive people the reaction is more severe with
swelling and difficulty breathing. The possibility of such reactions needs to
be taken seriously and not dismissed.
My grand daughter is
somewhat of an "eco-warrior" and has insisted that we make a donation to an
environmental charity instead of buying her Christmas gifts. She is a
determined young lady. Which group? I value your advice, I know she is against
palm oil plantations if that helps?
The destruction of rainforests (which of course
includes death of the trees, the animals including the orang-utans, the
insects...) needs to be stopped urgently and thankfully this catastrophic
action is finally getting more publicity, and most decent people want to help
stop it. It is galling that huge areas of tropical rainforest are being
obliterated just so commercial palm oil plantations can be established. Certain
shops such as Iceland Foods Ltd are making a stand against stocking products
containing palm oil, and more consumers are checking the labels on items they
buy and rejecting those that contain palm oil. You could donate to "Rainforest
Foundation UK" because this charity is actively protecting some areas of the
rainforest currently at risk of being exploited for palm oil. Chris Packham is
raising awareness of this charity and encouraging people to donate.
How do I keep my
stick insects at a comfortable temperature for them, especially overnight
during winter as we can experience temps as low as -10C here in Wales.
Overnight temperatures of
minus 10 degrees Celsius are rare in Wales, usually winter night time
temperatures are hovering around freezing. But in any case, that is the outside
temperature, not the temperature inside your home. It is really important that
stick insects are kept indoors in your home and not kept in an unheated outdoor
shed or garage. Most people's homes have insulation and so the night time
indoor temperature should be in double figures. Small-Life Supplies set the
heating to come on at night to 12 degrees Celsius, this is a good night time
temperature for many stick insects. If your room is likely to dip below 12
degrees Celsius at night, the most economical method of heating it is by using
a 500Watt oil-filled radiator, positioned near the stick insect cage. The 500W
oil-filled radiator is portable and has a plug which you put into a standard 3
pin wall socket. The price of these has plummeted in recent years and you can
now buy them for 20 pounds from Screwfix. It's really important that you choose
the 500Watt radiator and not a more powerful one.
We'd love some stick
insects for Christmas! What's your latest posting date?
Great, stick insects make great pets and we have
customers (of all ages) saying that stick insects were their best Christmas
present ever! The latest dates we are sending out stick insects orders is
Monday 17th Dec, Tues 18th Dec and Wed 19th Dec 2018. We can only send out
creatures when the overnight temperature is forecast to be above freezing, so
it's helpful if you can be as flexible as possible regarding the delivery day.
We'll let you know in advance when the delivery day will be. Please order asap
because this helps us to manage the orders.
I want to buy stick
insects for Christmas. Can I order the Australian stick insects now for
delivery nearer to Christmas?
Yes, we are accepting Christmas orders now. It
looks like the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma
tiaratum) are a very popular choice this year! This species does well in
the ELC cage. Our Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects are very young and
eating eucalyptus leaves at the moment, so please ensure that you can source
these leaves. (It will be another month or so before these stick insects can be
switched to bramble/blackberry leaves). Also, it's really important not to
spray the eucalyptus leaves, this is because these stick insects soon become
ill in damp surroundings.
I'm planning to order an ELC Cage Bundle and some Indian stick
insects for my son's 8th birthday. I'd like to keep it a surprise until the day
itself, which creates certain logistical challenges - in terms of keeping a
large cage containing living insects hidden about the house for any length of
time. Any suggestions?
should be easy to hide the cage because the ELC cage is sent ready assembled in
a large plain cardboard box. So one option is to set up the cage with the stick
insects, Liner and food in the Sprig Pot and then carefully put the cage back
in the box. Leave the lid of the cardboard box open so that light and air can
get to the cage. You can then hide the box somewhere in the house and you don't
have to disturb the stick insects for a few days. Another option is to take the
cage out of the box, set it up with the stick insects, food and Liner, and then
hide it at the bottom of a wardrobe. However, if you do this, make sure that
there are no lavender sachets, or strong fragrances in the wardrobe on the
clothes, or any anti-moth sachets, as all these things can harm the stick
insects. And remove any plug-in air-fresheners.
My son wanted big green
stick insects and so I got two through the post but they didn't come with any
food. So I give them fresh bramble shoots but they haven't eaten and now aren't
hardly moving. They are Green Bean, what should I do?
You need to ditch the
bramble and give them some eucalyptus leaves at once. This species, the "Green
Bean" comes from Grenada and has the scientific name Diapherodes
gigantea. Whilst most species of stick insect do well on bramble leaves, a
few species must eat other sorts of leaves, and this Grenadan stick insect
needs to eat eucalyptus leaves. The Eucalyptus gunnii trees are
evergreen and have silvery green leaves. They are decorative trees, sometimes
planted in parks and near train stations, as well as in gardens, so hopefully
you will be able to find a tree near you? Or you can contact Small-Life
Supplies to purchase fresh cut eucalyptus leaves and/or pesticide free potted
Eucalyptus gunnii plants. You could also complain to the seller because
it is very bad that they did not include food for the stick insects to eat
during their journey and bad that they did not include a care sheet explaining
that this type of stick insect needs to eat eucalyptus leaves to thrive.
some Indian stick insects, and my son is keen to get some Macleays Spectres. We
only really have room for one cage, so could they live together?
Yes, you can mix Indian
stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Australian Macleays Spectre
(Extatosoma tiaratum) stick insects together in the same ELC cage. It's
important not to overcrowd them, so only put three or four Australian Macleays
Spectre stick insects in there. If you would like to purchase Australian
Macleays Spectre stick insects from Small-Life Supplies, they are being sent
out in groups of three small nymphs. These stick insects have completed their
first skin-change and are solely eating Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. So
please only consider getting these now if you have a supply of eucalyptus
leaves or are getting our potted Eucalyptus gunnii plant too. We'll
introduce bramble/blackberry leaves gradually to these stick insects early next
year. So another option is to wait until next year to purchase them when they
will be used to eating bramble/blackberry leaves. Of course they will be a lot
larger then but will still be nymphs.
I feed my stickies with
bramble. Is it OK for them to eat bramble that has marks or discolouration on
the leaves? Also what is your availability for leaves over the festive period?
There are a few species of
stick insect that do not eat bramble/blackberry leaves, but most types of stick
insects that are being kept as pets do well on a diet of bramble/blackberry
leaves. At this time of year it is inevitable that wild grown
bramble/blackberry leaves will have some marks and discolouration, what is
important is how much. A small amount of marks and discoloration can be
tolerated. The colour of the leaf is very important, always choose leaves which
are mostly green in colour. You need to avoid collecting leaves which are
yellow or brown, this is because these leaves are dying and are not nutritious
food for stick insects. Small-Life Supplies will continue to send wallets of
Fresh Cut Bramble by first class post throughout the festive period. The
bramble we send has green leaves and is the same quality as what we use to feed
our stick insects.
Do larger stick insect species eat the smaller ones?
No. Stick insects have
mouthparts that are designed to eat leaves and if they are being kept in good
conditions, they behave calmly and are not aggressive to each other. So you can
mix some different species together, although I do not recommend keeping a huge
heavy chunky type with a very thin slender variety, in case the large stick
insect treads on the thin stick insect and accidentally hurts it. Stick insects
should always be kept in the correct conditions because they are living
creatures and deserve to be looked after properly. If stick insects are being
abused (for example, overcrowded/ starved/ deprived of water) they will become
stressed and can start fighting each other which can include eating each other
in extreme cases. But this behaviour is between the stick insects regardless of
species. Obviously it is not acceptable to be keeping stick insects in such
terrible conditions and so if you see this happening, it is essential to
improve their living conditions immediately.
Please can you tell me what the procedure is
to order a stick insect cage for Christmas? We live in Dundee and have some
Indian stick insects in a pop up enclosure but want something nicer.
It's very easy to order
from Small-Life Supplies. If you'd like to pay by credit/debit/AMEX card,
please phone Small-Life Supplies 01733 203358 weekdays during office hours. You
can then talk to a real person who will note down your order and ask for your
card details. Your order will be processed then your sensitive card information
destroyed. Or, if you'd prefer to pay by PayPal, just email
email@example.com listing what you'd like to buy and you will be emailed
the PayPal invoice from PayPal. When that is paid, your order will be
processed. As you'd like delivery nearer Christmas, please mention this when
you order, so we can delay delivery until nearer Christmas. Delivery to Dundee
is no problem, it will be the standard courier delivery of £9.95. Your
Indian stick insects will do much better in the proper ELC stick insect cage
and you will be able to see them more clearly. If you choose to purchase the
ELC bundle you will receive the ELC cage and everything else you need,
including the cage Liners, Sprig Pot (to keep the food sprigs fresh) and soft
Cleaning Sponge (ideal for washing the ELC cage every month).
Indian stick insect eggs go in an airing cupboard or stay at room temperature?
temperature. This is because keeping the eggs in a warmer place will encourage
them to develop and hatch more quickly but the individuals will probably be
weaker. The best way to store Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus)
is in a QBOX or HUA Pot (a key feature is both these are containers are
unventilated, this means that the eggs will not dry out internally). Do not
mist the eggs with water, just leave them in the container with nothing added
and place on a shelf or table in a room, away from direct sunshine. Incubation
takes about four months at a standard daytime temperature of 18-20 degrees
Celsius and a night-time temperature of approx 12 degrees Celsius.
started to save the eggs from our New Guinea stick insects. Should we re-bury
the eggs in the HUA Pot?
The HUA Pot is a good container to store New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha
calcarata) eggs and to house the hatchlings. It is not necessary to re-bury
the eggs, so just have them loose at the bottom of the HUA Pot. You can have a
lot of eggs in there, but try not to have more than a 1cm layer of eggs so that
the ones at the bottom are still able to hatch successfully. The New Guinea
stick insect eggs incubate for about six months, we recommend giving the HUA
Pot containing the eggs a quick shake about once a month because this action
promotes successful development.
I want a stick insect for Christmas, Mummy's
agreed but wants to know if it will be quiet at night because we read about
them being nocturnal?
Stick insects are nocturnal (active during the night) and can also be active at
certain times during the day. So if you have a routine of handling them at a
particular time, they will learn to become active around that time. At night
they rustle around as they chomp through the leaves and they also walk up and
down the mesh sides of the ELC cage, occasionally a stick insect will fall off
and you can hear it land. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha
calcarata) make the most noise at night, they large heavy stick insects and
so you can hear them moving around if you have several in the cage. So if you
want stick insects that are quieter at night then you'd be better choosing
thinner types such as the Indian (Carausius morosus) or Thailand
(Baculum thaii) varieties. It's always best to keep stick insects in
small groups, so getting a group of four is recommended.
When is the best time to plant
bramble? There is some building work starting down the street and so I am going
to ask if I could dig up some of the bramble bushes to replant in my garden.
You can plant
bramble bushes most of the year, it's good at the moment because the nights are
still mild. It's best to avoid extreme cold and hot snaps of weather. When you
dig up the bramble bushes make sure you get a good load of soil attached to the
roots, so I'd recommend you take some building rubble sacks to wrap around the
soil and roots. Choose a sunny spot in your garden, against a fence or trellis
is ideal, because this will encourage the bramble to grow upwards. Water after
planting and then weekly afterwards for a few weeks. Fortunately, the success
rate is very high with transplanting bramble, providing you have got a good
amount of roots and soil from the original location. And try to replant the
bramble the same day as you dig it up, so it's advisable to have dug over the
new site beforehand. Oh, and ask nicely!
How many species of stick insect are there?
Some places say 2000 - 2500, others 6000.
Until last year the figure of 2000 was the
official estimate. Some new species have been discovered recently, but there
are many species going extinct now due to ongoing forest destruction,
particularly in Borneo. The rate of animals, plants and insects going extinct
is now happening at an alarmingly fast rate. This is mainly due to humans
destroying the wild areas and the human population being too large. This is
terrible news and needs far more publicity and urgent action to stop it. So the
actual number of stick insects and the number of species of stick insect still
left in the wild is in decline. So the number of stick insect species is now
less than 2000.
My son is asking for a praying mantis for Christmas and someone
recommended I contact you for advice, and hopefully supplies. Any help is most
welcome, I am a novice.
praying mantis (mantid) needs to be housed in its own cage, this is to prevent
it from eating other mantids. The African species are easy to keep, so try and
obtain a Heirodula or a Sphodromantis species of mantid. The
mantid eats live food, greenbottle flies (Lucilia caesar) are a good
food source and very easy to breed. We found our mantids preferred to eat
insects larger than themselves. Small-Life Supplies don't have any praying
mantises for sale at the moment, but we do manufacture and supply suitable
housing, the TTQ cage. This has a top access flap for you to drop in the live
food. Within the TTQ cage you can criss-cross large dead buddleia twigs so the
mantid has lots of twigs to run around on. Place a TTQ Liner on the floor of
the cage and replace this weekly. This is because it is important to keep the
surroundings clean and so the remains of the consumed insects and the droppings
(frass) from the mantid should be removed every week to prevent smells.
danger from certain stick insect species exagerrated? The ones you warn about
are being sold on ebay by other sellers, should they stop?
Some species of stick
insect are dangerous to people and cats, dogs etc. A dangerous one is the
Florida stick insect (Anisomorpha buprestoides) which can cause
temporary blindness if their spray hits a mammalian eyeball. And there are
several colourful species that eat privet leaves which are also a risk because
their chemical spray can cause swelling and breathing difficulties in sensitive
people. So, no the danger is not exagerrated. Places that sell such stick
insects knowing their potential for causing distress and harm are
irresponsible, especially if they don't even bother to warn people about the
possible danger. Of course, ebay tries to cover itself by saying they only
allow stick insects to be listed if they are sold as "livefood" and not as
pets. Here at Small-Life Supplies we breed and supply species of stick insect
that everyone can enjoy safely. We don't list our stick insects on ebay. The
vast majority of stick insect species are safe, it is only a few that can be
Where is the best place to buy stick insects?
Small-Life Supplies is the
best place to buy stick insects. We breed the stick insects at our facility
here in the UK, so they are used to being handled and are all safe varieties to
keep. We have decades of expertise in breeding stick insects and so know how to
rear them successfully and only sell healthy stock. We have developed best
practice methods for packaging stick insects for transit and so you can relax
knowing that they will arrive in excellent condition. And of course you know
the stick insects you are receiving have been identified accurately and the
species names are spelt correctly. Small-Life Supplies also offer free ongoing
advice and can supply the correct cages (ELC, TTQ and AUC), so you are able to
look after your stick insects properly.
Just a quick question about Australian
Macleays Spectre stick insects. I've heard you can get different morphs of them
by adding certain plants to the cage?
Yes, and this was discovered by one of our Irish
customers decades ago! It's the lichen you get on twigs in the woods.
the best food for my New Guineas during the winter? Someone said oak and ivy?
leaves can be found all year round in the UK and are the best food for New
Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata). In the Summer you can also
give them rose leaves and hazel leaves. We do this at Small-Life Supplies
because it helps to conserve the bramble stocks for the winter. Avoid using oak
and ivy leaves, this is because there are different types and some are harmful.
It is much safer to stick with bramble/blackberry leaves.
I had my first Macleays
Spectre stick insect hatchling today! He/she is running about but with a large
eggshell on the back leg. Should I do anything? I'm scared to try, I don't want
to harm it, but I feel sorry for the poor thing.
Occasionally an Australian Macleays Spectre stick
insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) can hatch but not manage to completely free
itself from the egg, as you have seen. You are right not to intervene, as this
may cause the stick insect to panic and throw off its leg! Don't worry about
this stick insect, it is racing around which is a good sign and often the stick
insect can get rid of the eggshell by itself by wedging it and pulling. So make
sure there is a good amount of eucalyptus leaves and stems in the HUA Pot to
assist with this. If the stick insect doesn't manage to lose its eggshell, it
will come off when the stick insect undergoes its first skin change in a few
We don't want to save too many stick insect eggs, so what's the
best way to humanely dispose of them?
You can feed surplus stick insect eggs to birds
and fish. Or you can pour hot water over the eggs to prevent them from
developing any further, this use of extreme heat is the most effective and
We have noticed our patch of bramble leaves are looking dry
with shrivelled up blackberries on the ends of the stems. Should we start to
leaves on the stems which bear the fruit (blackberries) are the first to
deteriorate in the autumn. So the leaves appear dry and may start to lose their
green colour. It's important to feed your stick insects with good quality
leaves and so you need to look elsewhere for some juicy green bramble leaves to
I feel terrible, despite being healthy, all my stick insects
just died. Was it because I treated my dog with spot on flea treatment?
Everything else has been the same.
Yes. It is really important to keep a dog (or
cat) which has been been treated with liquid flea treatment on their neck
completely separate from the stick insects for 24 hours. Many of our customers
extend this to 48 hours just to be on the safe side. To achieve this, you need
to shut the door of the room containing the stick insects and keep the dog or
cat out of that room.
I am getting organised for Christmas (yes, I know!) and wanted
to ask if it is too early to book my order in now for guaranteed Christmas
delivery? My teenage daughter is a budding wildlife photographer and so I'll be
getting the ELC cage bundle (obvs) and a pack of Thailand stick insects. I'll
also have a pack of Pink Winged stick insects too, if its OK to mix them and
there's room in the cage? Will I have to stay in for the delivery?
Yes, you can place your
order now with Small-Life Supplies and request delivery nearer to Christmas. It
is best to be as flexible as possible regarding the delivery date because we
can only send the stick insects out during mild nights and obviously we don't
know yet what the overnight weather forecast will be in December. If you give
us delivery instructions when you order, you won't have to stay in. So, for
example, you can request that the parcel be left with a neighbour or in a safe
place (for example a porch). We shall email you the delivery tracking details
in advance, so you will know what day the parcel is due to be delivered. And
yes, you can mix Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and Pink Winged
stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) in the same ELC cage, there is plenty
of room and both types do really well in the ventilated ELC cage.
wondering if it's best to keep stick insect species in a separate cages or
together? Do you mix any at Small-Life Supplies? So far I've got four Indian
and four Thailand in one ELC, I've got four New Guinea in another ELC, six
Macleays in another ELC, and I am wondering where I can fit the four Pink
Winged nymphs I'm getting for my birthday next month?
You have good set-ups so far, and mixing Indian
stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Thailand stick insects (Baculum
thaii) together in the same ELC cage works well. It's important not to
overcrowd stick insects and so you'll need to see how large your Indian and
Thailand stick insects are before making a decision on where to house your Pink
Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) nymphs. If they are still nymphs, you could
add the Pink Winged nymphs to the same cage. However, if they are adults, it
would be better to house the Pink Winged in another ELC cage. If you did that,
you could also move a pair of your Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma
tiaratum) into that ELC cage too, they all eat Eucalyptus gunnii
leaves and small numbers of those species can be mixed together. It's best
not to mix anything in with the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha
calcarata), this is because they are so large and bulky they can
accidentally damage a thinner type of stick insect by walking over it. Here at
Small-Life Supplies, most of the species are kept in separate cages, but we do
have some cages which house a mixture of species.
Ever since I can remember I
have always wanted to be a vet. But now I am looking at uni courses, I am
bothered because I have never met a nice vet! Have you experienced this? I do
so much want to help animals but am worried about if I am the right fit.
The job doesn't define the
person. Of course there are unpleasant people, but they are in various jobs. I
have encountered vets that are unsympathetic and show no affinity for animals.
I have also encountered students who have been forced into career choices based
on what their parents have done, it is sad that these students were unable to
stand up to their parents and actually choose something they wanted to do. I
have also met some personable vets, who clearly do prioritise the welfare of
the creatures and have the ability to quickly put animals at ease. So I
recommend you pursue your career choice as a vet and remember it's important
not to be influenced by nasty people!
I'm looking at images of stick insects on
Insta. I see #phasmida and #phasmatodea, is there a difference?
Both terms are being used to
describe the "order" to which stick insects belong. The word "order" is part of
the classification system, which is a tiered system. So, as an example, a
Thailand stick insect belongs to the "phylum" Arthropoda, the "class" Insecta,
the "order" Phasmida (or Phasmatodea) and then the "genus" Baculum and
the "species" Baculum thaii. There are ongoing changes, for example,
discussions regarding "Hexapoda" to replace "Insecta". And to move termites,
which have been classified in the order "Isoptera" into the order "Blattodea"
(this is the order to which cockroaches belong).
We are upgrading our six Indian
stick insects into your classic ELC cage. They are getting large now, is there
any way of telling when they are ready to lay eggs? And are the eggs easy to
Indian stick insects
(Carausius morosus) do really well in the ELC cage and this cage can
house up to twenty adult Indian stick insects. After completing their final
skin-change, Indian stick insects are approx 11cm long. A couple of weeks
later, the tops of their front legs (where they join the body) turn bright red
and the abdomen swells as it fills with eggs. Indian stick insects lay eggs
every day for the rest of their adult life and so it's important to only save a
few eggs , to avoid getting too many stick insects. The eggs are small round
and brown with a yellow lid (operculum) and will roll off the ELC Liner if you
tilt the Liner and gently tap it underneath.
So glad I found your site! I'm getting
myself the stick insect kit, with those New Guinea stick insects, they look
amazing! If I go for the pack of fifty Liners, that's a year's supply ? And how
many Sand Pits will I need?
The ELC cage is ideal housing for New Guinea stick insects, and you
get ten Liners with the ELC bundle. So, if you ordered another fifty Liners,
that's sixty Liners in total. Use one Liner every week, so yes, you'll have
just over one year's supply. One Sand Pit is enough, this is because you keep
re-using the sand. Every week just tip the sand and egg mixture into the Metal
Sieve. Save the eggs and tip the sieved sand back into the Sand Pit for the New
Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) to bury more eggs in. And
yes, New Guinea stick insects are amazing and very impressive stick insects,
I'm sure you'll like them and they benefit from being taken out of the cage
regularly for extra exercise.
We received our ELC cage last month and our
stick insects seem much happier. They are more lively than they used to be.
(Their old home was a glass tank with netting top). My husband says stick
insects can't be happy or sad, but they're living creatures so must have
Yes, for people
like us who are "in tune with nature" it is blindingly obvious what a healthy
stick insect looks like, both in its physical appearance and its behaviour. A
healthy happy stick insect will hold its body up and be responsive and active.
Stick insects housed in stuffy tanks with only roof top ventilation soon become
"depressed" and lethargic, sometimes even acquiring mites if there is a build
up of dirty soil at the bottom of the tank. Giant African Land Snails are the
same, many of our customers report much happier and more active snails once
they are transferred from a basic tank to our properly designed HLQ snail
centre with the soft wet Liners. So, in answer to your question, you are
My little brother is really into bugs and wants some for
Christmas. He's ten. I'm leaving for Thailand in a couple of weeks, so can I
sort out the order now, before I go? The ELC bundle and four Indian stick
insects would be cool. And can it be delivered to our uncle in Cheltenham as
that's where Ollie will be over Christmas?
I'm sure Ollie will really enjoy your gift. And
yes, delivery to Cheltenham is no problem. We are now accepting Christmas
orders and so to order by phone (and pay by card) please call Small-Life
Supplies on 01733 203358 during office hours. Or, to pay by PayPal, just email
your order to firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll receive the PayPal invoice
within hours. Remember to ask for "Christmas delivery" when you order.
I want a
fancy looking stick insect cage for Christmas and so I am asking my sister to
get me an ELC stick insect cage. My four Indian stick insects are Lucy, Ash,
Jasmine and Kim. Will there be space for Thailand stick insects too because I
want those next
your four Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) will do well in their
new ELC cage. This cage is specially designed for stick insects and so has the
features they need, including height (51cm) and two mesh sides that provide the
airflow and climbing walls that they need. And yes, there is easily enough room
in the ELC cage for four Indian stick insects and four Thailand stick
insects (Baculum thaii). Indian and Thailand stick insects live well
together and they both eat bramble/blackberry leaves.
Do stick insects breed
all year, or is a seasonal thing? Do you have any hatchlings at the moment?
The stick insects we rear
at Small-Life Supplies breed continuously, the adults lay eggs every day and
these eggs hatch several months later (the incubation time depends on the
species). So at Small-Life Supplies we currently have lots of hatchlings (also
called "first instar nymphs") from the different species. We don't sell the
hatchlings though because they can be a delicate and so it's best to wait until
they have grown into larger nymphs and then they are more robust and fit to
travel. Live arrival is guaranteed, and all stick insects are sent on an
express next day delivery service.
We started getting eggs from our Indian
stick insects. About your liners. Do the poos not roll off with the eggs?
Indian stick insect
(Carausius morosus) eggs are round and easily roll off the ELC Liner.
Every week, take the Liner out of the cage, tilt it, and gently tap it
underneath. The eggs roll off the Liner and can be collected into a large
receptacle, such as a dish, below. Then tip the eggs into a QBOX or HUA Pot and
wait for them to hatch out, incubation time for Indian stick insect eggs is
approximately four months. It's so quick and easy to collect Indian stick
insect eggs if you use the ELC Liners, we use these Liners in all our cages at
our stick insect breeding facility.
May I congratulate you on having a male Pink
Winged stick insect. I have reared these for many years but have never ever
seen one, I didn't even know that they could occur. Your Facebook description
states "the females have already attacked him", do you have any ideas as to why
they would do this?
the adult male Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) that we
have reared at Small-Life Supplies is incredibly rare, even rarer than the male
Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) that occur at a rate of 1 in
every 10000 females. I have only ever reared three male Pink Winged stick
insects, this one is the third. The adult male is very thin, smaller,
hyper-active and so very difficult to film and photograph. I am not sure why
the females attack these rare males, but they always do, even the Indian stick
insect females attack the rare Indian stick insect males. These rare males
never live long, I assume this is because they are so lively and this activity
shortens their lifespan (as a general rule, very active stick insects usually
die sooner than more sedentary individuals).
I would like to keep
stick insects and get the right kit. I like the Small Life Supplies stick
insect cage with climbable walls, removable lid and removable wall. If
possible, I would also like to purchase the stick insects from yourselves, but
the ones I would like are not listed on your site. Will you be selling the
Macleays Spectre soon?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies has lots of Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects
(Extatosoma tiaratum) hatching at the moment. They are currently eating
Eucalyptus gunnii leaves, and will be switched over to bramble when they
are larger. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects do really well in the ELC
cage which is the stick insect cage you are describing. You may also wish to
purchase potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants (we grow these specially
without the use of pesticides) so they are safe for the stick insects to eat.
The Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects grow large and when large rely on
their claws for climbing, so it's really important to keep them in a cage with
climbable walls (the holes in the walls of the ELC cage are the correct size
for their claws.)
I am so tempted by your New Guinea stick insects, they look so
cool! And the babies look so cute, what's the best way to try and hatch the
Most days the adult
female New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) buries her eggs in
the Sand Pit. So every week, when you change the Liner of the ELC cage, just
tip the contents of the Sand Pit into the Metal Sieve. Pour the sieved sand
back into the plastic pot and place in the same place, next to a mesh side of
the ELC cage. This is important because the female needs to get a good grip on
this mesh wall of the cage whilst she carefully buries each egg in the sand.
Place the eggs that are left behind in the Metal Sieve in a HUA Pot and stick a
date label on, this will help remind you when the eggs are due to hatch (approx
six months later). New Guinea stick insect eggs can be tricky to hatch, so it's
a good idea to keep lots of eggs to maximise your chances of getting some
babies (called "first instar nymphs"). More details on New Guinea stick insects
are in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd.
the best way to safely dispose of unwanted Indian stick insect eggs? Does
freezing for a few weeks stop the eggs being viable?
The most effective method is to pour boiling
water over unwanted eggs. This is a quick method which works. Excessive heat
denatures the internal structure and so the damage is permanent. In contrast,
freezing for weeks is slow and not guaranteed to work. This is because sub-zero
temperatures can just suspend the egg development rather than stop it
altogether. So there is a risk that development can resume once the eggs are
exposed to warmer temperatures again.
My Macleays Spectre eggs
are hatching now and so I believe I need eucalyptus leaves? I see you are
listing fresh cut privet and bramble leaves, my question is can you supply
fresh cut eucalyptus leaves?
Yes, newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre
stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) do best if fed Eucalyptus
gunnii for the couple of months of their lives. After this time you can
switch these stick insects to bramble/blackberry leaves, or keep them on a diet
of eucalyptus leaves. The same practice also applies to another Australian
species, the Australian Titan stick insect (Acrophylla wuelfingi).
Small-Life Supplies sell potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants, grown
specially without the use of pesticides. I shall email you some details, our
plants are sent on a next day courier delivery and are sold in pairs. It's best
to pull off one or two small tender leaves and place these in the QBOX together
with up to eight newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects.
Always select the tender small eucalyptus leaves for the newly hatched stick
insects and the larger, thicker leaves for the older stick insects.
stick insects are just becoming fully grown but they are smaller than 11cm? Is
this heard of before?
it is normal for there to be some natural variation amongst adult individual
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). The average length is 11cm but
occasionally we have reared a few significantly smaller ones at 10cm and even
9cm. We have noticed that the very small ones tend to live longer than the
average lifespan of 12 months. We rear all of our Indian stick insects in ELC
cages and so it appears that the natural variation is caused by food quality
and other environmental factors (light intensity, ambient temperature etc).
a wealth of knowledge, why aren't you on TV? I have been a customer of yours
for over twenty years and know that you know your stuff.
I have done some TV work but that was a long time
ago! I concentrated on live appearances because then I knew it wouldn't be
edited unfavourably. At that time, some producers wanted to portray insect
people as "oddballs" and were making silly requests, such as asking me to put a
stick insect on my face, obviously I refused to do stunts like that. I think
there is definitely a need for more insect nature programmes on TV, but I would
like to see such programmes concentrating on the insects rather than the
We met at the insect event at Kempton Park and I was interested
in the mosquito larval trays you had on your stand. I can't find them on the
website, please can you send me the link so I can show them to my supervisor,
they look the business!
Yes, new photos of this product are being taken this week and so it will go on
the website very soon, just click on the "What's New?" box in the menu bar and
you will be directed to this exciting new product.
My Peruvian Black stick
insects eat green privet leaves but I am concerned about the privet hedge where
I collect these leaves from. The leaves look droopy, as though they are short
of water, but we've had tonnes of rain here lately. Have you heard of this
before? And do you sell privet leaves?
It is important to pick green juicy healthy
looking leaves for your stick insects and avoid collecting leaves from plants
that are unwell. Your privet hedge is not healthy and so don't use it for your
stick insects. The symptoms you describe are indicative of a root fungus.
Recently, I too have seen some privet hedges with leaves that are wilted even
though there is no shortage of water! Fortunately here at Small-Life Supplies
we are still able to supply privet leaves from healthy privet hedges. Just look
at the "fresh leaves" section on this website.
I have bought some cocoa
fibre sold as "stick insect bedding", would this be OK to use in your ELC cage?
Small-Life Supplies does
not recommend using cocoa fibre, peat, soil, vermiculite, gravel or sand on the
floor of ELC cages or indeed any other enclosures or tanks which are being used
to house stick insects. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, such floor
coverings (called substrates) trap the droppings/poo and eggs of stick insects.
This makes it very difficult to separate and collect the eggs. It is not
advisable to throw away eggs in substrate in the bin because they may still
hatch out several months later. Secondly, when you mist the bramble leaves with
water, some water will drip onto the mixture of eggs, poo and substrate. This
wet mixture will attract small flies and encourage mould to grow. Thirdly, the
granules of some substrates, for example sand and soil, clog up the sticky pads
and claws which are present on the undersides of the feet of stick insects,
this makes it difficult for them to get a grip and walk around properly. So the
best floor covering for ELC cages is paper. You can cut this to size yourself,
or purchase pre-cut ELC Liners, these are available in blue and pink colour
We got a complete cage set up and the stick insects (New Guinea
ones) from you on Saturday at the show and they are settling in well. They have
already laid some eggs in the tub of sand and my question is should I be taking
the eggs out straight away or are they OK if left there for a few days? We have
a HUA Pot on standby!
the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) that we were selling
at the Kempton insect show are fully grown and the females have fat bodies
because they are full of eggs. A female will bury several eggs in the Pot of
Sand every few days. The eggs don't have to be taken out immediately. We
recommend emptying the Pot of Sand into a sieve once a week. The sieved sand
can then be tipped back into the tub and put back on the cage Liner (against a
white mesh side). The eggs should be tipped into the HUA Pot. It's a good idea
to keep lots of eggs because New Guinea stick insect eggs can be tricky to
hatch. If incubation is successful, the eggs can start hatching after six
Is there an optimum temperature for hatching out Macleays
Spectre stick insect eggs? I read somewhere that they needed to be warmer than
eggs of Indian stick insects? I keep mine in HUA Pots, I've hatched loads of
Indian eggs but no Macleays as yet, the thermometer says 18 degrees Celsius.
Most Indian stick insect
(Carausius morosus) eggs hatch during the night, some hatch during the
day. Our thermostat is set at 12 degrees during the night and 18 degrees during
the day, and this works really well for hatching out Indian stick insect eggs.
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) eggs
hatch during the day and yes, they do need warmer temperatures for hatching to
occur. So we keep our Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma
tiaratum) eggs at 22 degrees Celsius during the day (and 12 degrees Celsius
at night). So you need to move your HUA Pot of Macleays eggs to a warmer place
during the day. If the eggs are due to hatch and you lightly mist these eggs
just after breakfast, then you should be seeing hatchlings by lunch.
Eurycantha calcarata male stick insect is acting very strange, not moving
barely, cant grip or climb, wont eat or drink, hasnt shed in
very long, his antennae are curled, his legs are curled but hes still
alive. I dont know whats going on, or if hes dying, Ive
only had him under a year, hes shed about three times.
He is dying of old age,
albeit prematurely, his system is shutting down which is why is behaving this
way. The kindest thing to do is to encourage him to drink water, so prop his
mouth in a shallow saucer of cold tap water. Or, the shallow Water Dish that we
supply if you have that already. Don't be surprised if he exudes a dark brown
liquid from his mouth. Do you have any other New Guinea stick insects
(Eurycantha calcarata)? Stick insects like company and so it's best to keep
them in small groups. A minimum of four New Guinea stick insects (two males and
two females) is a good population size. New Guinea stick insects have a longer
lifespan (18 months) than many other species, but there is a natural spread and
so some individuals die prematurely, whist others can live longer, sometimes
achieving lifespans of three years.
Please can you tell me whereabouts the
Small-Life Supplies stall will be located at the Kempton insect show on
Saturday? I'm not very good with crowds but I really want to meet you guys and
get another ELC cage (this will be my third!).
Yes, we now have the floorplan for this event and
Small-Life Supplies is stand number 58 on the ground floor. So, go through the
main entrance and walk straight ahead to the toilets on the back wall. Then
turn left and we are the fourth stand along on that back wall. The event is
less busy between 3pm and 4pm. So if you wanted to pre-order an ELC cage to
collect in the afternoon (with the 10% discount) then please phone us urgently
on 01733 203358.
I have two of your British Vapourer caterpillars in a QBOX. The
larger one is spinning a cocoon under the lid of the QBOX, it has been doing
these for the last two hours. Should I be worried? Also, I need to put in
another bramble leaf for the other one but I don't want to disturb the one that
Vapourer caterpillars can take several hours to spin their cocoons, so there is
no need to be concerned. Ideally you would wait until it has finished spinning
before you lift the lid up and insert another bramble leaf. However, if the
other caterpillar has eaten all the bramble then it is imperative to lift the
lid and quickly shove another bramble leaf in there. This is because a
caterpillar with no food can panic and start to spin its cocoon prematurely. As
you describe that caterpillar as being smaller, it may not be ready to enter
the next stage of its lifecycle yet. Fortunately your caterpillar that has been
spinning for two hours is well into the process and so should be able to ignore
a quick interruption.
I am worried about one of my Macleays Spectre babies. His
little orange head is sticking out of the egg and so are the tops of his legs
but he seems stuck? I have misted the eggs lightly with water but it hasn't
helped. Is there anything else I can do? Three others hatched today and they
are all fine, racing around the HUA Pot!
It's good that three others have hatched fine and
it is likely others will too. A light misting of water on the Australian
Macleays Spectre eggs (Extatosoma tiaratum) can help with successful
hatching, and is best done just before the eggs are due to hatch out. Water can
also help if a stick insect has managed to free several legs but has just got
stuck at the end of hatching process. Unfortunately your stick insect has got
stuck at the start of the hatching process and so sadly it won't make it and
there is nothing you can do to help. Remember to put a tender Eucalyptus
gunnii leaf in the HUA Pot for the others to eat, because Australian
Macleays Spectre stick insects do best if they eat Eucalyptus gunnii
leaves during the first month or so of their lives (they can eat bramble and
rose leaves when they are older).
Do stick insect eggs hatch during the day or
during the night?
species of stick insect eggs hatch during the night. Of those species, a few
eggs still hatch during the day. But there is one species, Australian Macleays
Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) which does the opposite, most of these
eggs hatch during the day.
Please can you tell me who is changing the
species of stick insects? I have found reference in the literature to Baculum
artemis, a sexually dimorphic species, found in India, identified by Westwood
in 1859. But now on ebay and the like this species is being sold as a
parthenogenetic species from Vietnam?
Yes, the type routinely offered for sale was
found in Thailand and so was called the "New Thailand species", when it was
discovered in the 1980s. It was given the temporary name Baculum
species, as it was awaiting further identification. It is a parthenogenetic
species which is particularly easy and fast to breed. This is why now, decades
later, it is so readily available. Recently someone further identified it as
Baculum artemis. This was odd because in 1859 Westwood assigned
Baculum artemis as being a sexual species from India! Since then various
people have raised concerns but now, because of of market forces, just about
everyone is calling this parthenogenetic species either Baculum artemis
or Ramulus artemis! To add to the confusion, there is another
species, known as the Vietnamese stick insect which has the species name
Baculum extradentatum. However not many people are rearing that species
in the UK anymore. More information on that species is on the Vietnamese
Collector Card available from Small-Life Supplies. (Collector Cards are a set
of laminated cards, each giving information about one species of stick
My male Malaysian stick insect completed his final moult during
the daytime, I was so lucky because it was my day off and so I could see him do
this. It took hours for him to slowly unfurl his wings and extend them, it was
amazing! The next day he ate his old skin and didn't move. Today he is on the
back of the adult female, surely he's not ready to mate yet? There's no action,
he is just resting there.
It is fascinating to see them slowly pump out their new wings, and yes, it
takes several hours for the wings to fully extend. Then the wings need to
harden, and it will be another couple of weeks or so until they are strong
enough to sustain the stick insect in flight. After ecdysis some stick insects
eat their skins quickly, but often the adult stick insects really drag this
process out, taking hours to devour their shed skin. It is as if they are
savouring the experience because it is the last time they will do this. The
last skin-change is very exhausting for a stick insect, especially when the
wings appear, and so it is usual for the stick insect to take it easy for the
next few days. So it is surprising that yours is already on a female, although
he is resting there and not mating. Malaysian stick insects (Heteropterx
dilatata) have longer lifespans than many other species and so your pair
will mate regularly during the rest of their adult lives, which should be at
least another year.
I have two sunny sticks (Sungaya inexpectata) one male and one
female. I had two others, who have passed now, and the female laid her eggs (3)
in February I kept them on kitchen towel inside a vented tub in which the
nymphs came in. They havent hatched yet. My current female has just laid
her first egg, please will you give me details on egg care and care for these
particular stick insects.
Small-Life Supplies used to breed this species of stick insect, but we don't
breed this type anymore. However, the care of the eggs is similar to many other
species. So it's best to save the eggs in the QBOX or HUA Pot and wait for them
to hatch. Both these containers are unventilated which is key to successful
incubation. So the vented tub you have used is not recommended, this is because
too much ventilation can dry out the eggs inside. Caring for the nymphs is
straight forward, young nymphs do well in the HUA Pot and then older nymphs and
adults thrive in the ELC cage. They eat bramble leaves and these leaves should
be misted with water every evening or so (try not to get the actual stick
Counting the sleeps before the Kempton event! How do I
pre-order? Another ELC cage would be FAB.
ELC cages will be for sale at the event (cash
only sales) but to make sure you get one before they sell out, it's best to
pre-order. We're offering a 10% discount on ELC cages collected at the show.
Just call Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 with your credit/debit/AMEX card,
lines are open between 9am and 5.30pm. The event venue is Kempton Park (near
London) and the postcode is TW16 5AQ. The date is Saturday 6th October 2018.
There will be lots of stands selling living insects, equipment, books etc. The
Small-Life Supplies stand is on the ground floor, look out for our tables of
The bramble leaves are looking a bit ropey now, will my four
Indian stick insects eat anything else? Or should I buy bramble from you, I
take it that your bramble leaves are still green?
There are lots of different types of
bramble/blackberry plants. Some types are starting to turn yellow now that
Autumn is almost here and it's best to avoid collecting leaves that are turning
yellow. Fortunately there are other types of bramble that keep their green
leaves throughout the winter months and so are still nutritious for your Indian
stick insects (Carausius morosus). So you could start looking locally
for other sources of wild growing bramble. This gets easier to do as winter
approaches because other deciduous plants lose their leaves and so the bramble
bushes with green leaves are more obvious. Indian stick insects also eat rose
leaves and Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. Another option is to purchase
potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants from Small-Life Supplies (this is a
great back up option when there is snow around and it's difficult to go out
collecting fresh bramble leaves). Or, you can buy Fresh Cut Bramble from
Small-Life Supplies, this is sent out in a re-sealable wallet and there is
enough to feed four Indian stick insects for 7-10 days. And yes, the bramble we
send out has green leaves, we only send out bramble that we deem to be of a
suitable quality to feed stick insects.
My question is regarding the standard Bee
Study Cages. Do you have syringe rings for the 10mm hole at the top?
The smaller 10mm hole is
designed for an eppendorf and so a Syringe Ring is not needed because the
eppendorf is tapered and so will stay in position in the hole. The Syringe
Rings are only available in one size, to fit around the standard 5ml syringe.
We recommend pushing the Syringe Ring over the middle of the syringe so that it
is nice and stable when the syringe is dropped through the larger 16mm hole.
Autumn we bought some silk worm moth caterpillars from you. Will you be
offering these again this year?
We don't have any silk moth caterpillars for sale
at the moment. However we are breeding the British Vapourer caterpillars now.
These caterpillars are colourful with four yellow tufts. They eat
bramble/blackberry leaves. They are easy to keep, please let us know if you'd
like to go on the waiting-list for these.
How easy is to transport
the ELC cage around? Will it fit into a car easily?
It is very easy to transport the ELC cage in a
car. Just put it on a seat and fasten the seatbelt around it. Be careful not to
knock off the central foot underneath the base as you lift the cage in and out
of the car. If you do knock this foot off, just pick it up and pop it back on
again (it has adhesive tape attached that will re-stick). If you lose the foot,
just ask Small-Life Supplies to send you another one next time you order ELC
Liners or anything else.
I will be visiting the Kempton Park insect show in October. Is
it possible to reserve an item in advance and pick it from your stand at the
Supplies is already accepting pre-orders for this event on Saturday 6th Oct
2018 at Kempton Park, TW16 5AQ. Please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733
203358 to let us know what you want to reserve. We will also have a range of
items for sale on the day, but usually the discounted ELC cages sell out really
quickly, so it's best to be at our stand early! Please note that if you
purchase on the day, it is cash sales only.
I am researching how to
look after stick insects and another site said "When stick insects are molting,
they hang from the ceiling of the habitat or from a branch". Please can you
tell me if this statement is true?
Well, it depends. For example, if the ceiling of
the habitat is solid glass or plastic, then it would be impossible for the
stick insect to hook its claws into this material, and so the stick insect
would need to rely on its foot suction pads for grip. A small stick insect
might manage this, but a larger stick insect would not because the stick insect
would be too heavy. When a stick insect changes its skin (moults) the stick
insect slides downwards and so its feet need to be firmly anchored to support
this process. So most stick insects would choose a surface that they can grip
with their claws. This is one reason why the ELC cage has mesh sides, so the
stick insects can grip the side of the cage and complete their skin changes
successfully. Moulting or shedding a skin from a branch is not ideal because
the stick insect may bump into the leaves lower down as it slides downwards out
of its skin. So that is another reason why stick insects choose to shed their
skins on the sides of the ELC cage, because there are no leaves underneath to
get tangled up in.
I have been given some Indian stick insects and have been told
they eat ivy. But I see on the your description of the ones you sell that you
suggest bramble and hazel leaves as food? Should I give mine these leaves
instead? I want the best for my stick insects and have just ordered the ELC
insects (Carausius morosus) do best on bramble (blackberry) leaves, but
they will also eat rose leaves, Eucalyptus gunnii leaves and hazel
leaves. Years ago, privet was a good foodplant for this species, but in recent
years many Indian stick insects are refusing to eat privet leaves, for reasons
which are unexplained. Ivy leaves can be eaten by Indian stick insects as a
last resort, but we have found Indian stick insects are much more healthy and
active if they are fed bramble leaves. I suggest you put both bramble and ivy
in the Sprig Pot of water and see what the stick insects choose to eat. It is
likely they will switch over to eating bramble leaves, but this process may
take several weeks, so it's important to keep putting ivy leaves in there until
they have all decided to switch over to eating bramble leaves.
this stick insect in my garden (in Singapore), please can you tell me if it is
a male or a female?
photo is of a thin adult stick insect with a bulbous end to its abdomen. So
this is an adult male stick insect.
I am confused that stick
insects can reproduce without males? But I have seen males for sale so how does
that work? This is part of my biology studies, I do hope you can help me.
There are lots of
different species of stick insects. Some species have males and females in
equal numbers and these stick insects mate regularly when they are adults and
then the females lay fertilised eggs. The males are usually smaller and thinner
than the females, the genders look totally different and so are "sexually
dimorphic". Then there are other species of stick insect which do not have
males. These species reproduce by "parthenogenesis" which translates as "virgin
birth". The females lay eggs which hatch into more females. So the males you
have seen for sale are from a sexual species, not a parthenogenetic species.
the stick insect cages on ebay mostly netting enclosures or tanks? When what
stick insects need are ELC cages!!
Economics! It is considerably cheaper to mass
produce a netting enclosure or a glass tank, than it is to produce an ELC cage.
Consequently those products can be sold at a much cheaper price and that
appeals to many people. Of course, if stick insects did well in such
enclosures, Small-Life Supplies would not have invested years in developing
proper stick insect cages such as the ELC cage. Fortunately a significant
number of people do appreciate the design benefits of keeping stick insects in
the ELC cages and continue to buy these cages because they want the best for
their stick insects and know that they work well.
I have never been to an
insect show before, and so intend to go to the Kempton event. Please can you
tell me how much it is to get in? And are you easy to find? I am hoping to buy
a second ELC cage, I assume there's parking nearby?
Great, we look forward to seeing you at the
Kempton insect fair on Saturday 6th Oct 2018. The postcode is TW16 5AQ, and yes
this is at Kempton Park racecourse and so there is plenty of parking on site.
Entrance is £4 for adults and £1 for under sixteens, pay at the
door. The Small-Life Supplies stand is on the ground floor, easy to spot with
the white tables, lights, and ELC cages for sale (or consult the floor plan in
the event programme). We shall have ELC cages for sale on the day, please bring
cash because we can only accept accept cash sales on the day. Small-Life
Supplies will also be selling stick insects that we breed.
My Head Teacher would
like to know if theres any risk involved in keeping Indian stick insects?
i.e - if they are to get out, can they cause any skin reactions etc.
There are lots of
different species of stick insect and some can be harmful. However all the
species that Small-Life Supplies breed are harmless, used to being handled, and
suitable to be kept in schools. We breed the the Indian stick insect
(Carausius morosus) and recommend this species be kept in schools. Many
teachers take the stick insects out of the ELC cage and encourage the children
to handle them and observe them closely. This helps dispel any fear that some
children may have of insects and can also spark an interest in other children
who are interested in the natural world. School topic ideas are included in the
book "Keeping Stick Insects" by Dorothy Floyd, this book has a whole
section on Indian stick insects.
I've just received my Thailand stick
insects, thank you! What's the best way to incubate the Thailand stick insect
eggs? Should I mist them?
Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii) eggs are best mixed with the frass
(droppings) and the mixture stored in the HUA Pot. Do not mist with water
because this will lead to mould. Thailand stick insect eggs hatch relatively
quickly for stick insects, so look out for the hatchlings which should appear
within 4-8 weeks. When you see the babies, called first instar nymphs, transfer
them carefully into the ELC cage.
I have Macleays Spectre in one of your ELC
cages with pink Liners. They're doing great and growing fast! I'm almost out of
Liners and so need some more, I wondered if they came in black? The reason I
ask is that I like to take photographs of my stickies and I think they'd show
up well against a black background.
Yes, ELC cage Liners are available in three
colours; blue, pink, and black. The price is the same regardless of the colour.
There are ten Liners in a pack, so when you order 30 Liners you can ask for
them to be all the same colour or ask for a combination, for example ten of
The snow season is almost here, what can I feed my Indian stick
You could start
growing soya plants, because Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
can eat soya leaves. Soya seeds can be purchased from health food shops.
insects ever get nervous? I have a fifth instar Malaysian male who is coming up
to his final skin change. His wing buds are raised and so I thought he was
going to shed his skin on Sunday, but here we are, three days later and he
still hasn't! He is now pacing around the ELC cage, hence the question!
The final skin-change is
the most difficult one for a male Malaysian stick insect to complete because
this is the time that his wings appear. Unlike the female Malaysian stick
insect (Heteropteryx dilatata) who has vestigial wings, the male
Malaysian stick insect will acquire large functional wings. You are correct in
realising that raised wing buds are a sign that ecdysis is imminent. I think it
is likely that your stick insect is apprehensive about what he has to do.
However, pacing round the ELC cage could be a sign that he is thirsty, so I'd
recommend misting the bramble leaves now in case he wants to have a drink.
Hopefully he will shed his skin tonight, Malaysian stick insect nymphs usually
select a spot near the top of the white mesh side of the ELC cage and then side
downwards, so be sure there isn't too much bramble in the ELC cage because it's
important he is not hindered by any obstacles when he is climbing out of his
skin and pumping out his wings.
I'd like some stick insects but only have a
small space to keep them. So how much would it cost to make a short version of
the ELC cage? I would need it to be 20cm high. It would be for Indian stick
Sorry, but a cage
only 20cm high would not be large enough to keep Indian stick insects
(Carausius morosus) properly. The ELC cage is 51cm high because that is
the height that a stick insect cage needs to be to house healthy stick insects.
Stick insects need plenty of height so they have lots of space to grow
properly. Keeping stick insects in cages that are too short is a really bad
idea because it leads to stunted stick insects, sometimes with bent bodies.
Small-Life Supplies prioritises the welfare of stick insects and so we would
not produce a cage that was not fit for purpose.
I started with Indian stick
insects, then Pink Winged stick insects. Now I can't decide on whether to get
Malaysian or New Guinea? I'm thirteen, if that helps!
Both Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx
dilatata) and New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are
large and chunky and both benefit from extra exercise, so it's a good idea to
take them out of the ELC cage a lot and let them have a good walk across the
table or the floor. I'd recommend the New Guinea stick insects for you because
they are much easier to handle and easier to breed (their eggs hatch in six
months as opposed to one and a half years for the Malaysian!). Here at
Small-Life Supplies we handle our stick insects frequently and so the New
Guinea stick insects we supply are used to being handled. They are in stock
now, and like your other stick insects, do well in the ELC cage. New Guinea
stick insects do need a few extra things: a Community Tube (to rest inside), a
Water Dish, and a Sand Pit (for the female to bury her eggs).
I have been doing
research online and honestly there's so much conflicting advice and different
spellings I thought I'd ask you for the definitive answer! To be fair I have
three questions, hope that's OK! How long do Indian stick insects take to
hatch? Are they all females, I mean no one has ever seen a male? The best
environment, wood chippings or paper?
Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus)
eggs usually take four months to hatch. Indian stick insects reproduce by
parthenogenesis (this is the correct spelling!) which means that these stick
insects are parthenogenetic females. They lay eggs without mating and these
hatch into more females. Very occasionally a male does occur, the probability
is one male in 10000 females, so you are unlikely to see one, but here at
Small-Life Supplies we have seen a few over the years (because we breed so many
stick insects). The reason for why males occur is a mystery. A paper Liner on
the floor of the cage is best, this makes it easy to keep the stick insects in
clean surroundings. Wood chippings are not good because they trap the eggs and
droppings, leading to unhygienic conditions.
Please can you mention
the people power victory of stopping the proposal to drill for oil in Leith
Hill, Surrey, UK, a site of outstanding natural beauty and special scientific
interest. It beggars belief that this proposal was ever made in the first place
and ten hard years of campaigning have ensued to stop it, some campaigners have
suffered considerable emotional and financial cost in the process.
I applaud everyone who has
put the effort into stopping this. And yes, I have no problem in publicising
this success, I hope it will encourage others to stand up against abhorrent
proposals to destroy beauty spots and ancient woodlands. It shows that success
is possible and it's always worth fighting to protect nature.
I like your ELC cages
very much and wondered if you might consider appointing me to sell some for
you? I have already had several people ask me where I bought mine from.
Small-Life Supplies have
developed the ELC cage after decades of research and development, and yes, it
is an excellent cage for keeping stick insects. Key features include the 51cm
height, the ventilated sides, the ease of access and of course the clear
viewing panels. And yes, we encourage others to sell these cages, you can
choose to buy twelve ELC cages for a discount rate and then distribute them to
your customers. Or, you can supply us with the customer addresses and we will
send the cages direct to your customers. If you would like to discuss the
options, please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 or email
Apart from female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, do
any other stick insects curl their tails up to pretend they are scorpions to
and female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma
tiaratum) can curl up their tails (abdomens) to mimic the behaviour of
scorpions, this is an effective deterrent against predators. The adult male
Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect has long wings and so his tail has to
curl up between his wings! Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects exhibit
this behaviour when they are nymphs and adults. Some other species of stick
insect can curl their tails up too, but they only do this when they are nymphs.
The Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) can curl her tail well when
she is a first instar nymph, but as she grows, she lifts it up less. Both
genders of the North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina)
can curl their tails almost into a circle when they are nymphs, but lose this
ability when they are adults.
I have just started keeping Indian stick
insects and I am in LOVE. I have read somewhere that you need to keep the
nymphs and adults separate. I bought them as "nymphs" and a few of them were
tiny and now three are probably nearly half the size of being fully grown. I
have made two separate enclosures for them, one small but big enough for them
to grow, and the second being very big. My question is when do I move the
larger ones out of the smaller enclosure and into the bigger one?
It is only the baby Indian
stick insects (Carausius morosus), these are insects less than one month
old, that should be kept separate from the larger nymphs and adults. This is
because baby Indian stick insects (called first instar nymphs) do best in
surroundings that are unventilated, so this means a clear box without air
holes. But as they grow and become larger nymphs, these Indian stick insects
require more ventilated surroundings and so should be kept in a cage with two
mesh sides. The adults do best in these ventilated surroundings too. So, you
can transfer all of your nymphs now into the larger cage with the adult Indian
stick insects. It is always best to rear the nymphs (with the exception of the
babies) in a cage approx 51cm tall, so they have plenty of room to grow.
away on holiday for a week, and when I got back there were no leaves left in
the cage! I put the usual amount in before I went, is it possible that my stick
insects became worried? I thought they'd be OK if left alone for a week.
Fortunately they are OK now but I am glad I came back when I did!
Yes, it is a fact that
stick insects eat a lot more when they are stressed. Your stick insects saw
their fresh food but then did not see or hear you for a week. So they became
stressed and ate all their food. So next time you go away for a week, be sure
to put in double the quantity of food in the cage before you go.
Is a "cave
hide" thing better or worse than a "Community Tube" for my New Guinea stick
Supplies recommend using cardboard tubes in the ELC cage for New Guinea stick
insects (Eurycantha calcarata) to rest inside. This is because they are
the optimum shape, being long and thin, so it's easy for the stick insects to
climb in and out, and pile on top of each other in the tubes. You can use empty
kitchen roll tubes but these need to be cut down to size. So Small-Life
Supplies have the "Community Tubes" specially made. It's best to have two or
three Community Tubes in the ELC cages, stacked and held together with an
elastic band. We replace ours every few months so the stick insects always have
somewhere nice and clean to rest.
Could you please tell me - at what stage can
I introduce baby Indian sticks into the adult population?
Second instar onwards. Baby
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best in the QBOX, this
provides the unventilated surroundings they require to thrive. When Indian
stick insects are about three weeks old, the stick insects shed their skins for
the first time and dramatically increase in size. At this size you can keep
them in the QBOX for a few more weeks, but obviously reduce the number in the
QBOX so they are not cramped. Or, you can transfer the stick insects into the
ventilated ELC cage to be with the adults and older nymphs. After the Indian
stick insects have shed their skin for the third time, they should definitely
be in the ELC cage because they need the space and airy surroundings to
continue to develop successfully. The adult Indian stick insects do not harm
the younger ones, in fact the nymphs sometimes rest alongside the adults on the
white mesh sides of the ELC cage.
My New Guinea stick insects were doing well
until I switched them exclusively to oak. Now I have lost three out of the four
I had from you. I wish I'd listened to you guys and stuck with bramble. I have
learnt my lesson. Can I buy three more from you, or do you only sell them in
sets of four? The ironic thing is that I have plenty of bramble.
New Guinea stick insects
(Eurycantha calcarata) stick insects do best if fed bramble/blackberry
leaves. They can also eat hazel leaves and rose leaves. We do not recommend oak
leaves as a suitable diet, we have tried these and found the New Guinea stick
insects are not keen to eat them. And yes, you can purchase three New Guinea
stick insects from Small-Life Supplies, so you have two pairs again.
too far away to attend the Rutland International Bird Fair but saw your
notification on Instagram. What did you think of the insect speakers at the
Rutland International Bird Fair?
Matt Shardlow, boss at BugLife, gave a very good
talk, encouraging people to leave dandelions and piles of dead wood in their
gardens to encourage insects. He highlighted the benefits of encouraging
insects in your garden, including being the food supply for many birds. Matt
also highlighted the problems of transplanting potted plants into gardens, many
of these plants contain pests that may cause problems, he even gave examples of
some enormous pests emerging from the plant pots whilst waiting to be
transplanted! Matt also explained that many people are over-using herbicides in
their gardens and this unnecessary application of chemicals is detrimental to
many insects. Interestingly, President Macron of France is attempting to
prohibit French people from using such toxins in their gardens in France. We
need this approach in the UK too! I only caught a few minutes of another talk
on insects, this one was aimed at children and given by Mike Dilger, but I
wasn't impressed when he said "you have my permission to squish Harlequin
We are babysitting stick insect for a friend and this is our
first time handling this type of insect. When we went to change out the dried
leaves for new ones, a thorn stuck in the back of the female stick bug and
liquid dripped out of her back. It looked red but I have read on your web site
that their blood is green. Anyways, she looks like she has survived this as two
days have passed. She is eating and moving around and seems alright. Can we
expect her to survive? Is there a way to clean the dried liquid that dripped
down her back that is currently matted to her?
It's good that the stick insect is now eating,
moving around, and seems OK. So do not try to remove the dried up liquid
because this may re-open the wound. Usually when a thorn punctures a stick
insect's skin, it's best to squirt water onto the affected area immediately, to
clean the area and flush away the coloured liquid. (The colour of liquid varies
with the species of stick insect). But it's too late for you to do that,
because the liquid has dried. So it's really important to just leave it alone.
It may look a bit unsightly but it won't cause a problem to the actual stick
insect. Stick insects can survive minor injuries and so if she manages to last
the week, her prognosis is very good. During the next few days, she will need
her strength to repair the wound, so try to let her rest as much as possible.
And every day lightly mist the leaves with water so she can drink from the
With the ELC cage, I have just realised only one side lifts up,
which side is it? Left or right? I am bedbound and my room is quite cluttered
so its quite important.
The lid lifts off the ELC cage and then the right
side slides up. This is marked with a green arrow. However, if you want the
left side to be removable instead, this is easy for us to manufacture. Just let
us know when you order from Small-Life Supplies that you want the left side to
be removable and this will be arranged (at no extra charge).
Did you know "Baculum
thai" officially now is Ramulus thai? I really think you are the last person
that has the species.
animal classification, some people try to change species names without
justification. "Baculum" translates as "stick" in Latin,
"Ramulus" translates as "branch" in Latin. Thailand stick insects
resemble sticks not branches and so there is no justification to change the
genus from Baculum to Ramulus. Therefore the original species
name of Baculum thaii is correct for the Thailand stick insect. The
males have yellow eyes and thin purplish/brown bodies. They are very lively!
This species is covered in detail in the book "Keeping Stick Insects" by
Dorothy Floyd. Small-Life Supplies have been breeding and supplying Baculum
thaii stick insects for decades and so we know that lots of people have
update on when the AUC cage will be back in stock? My Thailand stick insects
need more space!
current production run of AUC cages should be finished next week, so the cages
shall be dispatched then. AUC cages are very airy with large holes in the
sides, and are ideal for adult Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii),
the adult New Thailand stick insects (Baculum sp) and the North East
Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina). Liners for the AUC cage
are available in two colour choices: green and pink.
My son is fascinated by bugs
and so we have had a long talk and decided to take the plunge and buy him some
stick insects for his tenth birthday on 5th September, the Indian ones to start
with. Your ELC cage looks the business, so we'll be getting that too. My
question is how soon should I order so everything can arrive in time for his
birthday? And would the "Keeping Stick Insects" book be suitable for his age?
He is a bright child, and hates babyish things.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
are a great choice for your son, he will enjoy handling them and he can save a
few eggs and hatch out the next generation. The ELC bundle provides the correct
housing and accessories, and the book"Keeping Stick Insects" can be
understood by a smart ten year old, it is clearly written but could not be
described as being babyish. Don't forget you can request a personal message to
be written in the front of the book by the author, this is a free service, and
makes the present extra special. It's best to order now and request delivery
the day before the birthday, so Tuesday 4th September.
I got four Indian adults
from Small-Life Supplies, the label with them says "all females,
parthenogenetic". I don't know what this means? They are very nice by the way,
my son loves them.
stick insects (Carausius morosus) don't have males, they reproduce by a
process called parthenogenesis, which means that the adult females lay eggs
which hatch into more females. No mating occurs. So if you save some of the
eggs that your Indian stick insects lay, you can look forward to the eggs
hatching into baby female Indian stick insects in approximately four months
you tell me anything about "Bud Wing stick insects"?
"Budwings", aka Phaenopharos herwaardeni,or
Thailand Straight stick insects, have males and females in approximately equal
numbers. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we have reared them for many years, but
no longer breed that species. Females grow to 19cm, males to 17cm. They can
sometimes emit an unusual odour, sometimes likened to HP sauce! They eat
bramble leaves and have small red wings that they can flash at predators as a
defence. The wings are too small to sustain flight.
When's the insect show in
October? How many people are going to be there and do I have to pay to get in?
The date of the big insect
event is Saturday 6th October 2018 at Kempton Park Racecourse, postcode TW16
5AQ. There will be lots of stands selling insects and equipment, including
Small-Life Supplies on the ground floor. There are around 1000+ visitors, so it
gets quite busy! The stalls of insects, insect equipment, insect books, insect
societies etc are spread over two floors, ground and first floor, there are
usually over eighty stalls, so plenty to see! Entrance is about £4, and
you pay on the door, not in advance.
Is it possible to
identify a stick insect from its frass?
The frass (droppings) of stick insects does vary a
lot according to the species of stick insect, so yes, it can help with
identification. Likewise the physical appearance of the egg can help with
identification. Trying to identify a species of stick insect from the
appearance of the nymph is difficult, although factors such as relative length
of antennae to the front leg can help. Obviously the easiest way to identify a
stick insect is to look at the adult stick insects and measure their sizes.
purchased four New Guinea stick insects from you last September. I have noticed
they are not going in the tube anymore and one female is on the bramble all day
instead of on the bottom of the cage. Also one male is looking skinny compared
to the other one. Are they getting old? They have a constant supply of bramble
The fact your
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) aren't going in the tube
suggests there is a problem with the tube. Perhaps it got wet and the stick
insects can detect a slightly musty smell as a result. So it would be a good
idea to replace the tube, particularly if you have been using it for nearly one
year. We replace the Community Tubes in our ELC cages housing New Guinea stick
insects every few months. Are you still taking the stick insects out of the
cage for extra exercise? New Guinea stick insects continue to be active
throughout their lives, even in old age. If your stick insects are nearing the
end of their lives due to old age, their bodies will not be as glossy as they
were, and will have a dull matt finish. They will also struggle to grip with
their feet because their sticky pads do not work as well as they used to.
of stick insect should I get next? I have Indian stick insects and Pink Winged
stick insects presently and have hatched out some of their eggs, the babies are
insects (Baculum thaii) would be a great choice for you. Unlike the
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insects
(Sipyloidea sipylus) which are parthenogenetic and so are all females,
the Thailand stick insects have males and females (both genders look completely
different). Thailand stick insects are easy to breed too, and their tiny babies
(called first instar nymphs) like to gather on the ends of the bramble stems in
the ELC cage (so don't keep the Thailand babies in a QBOX or HUA Pot). Like
your other stick insects, Thailand stick insects eat bramble/blackberry leaves.
We live at
the end of a long and rutted farm track and find that many couriers refuse/fail
to deliver. Royal Mail are good. Can we use them to deliver the ELC cage
Yes, when the
courier option is not appropriate, Small-Life Supplies uses Royal Mail to
deliver the ELC cage bundle. Unfortunately it does cost a bit more than the
9.95 courier price, the price for Royal Mail to deliver a 5kg parcel is
£15.85 by first class post. Please highlight that you require that
delivery option when you order and we will arrange it for you.
Is this blue liquid in
my stick bugs habitat the blue gel that contains the genitalia of the Male? And
does that mean the Male is dying? Or just that he is secreting ? Sorry I wish I
didn't have to ask. I just acquired a large population of stick bugs from
a retiring teacher who honestly I think knew even less than I did. (She only
changed their tank twice a year and had 35+ living together in an average
photo you sent shows some adult Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
in a tank, with some droppings, eggs and some small blue/green stains on the
kitchen roll lining the tank. So the stick insects you have are all females
(they reproduce by parthenogenesis). You need to collect the round small brown
eggs which are on the white kitchen roll and place them in a separate container
(outside of the cage) so they can develop and hatch after approx four months.
You don't have any males, the stains are drops of blood from the females. They
have probably been fighting because they are stressed. To make them happier,
you need to give them fresh food weekly (stand the stems in a vase of water),
give them more water (so lightly mist the leaves once a day with water), keep
the surroundings clean (so wash the tank and then replace the kitchen roll
Liner once a week), and reduce the number in there (so invest in another cage).
The book "Keeping Stick Insects" will help you a lot, this is available
from Small-Life Supplies and we can send this book to Canada. It has a whole
section on Indian stick insects and a lot of advice and useful information
about stick insects. Buy the book
One of my beautiful adult female Zompro's stick insects is
dying; it's not unexpected as she is nearly two years old. I have put a leaf
with some water near her head and she has been drinking greedily and I will
keep this replenished until she has passed. The experience has made me wonder,
is it better to let nature take her course and support a stick insect during
it's last days (as you know it can take a few days for a stick insect to die)
or would it be kinder to intervene and end the insect's life, and suffering,
more quickly? If the latter, is there a method that would prove truly humane?
These Thailand Marbled
stick insects (Parapachymorpha zomproi) usually live about one year, so
your female has done really well getting to be nearly two. You are doing the
correct thing by giving her extra water to drink during her dying days. Stick
insects dying from old age do appreciate extra water and it helps them to die
in peace. Your stick insect is not suffering, her body is shutting down and the
water is easing this process. So carry on with what you are doing because this
is the kindest thing to do. I would not recommend trying to kill her, because
this would be terrifying for her, and traumatic for you. Do not be fooled by
the method being blindly repeated elsewhere of putting living stick insects
into a freezer, because this is extremely cruel and would cause immense
suffering and slow death.
Great that you have the potted eucalyptus back in stock. I
know eucalyptus grows quickly so will I need to re-pot the plants soon? Do I
need to feed the plants? I want two plants.
Eucalyptus gunnii is a fast growing plant,
especially during the summer months. Ideally you would transplant the potted
plants into your garden (and water well). However, if this is not possible, you
could keep them in the 2 litre plant pots they are supplied in for a few more
weeks. Water well and scatter the frass (stick insect droppings) onto the soil
as fertiliser. When you see the roots poking out of the bottom of the plant
pot, it is time to repot into a larger plant pot. You will need extra soil to
do this, so use soil from your garden or purchase "John Innes, J Arthur Bower"
compost. Do not be tempted by cheaper compost alternatives because these often
have pesticides added which will be taken up by the plant and will harm stick
insects that eat the leaves.
I cycle past a large group of Cinnabar
caterpillars on my way to work. They have devoured the leaves of the ragwort
and now the yellow flowers are disappearing too. Why is that?
When the Cinnabar
caterpillars (Callimorpha jacobaeae) are small, they start eating the
bottom leaves of the ragwort. As the caterpillars grow, they slowly move up the
plant, devouring the leaves. When the Cinnabar caterpillars are fully grown
they start to eat the petals off the yellow flowers! The caterpillars then go
down to the ground and transform into dark brown pupae encased in silky
cocoons. They remain in the leaf litter until the following Spring. The
emerging moths are bright red with black markings.
Last month I moved to a
new flat, and promised myself I'd start keeping stick insects again when I'd
got myself sorted. I need an easy care variety and so I was going to choose the
Indian type. But I'm concerned that my flat will be too hot. I know the weather
has been crazy hot lately but my flat is so hot and I know Indian stick insects
don't like it too hot. Is there another option? I like the stick shaped ones,
not the chunky ones as they freak me out!
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus)
are the most common type of pet stick insect, and are easy to look after.
However, Indian stick insects do not thrive in hot surroundings, so it's best
to keep them at a daytime temperature of between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius (and
cooler at night). Unfortunately with this prolonged very hot spell of summer
weather, people's homes are routinely exceeding 25 degrees Celsius in the day,
which is too hot for Indian stick insects and causes them to become very
lethargic and sometimes even to die prematurely. In contrast Thailand stick
insects (Baculum thaii) can tolerate these higher temperatures. Thailand
stick insects look long and thin, so will appeal to you. And they have small
appetites so are a very easy to care variety, ideally suited to people looking
for a low maintenance pet.
I work at a vets and want to ask if insect
specialists such as yourself Professor, can tell just by looking at a stick
insect, whether it is ill or not?
Yes, I can. As well as its physical appearance,
there are tell tale signs that indicate a stick insect is unwell, for example
how it holds itself, how it responds to stimuli, how it walks etc. At the
moment with the heatwave, a lot of Indian stick insects (Carausius
morosus) are suffering, so look thin and are lethargic. They will recover
when the temperature drops, and in the meantime, the advice is to feed them
with rose leaves and give them extra water to drink. The virus which keeps
surfacing and killing the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects
(Extatosoma tiaratum) is still prevalent, early symptoms include
excessive thirst and lethargy. In the later stages the abdomen becomes floppy
and finally, as death approaches, the body looks "sucked out".
I am new to keeping stick
insects and have just got some youngsters of the Australian Macleays Spectre
stick insect variety. I was told the males will get wings but only flutter a
bit. I want to film flying stick insects and so wondered if the Pink Winged
stick insects are better at flying? And can I keep them both in the ELC cage
with the mesh lid?
been incorrectly advised. Adult male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects
(Extatosoma tiaratum) are very strong flyers, they can easily fly across
a room and weave around light fittings etc. Adult Pink Winged stick insects
(Sipyloidea sipylus) are weaker flyers, but they can manage a few metres
and land on the wall. Both types can be mixed together in the ELC cage, ideally
with the mesh lid, which provides additional climbing surfaces and a site for
the Pink Winged stick insect to glue her eggs. Full details on both species are
in the Keeping Stick Insects
Ive had a visitor from a butterfly or moth on my basil
plant a few weeks ago. Ive now got loads of green caterpillars, I was
just wondering if you could help me with what type they are?
It will be interesting to
see what they develop into. Many caterpillars pupate (transform into a pupa)
just underneath the soil, others encase their pupa inside a loose sac of leaf
litter (bits of leaf, twig, soil granules) which they stick together before
pupating. So I suggest you place lots of leaf litter on the soil of your plant
pot so your caterpillars have somewhere suitable and won't wander off looking
for somewhere to pupate.
My young daughter wants to be an entomologist. I have no idea
where this has come from, although she has always been interested in bugs and
is now getting into stick insects in a big way. Should I encourage her?
Yes, far better for her to
aim to join a profession she enjoys. Hopefully she will be good at science at
school? It will make it much easier for her if she can get good science
qualifications. Meantime, keeping stick insects is a great hobby which I am
glad she is enjoying. A childhood interest in insects tends to stick with
people throughout their lives.
I am about to order a couple of your potted
Eucalyptus plants. I never have much luck with house plants, do you have any
tips on how I can keep these alive? Should I water them before or after work?
It's best to stand potted
Eucalyptus gunnii plants outside, rather than keep them in the house.
And water them late in the evening with a watering can. We sprinkle the frass
from the cage Liner over the soil to give the plant a bit of nourishment. We
find that our Eucalyptus gunnii plants do best if positioned by a shady
wall or fence, so their exposure to the full glare of the sun is restricted
(this is especially important at the moment with the exceptionally hot
I have reared phasmids for years and their cast off skins have
always been cream. But this morning I saw a vivid green discarded skin from my
new Malaysian stick insect! How unusual is that? Are the discarded skins from
the yellow and black Peruvian Fern stick insects yellow?
The cast off skins from most stick insect species
are cream. Exceptions include the Vietnamese stick insect (Baculum
extradentatum) which are pale pink. And the female Malaysian stick insect
(Heteropteryx dilatata) which, when she reaches a certain age, are
green, like the actual stick insect. The skins from Peruvian Fern stick insects
(Oreophoetes peruana) are not yellow, they are cream but do have some black
Please note that all photographs on this site
are copyrighted by Small-Life Supplies and must not be copied or reproduced
Bassenhally Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough. PE7 1RR. UK.