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.
My stick 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.
I have just acquired some juvenile Madagascar hissing cockroaches about 1 long - most of them have damaged antennae - will these regrow at their next shed or are they permanently damaged?
Legs can be regenerated, but not antennae. So unfortunately your Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches (Gromphadhorina portentosa) will be permanently damaged.
I have just seen your Indian Eri caterpillars on your website. I would like ten caterpillars, does this mean I need five HUA Pots, or could I get a larger container and house them altogether?
I recommend the TTQ cage, this is ideal for housing all ten Indian Eri caterpillars together. You'll also need the Privet Platform (price £1.50). This is full of holes so you can push the cut stems of privet through the holes and they stick upright, so the caterpillars can climb up them to eat. This is much better than resting the privet sprigs horizontally on the floor of the cage. And, for caterpillars, it's important not to stand the stems of foodplant water, so the Privet Platform is a great solution.
In September time I'm hopefully going to be doing a degree in animal behaviour and training at university. I am particularly interested in insects though and I would love to pursue a career with them in future. My question is what do you suggest I do after my animal behaviour and training degree that would help me to expand my knowledge of entomology and enable me to pursue a career with insects? I know a few universities nearby do entomology masters degrees but these are more biology/science based and I'm more interested in doing something practical. I would love a formal qualification to do with insects and their care, but have no idea where to start.
The firms and organisations that breed insects tend to train people on the job and so are not looking for someone with a formal qualification in insect care. A natural affinity for insects is essential, as is good manual dexterity, a calm demeanour, and a compassionate nature. (When I interviewed candidates it was immediately obvious if they had a rapport with insects or not). However, science 'A levels' and a degree qualification in insect physiology are important because that demonstrates that you have an understanding of how insects function and this will help you understand their needs. Also, if you are able to show that you have been successful in breeding your own pet stick insects and caterpillars, and appreciate the importance of correct housing, hygiene and best practice, that will help tremendously in securing a work placement at an insect breeding centre, which may lead to full time work if they are impressed with your efforts.
Do all insects have six legs?
Generally yes, but this is for adult insects. The immature stages can be different, for example fly grubs (maggots) don't have distinguishable legs. And the larvae of butterflies and moths (caterpillars) have six small legs at the front (these are called their thoracic legs), but eight stubby legs further back and claspers at the end. Sawfly larvae are similar to caterpillars but have an extra pair of the abdominal stubby legs (these are called pro-legs). Insects which undergo "incomplete metamorphosis" have nymphs looking like miniature versions of the adults, and so both have six legs.
We are looking forward to receiving the Indian caterpillars for nursery. We already have a zip up netting enclosure, would this be a better caterpillar habitat because it's bigger?
No, it's really important to keep the Indian Eri caterpillars in the HUA Pot supplied for the time being. When they outgrow this, a container with only one ventilated side is needed, so you can use a tank or enclosure with netting on the top, or invest in the TTQ cage. A netting enclosure is too airy for these caterpillars. However, when the spectacular Indian Eri silkmoths emerge from their cocoons, you can house them in your netting enclosure at nursery school.
Do you have any tips for hatching Guadeloupe stick insects please? I have lots of eggs
Guadeloupe stick insect (Lamponius guerini) eggs are usually easy to hatch, but they do incubate for a long time. Just store the eggs in a QBOX or HUA Pot and after about eight months, lightly mist the eggs with water (in the late afternoon/early evening). This action seems to trigger the hatching, and so you should start to see the hatchlings (called first instar nymphs) on following mornings. Keep these nymphs in another HUA Pot and feed them with wet bramble leaves. Older nymphs can be transferred to the ELC cage. Guadeloupe stick insects need more humidity, so ensure there are two Sprig Pots of bramble in the cage, or alternatively cover the fixed mesh side of the cage with cling film (fix to outside). Also, it's worth keeping Guadeloupe eggs for longer than eight months because this species is unusual in that the eggs can still hatch many months after they were supposed to.
Does your Vietnamese Collector Card describe the huge Vietnamese stick insects in the AUC cage?
No, the Vietnamese Collector Card describes the Baculum extradentatum species. The large stick insects you describe are a new type, called the North East Vietnamese stick insect, Medauromorpha regina. A new Collector Card for them will be produced soon.
My female Australian Macleays Spectre, called Poppy, is laying lots of eggs, firing them across the cage! Sadly, her mate died before he matured. So will her eggs be fertile? I feel I should get her a mate, but can you send winged stick insects safely?
The female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) catapults her large eggs and so you can hear them landing in the ELC cage! Unfertilised eggs can hatch, but the incubation time is longer and the offspring are not as healthy as those produced from fertilised eggs. So getting Poppy a mate is a very good idea. Small-Life Supplies has some spare large male Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect nymphs at the moment, both six legged ones (at full price) and a few five legged ones (at a discount price), so please get in touch if you'd like to purchase one. The largest ones will be fully grown within weeks and so will be ideal for Poppy. Small-Life Supplies doesn't send out adult winged males because it would be too stressful for them in transit.
I gasped on seeing the destruction at Norbury Park, Surrey. All those healthy ash trees felled. And by Surrey Wildlife Trust. Have you any insight into this?
It does appear to be absolutely scandalous. Large scale destruction of trees (and associated insects etc) by an organisation that is supposed to promote nature beggars belief.
I have some large New Guinea stick insects and I like the way they hide in the Community Tubes! A friend has offered me some of her Aretaon asperrimus stick insects, I notice they look a bit like a tiny version of the New Guinea stick insects and I wondered if they needed the Community Tubes too? Also, please can you tell me where is their native country?
The Aretaon asperrimus species originates from Sabah (a state in Borneo) and so is often called the Sabah stick insect. Like the New Guinea stick insects, Sabah stick insects need a dish of water in the cage, and also a Sand Pit (so the adult female can bury her eggs). Community Tubes are not required for Sabah stick insects. Unlike New Guinea stick insects which do best in a cage with two mesh sides, the Sabah stick insects need increased humidity and so do best in a cage with one mesh side. So if you are using the ELC cage for Sabah stick insects, then cover the fixed mesh side with cling film (attached to the outside). Do not mix these two species together.
We have hatched out some spare Pink Winged stick insects that my daughter's primary school have agreed to take after Easter (when they will be a lot bigger). The school is also keen to buy one of your stick insect cages, but I am not sure what the best way is to proceed with this? Can the school buy direct from you or should I buy it and try and get the money from the school? It would be the ELC bundle with the book.
Small-Life Supplies sell stick insect cages direct to schools. So if you let us know the contact person at the school, we can contact them and arrange it all, including delivery after Easter. We will also provide a receipted VAT invoice, which enables the school to reclaim 20% VAT on the purchase price. It is great that you have done this, enabling more children to benefit from seeing living stick insects in the classroom.
I was looking around the garden centre at the weekend and I saw some blackberry bushes for sale in the "British grown" section. However, the leaves seemed wafer thin and didn't look like the nutritious thick leaves that I gather from the disused railway line. So I didn't buy any. Presumably there are different types of blackberry bush?
Yes, there are lots of different types of bramble. The most nutritious type has the thick leaves and the two-tone colour of stem (purple and green), this wild bramble is often found in disused railway lines and green leaves are available all year. There are types of bramble that produce thin leaves, these are usually found in wooded areas and are not as nutritious for the stick insects. You were wise not to purchase the very thin leaved bramble plants.
Please can you tell me the humidity requirements of Eurycantha calcarata nymphs, age approx four months? And is the best substrate peat or paper?
Medium-sized nymphs and adult New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best in a tall cage with two ventilated sides, so their humidity requirements are the same as many other commonly kept species of stick insect. The best cage for housing New Guinea stick insects is the ELC cage, which can house up to six adult New Guinea stick insects. The best floor covering is paper, or the ELC pre-cut Liners. Substrates such as peat/soil/earth/sand are best avoided because the granules clog up the sticky pads on the feet of the stick insects and the surroundings soon become unhygienic because the stick insects are pooing onto damp substrate, leading to mould growth.
Could you tell me, please, what is the lifespan of Ramulus artemis?
Most stick insects live for about one year, but the Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii), and the New Thailand stick insect (Baculum sp), both of which are often mistakenly sold as Ramulus artemis, have longer lifespans, typically 14 months.
I was absolutely horrified to read in the Guardian that we are in the midst of the sixth extinction. Yet not a mention of this on the television news, who seem intent on filling our heads with tittle tattle and terrorism. We have to act now to stop the planet's destruction...can I join a group or do something?
Yes, the "burying the head in the sand" approach is really not what should be happening when faced with a crisis. You could contact the "Extinction Rebellion" group, who are organising campaigns to raise awareness of this incredibly serious situation and demanding action. Locally, you can plant trees and British grown plants to help the wildlife, and of course encourage others to do the same. As well as planting things, you can also oppose destruction of wild areas and pollarding of trees, both of which are very detrimental to the existing nature of the area.
I've just got my little boy some baby stick insects and I'm trying to find out the best food for them. I've bought some ivy as no privet available at the moment but I'm wondering if all types of ivy plants are safe?
Unfortunately, many potted ivy plants that are sold in shops have been grown in soil treated with pesticides. These chemicals are taken up by the plant's roots and disperse to the plant's leaves. An insect can't detect these chemicals and so when an insect eats the leaf, it consumes the poison and dies. So it is a really bad idea to buy potted ivy plants for your stick insects unless you can be certain they have been grown in organic compost with no harmful pesticides added. You don't say what species of stick insect you have, but if you have the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) (these are a very popular type) then sourcing bramble/blackberry leaves is the best option. You can find green leaves growing wild throughout the year in overgrown areas (woods, disused railway lines, canal embankments). Wallets of fresh cut bramble leaves are also available to buy from Small-Life Supplies.
Two of my son's Indian stick insects have strange growths on their abdomens. They seem like lumps of green jelly. Could you tell us what these are? I have attached two photos. We raised these insects from eggs and both stick insects have shed for the last time and are now in the adult stage, however, they have not started to lay eggs. Also, on the second insect, there is a small appendage above the green blob, could this be a new leg!?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are usually all females. But very rarely, 1 in every 10000 is a male. And even rarer still, estimated at 1 in every 20000, is a female stick insect with male characteristics. That is what you have. So the green jelly is the male genitalia. The brown bumpy looking abdomen is a typical characteristic. Such stick insects can sometimes still lay eggs, but the number is very low, often less than ten eggs (unlike a normal female who lays over 500 eggs). The stick insect in the second photo looks more capable of laying some eggs than the stick insect in the first photo. The small appendage is most unusual, it does look a bit like a foot- does it move or it is fixed?
My Indian stick insects have started to get pink bits where the front legs are hinged to the body. I have been told this means they are ready to lay eggs? Will this colour fade once they start to lay eggs?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) develop the red areas where you describe when they are fully grown and ready to lay eggs. So your Indian stick insects should be approximately 11cm long (this is the total length including the body and the two front legs outstretched). Indian stick insects lay eggs every day during the rest of their adult life, and retain this red colouration throughout their adult life.
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.
Just 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 not suitable.
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 delivery.
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?
Yes, 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.
I am 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.
Why is 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.
Yes, 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 excellent fertiliser).
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 (Heteropteryx dilatata).
I would like to visit the Saturday nature event in Cambridge in April and meet Small-Life Supplies! I am worried about the parking charges though because my friend said the parking charges are sky high in central Cambridge? I can't stand being rushed just because of extortionate parking charges!
Cambridge car parking charges are £12.10 for 4 hours, £21.20 for 5 hours, £26.80 all day. Fortunately there is an alternative, which we have tried and tested and so know works well. The easiest way to visit this free nature event is by using the Trumpington Park and Ride, located a few minutes away from junction 11 of the M11. Park your car in the huge open air carpark, postcode CB2 9FT. Parking is FREE for the day and there are free toilets. Look out for a large BLUE double decker bus, this leaves every ten minutes from the bus stop. Pay just £3 cash/contactless per person for a return ticket. This bus route is on a loop and, after about ten minutes, stops on the same street as the event venue! It's only a few minutes walk. You use the same stop to get on the bus again when you want to return. So you can enjoy a leisurely look around the exhibition, chat to the stall holders, have some refreshments etc, all for just £3 parking. Entry to the nature event is free.
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 email@example.com to discuss your requirements further or phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358.
Is there a scientific term for stick insect poo?
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.
I have always wanted a very long stick insect. Which are the longest ones that you breed?
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 Parapachymorpha zomproi.
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).
I am 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.
I am 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).
Can the 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?
It 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.
We have 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
Should my Indian stick insect eggs go in an airing cupboard or stay at room temperature?
Definitely room 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.
We have 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. Any tips?
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.
A 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.
Is the 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 dangerous.
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.
I have been a customer of Small-Life Supplies for years and I would really like to meet you in person. Do you do any tours?
Great to hear that you are a loyal customer. I have no plans to do tours at the moment, although people do keep asking about this. However, I will be exhibiting with Small-Life Supplies at the next insect and nature event to be held in central Cambridge in April 2019. This annual event is open to the public and is a great opportunity for customers to talk to me about stick insects. The event is about promoting the natural world to all and so is subsidised to enable all visitors to attend free of charge. It is open over two days, Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, the date will be announced soon.
What's the best food for my New Guineas during the winter? Someone said oak and ivy?
Green bramble/blackberry 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 weeks time.
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 quickest method.
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 look elsewhere?
Yes. The 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 harvest.
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.
I was 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 spot?
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 feelings?
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 correct.
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 email@example.com 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
Great, 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?
Yes, 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 eggs?
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.
What is 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.
My Indian stick insects are just becoming fully grown but they are smaller than 11cm? Is this heard of before?
Yes, 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).
With such 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 presenter.
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.
We saw your advert for the Kempton show and went, not quite knowing what to expect, but we all enjoyed it, so thank you! We did purchase a cage and New Guinea stick insects from you, they are all doing well and my son is taking good care of them. It is such a relief to know that we are doing things right for them, thank you for taking the time to answer all my son's questions at the event! Anyway, he is now compiling another list of questions, thankfully he is finding your book most informative and he has already said he would like to meet you again! So I was wondering if you will be at any more insect events happening early next year? We live in Saffron Walden but are happy to drive a couple of hours.
Good to hear that you enjoyed the Kempton insect event, it was a successful and enjoyable show, and a lot of existing and new customers visited the Small-Life Supplies stand. There is a general nature event in April 2019 in Cambridge that I am sure you and your son would enjoy. It has a more relaxed feel than the Kempton show and the venue is air-conditioned so it is more pleasant for everyone! That event is free for members of the public to visit, but you will need to pay to park your car at the pay and display carpark nearby (or catch the "park and ride" bus from Waitrose). Small-Life Supplies has a large stand at this popular event (open on a Friday and Saturday) and we will release more details nearer the time. It's convenient for you because Cambridge is only a 35 minute drive from Saffron Walden.
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 choices.
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!
Yes, 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 months.
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.
My 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 is spinning?
The British 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?
Most 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 insect).
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 insects wet).
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 ELC cages!
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.
Last 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 show?
Yes, Small-Life 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 cage bundle.
Indian stick 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.
I found this stick insect in my garden (in Singapore), please can you tell me if it is a male or a female?
The 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.
Why are 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 each colour.
The snow season is almost here, what can I feed my Indian stick insects?
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.
Do stick 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 insects.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Apart from female Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects, do any other stick insects curl their tails up to pretend they are scorpions to deter predators?
Both male 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.
I went 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 insects?
Small-Life 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.
I live 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 ladybirds".
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 water droplets.
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.
In 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 them!
Any update on when the AUC cage will be back in stock? My Thailand stick insects need more space!
The 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.
Indian 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 time.
Can 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.
I 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 and water.
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.
What type 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 so cute!
Thailand stick 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 bundle?
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 tank).
The 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 here
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?
You have 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 book.
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 weather).
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 markings.
Should a Black Beauty Stick Insect escape and successfully make it's way to the Wild (In Britain, say the South), what would the implications/threats be to our ecosystem? I'm assuming they wouldn't be able to survive in a colder climate? I am guessing this species could be a threat to our native inverts with their chemical weaponry?
The Peruvian Black Beauty stick insect (Peruphasma schultei) has "warning colouration" in the form of small red wings which it flashes at potential predators to deter them from eating it. So birds would be put off eating this insect. However, garden wasps are unlikely to be deterred by the visual display, but may be put off by the chemical spray emitted by this stick insect. Parasitic wasps kill huge numbers of insects and are very likely to attack this plump insect. And of course, apart from the summer months, the weather for the rest of the year in Southern England is simply too cold for Peruvian stick insects to survive. And even if it did survive during the summer months the threat on other invertebrates would be negligible. This is because Peruvian Black stick insects are very specific in what they eat, needing to eat privet (and not many other insects eat privet).
I just opened my garden waste wheelie bin and discovered a dead Thailand stick insect in there! I replaced the brambles yesterday and so it must have been accidentally thrown out with the dead bramble. I feel terrible, it's been so dreadfully hot, I think the poor thing must have suffocated?
Oh dear, the heat will have killed this stick insect. When it gets very hot, the waxy top layer of the actual exoskeleton of the stick insect starts to break down and once this starts to happen death is inevitable, usually within minutes. That is why it is so important to never leave stick insects in a parked car on a hot sunny day. At the moment, the temperature in some parts of England is exceptionally hot, around 30 degrees Celsius. It would be much hotter in a closed wheelie bin and so your stick insect didn't stand a chance.
I noticed the price of the QBOX Liners has gone up a lot, please tell me why?
Small-Life Supplies have now sold all our stocks of the very thin tissue QBOX Liners. The new QBOX Liners are made from cellophane and so actually work much better, because they are more robust. These new QBOX Liners are more expensive to produce, but are still great value for money at just £1.20 for a pack of twenty.
I liked the twitching Cinnabar caterpillar on your Instagram page. I have never seen these until this year, has the very hot weather played a part in boosting their numbers?
Yes, the very hot weather we have had in England recently has boosted wild populations of the Arctiidae family of moths. So that means there is a second generation of the Garden Tiger moths (Arctia caja) and record numbers of the orange and black banded Cinnabar caterpillars (Callimorpha jacobaeae).
I have Malaysian stick insect nymphs, I think the best cage for them would be the ELC cage rather than the AUC cage? Do I need to provide anything else for them?
The ELC bundle is the best set-up for Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata). The AUC cage is too airy for Malaysian stick insects and so not recommended for this species. Push a couple of bramble stems into the Sprig Pot of water and mist the leaves once a day, in the late afternoon or early evening. When the Malaysian stick insects are fully grown they need more water, and so place a Water Dish of cold tap water on the ELC Liner. The adult female Malaysian stick insect buries her eggs in sand and so you also need to insert the Sand Pit. Place this on the Liner, beside the fixed mesh side of the cage. The female will then be able to get a firm grip on the side of the cage whilst she buries her eggs in the dry sand.
Can you tell me what is going on with these two thorny stick insects? Blue protrusion from rear end. Photo attached.
Your photo is of two adult male Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus). The blue gel contains the genitalia of the male. This appears before mating and sometimes when the insect is dying. Your male has all his legs crossed which indicates he is dying. The other adult male has his foot on the dying insect to comfort him.
Do any insects eat stick insects?
Wasps eat stick insects.
I saw your Facebook piece about ragwort and how great it is for insects. Is that the one we shouldn't feed to horses?
Ragwort is fantastic for many insects, flying insects visit the yellow flowers, and the leaves are great for caterpillars including the British Cinnabar caterpillar and the British Garden Tiger caterpillar. The leaves are toxic to horses and humans when eaten in large quantities, but the leaves taste unpleasant which acts as a big deterrent to stop them being consumed. Nevertheless, there is a lot of hysteria about ragwort, which has resulted in "Friends of the Earth" compiling their "ragwort myth buster". The biggest threat to horses results from them eating dried ragwort. This happens when ragwort has been harvested with the grass to make hay. Dried ragwort remains toxic but loses its unpalatable taste, so the horse cannot detect anything is wrong. The sensible solution is to avoid harvesting ragwort with grass to make hay. The hysterical option of encouraging everyone to rip out all ragwort they see is absurd and very detrimental to insect life and the ecosystem.
My daughter is becoming interested in keeping insects, and I was having a look at your website. It wasnt clear to me whether you have a shop open to the public, or if all your trade is over the internet?
Unfortunately Small-Life Supplies does not have a showroom open to the public. However we do exhibit at various insect and nature events around the country, please ask to go on our email list if you wish to be invited to these events. We are always keen to give advice over the phone about the best stick insects and caterpillars to purchase, and so please phone 01733 203358 weekdays between 9am and 5.30pm. Cages and creatures are dispatched using express delivery services and live arrival is guaranteed.
I have black beauty stick insects and I was wondering if they can or like lemon beauty honeysuckle?
Peruvian Black stick insects (Peruphasma schultei), also called "black beauty" stick insects, do best on privet leaves (Ligustrum vulgare). The plant you mention is not related to privet. However, you could insert a sprig of this plant together with the privet sprigs into your cage and see if your stick insects are tempted to eat it. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we don't breed Peruvian Black stick insects because they can emit a chemical spray which can irritate other stick insects, cats and dogs, and sensitive people.
I had eight Lime Hawk moth caterpillars, but they have been looking sluggish recently and today five of them are dead (with squishy bodies) and the other three are barely moving. Could they have got too hot? Or could it have been the leaves, the last ones I gathered didn't look too great?
Caterpillars can be very sensitive to their surroundings and so if the conditions aren't right, it is easy for the whole lot to die suddenly, as you have found. I suspect a combination of factors is responsible here, the very hot weather does not favour hawkmoth larvae or lime trees, and so the insects will have been weakened and then have succumbed to a virus which has killed them all.
I know that blackbirds can eat stick insects but what about magpies? One of my Pink Winged stick insects has botched its final moult and I need to end its suffering. I have two resident magpies in the garden, hence the question.
Yes, a magpie will quickly gobble up an injured stick insect.
It is so hot, my New Guinea stick insects are eating so much food, can I buy some bramble from you?
The very hot weather has resulted in Small-Life Supplies suspending bramble deliveries by post, this is because it is too hot in the postal system for the bramble not to overheat in transit. However, Small-Life Supplies is still sending out bramble by courier, we are able to do this because more packaging is used and so we are able to insulate the bramble much better. We recommend moving your stick insects to a cooler room in the house, open the windows in the evening and close the curtains/blinds during the day, as these actions will reduce the room temperature. The hotter it is the more the New Guinea stick insects will eat and drink. Also, New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) can be fed on hazel leaves and/or rose leaves during the summer to help conserve your bramble stocks.
Do you sell cuttlefish? It's for my Giant African Land Snails.
Small-Life Supplies stopped using cuttlefish bone as a source of calcium for Giant African Land Snails over twenty years ago! This is because hen eggshells are a much better alternative, they have a much lower salt content and we noticed our snails did much better on eggshells that on cuttlefish. Simply break the egg, use the contents for cooking, and then rinse out the two halves of the empty eggshell under a tap of cold running water. Leave to dry, before placing the two halves of the eggshell on the Liner. The snails will stick their heads inside and gnaw at the interior of the shell. We have tested the snails on different brands of eggs, and, as expected, the snails prefer to eat the most expensive free range eggs bought from Waitrose.
We have a family of four Indian stick insects, their home is one of your excellent ELC cages. This week we have notice they seem a little off-colour, their tummies don't seem to be as plump as usual, could the heat be putting them off their food? It is 27 degrees Celsius, so much hotter than usual. Should I move them to the back room, which is 22 degrees Celsius?
Yes, move the cage of stick insects to the cooler room. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) suffer when the temperature exceeds 25 degrees Celsius, symptoms include increased thirst, reduced appetite, then aggression. You can mist the leaves with water a bit more generously so they have enough water to drink but you should notice a rapid improvement when they are moved to cooler surroundings.
Is freezing a humane way to euthanase adult stick insects?
No, it is incredibly cruel to freeze a stick insect to death. It is a very slow painful death and not a method that any compassionate person would advise. Unfortunately some ill informed people have suggested this method on-line and it is being blindly repeated without any consideration or knowledge on the suffering it would cause.
Can flea treatment for dogs kill stick insects?
Yes. So never use a flea spray in the same room as the cage of stick insects. And if you use the "Frontline" or similar liquid treatment on the back of the dog's neck, be sure to keep the dog well away from the room containing the stick insects for 48 hours. The same precautions apply to flea treatments for cats.
I want to sell my stick insects but I want them to go to a good home, so I was wondering do you take Stick Insects back? (As I bought the originals from you).
When selling stick insects, it is very important that they go to a good home and are properly looked after. To make this easier for conscientious sellers such as yourself, Small-Life Supplies can send the ELC cage bundles, and any extras, for example the book "Keeping Stick Insects" and Mister Curvy, all at a discount rate, to the conscientious seller. This enables the surplus stick insects to go to their new homes with the correct equipment, thereby maximising their chances of a happy life. This scheme works well if you think you can sell four or more sets, so please get in touch if you think you can do this.
My Pink Winged stick insects love to wedge their eggs in the mesh roof of my ELC cage. But one of them, called Philippa, has glued five eggs onto the cage Liner! What do I do with these ones?
It is essential that Pink Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) stick insect eggs remain glued to a surface, so they are anchored enabling the nymph to hatch successfully. So leave the eggs on the roof alone and they will start hatching in approx three months time. Use scissors to cut around Philippa's eggs on the Liner but leave a 2cm border around the eggs. This makes it easy for you to pick up the cut pieces and place them in a shallow pot within the cage, these eggs will also hatch in three months time.
Is it a good idea to mix stick insects and leaf insects?
No. Leaf insects can be aggressive and can attack stick insects. So keep them in separate ELC cages.
Saw on Twitter the image of the adult male stick insect mating with the female whilst she was eating her exuviae. Will she be OK?
Mating with a female that is still eating her cast off skin (exuviae) is definitely too early and very risky for the female. Adult male stick insects usually reach adulthood a few weeks before the females (the interval varies depending on the species). With some species the male is desperate to mate and can be seen beforehand mounting the large female sub-adults (called sixth instar nymphs). In these situations the adult male should be housed in a separate cage until the female has completed her last skin-change and regained her strength (this takes a couple of weeks). They can then be put together in the same cage and can continue to live together for the rest of their lives (usually another seven months). They will mate regularly during the rest of their lives. Allowing mating to occur too early can be fatal for the female.
Is it more important to have the mesh on the sides of the cage or on the top? I want the best enclosure for my new stickies!
Definitely the mesh on the sides. This is because that allows for good climbing surfaces and also provides the through draught ventilation that stick insects need. The myth that stick insects need a mesh lid to hang from results from them being kept in tanks with solid plastic or glass sides, hence the stick insects have no choice but to go to the roof because they are trying to get to the air and this is the only place (apart form the bramble ) that they can get a grip with their claws! The ELC cage is a proper stick insect cage, specially designed by Small-Life Supplies, and it has been in production since 2012. It is a tall cage (51cm high) with two mesh sides, so is ideal housing for many stick insects. ELC cages are precision made in the UK.
My New Guinea havent shed in 1 1/2 months and Im beginning to think that they have reached adulthood? The females abdomens have started swelling and I put the sandpit into the cage, in case they wanted to lay. I havent checked it yet although they havent seemed to show any interest.
Yes, your New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are adults, and the abdomens of the females are swelling because they are filling with eggs. You need to place the Sandpit so that is is touching the white mesh side of the ELC cage. And always keep it in the same place so the females know where to lay their eggs. To get them started, you can place the adult female on the mesh side with her abdomen pushed into the sand. Depending on how intelligent she is, she may start to bury an egg straight away, or you may have to repeat the process. If she hasn't got the idea after the third attempt, give up and try again tomorrow. The sand must be dry and not clumping together.
One of my baby New Guinea stick insects lost a leg, I don't know why as the others are all fine. It has a bent antenna too. Anyways, it moulted last night and lost two more legs. Is there a reason why it is struggling so?
When stick insect eggs hatch, most of the babies (called first instar nymphs) should be healthy and strong. But there is always a small percentage that are sickly. These stick insects are more prone to losing legs, are undersized and may also have a bent abdomen and/or bent antennae. Unfortunately they continue to struggle, and may lose another leg or more. At Small-Life Supplies, we separate these weaker stick insects from the rest so we do not breed from them, many do not reach adulthood anyway because of their ill health.
What colour is stick insects' blood?
My daughter has been wanting stick insects for ages. Her birthday is in July and so I'll get her some. Apart from the ELC cage and the Indian stick insects is there anything else I need? There is a large bramble patch near the leisure centre where we have gathered blackberries from in the past, so getting hold of the leaves won't be a problem.
It's best to select the ELC bundle rather than just the ELC cage, because the bundle also includes the cage Liners (needed to keep the stick insects in clean surroundings), the Sprig Pot (fill with cold tap water and insert a couple of bramble stems with leaves attached (sprigs) , each about 30cm long), and also the Cleaning Sponge (it's recommended to wash the cage about once a month with warm soapy water and then rinse well, this keeps the cage looking nice). You'll also need a plant sprayer, if you don't have one already, we can supply the Mister Curvy. You use this to lightly mist the bramble leaves with water every day or so, this enables the stick insects to drink water from the droplets on the leaves. And of course, detailed information on the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) and other commonly kept species is in the book "Keeping Stick Insects" by Dorothy Floyd. A birthday message can be included in the book if you request this when you order.
My two British Garden Tiger moths emerged yesterday, I have been blessed with having both genders, and saw them mating last night! This morning they are resting separately in the TTQ cage, still looking beautiful. I shall release them later this afternoon. I noticed some yellow staining on the white mesh of the TTQ cage but on closer inspection I realise that it is not a stain but a large cluster of tiny eggs, so neatly arranged, side by side! What should I do with them?
Congratulations! It has been a really good year for our British Garden Tiger moths and it is great that you had both a male and a female because when we send out the caterpillars we are unable to determine which is which. And yes, releasing the moths outside between 5pm and 6pm is the best time to do this (but delay release if it is raining). It is best to leave the eggs where they have been glued (so don't try to scrape them off). When they hatch, you can rear some caterpillars in QBOXES or HUA Pots, and release the rest outdoors in a neglected area which has dock and dandelion leaves.
I moved house not long ago, and have had to switch feeding my Indian stick insects their usual privet diet to whatever I can find for them in our new, privet-free area. I have been giving them what I thought was bramble, foraged from a nearby park, but worryingly two have died in the last fortnight and although they were probably almost two years old, I'm concerned the change in diet contributed. I've done some research and found that the plant I gave them is actually Chinese bramble (Rubus tricolor) which has soft green leaves but a very furry stem. Do you know if this plant is harmful to them? I've found some regular bramble elsewhere but I wondered if there are any other suitable alternatives (apart from ivy, which they tend not to eat and I find difficult to keep alive in the sprig pot) - such as nettles?
Your stick insects have most likely died from old age, getting to nearly two is very good considering most Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) live about one year. The Chinese bramble is OK for Indian stick insects, we have used this with no adverse results. It is a ground covering plant and so you need to be a bit careful when gathering it to select leaves that no dogs have urinated on. This is because if the dog is taking medicine, this can be urinated out and contaminate the leaves. Regular bramble is fine for Indian stick insects, also hazel leaves, rose leaves and Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. Ivy is sometimes eaten but is generally not popular. Nettles are not suitable.
I got some New Guinea nymphs from you a few months ago and they have just become fully grown, I have saved their skins! Anyhow, the males seem a bit skittish, is this normal?
Yes, it is completely normal for New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) that have recently become adults to be a bit skittish. They are just getting used to their new size, which is very large! So don't be alarmed if they topple over or suddenly walk very quickly, they are just getting used to how their new body size works. In a few weeks they will have settled down. It's best not to handle them too much when they are very young adults, but when they are behaving more calmly it is a good idea to take them out of the cage regularly so they can have a long walk across the table or the floor. When doing this, avoid smooth shiny surfaces because the stick insects will slip, so select a carpet or wooden table rather than a polished floor or glass table.
What is the best humidity level for Extatosoma tiaratum ?
Extatosoma tiaratum is the Latin species name of the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect. These are large stick insects which do best in cages with low humidity, so well ventilated cages are best. From birth these stick insects can be kept in the ELC cage (ideally with the mesh lid). Larger nymphs and adults do well in these surroundings too. If you have more than six adult Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects you can keep them in the AUC cage. It is best to take the adult males out of the cage so they can fly across the room, this should be done at least once a week.
Could I keep your caterpillars in a greenhouse?
It would probably get too hot in a greenhouse for the caterpillars, so it would be better to keep them in your home instead. The caterpillars that Small-Life Supplies supply are sent with suitable housing, this is usually the HUA Pot or QBOX for small caterpillars, with the option of purchasing the TTQ cage for the larger caterpillars.
I received some New Guinea stick insects from Small-Life Supplies and I LOVE them! I researched more information on-line and one site says "Males can fight for mates if there arent enough females and this can lead to injury or even death." This got me worried cos I have two pairs at the moment but if one female dies I don't want the males to fight to the death! Should I get a another female just in case?
There is a lot of incorrect "information" written about New Guinea stick insects on-line, that just gets blindly repeated by others with zero knowledge of these fascinating creatures. One myth that keeps getting repeated is how supposedly aggressive they are, when the fact is they are only aggressive if they are being maltreated, abused, underfed, deprived of water etc. So the suggestion that males "fight for females" is wrong. Small-Life Supplies supply New Guinea stick insects in pairs, this is because they like to pair up and so we send out ones that are together as a couple in the cage. In the unlikely event of a female dying prematurely, then her mate might die soon too (effectively "committing suicide" if they were close), or he might carry on for several more months (if they were not that close). In the latter case, the remaining two males wouldn't fight.
My Garden Tiger caterpillar has made a cocoon in the egg carton as expected. I watched it happen. Do I remove the leaves now? I have dock leaves in there but they have wilted and there's a big blob of white "fur" on them, could this be mould?
Yes, the white furry blob is mould. So you need to quickly remove all the leaves (but first check that none are attached to the cocoon). This is because it's really important to stop the mould from spreading. When keeping caterpillars and pupae, you need to keep them in clean surroundings and act immediately if you see any mould because this will make them ill. Now that your caterpillar has transformed into a pupa, it does not eat leaves anymore and so remove the leaves that are there and don't put any more in the container. Make sure that the container which houses the egg carton is ventilated, so if you are using a shoebox you can punch some holes in the sides or spread some netting over the top.
I have successfully reared most of my Achrioptera fallax nymphs from ova to adult. Most of them are post adult moult about 2 weeks to 1.5 months. However, this past week I have lost a few females. They suddenly turn very limp and deflated. Even their neck area get bent and hallowed. I did see one spot of black sticky goo in the cage which came out of the rear of one female that died. I did read something online regarding a virus affecting females. They all have been unusually thirsty since turning to adults. Most females and males are sitting apart doing nothing.
Oh dear, these symptoms are very similar to the virus which can affect the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). The classic signs are the deflated body, excessive thirst and the sticky black goo. Stick insects affected by this virus can die within days, although some stagger on for a week or two, sometimes their bodies are so flat they can double back over themselves. If you have any females that are not showing these symptoms it's important to move them into a separate cage with the males and put them in a different part of your house. Unfortunately all you can do for the afflicted females is to give them extra water to drink as this will ease their final days. If you try keeping this species again, it is really important not to overcrowd them as they grow. This is because overcrowding causes stress and stressed stick insects are more likely to succumb to a virus. They also do best in large airy cages rather than tanks with solid sides because these do not provide enough air-flow.
I received some Indian stick insects and was told by the seller that they are "size L3". What does this mean? I have looked at the stick insects you list and you just say "nymphs" or "adults".
The L1, L2, L3 etc system refers to the larval stage of development and so is used for describing how old larvae are. So, for example when a caterpillar hatches it is in its first larval stage and so is called L1. When the caterpillar (larva) sheds its skin for the first time it enters its second larval stage and so is L2. And so the process continues until the caterpillar is fully grown and becomes a pupa. Stick insects are never larvae and so it is not appropriate to use the L1, L2, L3 etc system. When a stick insect hatches it is called a first instar nymph. After a few weeks, the stick insects sheds its skin and becomes a second instar nymph. After six skin-changes the stick insect is an adult. Small-Life Supplies sells medium sized stick insect nymphs, so these are usually fourth or fifth instar nymphs and so are good size.
This morning I saw my first newborn Pink Winged stick insect under the ELC cage lid! Is she is OK to stay in there with the adults, one must be her mum? And my fella is paranoid about her squeezing through the holes in the lid, is this likely? She's just chilling at the mo.
Congratulations! You will probably see more hatchlings over the coming days and weeks. Tell your husband not to worry, young Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) like to rest a lot, initially under the lid of the ELC cage and, when they are larger, on the mesh sides. Their legs stick out and so they do not even attempt to try to wriggle out through the holes! Baby stick insects are often thirsty and so this evening remember to lightly mist the bramble leaves with water so the stick insects can have a drink from the water droplets. Be prepared that your adult stick insects are nearing the end of their lives, the mother often dies soon after her eggs start to hatch. But in the meantime they can all live happily together.
Which would be the best cage for Macleays Spectre stick insects? Mine are about 2cm long.
The ELC cage is ideal for housing Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) from birth up to adulthood. When they hatch, these stick insects are very active and like to run around, so need plenty of space to do this. And Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects require airy surroundings throughout their lives, so the ELC cage is ideal. If you are mixing Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects with other types of stick insect, choose the standard ELC cage. However, if you have a cage just for this species, then ask for the ELC cage with the mesh lid because this provides even more climbing surfaces and extra ventilation, both of which suit this species.
We got Indian Stick insect eggs and the ELC cage from you in Dec 2017 and successfully kept the stickies and hatched a further generation! However for some reason they are dying, with dark ends to their legs, then going limp. My son has been really sad about it. We change the food regularly, do spray with water most days and have got bramble leaves away from the road in our local wood/park, so hoping no pesticides. I cleaned the cage and the water sprayer, but not with detergent. Is there a chance they may have got a fungal or viral infection? Or it has been warmer of late so am hoping they did not get too hot (Edinburgh tho!)
There is currently a problem with the bramble in some areas because this year the new growth has appeared but all the old leaves have died off. The pale soft leaves are not very nutritious for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and this species is affected more adversely by this than the other species of stick insect. So it's best to temporarily switch to feeding Indian stick insects with rose leaves or hazel leaves (these are new growth but are at a more advanced stage and so are more nutritious). Of course once the bramble leaves have darkened a bit and are thicker and not floppy, you can resume feeding Indian stick insects with bramble leaves again. Also, it's important not to expose Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) to temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, so if the room is likely to get hot in the sun, then best move the stick insects to a cooler room. At Small-Life Supplies we aim to keep our Indian stick insects at a daytime temperature of 18 -20 degrees Celsius and a night time temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. And be careful not to drench the cage with water, a light misting of the leaves every evening or so is all that is needed. Try not to get the actual stick insects wet.
I went to feed my British Garden Tiger caterpillar this morning and saw that it was already spinning threads around itself and the dock leaf! Will it be OK on the side of the HUA Pot? I am reluctant to try and move it because it has spun so much of its cocoon already.
When the British Garden Tiger caterpillar is fully grown, it spins a cocoon, made from white threads, around itself. When this is complete, the caterpillar sheds its skin for the last time within this cocoon and transforms into a brown smooth pupa. During the next few weeks, massive changes occur inside the pupa as it metamorphosises into a moth. Usually the British Garden Tiger caterpillars choose to pupate (become a pupa) on the ground, but sometimes one decides to spin its cocoon on the side or rim of the HUA Pot. The cocoon is securely attached to the side of the HUA Pot and so can be left there. However, please replace the lid with a piece of netting or kitchen roll secured with an elastic band. This is because the pupa inside the cocoon needs some ventilation, and it would be too stuffy if you left the lid on the HUA Pot.
I am buying the ELC bundle and 6 adult Thailand stick insects for my boyfriend's 30th birthday. I'll be getting the parcel delivered to work, so it'll be a surprise. How long can they stay in the package? I mean do I need to open it up when it arrives (this will be awkward as it's an open plan office), or would they be OK till I got home (around 6.30pm)?
It's best to open the top of the parcel and lift out the top packaging so light can enter. The stick insects are used to darkness at night and light during the day and so are calmer if they are not kept in the dark for too long. But leave them in the packaging, they will be fine to stay packaged until you get home, they have plenty of air and food. When you get home, it's best to transfer a pack of three Thailand stick insects into the cage first and then wait an hour before unpacking the next set of three. This is because Thailand stick insects become rather excitable after a journey and are likely to run out of the cage, so it's easier to transfer three in one go rather than attempt to transfer all six at once. They will calm down during the next week as they get used to their new surroundings. It's a good idea to lightly mist the bramble leaves with water because stick insects are usually thirsty after a journey.
Do bees sleep?
Yes. Like other animals they need to rest and to sleep. Some species of bee even hold onto a stalk firmly with their mouthparts and rest, suspended, letting their feet dangle freely. One of the mistakes made by some firms selling the services of bees to pollinate plants, is that they work the bees too hard and do not allow them enough time to rest. This contributes to premature deaths of the bees.
My Garden Tigers have been a delight and got really big! But they now seem to be shrinking! They are still alive but have stopped eating too. There are some strands of fibres stuck just below the rim of the HUA Pots.
Your British Garden Tiger caterpillars are preparing to pupate (become pupae), this is the next stage of their lifecycle. Have a close look at them and see if they have spun any cocoon around themselves. If not, gently transfer them to a cardboard hen egg carton and place in a shoebox with twigs and dead leaves, so they can spin their cocoons there. The fibres on the HUA Pot are just some "test spins", a caterpillar often spins a few threads in a location to assess whether it will adhere securely. The side of the HUA Pot is actually a good surface for the cocoon to stick to, so your caterpillars may have already started to spin their cocoons in earnest (this process takes several hours). If this is the case, then leave them alone to complete this task.
Thought my caterpillar had died but then realised it was it's shed skin. So hairy! So fascinating! I have never seen a sloughed off caterpillar skin before. Thank you Small-Life Supplies. Will you be selling more caterpillars soon? The one I have is the British Garden Tiger.
All caterpillars grow by shedding their skins at regular intervals. You don't really notice a shed skin from a smooth bodied caterpillar because it is scrunched up and so not that obvious. But for a very hairy caterpillar, it is a different matter! The shed skin is still scrunched up but because there are so many dark long hairs attached, it is really obvious. British Garden Tiger caterpillars have dark black and brown bodies with long hairs and so you easily spot the discarded outer skin on the floor of the HUA Pot. And yes, Small-Life Supplies breed various species of butterflies and moths, and so more of our caterpillars should be ready in the next few weeks. Caterpillar eggs all hatch at once and then the caterpillars grow very quickly , so this means that each type of caterpillar kit is only available for a very short time!
Please could you advise if the bluey/green gel coming out of the back end of one of our 3 stick insects is normal? Really have no experience with keeping stick insects, but this does look right to me. Noticed it whilst clean out the tank, not sure how long its been there.
You have an adult male stick insect. What you describe is his genitalia! You don't say what species of stick insect you have, but if you are seeing this in the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) this is very rare. This is because Indian stick insects reproduce by parthenogenesis (virgin birth) because they are all females. However 1 in 10000 is a male and even rare than that is the occurrence of individuals which have both male and female components. If you have the latter, the genitalia are always on show, unlike pure males which only bring out this equipment for mating purposes.
Does Small-Life Supplies sell potted food plants for stick insects? I own Pink Winged stick insects and have just moved to a new property which has a small front garden which I can put plants in.
Yes, Small-Life Supplies sells potted bramble/blackberry plants and also potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants. All our plants are grown specially without the use of pesticides in the soil and so are safe for the stick insects to eat. They sell out really quickly and so we have waiting lists, please contact email@example.com and ask for your name to be added to the waiting list(s). Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) eat both bramble/blackberry leaves and eucalyptus leaves. They also eat rose leaves and so you could investigate planting a wall-climbing next to your house if it has a north facing wall. You can check which way is facing north by opening the "compass" setting on smartphone. It's important to purchase a rose that is over one year old , this is the time needed for the pesticides added to the soil to breakdown and become ineffective. And ensure that the rose is British grown and has not had any "growth inhibitor chemicals" added , because these are designed to limit the growth of the plant which is the opposite of what you need.
I have four Indian stick insects in one of your ELC cages and they're doing great. I am going on a road trip in June, staying with friends and family around Devon. I want to take my stick insects with me, what is the best way to do this? Should I leave them in the cage or put them in a smaller box when driving?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) travel fine in a car, and so there's no problem taking your stick insects with you. It's best to keep them in the ELC cage for travelling, just place the cage on a seat and secure with the seatbelt. And put some loose bramble leaves on the cage Liner so the stick insects can see some food (you can set up the Sprig Pot with the bramble sprigs when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to lightly mist the leaves when you arrive because stick insects are usually thirsty after a journey). One thing you must be aware of though, is the weather . If it is hot and sunny, when you stop for a break you must park in the shade because this will help stop the car from getting too hot inside. Try to keep the break as short as possible and open the windows as soon as you return to the vehicle to cool it down. Also, when you arrive at your hosts, be sure to place the stick insects in a room that does not contain any fragrances such as plug-in air-fresheners, because these products can harm stick insects (as well as potentially giving sensitive people bad headaches).
I have won a school prize for 100 pounds to spend on our Pet Club! We already have an ELC cage with Thailand stick insects and they have had babies, so I figured two more ELC cages (at 49.99) and Liners (4.99) would be perfect. But that costs more than I have to spend. Is there any possibility you could help me out, maybe you have some "seconds" ? Hope you can help!
At Small-Life Supplies, we manufacture ELC cages in large numbers and so, yes, from time to time, we do have some sub-standard ones that are new but have scratches or marks on the plastic. These cages are sold at 10 pounds less than the normal cages. So, if you wanted two of those, and two packs of ELC cage Liners, the price would be 99.93 pounds including delivery, so could be funded by your prize money. Congratulations on your win and choosing to use it to give your Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) more space.
I have a question about Thailand stick insects. Can I leave the eggs on the floor of the cage and wait for them to hatch there? It'll be the ELC cage I'll be getting, along with the Thailand stick insects.
Like other stick insects, Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) need to be kept in clean surroundings and so that is why we recommend lining the floor of the ELC cage with a disposable ELC cage Liner, and replacing this Liner weekly. This is what we practice in our stick insect breeding facility. So, no, don't leave the frass (droppings/poo/faeces) and eggs to accummulate on the floor of the ELC cage because this will lead to unhygienic conditions. Tip some of the contents of the Liner into a HUA Pot and wait for the eggs to hatch in two months time. Don't separate the eggs from the frass, because Thailand stick insect eggs hatch best if they are stored with some frass. But do count how many eggs you are saving because it's really important not to save to many eggs or you may get too many stick insects to cope with.
Your British Garden Tiger caterpillars looking amazing! My question is about what they eat. I have dandelion and dock leaves in my garden, also buttercup and herb Robert. Would these caterpillars eat all of these leaves?
British Garden Tiger caterpillars (Arctia caja) eat leaves of various weeds. Out of the ones you list, dandelion and dock are their favourite, followed by herb Robert. Ours are refusing to eat buttercup leaves. But what they like to eat can vary from year to year. For example, last year when we reared these caterpillars, they ate buddleia leaves, but this generation is refusing to eat buddleia leaves!
What would be a good number of stick insects to start off with in one of your ELC cages? My teenage son thought ten would be good but I said I'd need to ask the experts! We have decided on the Indian type.
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are a great choice, they are easy to keep and feed. Small-Life Supplies sells Indian stick insects in packs of four. At the moment medium-sized nymphs are being dispatched, this means they are about half grown and so you can look forward to seeing them dramatically increase in size over the coming months. The ELC cage can accommodate up to twenty Indian stick insects, so if your son really wants ten stick insects, then that is fine and there is plenty of room in the ELC cage to house all ten. Most people choose to start with four stick insects, a small number means they are easier to tell apart and be assigned names. And you also have spare capacity in the cage which means you can add four of another species as your son's interest grows.
How large are the Pink Winged stick insects that you sell? Are they large enough to definitely not get out of the holes in the ELC cage?
Concern about Pink Winged stick insects wriggling out through ventilation holes in ELC cages is mis-placed. Indeed Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) should be housed in the ELC cage from birth because they thrive in airy surroundings. These baby stick insects, called first instar nymphs, are relatively large at 4cm long and usually rest underneath the lid of the ELC cage. They show no inclination to try and squeeze through the holes in the sides of the ELC cage and wouldn't be able to squeeze their long legs through these holes even if they tried. The Pink Winged stick insect nymphs that Small-Life Supplies sell have completed several skin-changes and so are roughly the length of your middle finger, so approx 9cm to 10cm. These larger nymphs usually rest on the mesh sides of the ELC cage.
Don't caterpillars become butterflies? The council are banging on about caterpillars in the park becoming moths and harming people? But don't moths live in old carpets and pullovers?
Caterpillars can develop into butterflies or moths, depending on the species. The vast majority of caterpillars become moths, this is is because there are many more species of moth than there are butterfly. Some species of moth are found in old carpets and clothes, they are attracted to the old wool. But most moths are flying around outside. Most moths fly at night, but the colourful species of moth fly during the day. Many people mistake these beautiful insects for butterflies, but there is an easy way to tell them apart - butterflies have a knobble on the end of their antennae but moths do not.
I had three Australian Macleays stick insects. I didn't want to poison them with the new growth of bramble so I gave them some leaves from a bush in my garden. (I have no idea what type of bush this is). They ate these leaves for a week but are now all dead.
Stick insects need to eat particular types of leaves, most stick insects do best on bramble leaves. At this time of year, the very small bramble shoots should be snipped off because it is these tiny leaves that can harm stick insects. But as soon as the leaf measures 3cm or greater, it is safe to be consumed by stick insects. So you should have looked for the pale green bramble leaves that are over 3cm long and given sprigs of these to your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). Or, this species will also eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves and rose leaves. Or, if you can't find anything suitable, you have the option of buying Fresh Cut Bramble from Small-Life Supplies. Unfortunately, by only giving your stick insects the leaves from the unknown bush in the garden, they have eaten these in desperation because no other food was available. And predictably, because those leaves were not nutritionally suitable for the stick insects, they have all died.
Is there a correct term for stick insect poo?
"Frass" is the correct term for the poo/droppings/faeces of stick insects. Like most insects, stick insect frass is dry. Stick insect frass has a very low odour too, so there should be no unpleasant smell emanating from the cage Liner.
I am helping my friend whose daughter sadly lost her life to cancer. Stephanie was so keen on the environment, and so we're trying top arrange something fitting for the memorial service. Obviously releasing balloons is a definite no no, Stephanie already told us that balloons don't go to heaven, they choke sea creatures and get tangled with birds. And she knew releasing doves was a death sentence for them, so obviously that's a no no too. I wondered if a butterfly release would be any better?
So sorry to hear about Stephanie's untimely death. She was right about the balloons and the doves. Unfortunately a mass release of butterflies will not end well for the butterflies. This is because hungry birds can easily spot a large number of butterflies and will fly over and eat them. So I am sure Stephanie would not want that. Another option is to release a much smaller number of butterflies, four is the maximum number to release in one place. For best results, this should be done about 5pm , when it isn't raining, and in an area with flowers and trees. So it is the sort of ad-hoc release that is best done privately when the conditions are right. I'd recommend doing this separately from the memorial service, if that has been arranged at a particular date and time.
My thirteen year old daughter is fascinated by stick insects but she is getting some abuse on-line by "friends" calling her weird. We're trying to ignore such comments, but I wondered if you could let me know if any "cool" people keep stick insects?
One of the great things about stick insects is that they appeal to people of all ages and occupations. And yes, Small-Life Supplies does have some well-known customers that are fashionable and cool. But it would be illegal for me to tell you who they are, due to legal protection afforded to them via data protection! In a way it is a pity they don't speak about their interest in stick insects , but of course why would they? So you can reassure your daughter that keeping stick insects doesn't mean you are weird. And she needs to ignore these "friends" who are insulting her though ignorance.
My daughter had a stick insect kit given to her a couple of years ago (from a different company). The kit only gave us a small, airy, ventilated (mesh), what I can only describe as a laundry basket ! Only one egg hatched and survived, we now have eggs from her. She is the Indian stick insect. Should I put the eggs in something unventilated or wait until they've hatched? Surely they need some air?
An airy net enclosure is not a suitable environment for hatching Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus), and explains why you only had one egg hatch. Kept in the correct conditions, Indian stick insect eggs have a very high hatching rate of more than 95%. So you need to keep your Indian stick insect eggs in an unventilated container, either the QBOX or HUA Pot, these are what we use and recommend. There is enough air in these containers for the eggs to develop successfully. And there is enough air in there to house several babies (called first instar nymphs) when they hatch. House the nymphs in there until they are a month old, at which stage they require airy surroundings and so should be transferred to the ELC cage. Fresh air enters the QBOX and HUA Pot every time you insert a fresh wet bramble leaf.
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