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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 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 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, can’t grip or climb, won’t eat or drink, hasn’t shed in very long, his antennae are curled, his legs are curled but he’s still alive. I don’t know what’s going on, or if he’s dying, I’ve only had him under a year, he’s 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 haven’t 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 there’s 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

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 it’s 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.

I’ve had a visitor from a butterfly or moth on my basil plant a few weeks ago. I’ve 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 wasn’t 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 haven’t shed in 1 1/2 months and I’m 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 haven’t checked it yet although they haven’t 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 aren’t 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 it’s 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 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.

I have a large number of Indian stick insect nymphs that have hatched. The school summer fayre is in June and I was thinking of selling them there. Would it be possible for me to bulk buy twelve HUA Pots from you? And six of the stick insect books, signed by the author as well? Any money raised will go to the school fund.
Yes, it can be a good idea to sell your surplus stick insects at the school summer fayre, it is important though that your stall is indoors or in the shade (so the stick insects don't overheat in the sunshine). And yes, Small-Life Supplies can send you HUA Pots for your baby stick insects and "Keeping Stick Insects" books signed by the author, at a discount rate, so you can make some money for the school fund. We'll also include some free colour stick insect care leaflets for your display. It's important to provide a care sheet when you sell living creatures.

This morning I looked at my New Guinea stick insects and was shocked to see that one of them is trying to shed his skin but there's a big blob of green gunge where his front leg should be. There are six legs in the old skin, five are empty legs but the front left one is his original leg. The end of his body is still in the skin. What should I do? Will he die? His name is Timothy.
Oh dear, sometimes stick insects mess up their skin-changes despite being kept in the correct conditions. Unfortunately Timothy was unable to pull his new leg out of the old skin and so that is why he has discarded the leg. Usually when a stick insect throws off a leg it is a clean process with no mess, but if this happens during a skin-change (ecdysis) , there is blood loss (and their blood is green). You should leave Timothy alone to complete the skin-change, all that is left for him to do is pull out the rest of his abdomen. If he hasn't done this in an hour's time , you will need to intervene and gently pull the old skin off (wetting it if necessary to ease this process). Like other species of stick insect, a New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) nymph can cope with just five legs and so Timothy won't die because of this. The front legs are the most important legs because they help to push off the old skin during skin-changes, so his next skin-change will be more difficult for him to do, but not impossible.

I'd love some stick insects but I have a cat. Are your ELC cages able to withstand a cat attack? What would happen if one escaped?
The ELC cage is made from strong plastic and so can withstand a cat tapping on the side with its paw. There have always been free roaming cats at Small-Life Supplies, some cats take more of an interest in the stick insects than others. If they are interested, they sit by the mesh side of the ELC cage looking at the stick insects. None of our cats have ever taken the lid off the ELC cage, so the stick insects have always been safe. On the odd occasion that a stick insect has made a break for it, we have been alerted to this by a cat finding it and tapping it cautiously with its paw.

We acquired a group of adult stick insects and eggs several months ago. We presumed they were Indian stick insects until I realised we actually seemed to have Annam stick insects. I intend to hatch the eggs we do have, if I can. One keeper on a facebook group says the eggs take about 5 months to hatch? Have you any experience with these at all please?
Yes, I have reared these stick insects for many years but don't have them anymore. The correct name is Vietnamese stick insect (Baculum extradentatum) and yes, their eggs hatch in approx five months. There is a similar species from Thailand (Baculum thaii), the female also has horns on her head, but the Thailand eggs are a different shape from the Vietnamese eggs and hatch much faster, usually after two months. Another difference is that Vietnamese stick insects have bodies of a rougher texture than Thailand stick insects. But a really unusual feature of the Vietnamese stick insects is the colour of their shed skins. Most shed stick insect skins are cream/white but the shed skins of Vietnamese stick insects have a pink tinge. Thailand stick insects are much more common than Vietnamese (formerly called Annam) stick insects, so it's worth checking that you do have these. If you email me a photo of the adult female, I'll be able to let you know.

I just bought a stick insect cage from the charity shop. The sides of the cage are a little stained and so please can you tell me what's best to clean them up? It says ELC cage 2013 on the label. I need some mats for it, do the ones you sell now fit this old model?
The most effective cleaning agent for this is the "Parazone Bleach Plus stain remover" which is sold in plastic silver bottles with a pink top in hardware stores and discount shops. There are a range of Parazone bleach products, sold in different coloured bottles, and so you need to look hard for this particular one because it is harder to find than the others. Clean the cage with warm water (not hot) and use the "Parazone Bleach Plus stain remover" on a soft cleaning sponge to rub off the stains. Rinse well with cold tap water and dry with a soft cotton tea towel. The ELC cages have been the same size since they were launched in 2012 and so the ELC cage Liners we sell now will still fit the an ELC cage manufactured in 2013. It's also worth looking underneath the cage, there should be five black feet (one at each corner and one in the centre). Because this is an old cage, the central foot may have been knocked off, but we can send you another one to stick back in its place. We can include this free of charge when we send you the Liners.

At last some sun! Any news on the caterpillars?
Small-Life Supplies does have some British caterpillars that have hatched. However they are tiny, and so are not large enough to send yet. They should be ready to send in a few weeks time. Details will be posted on-line as soon as they're ready to send out.

Is there such a thing as an active stick insect?
Different species of stick insect have different behaviours. And within a species, the activity of the individual stick insect varies with how old it is. Probably the most active stick insects are the adult Thailand stick insect (Baculum thaii) males. At rest they can vigorously rock from side to side, "dancing" as they try to mimic a twig blowing in the wind. And they like to walk quickly and can soon walk up a wall to the ceiling given the opportunity!

Thank you so much for the heads up about the Cambridge event last Friday. We enjoyed it so much, and there was a lot more to see than we were expecting! It was interesting talking to you about your eucalyptus plants and I remember you saying yours are grown without pesticides, but what was the other thing you leave out - it's slipped my mind what, but I know it was important!
Glad you enjoyed the event, a wide range of nature topics are covered and so it's well worth visiting this annual event. Our potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants are grown without pesticides in the soil, so this means that there is no risk of harmful chemicals being taken up by the stem and being distributed throughout the leaves. Our potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants are also grown without "growth inhibitor" added. Amazingly, many commercially available eucalyptus plants now have growth inhibitors added, these are added to stop the plants from growing! Obviously if you are buying a plant as a foodsource for stick insects, you want it to grow as fast as possible, and so it's very important that it doesn't have "growth inhibitor" added.

Help please as we have reached a stalemate here! My six year old wants some stick insects and so we have been looking at your website and decided on the New Guinea ones. But then Grandpa stepped in and showed her images of the bright green Jungle Nymph stick insect, so she now wants those instead because they are more colourful. But I wanted to get everything from Small-Life Supplies, I don't suppose you sell Jungle Nymphs? We will be investing in the ELC cage obvs.
Jungle Nymph stick insects are usually called Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata). When young they are beige, the females only become bright green when they are older. They are very slow growing. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) can be a bright mottled green when young and then brown when adults. However, for a six year old, New Guinea stick insects are the far better choice. This is because young New Guinea stick insects are much more active than young Malaysian stick insects. And the adult New Guinea stick insects are much easier to handle than adult Malaysian stick insects. Small-Life Supplies does supply Malaysian stick insects but we do not recommend them as being suitable for young children, this species should only be kept by experienced stick insect keepers.

I keep New Guinea stick insects and saw that they can eat hazel leaves? I live in Birmingham. Where do I find hazel leaves, do you post them out like you do the bramble?
Hazel leaves grow on hazel trees, and are not visible in the winter because hazel trees are deciduous. Hazel trees grow best in damp places, so you can plant one in your garden (and water it well), or look for established hazel trees growing by river banks or in marshy areas. If you are able to plant your own hazel tree, you can apply to receive one for free, under the new initiative called the "The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy". This is a scheme aimed at the general public in the UK to encourage planting of easy to grow trees in gardens. Because hazel leaves need so much water, the cut sprigs should be stood in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water as soon as possible. We do not send "Fresh Cut hazel leaves" because the leaves would wilt too much in transit. In contrast, bramble requires less water and so our "Fresh Cut bramble leaves" still arrive fresh in the wallet, even after being in transit.

If entomology is the study of insects what is the name for the study of spiders?

I have a newly hatched Achrioptera fallax stick insect that became a pet by accident. I am doing my best to give it the perfect environment to grow into a healthy adult as it is a sentient being. I’ve bought an untreated raspberry plant with small leaves that Sticky is happily munching. I would like to introduce Eucalyptus but am unsure which variety? I’m currently providing 20 degrees Celsius with a heat mat and cooling fan. I am keeping Sticky in a terrarium, (30cm x 30cm x 45cm high), whilst it is young and plan to transfer it to a much larger cage before it’s an adult. Your AUC cage looks ideal size wise but I’m concerned there is too much ventilation? It is not practical or desirable to have my room temp at >20 degrees Celsius all the time. I suppose it would be easy to blank sides of the AUC cage to keep the heat in whilst still having good ventilation from one side and the top? I see how this can quickly turn into a fascinating hobby.
Eucalyptus gunnii is the best species of eucalyptus for these stick insects (and other eucalyptus eating species of stick insect too). Both the round leaves and the elongated leaves can be consumed by stick insects. Our next batch of potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants should be ready soon. Achrioptera fallax stick insects do like it hotter than many other species, so a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius is better than the standard 18 degrees Celsius preferred by many other species of stick insect. The best way to achieve this elevated temperature is to position a plug-in oil-filled radiator near to the cage. A 500 Watt plug-in oil-filled radiator is ideal, it is effective and economical. Heat mats are not recommended because they dry out the foliage and surroundings too much (leading to problems with skin-changes). Fans are not necessary if you keep the stick insect in a cage with two mesh sides opposite each other (this allows natural through-draught ventilation). Large species such as Achrioptera fallax do well in large airy cages, the AUC has four ventilated sides and a solid clear roof. If you are concerned about heat loss, you could put cling film over two of the mesh sides. The important thing is to leave two opposite mesh sides open because this will facilitate the through-draught of air that this species, and others, require to thrive. When Sticky is a larger nymph and you are able to determine its gender, you will need to purchase a mate for it to keep Sticky happy.

I purchased a couple of your stick insect skins from the Cambridge exhibition, and I find them fascinating! I know my grandson will like them too. But I won't be seeing him until the summer holidays, will the skins still be in one piece or will they have decomposed by then?
The stick insect skins that Small-Life Supplies sell are the large species, so most are from the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), although we also have some of the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) and Malaysian stick insect (Heteropteryx dilatata). Anyway, regardless of the species, they do not decompose quickly and remain intact for several decades at least. So your grandson will be able to see them in the summer. However, shed stick insect skins are fragile and so if you take one out of the display pack, please handle it carefully to prevent a leg from falling off!

Can Indian stick insects eat eucalyptus? I am currently feeding mine bramble but the leaves are looking brown and so aren't looking nice and lush. There is a large eucalyptus tree overhanging the pavement further down the road and so I should be able to snip a few bits!
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves, so you could give them some sprigs of eucalyptus as well as the bramble so they can change over gradually. Please note that eucalyptus sprigs take up a lot more water than bramble sprigs and so you'll need to refill the Sprig Pot of water after a few days!

I seem to remember feeding my Indian stick insects with privet leaves when I was a child? But you don't mention privet as food on your website, is there a reason why? Are bramble leaves better food?
For decades we fed our Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) with privet leaves, but then suddenly, several years ago, they suddenly refused to eat it. This was very strange and has happened to some other stick insect keepers across the country too. So we switched ours over to bramble leaves and subsequent generations have continued to do well on a diet of bramble leaves. Our Indian stick insects will also eat hazel leaves, rose leaves and eucalyptus leaves. From time to time we give them some privet leaves but these are largely ignored although the odd Indian stick insect will still eat privet. So that is why we no longer promote privet as a foodplant for Indian stick insects and instead advise people to feed their Indian stick insects with bramble/blackberry leaves.

I'd like to enquire if the bramble cuttings sold by are available in longer lengths? I ask because my habitat is 90cm tall and the residents prefer to eat around the upper half, only venturing downward when the upper branches are stripped clean.
The Fresh Cut Bramble sprigs we send out are approximately 36cm long, and so are ideal to fit into the ELC cage (51cm tall). At this time of year the old bramble is dying off and the new shoots are coming through, so our stocks of suitable green leaves are limited. So at the moment, that standard length is the only length we are selling. However, when bramble is plentiful (later on in the year) we do offer longer lengths of fresh cut bramble, up to 100cm long, this is called our "bulk buy bramble" package. This has to go out by courier due to the size of the parcel.

My daughter is very interested in keeping stick insects after her Reception class looked after some (she's 5). I saw that you have an exhibition coming up at the Cambridge University Department of Zoology this Saturday and wondered if it would be suitable for us to come along to chat about keeping stick insects at home? I understand if not as I suspect it might be more geared to the professionals at the University!
Good to hear that your daughter would like her own stick insects. And yes, please bring her along to the free nature event this Saturday 7th April 2018. The Small-Life Supplies stand is near the entrance and we'll be delighted to explain a bit more about how to look after stick insects and show you and your daughter the different types of stick insects and the ELC cages. Lots of children visit this annual event, which is great because the purpose of the event is to promote nature to all.

Do Indian stick insects eat on the day they are born? I have two hatchling Indian stick insects but I haven't seen them eat anything yet and they are two days old. But I have seen them drinking from the water droplets on the side of the tank when I mist it with water. I've put ivy in there.
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) start eating the day they are born. These stick insects usually hatch at night and are ready to start eating and drinking the next day. Instead of misting the tank with water, you need to wet the bramble leaf and then place this wet bramble leaf into the QBOX or HUA Pot, wet side uppermost. The stick insects will drink from the water droplets on the leaf and then start nibbling the edge of the leaf. Baby stick insects do not eat a lot, so do not expect the leaf to be devoured, but you should be able to see small pieces missing from the edges of the leaf. Bramble is the best type of leaf to use, ivy is not popular with many Indian stick insects and so is not recommended for the newly hatched stick insects.

I have been looking after a couple of Thailand stick insects (an adult pair) for my grandson whilst he is on an Easter holiday. Unfortunately I have had a bit of a disaster. I was reaching down in to the tank and when I lifted out the bramble, I didn't see the stick insect and the bramble thorns accidentally ripped open the side of the body of the adult female. The poor thing was in such a state I thought the kindest thing to do was to put her on the bird table and she was promptly gobbled up by a blackbird. Anyway, I now intend to buy the proper ELC cage, this looks a far more suitable enclosure and I believe living creatures deserve the best conditions. My dilemma is whether to "own up" for my carelessness? The deceased stick insect was a rusty brown colour, would it be possible for you to send me a similar looking one with the cage? Or do you think my grandson would notice the difference? He is very observant and I feel uneasy about telling him a fib.
I think you should tell your grandson that the female stick insect had died, but leave out the details of how she died. Instead mention the fact that she was very old, this is true because she was a rusty brown colour. Adult female Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) start off green and then become more brown as they age. When they are a dark rusty brown colour, they are very old and nearing the end of their natural life. So it would be better to purchase some more young Thailand stick insect adults (so females that are green) for your grandson, so he will have the opportunity to look after them for many months. It's also worth checking on any Thailand stick insect eggs that you have saved because these start to hatch after approximately two months. You can house the adult Thailand stick insects and the newly hatched Thailand stick insect nymphs together in the same ELC cage. The ELC cage has side access which makes it much easier to reach in and remove the bramble safely.

I am researching the best stick insect cage to buy and I think yours are the best. Please can you tell me how often I should wash out the cage? And what do I put the stick insects in when I wash the cage?
The ELC cage can be washed about once a month. Empty the cage first and place the stick insects in a washing up bowl and cover this with a tea towel to prevent them escaping. Wash the ELC cage using the soft Cleaning Sponge provided and use lukewarm (not hot) soapy water. Rinse well with cold water and dry with a soft tea towel. Small-Life Supplies launched the ELC cage back in 2012 following years of development. It works really well as a stick insect cage and is very practical to use , unlike wooden cages (which can be difficult to clean) and glass tanks (which are far too heavy and not ventilated enough).

My first Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect hatched today. How critical is it to give it eucalyptus instead of bramble?
It is very important to feed newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) with eucalyptus leaves instead of bramble leaves. So you need to try and source some Eucalyptus gunnii leaves quickly. Our next lot of potted Eucalyptus gunnii plants will be up to size and ready to send in a month or so. We have a waiting list of customers who want these plants, so please phone Small-Life Supplies on 01733 203358 if you'd like your name added to this waiting-list. The problem with feeding bramble to newly hatched Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects is that although they do eat the bramble, it often does not provide the essential nutrients they need and and so the stick insects often become sluggish and die when they are about two weeks old.

I am very interested in the nature event in Cambridge which you're advertising. Is it a very "high-brow" event? I don't have any qualifications and have never set foot in a university before and so I am a bit nervous. I love my stick insects though and would like to meet Dorothy Floyd. Could I possibly buy some more Liners?
No need to be nervous, this event is very friendly and welcoming. There are a range of exhibits, with lots of people manning the stands eager to talk to visitors. Everyone is welcome and the atmosphere is relaxed and not intimidating, the exhibitors are there to promote their love of nature. The Small-Life Supplies stand is near the entrance and we'll have various stick insects and cages on display, we look forward to meeting you. And yes, we'll have some packs of Liners for sale, so please remember to bring some cash with you. The event is free to visit and is on Friday 6th April and Saturday 7th April 2018. Just turn up on the day.

I have watched my Pink Winged stick insects glue their eggs onto the mesh roof of the ELC cage, I find it fascinating the care they take doing this. Are Pink Winged stick insects the only type that glue their eggs or are there others?
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) certainly do take care when gluing their eggs into crevices. The mesh roof of the ELC cage is a favourite site for them to stick their eggs. Just leave the eggs where they have been glued and wait for the first instar nymphs to emerge in approximately three months time. They also have the ability to propel pre-glued eggs with some force out of their abdomen, and these eggs will adhere to whatever they land on, providing the surface is not too slippery. Another species of stick insect that glues its eggs onto rough surfaces is the Andaman Island stick insect (Sceptrophasma hispidulum). These stick insects, which were identified in 1873, have males and females, neither have wings.

I have some New Guinea stick insect eggs in a HUA pot and the first nymph has hatched today. I just wanted to check whether I leave the nymph in the HUA pot until he is bigger with some brambles for him to eat or if he can be placed straight into an ELC cage? Also, would a newly hatched nymph need a water dish to drink from or would misting the brambles suffice? 
Great news! Keep this nymph in the HUA Pot and add a wet bramble leaf. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best if housed in the HUA Pot for the first month or two of their lives. This is because they require enclosed surroundings at the start of their lives, but ventilated surroundings when they are older and larger. Take care not to place the HUA Pot in a sunny place because this will cause it to steam up inside and you do not want this to happen. So choose a place which is out of direct sunshine. A water dish is not necessary for stick insects housed in the HUA Pots because the young nymphs get enough moisture form the wet leaves. It's best to wet the leaf before putting it into the HUA Pot rather than spraying water directly into the HUA Pot.

Why do my baby Indian stick insects keep dying? Over the past few weeks the eggs have been hatching, but most of the nymphs have died after a few days, some even after they have shed once or twice. The have fresh leaves in there every day - I am feeding them ivy, as that is all I have access to and my first insect ate it. I have had about fifteen eggs hatch, and currently only have three stick insects living.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) usually have a very high survival rate and so things are going very wrong here. I suggest the following actions. Firstly, you need to stop feeding them ivy leaves. This is because although some Indian stick insects can tolerate ivy, most do not. Bramble (blackberry) leaves are far more nutritious and the best diet for Indian stick insects. Secondly, you must wet the bramble leaf before putting it into the QBOX. Baby stick insects need to be able to drink water droplets. Thirdly, position the QBOX so that is out of direct sunlight. If the QBOX is steaming up inside, the stick insects could be overheating and dying. Fourthly, check that there are no plug-in air-fresheners, scented candles etc in the vicinity because strong smells can kill stick insects. Fifthly, only keep twelve baby Indian stick insects per QBOX. And finally over bothering them with a daily feed will be causing stress and so you can reduce this to a fresh wet leaf once every three days (extending to once a week as they get larger).

I keep getting stabbed by the bramble thorns, I wear gloves but the thorns go through? Any tips?
There are loads of gardening gloves sold in garden centres etc which do not protect against bramble thorns. So you need to seek out a premium brand and look for some thick lined suede gloves. It's really important that the gloves have a thick fleece lining and that the palm and fingers are suede. It's worth trying to find some old stock of "Town and Country" gloves because these were ideal, sadly this design of heavy duty glove no longer appears to be listed in their current range.

The bramble is rather dry around here and so I was thinking about buying some of yours to tide me over. I assume it is as good as in the photo? I have four adult Indian stick insects in the ELC cage, how long do you think I could make one wallet of bramble last for them?
Yes, Small-Life Supplies is still sending out wallets of fresh cut juicy green bramble. We only pick the best pieces and use these to feed our own stick insects and to send to customers. You may be able to stretch out the contents of one wallet of bramble so that it lasts two weeks. To do this, put two sprigs of bramble in the Sprig Pot of water in the ELC cage, and keep the third sprig in the resealable wallet at the bottom of the fridge. Then after a week or so, you could replace one of the sprigs in the Sprig Pot with the unused piece that has been keeping fresh in the bottom of the fridge. It's always best to have at least two sprigs of bramble in the ELC cage, instead of just one piece.

I am very pleased with my Eucalyptus gunnii plant, I'm going to let it grow a bit before I start to use it for food. I do have a couple of questions. Firstly, have you experienced any problems with pests on the plants? I have seen some tiny leaf hopper style critters on the leaves, they move very quickly so haven't been able to get good look. Secondly, will the plant need fertilising? If so are there any stick insect friendly fertilisers out there?
We don't use pesticides on any of the foodplants and so it is inevitable that small pests can occur. Fortunately these aren't a problem for the stick insects (apart from spiders which need to be scooped up and put outside on a plant). Aphids are best placed outside too, because their sticky residue looks unsightly on the sides of the cage. Leaf hoppers and shieldbugs can occur, these mainly come in on the bramble, we haven't seen them on the eucalyptus, but we return the shieldbugs onto wild bramble outside and try to shake off the leaf hoppers there too. They are not a threat to the stick insects. Regarding fertilising the plants, we use the frass from the stick insects mixed with water and pour it on the soil. Just tip the contents of the cage Liner into a bowl of cold water, stir and leave overnight. The nitrogen from the frass (insect droppings) is good fertiliser.

I am getting some Thailand and Pink Winged stick insects. My question is do I fill the Sprig Pot with just ordinary tap water? And will they eat anything else other than ordinary bramble leaves?
Yes, just fill the Sprig Pot with ordinary cold tap water and insert two or three sprigs of bramble. After one week, refill the Sprig Pot and replace the old bramble with fresh leaves. The stick insects won't have eaten all the bramble leaves in one week but the leaves will be starting to dry up and so need replacing. The stick insects must always have juicy green bramble leaves to eat and prefer to see a generous supply in the cage rather than a sparse amount. Bramble leaves are eaten by both Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) and so bramble is the best food for your display. The Pink Winged stick insects also like to eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves and so you could put a sprig of this in as well. Thailand stick insects can eat eucalyptus but prefer bramble and so you should have bramble in there for the Thailand stick insects to eat.

I understand that the cold weather has delayed the sending out of stick insects. But now the snow has gone, do you think you'll be able to send the stick insects out again soon? I'm after some Indian stick insects and the ELC bundle. I live in Eastbourne.
The good news is that mild nights are forecast next week and so Small-Life Supplies shall be sending out stick insects again. We do not send them out in freezing conditions because it would be too cold for them to survive, and so have held up livestock orders recently because of the cold snap. So deliveries to Eastbourne should be back to normal next week, with livestock and cages being dispatched again and next day delivery guaranteed.

Will you have more of your microscope slide boxes for sale soon?
Yes, these shall be on the Small-Life Supplies website shortly. And some will be for sale at the forthcoming NatHistFest nature and insect event at Cambridge University Zoology Department on Friday 6th April and Saturday 7th April 2018. (free entry). Our microscope slide boxes are made from aluminium and hold up to 24 microscope slides.

My Thailand stick insect eggs started to hatch this morning! I have four babies so far. They are so cute! I am just checking that I should house them in the ELC cage and not the HUA Pot?
Congratulations! Newly hatched Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) like to spread themselves around a lot of space and so do best in the ELC cage from birth. They need airy surroundings from birth and will distribute themselves around the mesh sides of the ELC cage and also cluster at the tips of the bramble leaves. Lightly mist the leaves with water in the evening.

I read that stick insects can eat soya leaves? How do I get hold of these leaves?
You need to grow your own soya plants in 5" pots, using "J Arthur Bowers Johns Innes" compost. Purchase soya beans from a health food shop, soak them to encourage them to sprout, and then plant them, one plant per pot. Limited tests so far confirm that soya leaves are eaten by Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) and Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). The main diet of these stick insects should still be bramble leaves but soya leaves can be used as a back-up if the bramble leaves are scarce or of poor quality.

We've had our New Guinea stick insects since September and tonight we observed a female doing a wiggly kind of booty shaking dance and then depositing eggs or poos(?)into the carpet! We had them out to 'play' while we freshened their habitat. They seem to poo a lot in the sand, water dish and on the liner. I'm not sure what the eggs look like and what to do with them.
The wiggly dance you saw is the characteristic egg laying behaviour. Adult female New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) push their pointed ovipositors down into crevices and then twist from side to side as they push an egg out. This can be followed by a flicking action (useful if there is dry sand to flick over the egg to conceal it). Thick pile carpets and rugs are favoured egg laying sites, also between your fingers, as well as the Sand Pit (filled to the brim with dry sand). New Guinea stick insects have large appetites and so it is normal to see a lot of droppings around the cage. And yes, the water dish needs to be cleaned frequently so that there is clean water in there for the stick insects to drink. The eggs are grey and all the same size, smooth and a capsule shape (the droppings are grey as well but are irregular shapes and different sizes), there is a photo of the New Guinea stick insect egg in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book. Keep the eggs in a HUA Pot and shake this from time to time, the eggs should start to hatch after approximately six months.

I have just put two pink Community Tubes into the stick insect enclosure and my New Guinea stick insects are loving them! But I'm worried they may get stuck in the tubes? I counted eight in one tube, I'm worried that the ones at the bottom can't breathe? Should I cut extra openings in the tubes? Or am I worrying too much?
You are worrying too much. New Guinea stick insects choose to pile on top of each other. The ones at the bottom are fine. They breathe through their breathing holes (called spiracles) which are spaced down either side of their bodies. Our New Guineas fill the Community Tubes and none suffocate! So don't try modifying the tubes, these our made to our specification, specifically for use by New Guinea stick insects. The important thing is that each end of the tube is clear of the side of the ELC cage (so the stick insects can crawl in and out). So there should be a gap of about 7cm between the open end of the Community Tubes and the white mesh side of the ELC cage.

Should the bramble always be touching the top of the ELC cage? Or can I put in shorter bits?
At Small-Life Supplies we use varying lengths of bramble in the Sprig Pot, so it is of varying heights in the ELC cage. The important thing is that there is always a generous supply of lush juicy bramble leaves in the cage.

I'm about to take on two New Guinea stick insects nymphs. I know they eat bramble but I need a full list of everything else that they can eat. I have heard that they do eat some grasses? I also have a rambling rose or climbing rose growing would that be OK too? I want to give them a varied diet rather than just bramble all year round.
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) don't need a varied diet, they do very well on a diet of juicy bramble leaves. Grasses are not suitable. Rose leaves are good, many types of rose leaves are suitable so your rambling/climbing rose can be used. In the summer hazel leaves can also be used (gather these from hazel trees, these grow in wet places, so look near rivers and marshes). It's really important to provide New Guinea stick insects with a shallow dish of cold tap water at all times. They also need a Community Tube to rest inside. And when your nymphs have matured, they will need a dish of dry sand in which the female can bury her eggs.

I have just received 6 Necroscia annulipes nymphs and I'm looking for some privet cuttings for their food. Can you help me find some?
Small-Life Supplies sell fresh cut bramble and potted eucalyptus plants, but only sell bags of fresh cut privet in the summer months. In the UK, privet hedges sometimes border cemeteries and parks, but unfortunately at this time of year, the councils have usually cut them back hard. However privet is evergreen and so you should still be able to gather some loose leaves, although obviously sprigs would be better because you can then stand the foodplant in a Sprig Pot of water and it will stay fresh for about a week. Be very careful when handling Necroscia annulipes because these stick insects can emit a chemical spray that can cause breathing problems in sensitive people. It is for that reason that Small-Life Supplies does not breed or encourage the sale of this species. There are plenty of safe species of stick insect to keep.

I have a subadult female Extatosoma tiaratum and she has not moved, eaten, or even defecated in the last 2½ days. When I spray the container she’s in I see very small movement in the abdomen and mandibles but not much leg movement she is definitely alive. Last night I lightly touched her abdomen and her back leg started scratching viciously at the end of her abdomen almost as though she was trying to scratch it off! Normally I would think moulting time!
The final skin-change is a very important event for the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) and so it is normal for the insect to rest for a few days beforehand and not move, as you have described. The vigorous leg scratching could indicate annoyance at being disturbed . Don't disturb her and hopefully she should shed her skin soon. If she hasn't moved after five days, something has gone wrong and you'll need to do the "head flick" to trigger the skin-change. In the evening, just flick your finger on her head and then leave her alone in the dark. This technique usually works and the stick insect sheds its skin during the night. Following the final skin-change the adult stick insect is quite weak and so should be given good quality bramble or eucalyptus leaves to eat so she can regain her strength quickly.

I just received the HUA Hatching Set from Small-Life Supplies and the label says the eggs were laid on October 14th 2017. Seeing as they take four months to hatch, doesn't that mean that they should be hatching today?
Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) hatch after approximately four months. The eggs that were laid here at Small-Life Supplies on 5th October 2017 are hatching now, and so your eggs should start hatching in about one week's time. External factors such as ambient temperature can affect the development of the eggs, so it's normal to expect a bit of variation in the incubation time. Don't expect your eggs to all hatch on the same day, the hatching can be be spread out over a few days. Hatching usually occurs at night, so check the HUA Pot in the morning (the newly hatched "first instar" nymphs usually rest underneath the metal lid.)

Can Indian stick insects change colour? I switched the light on in the middle of the night and I swear my Indian stick insects looked a different colour to what they look like in the day?
Yes, decades ago much research was done documenting how the pigments in the exoskeleton of Indian stick insects move during the night, giving the stick insects a more vivid, and darker hue. And then they move back so that the Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) returns to its "normal colour" again during the day.

What is a baby stick insect called?
The correct scientific term for a baby stick insect is a "first instar nymph". This term is used to describe any "baby" stick insect that is 0 - 21 approx days old (at approx 21 days the stick insect completes it's first skin-change and becomes a "second instar nymph").

How important is it to have the same number of male and female New Guinea nymphs? I have two males and one female. Do you sell individual stick insects, or would I have to purchase another set of four?
With stick insects, it is better to have an equal balance of genders but not essential. Many adult New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do tend to pair up for life, but there are others who don't. So if you notice one pair of your New Guinea stick insect nymphs are always together in the Community Tube, and the other stick insect is elsewhere in the cage, then it is definitely time to get an extra female (of a similar size). But if all three like to group together, the need for an extra female is not as urgent. And yes, you can buy just one stick insect from Small-Life Supplies if it is to join a community of stick insects.

My Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect eggs have started to hatch! So I need to get the right equipment for them. What do you suggest to house the young?
When Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) hatch, the babies (called first instar nymphs) are very lively and run around. They have black bodies and orange heads and are often described as "demented ants". So it's best to put them in a large airy cage so they have plenty of space to run around. We use both the ELC cages and the shorter TTQ cages to house the young Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects. And don't forget that this species needs to eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves rather than bramble leaves, when they are young.

I am so glad to see that Small-Life Supplies are selling eucalyptus plants again! I have been on your waiting-list for ages and just got the notification email today. So I will be ordering one later today, but hope you don't mind answering my question - can I keep this as an indoor pot plant?
Our bushy Eucalyptus gunnii plants are approx 70cm tall (including pot). This plant will not thrive indoors, you need to place it outside in a sunny place and water it well. Care instructions are included with the plant. Ideally you should transplant it into your garden in a sunny place. However, if you don't have a garden, you can keep the plant in the pot supplied for a few more months. It will then need to be re-potted into a larger plant pot. To do this, choose a plant pot which has holes in the bottom so that the water can drain out. And, very importantly, only use "John Innes compost" to top up the larger plant pot, because this compost does not contain the pesticides routinely added to many other brands of potting compost. (If you use soil containing pesticides, these will be taken up by the plant and will kill the stick insects when they eat the plant leaves).

Are New Zealand stick insects easy to keep? And do you have any for sale? Do their eggs need any special care?
New Zealand stick insects (Acanthoxyla prasina) are easy to look after, they do best in a well-ventilated cage, such as the ELC cage. They eat bramble leaves , also conifer leaves. These stick insects don't like getting wet though, so it's important when misting the foodplant to avoid getting the actual insects wet. Small-Life Supplies used to breed New Zealand stick insects in large numbers, but we don't have any at the moment. Their eggs hatch in about five months, and require no special care. Just store the eggs in the QBOX and wait for them to hatch out. There is a photo of an adult female New Zealand stick insect on the cover of the "Keeping Stick Insects" book by Dorothy Floyd. Most winters some people from the South West of England contact Small-Life Supplies to report finding a New Zealand stick insect on their house! This is because New Zealand stick insects are living wild in the South West of England, and when the weather turns colder they seek out warm buildings. New Zealand stick insects came over accidentally to the UK in the 1900s on cargo ships and have been breeding here ever since, but have not migrated northwards because it is too cold for them to survive.

Can I visit and film your stick insects? I'd love to meet you and your stickies!
Unfortunately this is not possible because Small-Life Supplies does not have retail premises open to the public to visit. However, some of our stick insects will be on public display at the insect and nature event to be held in central Cambridge on 6th and 7th April 2018.

Does Small-Life Supplies ever sell stick insect nymphs? Or is it just adults? I'd quite like to watch them grow.
Yes, we send out nymphs. At the moment, the following nymphs (immature insects) are for sale (delivered to you) from Small-Life Supplies: Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatsoma tiaratum).

Please can you tell me a bit more about the Liners for your AUC cages? Could I use kitchen roll sheets as a chepaer alternative?
The disposable Liners for the AUC cage are pre-cut to fit the floor of the cage and are now available in two colour options: pink and green. The Liner is coloured on one side and white on the other. You replace the Liner once a week and if you tilt the Liner and tap it underneath, round eggs (such as the Australian Macleays Spectre) will roll off and can be collected in a bowl underneath. You could use kitchen roll but it is more effort, looks worse and doesn't work as well. For example, the kitchen roll is floppy and so you can't hold it rigid and tap it underneath to encourage the eggs to roll off. And you would need to use several pieces of kitchen roll and cut out squares from the the corners so that it would fit around the four square corner pillars of the cage.

Do adult stick insects continue to grow larger than their current size?
They don't grow any longer, this is because stick insects increase in length when they complete skin-changes and adult stick insects do not undergo any skin-changes. However, female adult stick insects will become fatter as their abdomens fill up with eggs to be laid. There is no increase in the width of adult male stick insects.

What do you think of the directive to disregard scientific literature more than ten years old?
This is not a good idea and it sets a dangerous precedent. Much detailed work on insects was carried out decades ago, for example great observational work by people such as Jean Henri Fabre, and detailed practial experiments by Wigglesworth. Whilst some progress has undoubtedly been made since, much of this classic work is still valid. So it is absurd to disregard this and effectively keep "re-inventing the wheel". For example, some fuss was made recently by the alleged "new discovery" that stick insects sway from side to side to mimic a twig blowing in the wind. In reality this has been known for decades and is printed in the book "Keeping Stick Insects" (pages 9 and 45).

I got some small Trachyaretaon brueckneri stick insect nymphs in June 2017 and they have been wonderful. I keep them in the ELC cage and take them out for a walk on the weekends. They all became adults last year apart from one which seems to be growing very slowly. She shed her skin last night but is still only about half the size of the others, and is still a nymph. What's wrong with her?
Stick insects have growth hormones which are released to trigger skin-changes. But sometimes a stick insect has a growth hormone deficiency and and so cannot release enough hormone to be able to grow at the normal rate. Such individuals live as nymphs, but often die before reaching maturity because they have reached the end of their natural lifespan.

When is the next insect show?
Small-Life Supplies will be exhibiting at the Cambridge insect and nature event, held on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April 2018. This event is open to the public (free admission), and has a wide range of informative stands about the natural world. It is an educational event rather than a trade fair, but you'll have the opportunity to see the latest cages and insects that are available from Small-Life Supplies.

I have Indian stick insects and also Thailand stick insects. I have noticed that my five Indian stick insects consume far more food than my two Thailand stick insects. Is this normal?
Yes. Different species of stick insect have different appetites. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are known for having very small appetites, this makes them an ideal choice for people who have only limited stocks of bramble leaves. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have much more hearty appetites than Thailand stick insects. A species which has a very large appetite is the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum). Sometimes the adult females eat so much that they struggle to lift their big fat bodies off the ground and so sit near the bottom of the mesh with their abdomens resting on the cage floor Liner!

I was wondering if New Guinea stick insects instinctively group together on the ground? Or , would they group higher up if there was somewhere suitable?
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) like to pile on top of each other, ideally under the cover of loose leaves, or inside the Community Tube. It's usually easiest to place the Community Tube on the floor of the cage, and the stick insects will crawl into this tube and pile on top of each other. However, if you create a suitable hiding place at the top of the cage, the New Guinea stick insects will hide up there. So, there is no truth in the rumour that these stick insects are ground-dwelling. They simply seek out places to hide, and usually the suitable places, for example the loose leaves and Community Tubes, are on the bottom of the cage, rather than the top.

Do many 23 year old keep stick insects? I think they'd be cool pets. But my gran says they're for kids?
Stick insects appeal to people of all ages and so yes, Small-Life Supplies has lots of customers in their early twenties who keep stick insects. Some choose the long twig-like species, such as the Thailand (Baculum thaii) stick insects, these make a great display in the AUC cage. Others prefer the more chunky species, so opt for the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) in the ELC cage. Stick insect keeping by the public became more mainstream from the 1980s onwards, this was a time when many new species were being discovered and brought back to the UK for breeding, and there was a surge to promote stick insects (via a new stick insect society, opening of butterfly farms, media coverage etc). It sounds like your gran isn't aware of this, hence her comment.

My friend has emigrated and so she gave me her Indian stick insect, Betty, who is 13 months old, and her 40cm tall terrarium. Today, I found the Betty on the floor, she seems weak. I think she could have fallen and injured herself. What can I do to help her recover? Also, are stick insects equipped to withstand a fall of 40cm?
In their natural habitat of rainforests, stick insects have evolved to withstand falls of many metres. Indeed Indian stick insects either clamp their legs against their bodies and fall as "straight sticks", or they turn round when they fall so that they land on their feet. So a fall of 40cm is not a problem. However, the age of Betty is the main factor here. Most Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) live for one year, so Betty has done well to get to 13 months. She is weak because she is dying from old age, the kindest thing to do is to prop her mouth in a shallow dish of water so she can drink. Hopefully you will have saved some of Betty's eggs and can look forward to seeing these hatch after an incubation time of approx four months.

I liked your picture of the two-tone Indian stick insect on Insta. I too have been breeding Indian stick insects for years, but have never seen a two-tone one. Are they as rare as the male Indians? I haven't seen one of those yet either, but hope to one day!
The two-tone Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are even rarer than the male Indian stick insects. The probability of seeing a rare male Indian stick insect is 1 in 10000 but the chance of seeing a two-tone female Indian stick insect is half that, so 1 in 20000! That's 0.005%. So we're really lucky to the have a two-tone Indian stick insect now, which is why I've put a photo of her on Instagram.

We have the GSC Aphid Cages in the lab. Now we research Tetranychus and wonder if you could supply this cage with an even smaller mesh?
There are two sizes of very fine stainless steel mesh. We use the very fine stainless steel mesh on the GSC Aphid Cage. There is now an even finer stainless steel mesh with the holes half the size. So yes, we could manufacture cages for you using this extra-fine stainless steel mesh. For those that don't know what Tetranychus is, this is a spider mite. They are not mites of spiders, but mites of plants, they are called spider mites because they spin webs on the plants.

I have kept a small number of stick insects for years and enjoy reading this page every week. Unfortunately I now have a work placement abroad for six months and so my sister has agreed to look after my stick insects until my return. I know I'm really going to miss them and wondered if you have other social media accounts which I could check into to get my "phasmid fix"?
I have an Instagram account,, this is updated frequently with photographs of stick insects that are being reared at Small-Life Supplies . So an easy way to keep in touch and see pictures of phasmids, is to become a follower on Instagram!

A week ago I received five Indian Stick Insects I purchased from a seller online. I know I received five because me and my little brother named each as we were putting them in their tank. Today I was changing their food. They were all on the ivy I had put in so I placed the ivy in a box while I put the new ivy in the tank. I then began transferring each one onto the new ivy vine. This is where I realised there was six, there shouldn’t be six since we named each individual and I had no name for the sixth one. I do not understand how an extra one has appeared as they can't survive England's climate in the wild so I couldn’t have come in from the outside. Can they duplicate themselves some how? It's such a dumb question I know but I’m so baffled right now.
No, they can't duplicate themselves. And it's too cold for Indian stick insects to live outside in the UK. Therefore you have either received six Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), with the sixth one having been hiding so you couldn't see it initially. Or, you are mistaking the shed skin of one (this is an exact replica of the stick insect but is white) for an actual stick insect. Or you are mistaking another type of insect (that has come in on the leaves) for a stick insect. I haven't seen any photos so I can't advise further. However, ivy is usually used as a last resort to feed Indian stick insects, they much prefer eating bramble/blackberry leaves, and so I hope you can find some of those leaves for them to eat.

Has there been a stick insect named after Dorothy Floyd?
No. I find it odd how some people push to have things named after them, be they roads or buildings or species! Also, the naming of species has got particularly silly now, with people naming a moth after Donald Trump etc. And the effort expended to try to change the Latin genus in a species name is ridiculous, for example some people have tried to change the genus Baculum (Latin for stick) into Ramulus (Latin for branch). Well, anyone who looks at the New Thailand stick insect knows that it is slender, straight and stick-like and so it's species name of Baculum sp. should stand.

I’m a head teacher at a Primary school and recently acquired some Diapherodes gigantea that are in a tank (nymphs) - I’m just going to purchase an ELC tank for them and I’m wondering if they will live with any of the other species featured on your site?
Diapherodes gigantea is the Latin species name for the Grenadan stick insect. These stick insects eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves and do well in a well-ventilated cage such as the ELC cage (with the mesh lid). They can be mixed with the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus), these stick insects also like well-ventilated surroundings and eat eucalyptus leaves. Pink Winged stick insects will also eat bramble/blackberry leaves.

An allotment is up for grabs near where I live. I keep stick insects, the Pink Winged and Indian types, and am considering growing food for them in an allotment because I don't have a garden of my own. Would I be allowed to grow bramble?
Several customers of Small-Life Supplies have mentioned that they use an allotment to grow food for their stick insects. But instead of growing bramble (which can be frowned upon by some gardeners who view it as a "weed"), they grow raspberry plants. The advantage of raspberry plants is that they grow fast and upright, and are accepted in many allotments because you can say you're growing them to produce the fruit (the raspberries). They are very easy to grow. Raspberry leaves are eaten by Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). The disadvantage of raspberry plants is that they die off in the winter, so you'd still have to gather bramble/blackberry in the winter months.

I have four Indian stick insects in the ELC cage and they have started to lay eggs. Is it best to pick the eggs up every day and put them in the QBOX? I don't want them to dry out.
Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) have a hard exterior and so won't dry out quickly. So it's fine to leave them in the open with the droppings (frass) on the Liner of the cage for a week or so. When you replace the ELC Liner (this should be done once a week), just tilt the Liner and gently tap underneath, the Indian eggs will roll off (and most of the frass will remain on the Liner). Tip the eggs into the QBOX , replace the lid, and stick a label on with the date (this will help you to predict when they are due to hatch, four months later).

I would like to encourage more butterflies to my garden, I have some large trees and would like to plant something underneath, Nettles have been suggested, but I don't want anything that stings!
British violets would be a good choice for you, these perennial native plants provide excellent ground cover and spread well. They grow well in dappled shade. There are two types of violets commonly available for sale : the Dog Violet (Viola riviniana) and the fragrant Sweet Violet (Viola odorata). Both are foodplants for the caterpillars (larvae) of the Dark Green Fritillary butterfly (Argynnis aglaja), the leaves of the Dog Violet are slightly thinner and so are easier to eat by the hatchling larvae. Make sure you purchase these plants from an organic supplier who has not contaminated the plants with pesticides by growing them in soil infused with these harmful chemicals.

I am putting my financial affairs in order. I would like to donate some money to an animal organisation. I like insects and birds and would welcome your advice. A cursory look at some organisations hasn't impressed me so far because the emphasis seems directed at writing reports rather than direct action to help the creatures.
I agree with you that some of these organisations seem to have lost their way. Gathering information is important, but to continue to direct funds to produce reports cataloging the decline or suffering of creatures is futile. Far better to actually do something about the problem and help the creatures! A small organisation that does a lot to help wild birds, for example relocating birds that are at imminent risk of being shot, and treating sick and injured birds, is called London Wildlife Protection, and they are always grateful to receive any donations. The large organisation involved with the bigger picture of protecting the environment is Greenpeace, they particularly welcome a bequest which you can arrange when drawing up your will with your solicitor.

Is the Titan stick insect the largest land dwelling invertebrate?
No, that accolade belongs to the Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) which has a leg span of almost 1 metre and weighs up to 4kg. These crabs live on coral atolls in the Indian and Pacific oceans and they are known for climbing trees and cracking coconuts open with their claws!

I rescued a tank rammed full of stick insects and am sorting through them. They are the Pink Winged sort. Some have missing limbs, others curved bodies. Are these genetic faults or a result of their cramped surroundings? Don't worry, I shall be purchasing a couple of your ELC cages with the mesh lids. Will their bodies straighten out? Can you combine postage?
Stick insects develop curved bodies if they are very overcrowded, or housed in in too small a container. And stick insects routinely start to lose legs when they are stressed. Being very overcrowded will be causing severe stress. Re-housing Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) in spacious airy surroundings is commendable and the stick insects will be much happier. New legs can be grown to replace those that have been lost. Bent bodies can't be straightened out, but at least no new cases of bent bodies will be seen. The total delivery price to send two cages to you is £9.95.

I'm getting some stick insects for my young son. I don't know anything about them, but he likes the look of the Black Beauty type. Is this a good choice or would the Indian stick insect be better? I am buying the ELC tank for them.
There are several issues with the Peruvian Black Beauty stick insect (Peruphasma schultei) which is why Small-Life Supplies does not breed or supply this species. They can emit a noxious chemical spray which can irritate people and sensitive pets. They scuttle quickly, rather than walking slowly. And they must eat privet (most other stick insects do well on bramble/blackberry leaves). In contrast, the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are slow moving and are easy and safe to handle. Indian stick insects can be mixed with other stick-like stick insects, and are easy to feed, eating bramble/blackberry leaves, also eucalyptus leaves and hazel leaves (the latter are available in the summer months only). So I would recommend the Indian stick insects for your son.

I have managed to knock off and then lose the central foot under the ELC cage. So the floor is now bending downwards. Do you sell replacement feet for the cage? I need to order some more Liners as well and so could order everything at the same time.
Yes, it is important to ensure that there are always five black feet under the ELC cage. Four corner feet and one central foot under the base. So when you order the ELC Liners, just ask for a replacement cage foot, and we'll send you one, complete with fixing tape, free of charge.

I have Indian stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects, spread across three ELC cages. I feel it's time to add another species, what do you suggest?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are both long stick insects, of the conventional "stick-like" design. So you need to keep with that shape and avoid big chunky stick insects such as the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) which can harm a thin stick insect by accidentally treading on it. Suitable stick insects to mix in with the types you already have include the Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii), the New Thailand stick insects (Baculum sp) and the North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina). Please note that the North East Vietnamese stick insects can grow to enormous lengths, up to 28cm long, so when they have outgrown the ELC cage, they need to be transferred to the much larger AUC cage.

Can you send stick insects in January or is it too cold?
Small-Life Supplies monitor the weather forecast daily, because we only send out stick insects when the overnight temperature is forecast to be above freezing. In January, there is a usually a mix of very cold nights and milder nights. Already lots of stick insects have been sent out this month during the milder nights when it has been warm enough for the creatures to travel safely.

I have a tall cage, 3ft high, with four fine black mesh sides. Would this be large enough for some fully grown New Guinea stick insects? And what's the best substrate to use?
Unfortunately this enclosure is not suitable housing for New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) for two reasons. Firstly, four ventilated sides creates an environment that is far too airy for New Guinea stick insects. It is important to house New Guinea stick insects in cages which have only two mesh sides. And secondly, even if you managed to block off the mesh on two sides, that would still leave two sides of fine black mesh for them to climb on. This is not good because the mesh is the wrong size. New Guinea stick insect adults have large claws on their feet and these claws can become trapped in netting/mesh that is too fine and has apertures that are too small. The trapped stick insect will struggle to free it's foot and unfortunately this can result in the claw being snapped off. Adult stick insects cannot re-grow their claws and so this damage is permanent. The best cage to house up to six adult New Guinea stick insects is the ELC cage. This has two mesh sides with the correct size of holes that will not harm their claws. And you can easily see the stick insects through the crystal clear front, back and top of the cage. The best floor covering to use is paper, because unlike substrates such as soil, peat, vermiculite, this will not clog up the sticky pads on their feet (stick insects have both sticky pads and claws on their feet).

We have four of your New Guinea stick insects. They are fantastic but ...there are all four of them squished into one Community Tube! They have three tubes to choose from. Are they cold? Or is that fairly typical behaviour? It looks like a tight fit...
That's fine, it's a sign that they are all getting on well together! They go into separate tubes when they are upset about something. Stick insects do not radiate heat like humans do and so do not huddle together for warmth.

Following your advice, I planted some bramble by the pergola in my garden and now have a large bramble bush approximately 2 metres high! This may sound strange but it has provided more enjoyment than the honeysuckle that was struggling to grow there previously, I have seen lots of butterflies and other insects visiting it during the summer. And I was rewarded with bountiful blackberries! On New Years Day I decided to cut back the dead stems. I was surprised there were so many of them. Is this normal? The rest of the bush looks healthy and there are still lots of large green bramble leaves. Also, should I snip off the tatty leaves which have the shrivelled blackberries at the end? These leaves look in poor condition and so I won't be using these for my stick insects!
Bramble bushes grow vigorously if they are in a sunny spot with a good supply of water. So it's great that your bramble bush has grown so quickly, the site must be ideal. And yes, it is a very good idea to prune out the dead stems at this time of year. Bramble is part of the rose family and so benefits from pruning, this stimulates new growth in the Spring and Summer. Surprisingly it is completely normal to see lots of dead stems, this does not indicate there is anything wrong. In the wild, the new bramble simply grows over the dead bramble, and so the bush gets bigger and bigger every year. Various small mammals live in the "dead bramble", I have even seen Muntjac deer sleeping in there! But in a domestic garden setting, it's best to keep removing the dead bramble so that it doesn't get out of control and you can encourage healthy growth of juicy nutritious leaves. The stems of tatty leaves that bore the blackberry fruit should be removed as the leaves are too poor quality for the stick insects. As you already know, it is important to only select juicy looking leaves to feed to your stick insects.

I'm looking to expand my phasmid collection this year, will you be offering any new species for sale? I have several of your excellent ELC cages already and so am looking for types that like ventilated surroundings.
Our Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) should be up to size and ready to send within weeks, we have a new strain of these which look strong and healthy. And our North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina) are growing well and so should also be up to size to send within a month or so. The North East Vietnamese stick insects grow exceptionally long though, to an incredible 28cm, and so need to be transferred from the ELC cage to the AUC cage so they have enough room to grow properly.

Do you sell replacement sand for the Sand Pit? The level on mine has started to drop and so I would like to refill it, if this is possible.
Every week when sand is sieved, some granules get thrown away and so in time, it is inevitable that the level of sand in the Sand Pit will drop. So, yes, in response to popular demand, replacement sand will soon be listed on the Small-Life Supplies website. The price of the Sand Pit is currently £2.99 and the price of the sand refill is £2.

My daughter would like some bright colourful stick insects, would New Guinea stick insects be best?
New Guinea stick insects are born brown and then develop into various mottled shades of green and yellow. But then when they mature, they usually change colour again and become dark brown (although very rarely you can see green adult female or a tan coloured adult female). Small-Life Supplies are selling fully grown New Guinea stick insects at the moment and so these are all dark brown. So colour-wise, the Pink Winged would be a better choice, these are fawn coloured nymphs at the moment, but in a couple of months, will be mature and will have developed large pink wings which they can use to fly.

I have kept a couple of the very long North East Vietnamese stick insects for about a year now and have been collecting their eggs. Today I noticed that the male has lost his front leg and the female lost her middle leg. They are together on the bottom of the cage and look as if they are dying. But why are they losing legs?
The North East Vietnamese stick insects (Medauromorpha regina) are very long impressive stick insects, the females grow to 28cm and the males to 20cm. These stick insects lay very long eggs. Like other stick insects, when the North East Vietnamese stick insects are dying from old age, they become very thirsty and need extra water to drink. So it's important to spray a bramble leaf generously with water and place this on the cage Liner with the insects' mouths propped on the wet leaf so they can drink the water easily. Your stick insects may be losing legs because they are short of water. This behaviour is seen with some other species too, typically in the last week of the stick insect's life. So the kindest thing to do is to give your dying stick insects water to drink asap.

Is it true that stick insects are the only insects that can turn their heads?
No. Stick insects can only partially turn their heads and some species are better equipped than others to do this. For example the New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) has a particularly flexible "neck" and can bend its head quite well. But it is a different type of insect altogether, the praying mantis (also called a mantid) that is best designed to turn its head. This helps the praying mantis to be quick in spotting and then catching its prey (live flies etc).

I remember a few years back hearing about about biologists protesting about the proposal to rename the staple fruit fly of genetics, Drosophila melanogaster, to Sophophora melanogaster. Did this ever come about?
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature voted to change the name. But biologists still refer to this "celebrity fly" by its original name. The reason is that much scientific research has been carried out on Drosophila melanogaster and so it makes sense to keep that name so that it is easy to find this research in searches of the literature.

I am looking after my daughter's stick insects whilst she jets off on a late winter holiday. She has told me the stick insects are the New Guinea ones and that they must eat bramble leaves, and I'm to put lots in the red topped water vessel supplied. But can you help me more please? By "lots" how many leaves do they need? I haven't seen them eating yet! They are in one of your nice ELC cages.
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) need to see two or three sprigs (stems of bramble leaves) in the cage. So cut two or three sprigs, each approx 30cm long, and push the ends with the thickest stems into the red Sprig Pot (pre-filled with cold tap water). After seven days replace with fresh sprigs. The stick insects won't have eaten all the leaves during the week, but these stick insects prefer to be surrounded by lots of vegetation rather than just a few leaves.

I'd like to start keeping stick insects again in the New Year. In readiness I have been scouting around for bramble. There is a good stash nearby on a scrap of derelict land, but last week I saw the "For Sale" notice go up there saying that it comes with planning permission for six homes! I have found another place, by a car park, but the bramble there is looking a bit ropey, and not as good as on the building plot. Are some types of stick insects less fussy than others regarding the quality of their food?
It is worrying that so many bramble patches are disappearing because houses are being squeezed onto any spare bit of land. That is why it is so important to plant your own bramble by a sunny wall, if you are able to. You may even be able to dig up and transplant some of this good bramble from the building plot before it is all ripped out. Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are the most tolerant of poorer quality bramble, but obviously you need to still select the best leaves you can, with the most green bits and least spots and brown bits. Thailand stick insects also have the huge advantage in that although they are long stick insects, growing to 18cm, they have very small appetites. Small-Life Supplies breed Thailand stick insects in large numbers and these will be being sent out in January 2018, weather permitting (it needs to be above freezing at night to be warm enough for the stick insects to travel).

I was looking at a "Natural terrarium" on-line, it is 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. My husband thinks it'll do for just two Indian stick insects (my son is getting these for his birthday in January)? I read your ELC cage can have up to twenty Indian stick insects living in it, but as we only plan on getting two Indian stick insects, would a smaller terrarium be OK? I want the best for them and my son has been asking to have some pet stick insects for ages!
The ELC cage is a properly designed stick insect cage, with the height (51cm) and through-draught ventilation (two mesh sides) that the stick insects require. So whether you need a cage to house two Indian stick insects, ten Indian stick insects or twenty Indian stick insects, the ELC cage provides them with the best living conditions. The tank/terrarium you mention is only 30cm high so is nowhere near tall enough. It is made from glass and so is relatively heavy, compared to the ELC cage which is made from strong plastic. Also, the solid glass sides have the disadvantage of creating a stuffy environment, not the airy environment that you get with the mesh sides in the ELC cage.

One of my New Guinea stick insect nymphs keeps getting quite intense twitches and falling on its back. Sometimes it gets itself back up but other times I've had to help it. I've only just noticed this and it's been really struggling for the last twenty minutes or so? Everything in the enclosure seems okay and the others aren't showing any similar behaviours. Any idea what the problem is?
How old is this stick insect? When a New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) is very old it can keep losing its grip and toppling over. If this is what is happening, you need to gently place its face in the water dish so it can drink some water. (Dying stick insects are usually very thirsty). Or, your stick insect may have been poisoned by eating a contaminated bramble leaf. If this has happened the outlook is not good because chemical poisoning affects the central nervous system and a stick insect affected in this way cannot recover. You should replace the bramble leaves to prevent any others from eating the contaminated leaves. The fact the other stick insects are fine indicates that the problem in not one caused by air-borne chemical contamination.

Our adult New Guinea stick insects don't look at all well. There is a fan on at night and the water dish is always empty but I can't be sure if it's because they're drinking it or if they're spilling it. It's the dish I got from you and is rather shallow. Perhaps they need more water? I have a le creuset stoneware ramekin, will that be okay or is it too tall?
The fan is probably drying out the air too much, and causing the water to evaporate. You need to place a generous amount of bramble sprigs into the cage because this will increase the humidity. And you need to measure the height of your ramekin dish. If it is up to 5cm high, that is good and you can fill it to just under the brim with cold tap water. We use glass ramekin dishes that are 8cm in diameter and 4cm deep. It is very important to almost completely fill the dish with water so that the adult stick insects can bend their necks downwards and drink the water easily. These stick insects can only bend their necks a bit and so can't reach very far into the dish without falling in. Glass ramekin dishes are ideal for the adult New Guinea stick insects, but not recommended for the small New Guinea nymphs because they pose a drowning risk.

I have kept Indian stick insects, Pink Winged stick insects and would like to try another type. I can't decide whether to go for the "green bean" or the "Macleays Spectre". What do you think? I have two ELC cages but would get another one for the new stick insects.
Great to hear that you are progressing sensibly with your stick insect collection. I would recommend the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) next. These are really unusual looking stick insects with leafy legs and thick golden bodies and cone shaped heads. They eat bramble/blackberry leaves, and also Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects do well in the ELC cage with the mesh roof. Small-Life Supplies will be sending out Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects in January 2018, weather permitting. The correct term for the "green bean" stick insect is the Grenadan stick insect (Diapherodes gigantea). These stick insects are big and green and eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves.

I was horrified to read in a laboratory journal the heading "Is it time to eradicate mosquitoes?". And research is to be undertaken with this "goal" in mind. Seems that the emotional argument of children dying because of malaria has overshadowed the moral argument that this planet is for different animals, insects and plants, and we have to live together, not wipe out species that can cause us problems.
It is bad enough that species are going extinct due to habitat loss and chemical poisoning. It even worse, and morally wrong, for money to be thrown at research programmes trying to deliberately eradicate species. And why has this been approved? There is plenty of scientific evidence proving attempts at dramatic population loss of a targetted species often backfire, and cause even greater problems than there were before. Mosquitoes are part of the food web, a complex arrangement linking these insects with other life forms. We know there are huge numbers of mosquitoes and so dramatically reducing their population numbers will lead to food shortages for their predators. Humans already have solutions to prevent malaria - protective nets, vaccines etc, so the answer to saving the children is to implement these protective measures more effectively. And promoting birth control would help conserve resources too.

My granddaughter wants stick insects for Christmas and so I bought the bundle from you last week so that it would be ready in time and the stick insects would have had a chance to settle in. Well, I am hooked! I have been looking after them and find them so charming, I would like to buy another set for myself, with the cage of course. Am I too late to order stick insects for Christmas now?
Great to hear that you like them so much. And yes, there is still time to order stick insects for Christmas, but please be quick, because the latest date we are sending out stick insects is on Monday 18th Dec 2017, so we need to receive your order and payment before Monday.

I have three Aretaon asperrimus stick insects and I think two males and one female, just wondering if they live as a couple because two (one male and one female) live on the bottom of my vivarium in the soil always up close together and the other male is always at the top amongst the brambles and oak leaves. Is this how you’d expect them to live? They look healthy and are shedding their skin they are about 3.5cm big at moment. Is there anything you could advise to ensure they are having a lovely life?
Sabah stick insects (Aretaon asperrimus) do like to pair up and so it's best to have an equal number of males and females. So ideally you should acquire a female that is similar in age to the male who is at the top of the cage. Like most stick insects, female Sabah stick insects are larger than the males. Sabah stick insects are more thirsty than many other species, so it's a good idea to put a shallow dish of cold tap water on the floor of the cage so they can have a drink. When they are adults, the females bury their eggs in dry sand and so you'll need to put a Sand Pit in there. I would get rid of the soil because this is not hygienic and the female, when fully grown, will try to bury her eggs in the soil. It is hard to separate the eggs from the soil, but very easy to separate the eggs from the dry sand (just sift the sand through a sieve and the eggs remain in the sieve).

I purchased a "natural terrarium" on-line, it has mesh on the top and solid glass sides and a camouflaged back. Which stick insects would it suit best: Indian stick insects or New Guinea stick insects?
Neither. This is because stick insects need a cage with mesh sides that they can hook their claws around and climb. A terrarium with glass sides is smooth and so large stick insects cannot get a foothold. Stick insects like to climb and so should be kept in a cage which has sides that they are able to climb. Also, both Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best in a well-ventilated cage. This means they need a cage with two mesh sides that allow a through-draught of air. A terrarium with mesh on the roof does not allow enough movement of air. The ELC stick insect cage is the best housing for Indian stick insects and New Guinea stick insects. And the ELC cage is made from strong plastic so is much lighter than glass and easier to move around to clean out.

The bramble in our garden is looking rather sparse. Will the New Guinea stick insects eat anything else? I live in Oxfordshire.
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do best on bramble/blackberry leaves. There are lots of different types of bramble growing in the UK, some types die off during the winter, but there are other types that retain their green leaves throughout the winter months. At this time of year, it is easy to spot green bramble bushes amongst the dead vegetation of deciduous plants. In the winter, the best places to look for green bramble are sheltered overgrown areas, such as disused railway lines, woods and copses, and by overgrown canals. So you should be able to find wild bramble in Oxfordshire. Or if you want the convenience of having it delivered, you can buy fresh cut bramble by first class post from Small-Life Supplies.

I like really really like long stick insects. The longest I've kept so far is your New Thailand stick insects, one of mine measured 22cm! Do you think you may have some longer species available in 2018?
Yes, we are still hatching out eggs of the very long North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina), and so hope to start selling these stick insect nymphs when they are a bit older and large enough to travel (we don't send baby stick insects because they can be too delicate for travelling). The North East Vietnamese stick insect gets even longer than the New Thailand stick insect (Baculum sp) and so I am sure you will be impressed! We keep both these long species of stick insect in the AUC cage.

When is your next expo?
The next public event that Small-Life Supplies will be exhibiting at, will be the general insect and nature event in central Cambridge in April 2018. More details will be posted on the Small-Life Supplies website next year. Small-Life Supplies will have stick insects and insect cages on display and for sale at this popular event.

I have five Pink Winged stick insect babies, they hatched from eggs glued by their mother, Missy Twiggy, on the Hatch Mat. I have some more eggs waiting to hatch and one that couldn't hatch (her head is out but her legs are stuck in the egg). My first question is should I spray the eggs with water to stop anymore getting stuck? My second question is why do the baby Pink Winged stick insects like the underside of the lid of the ELC cage so much?
Don't spray the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) eggs with water. Providing the eggs are anchored, most will hatch successfully and only a few get stuck as you have observed. Wetting the eggs of this species would do more harm than good. It is very characteristic behaviour of newly hatched Pink Winged stick insects that they like to rest on the underside of the roof of the cage. Over the years, we have reared Pink Winged stick insects in various cages and the newly hatched green first instar nymphs always rest under the lid/roof of the cage. It's a mystery why they do this. After a few weeks they choose to rest on the sides of the ELC cage as well as under the lid.

Do stick insects make good pets? I mean do they do anything apart from looking like a stick? My daughter wants stick insects for Christmas, but I'm a bit of an arachnophobe. She is always looking for bugs when she's outside, she's ten and we live in Marlborough.
As your daughter is showing a strong interest in insects, it makes sense to encourage this and buy her the Christmas present she wants. I have seen countless children who are interested in insects go on to pursue successful careers in science. Meanwhile, she will enjoy keeping stick insects as pets. If she chooses Indian stick insects, she can enjoy seeing them put all their legs together and the fall into a straight stick, if she chooses Pink Winged stick insects, she can take them out of the cage and let them fly across the room. Many children enjoy collecting the eggs, keeping records of how many are laid and when they hatch etc. She can watch them eat (they take semi-circular cuts out of the leaves), and grow (they do this by sliding vertically downwards out of their old skins), and she can try to film these events too.

Is bramble the same as raspberry?
No, but they are similar and both leaves are eaten by stick insects. Bramble is also called blackberry and there are lots of types of bramble growing wild in the UK. Some types of bramble die off in the winter, but other sorts, particularly with the two-tone green and purple stems, continue to have green leaves throughout the winter. Raspberry plants tend to grow upright instead of sprawling like bramble does. And the raspberry leaves are usually only present during the late spring and summer months.

Are stick insects sentient? When my New Guinea stick insect is walking across the floor, she always pauses when she gets to the table. She then waggles her antennae about as though she is thinking about whether or not to climb up the table leg.
Yes, stick insects are sentient.

I hope this doesn't sound daft but what am I supposed to do with the Cleaning Sponge? Do I leave it in the ELC cage with the stick insects? The ELC cage is brilliant by the way!
Don't keep the Cleaning Sponge inside the cage, instead store it by your sink. Once a month empty the cage of its contents and then you can wash the ELC cage in lukewarm (not hot) soapy water, using the Cleaning Sponge to scrub off any marks without scratching the plastic. Rinse well with cold water and dry with a soft tea towel (an old cotton tea towel is best to use because these are very soft and won't scratch the cage).

I want stick insects for Christmas, what's the latest I can order? Do you use Hermes?
Christmas stick insect orders are being taken now, so best not to delay. Stick insects and cages that are Christmas gifts shall be dispatched mid December, weather permitting. It needs to be above freezing at night for the creatures to travel, Small-Life Supplies will email you in advance to let you know of the delivery date. Parcels can be left with a neighbour or in a safe place, please let us know these details when you order so we can pass the instruction to the courier. Small-Life Supplies uses a reputable fast 24-hour courier. We do not use the Hermes courier because although they are cheaper, their service is much slower.

Does the ELC cage come in different sizes? I want to get some New Guinea stick insects for a Christmas present but am not sure that the ELC is large enough?
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do really well in the ELC cage, this is what we use to rear them in large numbers. Here at Small-Life Supplies we have tried housing New Guinea stick insects in different designs and sizes of cage over the years, and the ELC cage is by far the best cage for this species. There is a smaller version of the ELC cage, called the TTQ cage, this is suitable as a nursery cage for New Guinea stick insects. So we house baby New Guineas in the HUA Pot, then transfer them to the TTQ cage after a skin-change, and then transfer them to the ELC cage after another skin-change. The ELC cage can accommodate up to six adult New Guinea stick insects.

Can you give me some advice regarding raising Achrioptera fallax? How many eggs can I keep in one QBOX at a time? Do I need to attend to ova at all until they hatch? How do I care for the nymphs? I have read they need moving air for 15 mins every hour.
Like other stick insects, you can keep lots of Achrioptera fallax eggs in a QBOX, up to about 1cm deep. With this species, it is best to mix the eggs with some of the droppings (frass) from the adult stick insects. This technique helps the baby stick insects (called first instar nymphs) to hatch successfully. When the eggs on the bottom layer hatch, the hatchlings wriggle upwards and rest under the lid of the QBOX. In the evening, transfer the babies to a HUA Pot and give them a slightly wet bramble leaf to eat. A fan is not necessary. It helps to gently shake the egg mixture in the QBOX about once a week, this gentle movement seems to encourage the successful development of the eggs.

Do male Pink Winged stick insects exist? I know male Indian stick insects exist but are very rare.
Yes, male Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do exist but are even more rare than male Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). I have only ever seen three male Pink Winged stick insects! They are much smaller and thinner than the females and are hyper-active. Male Indian stick insects are smaller, thinner and hyper-active too, they are estimated to occur at a frequency of 1 male to every 10000 females.

I have an AUC cage and need more Liners. The ones I have are green but the lady I spoke to on the phone said that you'd have some new pink AUC Liners ready in December. Is that still the case?
Yes, the new pink AUC Liners shall be ready next week. They will be the same price as the green AUC Liners.

When I spray the leaves should I get the stick insects wet too? I've ordered some New Guinea stick insects to arrive next week and want to do things right.
Stick insects do not like getting wet and so aim the spray of water onto the leaves, not at the stick insects. Better still, mist the bramble before you put it into the cage. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) drink more water than most stick insects, and so ensure that there is always a shallow dish of clean cold tap water in the ELC cage. New Guinea stick insects can drink from the droplets on the bramble leaves, but these stick insects need to have long drinking sessions from the water dish.

I purchased some Thai and Pink Wing stick insects at the entomologist fair in October, the Thai sticks have been mating and the female has laid eggs, I have been collecting her eggs and keeping them in a container for the last month or so, could you please advise how long they take to hatch approximately?
Thailand stick insect eggs (Baculum thaii) usually hatch after two months. If the surroundings are exceptionally hot, for example during a hot summer, this incubation time is reduced to four weeks. Thailand stick insect eggs have one of the shortest incubation times of all stick insects. For best results, mix the Thailand stick insect eggs in with some of the droppings (frass), this action promotes successful hatching. Hatchling Thailand stick insects can become tangled up if they hatch from a dish just containing Thailand eggs. More details on Thailand stick insects and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are in the best-selling book "Keeping Stick Insects" by Dorothy Floyd.

I got rid of the Water Dish in the cage because my New Guinea stick insects (adults) kept pooing in it and making it messy. But was this an error? I spritz the leaves for them daily.

Yes, that was a big mistake and you need to put a dish of shallow cold tap water back in the the cage. The reason is that adult New Guinea stick insect adults (Eurycantha calcarata) drink a lot of water, and can spend a few minutes or even ten to twenty minutes drinking water. So they simply won't be getting enough water just by sucking up water droplets that have landed on some spritzed bramble leaves. Also, as well as drinking from the water dish, the adult female New Guinea stick insect can also use it to wash her ovipositor after burying eggs in the Sand Pit. Sometimes stick insect droppings land in the water dish, making it messy, as you have observed. This is why it's best to replace the water in the Water Dish every day or so, to ensure that the stick insects are drinking water that is clean and not polluted.

Which is the correct spelling - is it Eurycantha calcerata or Eurycantha calcarata? Or can both be used?
Eurycantha calcarata is the correct spelling. This is the Latin species name of the New Guinea stick insect. There is only one way to correctly spell this species and it is Eurycantha calcarata.

I'm thinking of purchasing your HLQ cage for some giant African land snails. Would the cage be big enough for two adults? I believe these snails need a heat mat in winter, is it easy to position one under the cage, or would this dry out the liner?
Yes, the HLQ cage is ideal for a pair of Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica). Extra heating should not be necessary, Giant African Land Snails are like stick insects in that they do well if kept indoors in a room that is comfortably warm in the day (18-21 degrees Celsius) and cooler at night (minimum of 12 degrees Celsius). Small-Life Supplies have been breeding Giant African Land Snails for decades and do not use heat mats or extra heating. Place a wet Liner on the floor of the HLQ cage, this will dry slightly during the week, and so needs to be replaced or re-wetted once a week.

I am shocked and disgusted that the majority of British MPs have voted that animals are not sentient beings? For crying out loud, our politicians can't be THAT stupid, so is there something else behind this?
Obviously animals are sentient beings, it is absurd to suggest otherwise. So yes, this vote has been made to promote a political agenda, rather than reflect the views of the individual MPs. It was not a free vote and so MPs voted as directed by their whips. However, this vote sends out a very bad message and to risk jeopardising the progress that has been made in animal welfare is repugnant. Britain and other countries should be prioritising improvements to animal welfare, and protecting the environment also. It would help the cause if there were more biologists and scientists in government and in positions of power.

Our Indian stick insects arrived on Thursday and were transferred to their new home with fresh food etc. One of them did look different to the others and appeared to be very still and a paler colour. Is she unwell?
There is some natural colour variation amongst Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), most are green but some are fawn and the odd one is dark grey, their colour is no reflection on their state of health. Indian stick insects can go into a defensive "stick mode" for several hours, this often happens after a journey and so there is no cause for concern. It usually takes about a week for stick insects to settle in to their new surroundings.

Do many people get stick insects for Christmas?
Yes, Christmas is a very busy time for Small-Life Supplies because lots of people (of all ages) buy stick insects and the ELC cage bundle as gifts or as presents for themselves. This year, we have the larger AUC cage for sale also, and so will be even busier.

Sometimes I see my stick insect make a water bubble from her mouth? Why does she do this? She is the Indian species.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) sometimes wet their mouthparts and exercise them before eating. To do this the stick insect produces a water droplet, usually on the side of the cage, and then dips her mouthparts into it. This usually happens in the early evening because Indian stick insects prefer to eat when it has just become dark.

My stick insect has his foot stuck in his egg. Should I try and pull the egg off?
A stick insect should be able to hatch successfully and completely free itself from the empty eggshell. Occasionally though, the eggshell may still be attached to the end of the back leg. Do not try and pull the eggshell off because this will cause the stick insect to panic and throw off its whole leg. So leave it alone and the stick insect will lose the eggshell when it changes its skin for the first time (this event usually occurs when the stick insect nymph is approximately three weeks old).

Our Indian stick insects arrived yesterday, we noticed one was more active than the other three. This particular insect munched happily as we watched and later seemed happy to climb on my grandson's hand, walking from one hand to the other and up his arm for about five minutes. This morning the same again with one insect, but the other three did not move at all. Two were hanging side by side on the netting side of the container about half way up and another one horizontally near the top. Now, six hours later there is no movement from any of them. Is it usual for them to be inactive for long periods?
Yes, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do rest a lot and so there is no cause for concern. The individual stick insects exhibit different behaviour, so are easy to tell apart, you can already spot the naturally active one. Handling for about five minutes a day is about right, it's important not to over handle the stick insects because they can get over tired.

Do Pink Winged stick insects prefer to be thrown up into the air to fly? Or is it better to let them decide when to take off?
Winged stick insects (and birds) prefer to take off when they want to, so do not throw them into the air. For best results, place the adult Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) on the outstretched palm of your hand. This should be over a table and about 2 metres from a wall. You will see the stick insect turning her head as she considers where she will fly to. Usually they start off cautiously and will do a short flight to the table. And then, as they become more confident, they fly further, across a room. Some Pink Winged stick insect adults are better at flying than others. Remember to mist the leaves with water before returning the stick insect to the ELC cage, because the stick insect is usually thirsty after a flight.

I have a question about suitability of privet leaves as food for stick insects? I'm sure we fed our school stick insects with privet (but that was many years ago!). Anyway I am now the proud owner of four Indian stick insects but they won't touch the privet, they will eat the bramble leaves though.
Privet used to be the staple diet of Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). However, privet hedges are less common now in the UK and so lots of people have switched over to feeding their Indian stick insects with bramble leaves, which are easier to source and grow. Small-Life Supplies stopped using privet four years ago. Our Indian stick insects now reject privet leaves, but they will eat other leaves, including bramble/blackberry, hazel, eucalyptus and rose leaves.

I know stick insect eggs are supposed to resemble plant seeds, but can you tell me what plant seed looks like the egg of an Indian stick insect?
Seeds of the Brussels sprout are fairly similar to the eggs of Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) because they are about the same size , similar shape and colour (mid-brown). However, the seed of the Brussels sprout is missing the yellow lid (operculum) which is present on the egg of the Indian stick insect.

I thought New Guinea stick insect eggs were supposed to hatch after six months? My adults started laying in June 2017 and today I saw a baby New Guinea stick insect, it is very cute! My room is hot and gets lots of sun, is this why the eggs are hatching early? They're great pets, I hope more hatch.
The eggs of New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) usually hatch after six months, but if the eggs have been stored in very warm surroundings, their development can be accelerated and they can hatch after five months, as you have observed. The eggs usually hatch at night. To help them hatch, you can very lightly mist the eggs with water the night before. But be careful not to get the eggs too wet because this will lead to mould and cause problems, so only give them a very light short spray of water.

My daughter wants stick insects for Christmas. I don't know anything about them and so am thankful that I have found your site. I am thinking of getting the ELC bundle first so I could set it all up, and then buying the stick insects later, to be delivered as near to Christmas as possible. Would this be OK?
You could do that, but you'd be paying the £9.95 delivery charge twice. And there isn't much "setting up" of the cage to do, it is supplied ready assembled, so all you have to do is peel off the protective sheeting off the cage, insert a Liner and then insert the bramble stems in the Sprig Pot of water. So I'd recommend buying everything together and save yourself £9.95. Small-Life Supplies are accepting Christmas orders now, these will be dispatched mid December onwards. When you order, it is important to request "Christmas delivery", so we know to delay dispatch until mid December.

I have several adult pairs of Aretaon asperrimus, they always seem to be mating! Anyhow, I think one of the adult males has died during the act. He is still coupled to the female. Not sure what to do now?.
Yes, the Sabah stick insect (Aretaon asperrimus) and the larger Giant Sabah stick insect (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) can mate for several days at a time. Even when they are not mating, the adult male is often resting on top of the adult female. Sometimes several males stack up on top of one female, there can be up to three adult males! Occasionally a male dies during mating. The female carries on as normal, so she eats and moves around. After a few days he will drop off, so it's best to leave them alone and not try to intervene.

Do you send the ELC cage by Royal Mail? And how long does it normally take?
No, the ELC cage is delivered by courier the day after we dispatch it. You will receive the delivery tracking details by email and deliveries are made between 8am and 4pm weekdays. We can instruct the driver to leave the parcel with a neighbour, or in a safe place, for example a porch, please give us these instructions at time of ordering. ELC cages are in stock and so you would receive yours within a few days of ordering. Very urgent orders requiring a same day dispatch are accommodated wherever possible.

I got my ELC cage last week and I have noticed it is very staticy. So when I try to sweep the base, the poo sticks to the sides by static. What can I do ?
This is easy to fix, you just need to wash the cage with lukewarm soapy water (using the Small-Life Supplies soft "Cleaning Sponge"). Rinse well with cold water. Dry the cage with a soft cotton tea-towel (an old one is best because these are softer than new ones). It is important to keep stick insects in clean surroundings, so it's best to line the floor of the ELC cage with a pre-cut ELC cage Liner (these are sold in packs of ten, and are available in pink and blue). Every week, remove the Liner, tip the cage upside down and shake out any debris remaining, before placing a new Liner on the floor of the cage.

Can Pink Winged stick insects eat lettuce?
Some types of lettuce can be tolerated by Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), but they do much better if fed bramble/blackberry leaves, hazel leaves or rose leaves. Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) need bramble leaves, eucalyptus leaves or rose leaves. There is usually a plentiful supply of bramble (blackberry) in wild overgrown places, such as woods/forests, by canals or disused railway lines. If you have a garden, now is a good time to plant bramble (choose a sunny spot near a wall or fence), the leaves will be ready to harvest next Summer.

I am so glad that I came across your website (you were recommended by a colleague!) because I have been looking for a good supplier of captive-bred caterpillars for ages. I can't see any for sale on your website, I realise British ones are out of season in November, but might you have some tropical ones for sale soon?
Yes, we are breeding the Indian Eri silkmoth and the good news is that the latest batch of adult Indian Eri silkmoths have just started to emerge from their silk cocoons. They will mate and lay eggs soon, and the resultant caterpillars should be ready to send out in a few weeks time. We have a waiting-list for people who would like to be notified when these white caterpillars are ready. If you would like your name to be added to the list, please email asking to be put on the caterpillar waiting-list. Indian Eri silkmoth caterpillars eat privet leaves, you can gather these yourself from a privet hedge or you can buy a bag of fresh cut privet from Small-Life Supplies.

When you say feed your stick insects bramble, do you mean the leaves, the stems, the petals or the berries? I'm guessing the leaves? If so, how many leaves will they get through in a week? I'm planning on getting a starter pack of your four Indian stick insects adults and an ELC cage bundle for my son.
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) need to eat green juicy bramble leaves. To keep these leaves fresh, it's best to cut two 30cm long stems of bramble with leaves attached (these are called sprigs) and push the thicker end of the stems into cold tap water in the Sprig Pot. The cut stem will take up the water and the leaves will stay fresh for just over a week. There will be about twelve leaves in the cage, and at the end of the week there will chunks missing from most of these leaves. Stick insects should always have leaves in the cage, never just bare stalks. They can gnaw the stems but this is an emergency action, only carried out when there are no leaves to eat. Eating petals is a treat for stick insects and they sometimes suck at the blackberries for extra moisture if the surroundings are hot.

I want to buy stick insects from a reputable place and Small-Life Supplies seems to fit the bill! I like the look of the Thailand stick insects, but I am a bit anxious about damaging them (accidentally) when handling them? These stick insects are for my son (aged fifteen) and myself, do you think they'd be OK if we handled them gently? We haven't had stick insects before and naturally we'd be getting the proper cage as well from yourselves.
Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are long thin stick insects but are actually more robust than they appear. So yes, it's fine for Thailand stick insects to be handled by adults and teenagers. The adult male Thailand stick insects are particularly active. Thailand stick insects need to be kept in a large airy cage, so you need either the ELC cage (if you just want to try keeping a few Thailand stick insects), or the larger AUC cage (ideal for keeping up to twenty Thailand stick insect adults). Thailand stick insects eat bramble (blackberry) leaves and are easy to breed, their eggs usually start to hatch after two months. Thailand stick insects are an easy to keep variety of stick insect and look amazing, being so thin and twig-like.

My daughter told me to get her a stick insect vivarium for Christmas because she wants to get some stick insects (Indian ones, three months old) from her friend. Could you help with this? Do they need special heating? Do they bite?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are an easy-to-keep type of stick insect and do well if kept indoors in a comfortably warm room, so they don't require extra heating. The best housing for the Indian nymphs (immature ones) and adults is the ELC cage. At three months old, her Indian stick insects will still be nymphs, they become adults when they are five months old. Small-Life Supplies use the word "cage" instead of "vivarium" because our cages have holes on the sides allowing for good ventilation. This is what stick insects need to be healthy. A vivarium is another word for a tank, this has solid sides and so is not recommended for housing stick insects. Stick insects do not bite, they are herbivorous/vegetarian and have mouthparts designed for cutting and chewing leaves. Indian stick insects are safe to handle and I am sure your daughter will enjoy looking after them.

I have an ELC cage with six New Guinea stick insect adults. How many Community Tubes do I need?
I'd recommend putting two Community Tubes in the ELC cage, banded together with an elastic rubber band. This enables the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) to decide who goes in which tube. This will vary from day to day.

Our 10 year old daughter is interested in keeping stick insects. Are you open to the public or do you only trade by post?
We no longer have a showroom and so all the insect cages and stick insects are now delivered directly to customers' homes nationwide. The cages are supplied ready assembled and so can be used straight away. The stick insects are sent by express delivery and live arrival is guaranteed. If you need any advice on which type to choose, please phone Small-Life Supplies weekdays between 9am and 5.30pm on 01733 203358.

Is there a name for when stick insects play dead?
Thanatosis. The Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) also demonstrates catalepsy when she puts all her legs together and falls as a straight "stick".

Do male stick insects have shorter lifespans than the females? Specifically Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects.
No. Both genders have approximately the same lifespan. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) have shorter lifespans than many other species of stick insect, both males and females living for just under one year. The adults mate regularly during their adult life which is why you should always keep male and female stick insects together, ideally having an equal number of males and females.

Can green bean stick insects live in the ELC?
Yes, unless you have a lot in which case use the larger AUC cage. And please don't get these stick insects unless you have easy access to Eucalyptus gunnii trees because these stick insects, originally from Grenada, need to eat eucalyptus leaves. The Latin species name of these Grenadan stick insects is Diapherodes gigantea.

Can people who are immunocompromised keep stick insects?
Some regular customers of Small-Life Supplies have alerted us that they are immunocompromised but continue to keep stick insects successfully and benefit greatly from the experience. Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are often the preferred choice because these stick insects have relatively small claws. More care needs to be taken with the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) because these have larger claws that may puncture the skin. However for immunocompromised people this risk can be eliminated by double-gloving (wearing gloves inside heavy duty gardening gloves).

I have a new baby Indian stick insect that hatched yesterday. Where is the best place to keep her?
Don't keep the baby Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) in the ELC cage. She will do much better in a smaller clearer container with no air holes. We use QBOXES. And give her a wet bramble leaf so she can drink from the water droplets on the leaves. After a month of living in the QBOX your Indian stick insect will need larger and more ventilated surroundings, so she should then be transferred to the ELC cage.

The ELC looks perfect for me, however I'm a little worried the juveniles will escape through the mesh apertures? Is this worry founded?
Small-Life Supplies has been designing, manufacturing and distributing insect cages for over thirty years. The business has survived this long because the cages work! It would make no sense at all to sell cages that the creatures could escape from and yet sometimes we are still asked this question? So your worry is unfounded. Species such as Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) can be housed in the ELC cage from birth. But some other species, including the Indian (Carausius morosus) and New Guinea (Eurycantha calcarata) and Giant Sabah (Trachyaretaon brueckneri) should be housed in less ventilated surroundings when young and so should be housed in the QBOX or HUA Pot for the first month of their lives. They can then be transferred to the ELC cage where they will then be old enough to benefit from the more airy surroundings that the ELC cage provides. It is very important not to house the newly hatched stick insects of certain species in airy cages, so please contact us with details of what type of stick insects you have and we can advise further.

I am new to keeping stick insects and can't decide which ones to get. Are some easier to keep than others? I would like some fancy ones, the Achrioptera fallax look interesting and I like the idea of flying stick insects!
Depending on the species, stick insects can be easy or difficult to keep. Here at Small-Life Supplies we trial lots of different species and then select the easy types and concentrate on breeding those. So, if you would like to keep flying stick insects, then the Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) are the best choice. They are easy to keep, eating bramble and eucalyptus leaves, and they have nice pink wings as adults which they use to fly across a room. Pink Winged stick insects are in stock now and do well in the ELC cage (with mesh roof for their eggs). The Achrioptera fallax species has males and females, the males have blueish bodies, the females are fawn. Both genders have small wings but these are too small to fly with and their purpose is to be flashed at potential predators to startle them. Many people struggle to keep Achrioptera fallax stick insects alive and so it's not a type of stick insect that we recommend.

OK, you have inspired me to plant some bramble by my wooden fence. The tossers at the council have just sprayed weedkiller on the last oasis of wild bramble in town and so I will now have to trek out to get supplies. So I need to plant a good supply now. My question is can I buy bramble plants from Small-Life Supplies?
Unfortunately there is growing trend for councils in the UK to waste money by spraying weed killer on small wild areas, that previously have been left for insects, plants and birds to inhabit. It seems senseless, the brown dead plants are left to wither and look very unattractive. When challenged, the workmen say the wildlife will "relocate" when actually it won't , because they have killed it. Anyway, good to hear that you are joining the growing number of people who are actively planting bramble. No skill is required, just a sunny fence panel and some soil (this doesn't even have to be of good quality). Autumn is a great time to plant bramble, and yes, Small-Life Supplies can send you some "bare-rooted" plants. We send them on a next-day service the day we lift them from the ground and so it's important to be flexible regarding the delivery date. When you receive the plants, it is important to plant them in the ground straight away, and water them in the evening for the first three days.

I would like very much to buy an ELC cage bundle and New Guinea stick insects and ancillary items for my partner's 40th birthday. Unfortunately I am working in Spain on his birthday (on 24th October) and so I was wondering if you could do me a massive favour and include a card saying "Happy 40th Seb, much love KrisXX"? And could I schedule delivery for the 24th? He is taking the day off and so will be at home, so it will be a fantastic surprise. How much extra would I have to pay?
Yes, delivery on Tuesday 24th Oct 2017 can be arranged. And yes, we can include a card as requested, there will be no extra charge for this.

I am confused about which substrate to use. Some people say toilet paper or kitchen roll, but I'm thinking sand may look nicer? I have the Diapherodes green bean stick insects.
Sand is made up of granules which can clog up the stick insects' sticky pads on their feet, so that is why sand is not recommended as a substrate. For the same reason, vermiculite, peat and soil are not recommended either. Instead the floor covering of the cage should be paper, or kitchen roll. Toilet paper can be snagged by the claws on stick insects' feet and so isn't very practical. "Diapherodes green bean stick insects" are called the Grenadan stick insect, Diapherodes gigantea, they are large green stick insects that eat eucalyptus leaves. These stick insects do well in the ELC cage, but if you have a lot of adults they need more room and do well in the AUC cage. Pre-cut cage Liners can be purchased from Small-Life Supplies for both the ELC and AUC cages. As well as saving you time, these Liners are practical and make the display look nice.

I have three male Macleays Spectre stick insects and two females. Two of the males fly but the third one doesn't. He swivels his head but then does not take off.
Before taking off , the stick insect turns its head to choose where it is going to fly to. Some stick insects are more confident flyers than others. The fact your reticent male is turning his head indicates he is thinking about taking off. But the fact he doesn't lift off indicates he is lacking confidence. So you need to give him extra time and encourage him to fly a short distance, from your hand to a table. He will then get better with practice and start flying across the room. This is assuming his wings are OK and neatly folded back along his body? Sometimes Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) mess up their final skin-change and do not pump out their wings properly so they do not fully extend and look crumpled.

My son has been given some stick insects, Indian ones I think, for his birthday, together with a large glass tank. I am sorry but this tank is so heavy I do not like it at all. Also, I have read that stick insects need to breathe fresh air and the existing tank has solid sides which I realise are far from ideal. So, please can you tell me how heavy your ELC cage is? And confirm that it is not made of glass? And can you suggest any uses for the soon-to-be-redundant tank?
Glass tanks are mass produced and often optimistically marketed as being suitable for housing all sorts of creatures. However, here at Small-Life Supplies, we have researched and developed cages suitable for keeping stick insects because glass tanks are certainly not recommended. Glass tanks are very heavy as you have discovered, and the solid sides do not facilitate a through-draught of air, which is what stick insects require to thrive. Also, the solid sides provide no foothold for the stick insects' claws to wrap around and so the stick insects are restricted to climbing the bramble stems because they cannot get a grip on the sides of the cage. The ELC cage weighs 2.4kg and so is light and easy to move around. The ELC cage is made from strong plastic and has two sides full of specially made holes that provide the air-flow that the stick insects need to breathe and also the holes provide ideal climbing surfaces for their claws to hook around. In answer to your last question, perhaps a trip to the glass recycling skip?

Out of interest... can you keep different stick insects in same enclosure ?
It depends on the species. Bulky stick insects, such as New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) and Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are best kept in separate ELC cages. This is because they can accidentally harm a thinner species of stick insect if they tread on it. The thinner types can be mixed together, so Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can be kept in the same ELC cage as the Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus). And the very long species can be mixed together too, so Thailand (Baculum thaii) , New Thailand (Baculum sp) and North East Vietnamese (Medauromorpha regina) can all be kept together in the large AUC cage.

I would like to buy an AUC cage for my husband's Christmas present. Can I pay now and have it delivered later? Also, I work at home on Tuesdays and so I was wondering if I can specify delivery on Tuesday 19th December? Or would Tuesday 12th December be better?
Yes, you can order and pay now and delivery can be delayed until December. The week before Christmas will be exceptionally busy for the courier network and so delivery on Tuesday 12th December would be the best option to avoid any Christmas delays.

I have an insulated shed for my reptiles. Would the stick insects need extra heating?
Stick insects must be kept in a room that is comfortably warm in the day (18-21 degrees Celsius) and cooler at night (12- 14 degrees Celsius). So yes, you will need oil-filled radiators to maintain these temperatures. Select the 500 Watt oil-filled radiators, these plug in to a wall socket and emit a gentle warmth. They cost approx £25 new. Stick insects also need daylight and so you need to position the cage so they will see the light coming in from the window.

I am planning on getting four adult Indian stick insects and an ELC bundle for myself. I am 24 and have always wanted these. I live in the country and so have lots of access to brambles. Do I need another receptacle to put the stick insects in when I change the leaves?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) spend most of their time resting on the white mesh sides of the ELC cage. So every week, when you take out the Sprig Pot of bramble , the chances are that all the stick insects are still in the cage on the mesh sides. Replace the Liner and, if you would like to save a few Indian stick insect eggs, just tilt the old Liner and gently tap it underneath, the eggs will roll off and can be caught in a large dish. Place the fresh bramble sprigs (in the Sprig Pot of fresh cold tap water) onto the middle of the new Liner. If there are any stick insects on the old bramble, just lift them off and encourage them to walk on to the mesh sides. Or, if they have clamped all their legs together and look like straight sticks, gently place them on the new Liner. So no, you don't need a receptacle for four stick insects, but you do need dish to capture the eggs that roll off the Liner.

Just wondered if you sell a larger version of the Sprig Pot? I find the Sprig Pots are useful for my ELC cage but a bit small for my AUC cage. Also, my eucalyptus sprigs seems to suck up water a lot quicker than my bramble sprigs, is this normal?
Sprig Pots are ideal for ELC cages, just fill with cold tap water and insert a couple of sprigs of bramble, approx 33cm long. For the AUC cage, a larger vessel is required and so we use a large jamjar with two holes punched in the lid, to accommodate the 55cm long bramble sprigs. Using these methods ensures that there is enough water in the Sprig Pot or jamjar to keep the bramble fresh for a week. If you have stick insects that eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves, then you need to top up the water every few days. This is because cut eucalyptus stems do take up water a lot quicker than bramble, as you have found. If you do not top the water up, the container will be completely dry and although the eucalyptus leaves will not shrivel up, they will become dry, brittle, less nutritious and difficult for the stick insects to consume.

My friend has gots loads and loads of Thailand stick insects, I'm helping her to rehome some of them and we're doing well so far. We're putting the money towards buying an AUC cage. But the larger ones have curved bodies? They're about five or six months old. Her cage is 40cm high.
Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) do need a large tall cage, so ideally the AUC cage, which is 70cm high. Or, if you only have a few Thailand stick insects, then the ELC cage at 51cm high would do. So a cage 40cm high is way too small to house these stick insects. Another problem is the overcrowding, stick insects should never be overcrowded because this causes stress. The curved bodies you are seeing in the adults are deformities arising from the cramped conditions. Unfortunately curved bodies do not straighten out. However, there is time to stop any more becoming deformed by rehousing the immature stick insects (nymphs) in a much taller airy cage. As you haven't got enough money for the AUC cage yet, you could make a temporary cage from a tall cardboard box with some net curtain taped over rectangles that you cut out with scissors. This won't look great but it will be much kinder to keep the stick insects in an environment where they have room to grow properly and not become deformed.

I'd like to buy some stick insects for my son and you guys seem to know what you're talking about. I have a couple of daft questions. Your ELC cage seems to have rough sides, are these better than the smooth glass sides you get in tanks? And the general purpose tanks I have seen elsewhere have decorative backgrounds, do the stick insects need this?
Stick insects have claws and sticky pads on their feet and the larger the stick insects grow, the more they rely on their claws to get a grip and climb. Smooth sided glass tanks do not provide any grip for these claws and so we do not recommend housing stick insects in glass tanks. In contrast, the ELC insect cage has two white sides full of specially made holes which are the optimum size for the stick insects to hook their claws around and climb. The top, back and front of the ELC cage are clear plastic and so that lets in lots of light into the cage. These surfaces are easy to clean with the Cleaning Sponge (included with the ELC bundle). Decorative backgrounds can make the cage look dark and gloomy, it much better to display the stick insects in a light airy cage and better for them too, because they can see what is happening outside the cage.

I got some Parapachymorpha zomproi stick insect eggs and am reading conflicting information about them. Some people say they are parthenogenetic, others not. Which is it?
Parapachymorpha zomproi is the Latin species name for the Thailand Marbled stick insect. Small-Life Supplies used to breed this species in large numbers, and they have males and females in roughly equal numbers. They are a leggy looking stick insect, the females have attractive patterns of colours whereas the males tend to be plain brown. More information is on the Small-Life Supplies Collector Card for that species. There are nineteen Collector Cards and the Thailand Marbled stick insect Collector Card is #2 in the set. As with most sexual species of stick insect, reproduction by pathenogenesis is possible if no males are present.

I am thinking of buying giant jungle stick insects. There are three for sale at the moment, I understand you say they need company, so is three good? We have not kept stick insects before. What cage do you recommend, and what accessories. The nymphs are eight weeks old I think. Your cages look excellent. Is this species mentioned in your book?
Stick insects like company of their own kind and so should always be kept in small groups. "Jungle" stick insects are usually called Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) and this species has males and females in equal numbers, so a pack of four (two pairs) would be better than just three. Young Malaysian stick insects are inactive and very slow growing and require a lot of regular handling to avoid aggression later on in life. It's not really a species that is recommended for someone who hasn't had stick insects before, unless you are a very patient person who is exceptionally "in tune" with animals. Malaysian stick insects are not recommended for children. Malaysian stick insects are more sensitive to cold than many other stick insects and so need to be in a room that is comfortably warm in the day and not too cold at night. They eat bramble leaves and are not in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book but are featured on the Small-Life Supplies Collector Card #19. People keep up to four Malaysian stick insects successfully in the ELC cage, these stick insects also need the Sand Pit for the eggs and a Water Dish. Or, if you would prefer to try a much easier species of stick insect that is a similar size and shape (but brown instead of green), then the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are highly recommended. New Guinea stick insects are far more active than Malaysian stick insects, much easier to handle, very tolerant of standard room temperatures, easier to breed, and wingless (the adult male Malaysian stick insect has wings). And there is a whole section on New Guinea stick insects in the "Keeping Stick Insects" book, also this species is featured on the Small-Life Supplies Collector Card #9.

Is there a pink version of the AUC cage?
At the moment, the AUC cage is only available in blue netting on a white aluminium frame. The AUC Liners are green. However, due to popular demand, we hope to offer the option of pink AUC Liners soon.

I have persuaded my partner to come to the Kempton insect fair with me on Saturday. There is parking right? And it's £4 entrance to get in? I'll bring some cash because I need another ELC cage and maybe an AUC cage as well, will there be any show discounts? Whereabouts is the Small-Life Supplies stand? Are there toilets?
Yes, adult entrance is £4 and there is parking on-site. There are free toilets in the hall too. The Small-Life Supplies stand is on the ground floor, by the wall, on the opposite side to the entrance. The Small-Life Supplies stand has lighting and large insect silhouettes on the stand, so is easy to spot. Our banner to "join the revolution" in keeping insects properly is eye-catching too. And yes, show discounts are offered on the ELC cages, the AUC cages, and the insects that we shall have for sale on the day. It is cash-sales only at this event.

How often should I let my Pink Winged stick insect, called Pink, fly? At the moment I take Pink out once a week so she can exercise her wings, but she doesn't always want to fly?
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) prefer to fly when it is hotter and so they fly most in the summer months. But yes, carry on taking her out for a weekly walk and fly (when she wants to). Remember to mist the bramble leaves with water just before putting her back in the cage because Pink Winged stick insects usually like a drink of water after flying.

We have been keeping Extatosoma tiaratum females in one of your ELC cages for just over a year, with great enjoyment. I am writing now because one of the two adults has just died, and the second is looking poorly. I’m not sure whether it is the end of their natural life cycle - although I thought I’d read somewhere that they had a lifespan of around three years - or whether we’ve got something wrong. She gradually became more and more lethargic, and we found her on the bottom of the cage several times, moving less and less. We knew it was probably the end when she stopped eating a few days ago, as she was always enthusiastic about new leaves until then. We haven’t been spraying their bramble leaves, as our very first nymphs died of damp, so I was wondering, with the colder weather and the central heating turned on, whether we’ve killed them by dehydration? However, I don’t remember spraying them last year through the winter at all. I’d like to get it right for the sake of the eight nymphs we have in 3rd-5th instar, and any advice you could give us would be greatly appreciated.
Extatosoma tiaratum is the Latin species name of the Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect. These are large stick insects with leafy looking legs and the adult males have wings and are good flyers. Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects have shorter lifespans than most stick insects, typically living for just under one year. It is another large chunky type, the New Guinea stick insect, Eurycantha calcarata, that is very long lived and can live up to three years (although eighteen months to two years is more common). So your Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects have reached a good age and are now just dying from old age. I would advise you carry on rearing your nymphs as you have been doing because they are appear to be getting enough moisture from the leaves you are giving them. However, if the nymphs become exceptionally active and start to repeatedly touch the sides of the ELC cage with their mouthparts, this indicates they are thirsty and so if you see that happening, you need to mist the leaves very lightly with cold tap water.

We hope to go to Kempton Park insect fair this Saturday, I have always been interested in the natural world and it's looking like my grand daughter has inherited this interest too. I have been trying to purchase silkworms but have only found kits with artificial food, do you happen to know if there will be any stalls selling silkworms at this event (I recall the silkworms ate mulberry leaves?).
The Chinese silkworm Bombyx mori, eats mulberry leaves but is now sold by other suppliers with artificial food. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we breed another type of silkworm, called the Indian Eri silkworm, Samia ricini. That species eats privet leaves and lilac leaves. Small-Life Supplies shall be selling both the Indian Eri silkworms and the Indian Eri cocoons at the Kempton insect fair on Saturday 30th Sept 2017. The Indian Eri silk moths are due to emerge from the cocoons after approximately four weeks.

Will our New Guinea stick insects (just arrived) be stressed by our dog barking? Obviously are keeping them separate but the dog is loud!
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) get used to noise, so they will get used to your dog barking. The adult females lay more eggs in noisy environments, so your females may lay a lot of eggs initially and then reduce the number when they get used to the noise.

I have some nymphs (Thai stick insect ones) that have hatched over the past couple of days.  Do I need to spray them or do anything specific with the leaves?  I had read somewhere about cutting the bramble leaves into strips.  They are the first offspring of my school stick insects so I am pretty clueless.  When can I transfer them to the same enclosure as the fully grown ones?
Baby Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) start eating bramble/blackberry leaves straight away, they are able to nibble the edges of the leaves and so you don't need to cut the leaves. Avoid using new shoots of bramble leaves and in the winter you may need to trim the edges of the leaves off, but only if they have brown edges. Thailand stick insects like airy surroundings from birth, and so we keep ours in TTQ cages and ELC cages. The young Thailand nymphs like to cluster at the tips of the bramble leaves. Keep the bramble stems fresh in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water. Thailand stick insects like to drink from the water droplets on the leaves, and so it's important to very lightly mist the leaves with cold tap water daily, preferably in the late afternoon.

I have just ordered an AUC cage with your free Thailand stick insects, can't wait to get them, the Thailand stick insects were always my favourites but I haven't kept them for a few years. When they've settled in, I may want to add another species, what do you recommend?
Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) are very long and twig-like and do best if mixed with similar looking stick insects. So you could try the New Thailand (Baculum sp), this is a parthenogenetic species which is approx 4cm longer than the Thailand. Or, larger still is the North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina). Small-Life Supplies have Thailand stick insects and New Thailand stick insects in stock now, our North East Vietnamese stick insects should be ready later, we are currently waiting for their eggs to hatch.

I have been offered three breeding pairs of New Guinea stick insects. Large mature adults. I have been told that they are easy to look after, just regularly provide fresh bramble and spritz daily. And to let them out for exercise and to drink. Is this advice broadly correct? And I am I correct in thinking that the ELC cage is the best cage to house New Guinea stick insects?
Yes, the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do really well in the ELC cage, there is plenty of room in this cage for your six adult New Guinea stick insects. They like to pile on top of each other, so insert two empty kitchen roll tubes (shortened by 5cm first). As with many other stick insects, you need to ensure that there are always two or three sprigs of bramble leaves in the cage, these stay fresh for about a week if the stems are submerged in water in the Sprig Pot. You can mist the leaves every day or so, but do not spritz the stick insects because they do not like getting wet. New Guinea stick insects drink more water than many other types of stick insect, and so there should always be a shallow dish of cold tap water in the cage. There should also be a pot of sand in the cage for the females to bury their eggs. And yes, New Guinea stick insects do like exercise, so it's recommended to take them out of the cage regularly so they can walk across a table or floor (carpets or textured flooring is best so the stick insects can get a grip as they walk and not slip).

I saw your reply to a person who lives in Northern Ireland wanting cages. I too desperately want an ELC cage (to replace the glass tank I have which is too heavy to move and smells inside). I live in Cork, can you deliver here? My friend wants one as well, is it cheaper to buy two ELC bundles at the same time?
Small-Life Supplies uses a dedicated Irish courier to deliver parcels to Northern Ireland and Ireland. The delivery price to Ireland is £4 more than to Northern Ireland. So delivery to Northern Ireland is £24.45 and delivery to Ireland is £28.45. These prices are for up to two parcels. So, yes, it is cheaper to buy two ELC cage bundles at the same time (to be delivered to the same address in Cork) because you will only pay £28.45 delivery to Cork, instead of twice that amount if they were purchased separately.

Do I need to bury the New Guinea stick insect eggs in moist soil or can they be loose in the HUA pot ?
The New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) eggs can be loose in the HUA Pot and you can have a couple of layers of eggs in there. Every couple of weeks you can give the HUA Pot a little shake, this movement of the eggs seems to help them to develop successfully.

Is it possible to "over bother" your stick insects? I have always fed and cleaned mine out once a week, but one of my friends cleans hers out three times a week (and throws out a tonne of uneaten leaves). She also trims off the bramble thorns? We both have the Indian stick insect.
There should always be a good supply of bramble leaves in the cage, but a weekly feed and clean out is ideal. Doing a full clean out thee times a week does seem excessive and can stress the stick insects. Also, it's important not to overcrowd stick insects, so if there are more than twenty Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in an ELC cage, then another cage is required. Snipping off bramble thorns is not necessary, the Indian stick insects can step around the thorns and can only be injured if they accidentally fall onto a thorn and become impaled (but the chances of this happening are very low). Bramble grows very slowly in the autumn and winter and so it's important not to squander the summer stocks of bramble. So I think your friend needs to be more restrained in harvesting the bramble and that way she will still be able to find enough bramble during the winter months.

I have one of your ELC cages which we initially bought 18mths ago with 4 New Guinea stick insects. We now have 7 insects (5 adults, 2 young) and I think the cage is a bit small for them. I see on your FB page a different tank AUC is it larger? Is it suitable for 7 New Guineas and how much is it?
New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) like to group together and seven in an ELC cage is not overcrowded, so please keep them in the ELC cage because this is the best housing for them. The AUC cage is much too airy for New Guineas and so is not suitable for them. The AUC cage is ideal for large Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). AUC cages are £87, and this month you can get six Thailand stick insects free when you buy an AUC cage.

I found an earwig when I changed the Liner in my ELC cage. I think it must have come in on the bramble. What should I do with it? I haven't seen an earwig before, my gran had to tell me what it was.
You need to put it back outside, preferably in the same place as you found it. Earwigs are quite fast moving and can squirm when you try to catch them, so it's best to try and flick the earwig (using a piece of cardboard) so that it falls into a QBOX. You can then put the lid on the QBOX and release the earwig back where you were gathering the bramble from. Female earwigs are very conscientious mothers, they lick their eggs daily and even make boxing gloves so they can hit any predator that is attempting to steal their eggs!

Thanks for the heads-up about the Kempton insect fair, I'll be going and hopefully be able to pick up another ELC cage? I'll need some more Liners and another Sprig Pot too. I assume there is on-site parking?
Yes, there's plenty of on-site parking for visitors to this insect event on Saturday 30th Sept 2017, at Kempton Park racecourse, TW16 5AQ. There will be lots of stands, the Small-Life Supplies stand is on the ground floor, just look for our large insect silhouettes. ELC cages, Liners and Sprig Pots, are for sale from the stand, it's cash only sales, so please come prepared. Living stick insects etc will be for sale on the Small-Life Supplies stand too.

I have just ordered an AUC cage and some Thailand stick insects from you and so am looking forward to receiving these next week. I am also very interested in the new North East Vietnamese stick insect, would there be room in the AUC cage for a pair of these as well as the six Thailand stick insects?
Yes, the AUC cage is a very large airy cage and is ideal for the Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii), and also the North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina). And yes, there would be room for six Thailand stick insects and a pair of North East Vietnamese stick insects in the AUC cage. You could also have a couple of New Thailand stick insects (Baculum sp) in there too. The New Thailand stick insects are 4cm longer than the Thailands and are a parthenogenetic species.

I was watching daytime television today (I am recuperating after an operation!) and was dismayed to see a large wild garden and large tree completely destroyed by new tenants moving into a derelict property. The tenants were a young family (from a tower block) and wanted a "child friendly garden". In their eyes this meant covering it with slabs, and putting in a trampoline and toy pedal cars. They have denied their children the pleasure of planting seeds, vegetables and flowers, running in the grass and climbing the tree. It got me wondering if people who like nature as adults had the opportunity to engage with nature as children? I certainly did, how about yourself?
Yes, as a child I was fortunate to have a large garden and did all the things that you list. I have had a keen interest in animals and trees for as long as I can remember. But of course not everyone who has a garden with trees and plants will become interested in nature. But I agree with you that it is sad when people slab over their lawns and remove their trees and bushes, to replace them with man-made things, all in the misguided belief of this being "low maintenance" or "child friendly". Scientific studies have shown that growing plants and being able to watch plants and nature reduces stress and promotes well-being in people. And a recent study revealed that the main reason why people don't do any gardening at all was because it is perceived to be too difficult. Clearly that is nonsense, a great start is to plant a rooted bramble stem by a sunny fence panel. Water after planting and then leave it to grow.

It's my daughter's eighth birthday on 27th September and she's been desperate to have some pet snails for ages. So I'll definitely be getting the HLQ bundle. But which snails- African or British Cepaea? What do you advise?
The British Cepaea snails are very lively and really easy to look after, eating buddleia stems and leaves, also Weetabix. So I would recommend that type for your daughter. They also gnaw inside rinsed out hen eggshells (these provide the calcium the snails need to keep their shells strong). And they need a shallow dish of cold tap water to drink. You can find large buddleia bushes in overgrown sunny places, for example, carparks by railway lines and industrial units. Or, if you have a sunny garden, buddleia (sold as the "butterfly bush") is a fast growing shrub which you could plant. But if were to plant a commercially grown potted buddleia you would need to wait a year before harvesting it fro your snails (this is because it will have been treated with pesticides that will remain active for 12 months). It's a good idea to order now and request delivery on Tuesday 26th Sept, so you'll receive everything in time for your daughter's birthday.

I just love that even when tiny the male New Guinea stick insects do the scorpion style poses. And how on just water and bramble can they become the huge adults. They are amazing. I am a proud great grandma.
Yes, the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are particularly impressive growing from 40mm to 185mm in five months. You are doing really well in hatching out successive generations of New Guinea stick insect eggs.

I live near Belfast, Northern Ireland, and would like to know if it's possible to get a couple of ELC cages sent to me? Sadly I know that the couriers charge a supplement to deliver here, please can you tell me what the total cost would be? I'd be after a couple of ELC bundles, I have rather a lot of Indian stick insects and I'd like to give them more space!
Yes, Small-Life Supplies sends cages to Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland), using couriers. The price for two ELC bundles is £57.99 each, the delivery to anywhere in Northern Ireland is £24.45 pounds, so your order total is £140.43. This is a 24-hour courier service and so you'd receive the ELC bundles the day after we send them. There is still free delivery on ELC cage Liners to Northern Ireland because the ELC Liners can be sent by first class post and the price of sending a small packet by first class post is the same across the Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do really well in the ELC cage, we recommend housing up to twenty Indian stick insects per ELC cage.

I am a teacher in the United States and wanted to know if your company ships orders to the US. I am interested purchasing Indian Walking sticks.
The US Dept of Agriculture prohibits the import of living stick insects/walking sticks from the UK to the USA. So Small-Life Supplies does not send send living eggs from to the USA because it is illegal to do so. You need to try and source the insects from a local supplier/breeder.

Should I provide a Water Dish for my Indian stick insects? Some sites say yes, others say no, they'll drown? And why is your ELC so massive? I've seen stick insects for sale in small jars?
No, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do not need a Water Dish. They get enough moisture from the leaves and the water droplets on the leaves (when these are misted with the Mister Curvy). And yes, there is a real risk of Indian stick insects drowning in an open water dish. Stick insects need room to grow, they do this by sliding vertically downwards out of their old skins and so needs lots of height. That is why a tall cage, 51cm or 20" high, is needed. Some newly hatched stick insects can be kept in smaller containers, but when they have completed their first or second skin-change the stick insects should be transferred to a large ventilated ELC cage so they have room to grow properly. The ELC cage is 51cm x 36.5cm x 27.5cm, this is an ideal size for many stick insects. I wouldn't say it's a massive cage, it is still easy to lift this cage on and off a shelf.

Quick question about the show at Kempton Park... will there be live insects to view there or is it just equipment and other kit that people display?
Yes, there's living insects for sale, Small-Life Supplies will have various stick insects for sale. Other stalls have praying mantises, spiders, there's usually an ant stand, crickets and so on. It's on two floors, the ground floor is firms and individuals selling stuff, the upper floor is quieter and is more about informative displays. It's an annual event, you can spot the Small-Life Supplies stand because we have big insect silhouettes!

I really liked keeping the Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars in the summer and am so pleased you have some more for sale. I am getting some for my sister as well. I wanted to ask if it's possible for you to just send me the caterpillars and Liners because I still have the HUA Pot from last time and so can use it again.
Great to hear that your last Indian Eri silk-moths were a success. And yes, we can give you a discount this time because you don't need another HUA Pot sending.

My stick insects (Thailand) are changing colour! I mean the females are, some are now a rusty brown. Is it because it's autumn? We are surrounded by green bramble, and have eaten lots of blackberries this year!
Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) have males and females in roughly equal numbers. The adult males are purplish brown and go duller with age. The adult females usually start off light green and then become darker green as they age. Some start off pale brown and these ones become a nice rusty shade of brown when they are very old. So your Thailand stick insects are now very old. They will require more water at this stage of their life and so you need to mist the bramble leaves more generously with water. The fact that we are entering autumn in the UK is irrelevant, Thailand stick insects will become darker in colour as they age regardless of the time of year. And yes, in the UK , many stick insect keepers have benefitted from eating bumper crops of juicy blackberries this year!

I'd like to have a back-up supply of food plants for my stick insects for those times when they are harder to find (not helped my local council regularly cutting back the local vegetation which I think is bad for nature and a waste of money). I live in a flat with no garden but I'm going to try growing some bramble, privet and dog rose from cuttings. I'm also thinking of buying some potted roses from a garden centre as my Pink winged stick insects love wild rose when I can find it. What is the minimum time you should keep commercially grown plants before using them as a food plant?
Yes, growing some potted plants is a good idea, although the plants you list are not particularly fast growing. With commercially grown potted plants, you need to wait at least one year for the pesticides in the soil to break down and de-activate. So a better option might be to grow from seed. You could grow soya beans (sold in health food shops), these grow quickly and Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) do well on soya leaves. Plant the soya beans in soil that you know is not contaminated with pesticides, or use the genuine "John Innes" brand of seed compost (this was safe to use the last time we checked, because it is made to a special formula). If you have Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus), they will eat Lemon Balm, our Norwegian customers grow this from seed indoors and report that this works well.

I am intrigued with your Indian Eri silk-moths. My friend's daughter has a silkworm kit, but they are bald grey things that eat artificial food and mustn't be touched as they are in a sterile environment. Are yours a different species, less delicate perhaps?
The commercial silkworm kits offered by some other sellers are the Bombyx mori species, this type has been specifically bred for silk production for so many generations now that it does not behave like a standard caterpillar. Those silkworms (the silk-moth caterpillars) used to eat mulberry leaves, but are now supplied with artificial food. In contrast, the Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply, are a different species, Samia ricini. These caterpillars can be handled and eat fresh privet (also lilac) leaves. As such, we find them to be far more rewarding to keep and observe. Also, the adult Indian Eri silk-moth is impressive and can be handled too.

I am flabbergasted that another supplier of Indian stick insects suggests the following "to make the feeding of your stick insects relatively easy, place a potted ivy plant into their habitat, keeping it routinely watered. If you are unsure whether the plant has been treated with insecticide, wash off the leaves before placing it in your habitat". Duh! Don't they know that the insecticides are INSIDE the plant, not on the outside?
Insecticides can be sprayed onto the leaves of the plant, this method is used in crop-spraying. However potted plants are routinely commercially grown in soil/compost that is infused with insecticides. The plant roots take up these poisonous chemicals and they move up the stem and then are dispersed throughout the vein network in the plant leaves. So yes, you are correct, potted ivy plants are likely to contain insecticides and these will be inside the plant and so cannot be washed off. Stick insects cannot detect if a plant has been treated with pesticides and so when the stick insect eats the ivy leaf, it will be poisoned and will die. The pesticides used in the soil of potted plants are very long-lasting, they can remain active for 12 months. That is why Small-Life Supplies warns people against using potted plants bought from commercial garden centres, florists and shops. Also, Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) usually much prefer to eat bramble/blackberry leaves rather than ivy leaves.

I've seen a lot of dragonflies today, but my friend calls them damselfies. Is there an easy way to tell them apart?
Yes, but you need to wait till they land and rest. The dragonflies rest with their wings at right-angles to their body (like the Angel of the North sculpture in NE England), whereas damselfies rest with their wings resting back alongside their bodies.

I was washing my car and my father commented how clean my windscreen was already. I do remember back in the 1980s when windscreens used to be covered with splattered insects after a long drive. What's happened?
Insect numbers have plummeted in recent decades. This is due to various factors including: massive reduction of fields, meadows, woods and wild areas (caused by house and road building), reduction of plants in gardens (caused by decking and paving, and converting front gardens to hard standing parking areas), use of more powerful pesticides (airborne and applied to the soil), increase in road traffic, and low cost and easy availability of wasp traps, fly swatters etc in pound shops (these encourage the negative action of "if it moves, kill it".) Also the types of insects likely to be hit by cars are the low flying species, and these include beetles and bees, there are extra reasons why bee populations have crashed (theories include mobile phone signals disrupting their navigation systems, viruses, exhaustion stress from being overworked in commercial hives etc). The situation is very serious and it is scandalous that it is not being highlighted more often.

I have Indian and giant spiny stick insects (not in same enclosure). I am wondering if there are any types of plant I can put in with these insects that they won't eat.
Stick insects do best if kept in a cage containing leaves they can eat. So your cages should have a generous amount of bramble/blackberry sprigs. It's not recommended to put in other types of plant, because these can harm the stick insects if they are nibbled by mistake. (Most plants would be ignored). Giant spiny stick insects are also called New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and these stick insects need a shallow dish of water to drink and also some hiding places, empty cardboard rolls designed for kitchen roll are ideal to use. You can band a couple of rolls together using an elastic band and then place this horizontally on the cage Liner.

Is it too late to get some more caterpillars from you? We were thrilled at the ones we had in May and my daughter has been pestering me for more ever since!
Small-Life Supplies start sending out our captive-bred caterpillars again after 4th September 2017. These are the Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars. They are white caterpillars and eat fresh privet leaves. We can supply bags of fresh privet leaves if you do not have ready access to a privet hedge. They grow very large and are most impressive! They will be listed on the website in a few days time.

I am twelve and I have an orchid mantis and she is very old, she will die soon. I love her very much and I was just wondering would she go to heaven or anywhere similar or is this just for dogs and cats? I know that she's just an insect, but a very intelligent insect at that. Will I ever see her again when I die?
If you believe in the concept of an afterlife where souls of living beings exist, then yes, it is logical to assume it will be full of all animals, so that includes cats, dogs, humans, insects, birds, fish etc. However, it's probably best to concentrate on life now and take comfort in the fact you have cared for this mantid and connected with her, appreciating her intelligence etc. It is good that you are in tune with insects at twelve, this interest will stay with you throughout your life. Try not to dwell on abstract concepts like "heaven", it is better to actively focus on caring for living insects now and promoting this compassion to others.

I bought some stick insects from a fete and they were labelled as "Indian stick insect, Carausius Morosus, stage L2". They're still quite small and I was told they were the common ones. I have three questions; should the morosus have a capital M? What does stage L2 mean? And they're turning their noses up at the privet I have, so what else can I give them to eat?
Indian stick insects are the most commonly kept type of stick insect, they are easy to keep. We find they like bramble/blackberry leaves best, but they will also eat hazel leaves, wild rose leaves and eucalyptus leaves. Ours no longer eat privet leaves and other people have experienced that too, which is odd because privet used to be the staple foodplant for this species. Latin names of insects are in two parts; the first word starts with a capital letter and the second word is all lower case, both words are italicised. So the correct species name for Indian stick insects is Carausius morosus. Immature stick insects have regular growth spurts, these are called instars and are measured by the number of skin-changes completed. So a stick insect that has completed just one skin-change is in its second instar. A stick insect that has completed all six skin-changes is in its seventh instar and is an adult. Stage "L2" means the insect is in its second larval stage, this terminology is used for insects which have larval stages. Stick insects do not have larval stages, because they are not larvae, they are nymphs. So what the seller at the fete was trying to say is that your stick insects are second instar.

I am disappointed that you can't ship to the USA, because my students were really excited that we finally found Small-Life Supplies with Indian Stick insects that we could purchase for classroom pets. What can I do on my end (USA) to make it legal for you guys to ship to me?
You can't do anything. It is illegal to send stick insect eggs from the UK to the USA and that is why Small-Life Supplies do not export stick insect eggs to the USA. We do send eggs to other countries in Europe because this is allowed.

I am looking after Indian stick insects for a friend and they have all died. The dead ones weren't exposed to air-fresheners or paint fumes as far as I know. Their owner had bought a new ivy plant in a pot and left it in the cage for them - we wondered whether it could have been that?
Yes, it would have been the potted plant. It is far too risky to use bought potted plants to feed stick insects. This is because many of these plants have been grown in soil infused with insecticides which are taken up by the plant roots. These chemicals disperse throughout the plant and will poison any insect that eats the leaves. So stick insects should be given leaves gathered from outside, the best leaves for Indian stick insects are hazel leaves, bramble/blackberry leaves, eucalyptus leaves and rose leaves. Or you can buy Fresh Cut Bramble from Small-Life Supplies, the price is £7.88 for a pack, this is enough food for approx ten days.

What's the best thing to line floor for my stick insects?
A sheet of paper, replaced weekly. The cage Liners supplied by Small-Life Supplies are pre-cut to size, thereby saving you a lot of time. If you have Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) adults, just tilt the Liner and tap it underneath and the eggs will roll off (collect these in a dish). Don't use vermiculite, soil/earth, sand, or peat on the floor of cages because these substrates trap the eggs, clog up the sticky pads on the stick insects' feet, and can make the surroundings unhygienic.

I've recently moved to a new flat and am looking for a cool pet, that requires little maintenance. Someone suggested stick insects, and I'm cool with this. I had a walk around the area and have found a fence by the sport's field covered in bramble. But my job involves travelling a lot, sometimes I am away for two or three nights at a time. So I need a stick insect that would be OK with this ? Also, I have only found one place with bramble, so I don't want anything that eats too much. I'd appreciate your comments.
The Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) would be the best species for you. Thailand stick insects are definitely cool, they are so long and stick-like. They have the huge advantage in that they have small appetites and so are ideal for people who have limited bramble stocks. Thailand stick insects also have calm temperaments and so don't panic if you disappear for a few days. This is unlike some other species of stick insects that get stressed if their owners go away, resulting in the classic stress behaviour of eating loads and laying lots of eggs.

I am a home educator in Oxford and have some American material about insects, but the language is causing confusion. Please can you clarify, that ladybug=ladybird and walking stick=stick insect, and bug=insect?
Yes, that's correct, although the last one needs more explanation: The British use the word "insect" to describe invertebrates with six legs that belong to the class Insecta. Within the class Insecta, there are different "Orders". One well known Order is "Lepidoptera" , which contains butterflies and moths. Stick insects belong to the Order "Phasmida". Another Order is "Hemiptera", this contains insects known as bugs (these have sucking mouthparts and examples include Shieldbugs). Americans tend to use the word "bug" to describe any insect, but American entomologists would only use the word "bug" to describe the insects with the sucking mouthparts that belong to the order Hemiptera .

I am thinking about getting a butterfly kit for my son, to encourage his interest in insects. I have seen some advertised on-line, I wondered if Small-Life Supplies supply them?
Small-Life Supplies breed and supply easy to keep caterpillars which develop into butterflies and moths. Our caterpillars eat certain types of leaves, you can gather these yourself or we can send you a bag of fresh cut leaves. The next caterpillars will be ready at the start of September and these are the Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars. These caterpillars are white and grow very large, they eat privet leaves and lilac leaves.

I need another ELC cage because the stick insects I bought from you earlier this year are now breeding. I have four types in one cage, Papua New Guinea, Pink Winged, Thai and Indian. The babies are pale green and are under the lid of the ELC cage, do you know which one of those candidates they'd be?
You have baby Pink Winged (Sipyloidea sipylus) stick insects. Out of the species you have, Pink Winged are the only ones that are green when born. (The other types you have can become green weeks later but are brown when born). Pink Winged stick insect eggs hatch after three months (the eggs are glued around the cage). Another characteristic of Pink Winged babies (called first instar nymphs) is that they like to congregate under the lid of the ELC cage (which is what you are seeing). You can keep Pink Winged stick insects in the ELC cage from birth, they are large enough not to escape and also benefit from being kept in airy surroundings from birth.

We had some oil seed rape plants escape from a nearby field that were growing in the garden. There have been lots of cabbage white caterpillars on them but the leaves have nearly all been eaten now and they are going to run out of food. I'm wondering if I can collect the caterpillars and some plants and wait for them to pupate into butterflies? If so do they need anything special and how would be best to keep them?
Yes, you can collect the caterpillars, keep them in QBOXES or HUA Pots and watch them grow. They eat brassica leaves, you can purchase "spring greens" from Tesco (these are usually safe for the caterpillars to eat, unlike some other supermarkets which can stock products laden with pesticides). Or, you may be able to source cabbages elsewhere from someone who grows them without using pesticides. Nasturtium leaves can be used as well. The leaves you give to the caterpillars must not be wet. Wild cabbage white caterpillars have a very high rate of being parasitised (the parasitic larvae grow inside the caterpillar), and so don't be surprised if you see parasitic larvae emerging from the caterpillars, once they are fully grown. When the parasitoid emerges it bursts out of the body of the caterpillar, killing it in the process. However, you may be lucky and if your caterpillars are not parasitised, they will develop into pupae and then emerge as butterflies, all in the space of a few weeks.

My daughter is looking after school stick insects for the holidays! Cleaned them out today and one is lying on the bottom. Thought it was dead! Put it on some kitchen towel and it moved it's leg a little weakly, also if put finger gently to its leg it would grip. I've put some moss in a jam jar and put it in with an ivy leaf just checked on it and it not grasping as well as it was. When I gently blow on it sometimes it moves a tiny bit and sometimes it doesn't! It's only about 2 inches long. So it's not an adult yet. Looks to me like an Indian stick insect. Is there anything that I can do for it I haven't already done?
You need to place it on a wet bramble leaf because it probably needs to drink water. Remove the moss. Indian stick insects do best in large airy cages (such as the ELC cage). Indian stick insects usually prefer to eat bramble/blackberry leaves rather than ivy leaves. You keep the bramble leaves fresh by standing the stems of bramble leaves (called sprigs) in a Sprig Pot filled with cold tap water. Replace the bramble once a week. Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can die if they get too hot, so check that your cage is not in a hot place, Indian stick insects prefer a daytime temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.

One of my Eurycantha calcarata males has a protrusion from his back end. It is from where he would produce a spermatogenesis sac, at first I though it was now I'm not sure. It's blue/ black in colour and bulbous but soft. He doesn't seen hindered at all and is otherwise healthy.
You are seeing the genitalia of the adult male New Guinea stick insect, Eurycantha calcarata. Usually this is only on show when the male wants to mate (usually during the night). But males who have just recently become adults can sometimes briefly display this equipment in the day, it can be green/blue/black. If you can see this all the time with this particular stick insect, it suggests that something has gone wrong with his last skin-change.

My Pink Winged Stick Insects have started laying eggs. But they aren't laying them on the hatch hat that we stuck to the outside panel of the cage as you advised. Instead they are laying them in the dark edges in the ELC cage. Can this be stopped or will we have to just leave them do it?
It's odd that they are not using the Hatch Mats yet, this suggests they haven't realised their benefits yet. You could try putting one Hatch Mat inside the cage, taped up against the back side with a piece of clear masking tape. This might give them the idea. You can also put a grey cardboard egg carton (the type that hold six hen eggs) in the ELC cage because the texture and colour of these egg boxes usually appeal to Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) as places to glue their eggs.

The Indian Eri silkmoths I got from you mated (for days!) and laid lots of eggs around a buddleia stem, stuck together. Someone said incubation time was three days? I have had mine for nine days and this morning they have turned grey? What does this mean? Also, the female is still alive, she is weak and isn't moving much, is she waiting to see her babies?
Our Indian Eri silk moth eggs usually hatch after ten days. The fact yours have turned grey is a really good sign, it means that hatching is imminent and so you'll proably see the baby caterpillars tomorrow. You need to contain the caterpillars and so it's best to snip the buddleia stem with the eggs attached and place this in a QBOX with the lid on. You can keep this clear QBOX containing the eggs next to the female so she can see them when they hatch. Her death is imminent, but often with insects the eggs hatch just as the parents are dying from old age.

Re the 5-legged New Guinea stick insects...are they still as mobile and easy to handle despite having only 5 legs? Is it a genetic thing?
Stick insects are supposed to have six legs, like all other insects. However, sometimes a stick insect can lose a leg. This may happen because of an accident, for example the leg has become trapped and the insect has thrown it off so it can escape. Or, the stick insect may have messed up its skin-change (ecdysis) and decided to discard the leg because it could not pull it from the old skin. A stick insect with five legs quickly adapts to its new situation and alters the way it walks so it can walk fine with just five legs and can still be handled. Losing legs is not a genetic trait but if the stick insect is of a panicky disposition, it will keep discarding legs throughout its life, so it is not a good sign if you see a young stick insect with regenerated legs and missing legs. (Stick insects can regrow a missing leg at the next skin-change). Some species of stick insects lose legs more readily than others, it is quite unusual to see New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) with five or less legs.

Would your AUC cage be suitable for keeping horsehead grasshoppers? I'm guessing the mesh sides would be softer if the jump into it. Also do you know anything about the stick insect species Orthermeria kangi?
Yes, the AUC cage should be suitable for horsehead grasshoppers (also called Proscopids). These insects like to jump and can hurt themselves if their face hits a hard surface, but the blue mesh of the AUC is flexible and will "give" on impact. Sorry, but I have not come across the Orthermeria kangi, so am unable to advise on this species.

Are there insect meets? We have biker meets but when I googled "insect meets" nothing came up?
The next "Insect meet" is on Saturday 30th Sept 2017 at the indoor hall at Kempton Park Racecourse, Middlesex (north west of London), postcode TW16 5AQ. This is a large annual event, it's very busy, and is an opportunity for people of all ages to meet up and look at the latest insects and equipment for sale. Entrance costs a few pounds and is payable on the door.

Should Pink Winged stick insect eggs be kept in the QBOX? If so, do the babies do well in there too?
No. Pink Winged stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus) eggs should be left where they are glued. This is because they have evolved to hatch from an egg which is anchored in place. If a Pink Winged stick insect tries to hatch from an egg that is loose, the hatchling insect can struggle to pull its legs out of the eggshell and so cannot hatch properly. Baby Pink Winged stick insects are called first instar nymphs, and are relatively large and pale green. They can be kept in the ELC cage straight away because they are so large and so they won't escape. The QBOX is not suitable for either Pink Winged eggs or Pink Winged babies.

I am sorry to bother you Professor, however I think I have fed my stick insects the wrong leaves, what should I do?
Remove the wrong leaves and insert the correct ones. Stick insects usually know not to eat the wrong leaves, but if they have no choice sometimes they will eat leaves that do not give them the nutrition they need, but these leaves do not kill them straight away. So, it's important to rectify your mistake as soon as possible. You don't say what species of stick insect you have, so it's difficult for me to advise on what they need to eat. But as a guide, most stick insects eat bramble (blackberry) leaves but the Grenadan stick insects must eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves. Bramble bushes are very easy to spot just now because they produce juicy blackberries and there are bumper crops of blackberries across the UK at the moment.

My son has some Carausius morosus eggs that we are in the process of hatching. One hatched last night but still has the egg casing attached to its behind. Is this normal please?
A healthy Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) should be able to free itself completely from its eggshell during the hatching process. To achieve this, the conditions need to be correct, so that is why the QBOX (a clear unventilated box) is ideal, we use lots of QBOXES at Small-Life Supplies to hatch out our Indian stick insect eggs successfully. Sometimes a stick insect hatches with its brown eggshell still stuck to its tail (end of abdomen). If you can see the brown eggshell on the back end of your stick insect, then hold the eggshell firmly and you will feel the force of the stick insect as it tries to pull free. Sometimes this works and the stick insect will walk away, leaving the eggshell in your fingers. But other times the stick insect will walk away, leaving the brown eggshell in your fingers but the white soft lining sac of the eggshell stays attached to the insect. If the latter happens, the stick insect will not survive.

So after 30 plus days my silk moth emerged, at pretty much the same time as my hawk moths (who pupated once put in some soil) - so success all round. One thing - the silk moth has laid eggs! There is only one and so I assume these will be sterile - or do moths go in for parthenogenesis?
Good to hear that your moths have emerged successfully. It is unlikely that your silk moth eggs will hatch. Indian Eri silk moths (Samia ricini) have males and females in roughly equal numbers and the adult moths need to mate for the female to produce fertile eggs.

Please can you let me know how much it would cost to send an ELC bundle to Jersey, Channel Islands?
Sending to the Channel Islands is more expensive than sending to France, but it is faster service, arriving by 1pm the next day. The delivery price is £26.60 and someone needs to be there to sign for the parcel.

Is it possible to overfeed a Giant African Land Snail and cause it's shell to crack? A friend was telling me that her snail's shell was cracked and she took it to the vet and that is what the vet told her. I think the vet is wrong, do you?
Yes, the vet is mistaken on this occasion. It is not possible to overfeed a Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica), in fact they should always have a generous supply of mixed vegetables to eat and fresh cold tap water to drink. The snail eats and drinks when it needs to and controls its intake so that it consumes the correct amount. A cracked shell can be caused by a fall, snails like to climb and sometimes can fall off the top of the tank. That is why a soft Liner should be used, this will cushion the impact should a snail fall. Snails need extra calcium to keep their shells strong and they get this calcium from gnawing at the inside of hen eggshells. So it's a good idea to put in a couple of rinsed out empty hen eggshells a week (so save these after cooking cakes or omelettes). The snail is able to repair minor damage to the eggshell, but if the crack is severe it may be fatal. Your friend needs to give her snail plenty of fresh food, water and calcium and let the snail rest as much as possible so it can divert its energy into repairing its shell.

I have just purchased Phyllium giganteum (Malaysian leaf insects) on-line. The vendor advises they be kept at a humidity of 40/60% and 18/22 degrees Celsius.. I have put them up in a large glass tank with a jar of bramble but my humidity guage is showing 88% humidity and the temperature is 21.8 degrees Celsius. I have tried rapidly opening and closing the glass doors to the tank but this only makes the humidity briefly drop to 87% before going back up again. I think I need another cage - what would you advise?
You need a cage which is much more ventilated. The tank you have has solid sides and only has a ventilation grille at the top, this design does not allow enough fresh air to circulate in the cage, which is why the humidity level will remain so high. Malaysian leaf insects have large appetites and so you must always have a generous supply of bramble leaves in the cages, and of course the foliage will also increase the humidity. Leaf insects do well in airy cages, with mesh sides, rather than solid sides . The humidity levels in well ventilated cages (with mesh sides) is much lower than in tanks (with solid sides). The new AUC cage is ideal for large leaf insects, this cage is manufactured by Small-Life Supplies in the UK and has four ventilated sides and a drop on clear plastic lid.

My ELC insect home came today and I am absolutely delighted. If you have any more used ones coming up for sale would you let me know please as I could do with another.
We have a regular turnover of used ELC cages as we replace the ones in our breeding facility with new ones. The used ELC cages are only a few months old and are advertised on ebay at a discount price. Your details have been added to the waiting-list and we'll let you know as soon as we list some more used ELC cages on ebay.

How long do Indian stick insect eggs take to hatch? I read on-line that Indian stick insect eggs can take from a few months up to a year to hatch depending on the conditions they are kept in.
At normal room temperature, which is 18-21 degrees Celsius in the day and cooler at night, Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs usually hatch after four months. However, in hotter conditions, this incubation time is shortened. Our Indian stick insect eggs that were laid on 29th April 2017 are hatching now, after just three months. This is because temperatures in our breeding facility have been hotter than 21 degrees Celsius for prolonged periods recently, due to the hot summer weather. The incubation time of stick insect eggs can be increased if the eggs are kept in cooler surroundings, but most people wouldn't do this because most homes in the UK are kept comfortably warm, so will be at the normal room temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius in the daytime. So , during normal conditions, you can expect the Indian stick insect eggs to hatch after four months.

My friend showed me some of her Medauromorpha regina "Tay Yen Tu" stick insects and is willing to give me a couple when they are bigger. She keeps hers in a vintage wooden cage. Do you sell a cage suitable for these stick insects, or would I need to have one custom-made?
The North East Vietnamese stick insect (Medauromorpha regina "Tay Yen Tu") is a new species that is fast becoming popular because of its very large size and dramatic serrations on its legs. Small-Life Supplies are breeding these stick insects and we house our large nymphs and adults very successfully in the AUC cage. Small-Life Supplies manufacture the AUC cage and are currently supplying customers on the waiting-list. Once those customers have received their cages, the AUC cage shall be listed on the Small-Life Supplies website on the "insect cages" page.

I'd like a communal cage of stick insects, I have four Indian stick insects in the ELC cage , what can I add?
Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) are a great choice, you could add four Pink Winged stick insects to the ELC cage containing your four Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). Both species eat bramble/blackberry leaves and also Eucalyptus gunnii leaves.

Whilst gathering bramble for my stick insects today I spotted some juicy blackberries! It's only mid-July! Is this a record?
Blackberries usually start appearing in the late summer, but last year we noticed them appearing in July and the same again this year. So they have been early a couple of years in a row so far. British weather has always been variable and so plants and insects have evolved to quickly adapt their development to suit the weather.

My son was given a stick insect by his teacher as a leaving present! We have gathered some leaves from the garden, will he/she eat these? I attach a photo. I am scared of insects but want the best for this one, so I will need the ELC bundle. How soon can that be sent?
The photo you sent is of a young Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus). These stick insects are all females (males are extremely rare and not necessary for reproduction). So your stick insect is a female nymph, she will grow much larger over the coming months. Indian stick insects need to eat particular types of leaves, bramble (blackberry) leaves are best. We can send Fresh Cut Bramble to you with the ELC bundle if you wish. ELC cages are in stock and sent on a next-day courier service. You will soon conquer your fear of insects once you have looked after this young stick insect with your son. Stick insects like company of their own kind and so it would be a good idea to get some more Indian stick insects to live together with the one you have already. If you wanted to buy some, we could send them with the other items. We would select ones which are a similar size to the one you already have so they could all grow up together.

My Indian Eri silk moth hatched on Saturday, she is beautiful and is already laying eggs. She has laid 23 so far, does that mean I had a male and a female caterpillar because she hasn't mated with anyone? My 3 year old has named her "Elsa". I took Elsa as a caterpillar to my son's primary school class (he's 5 years old) they loved her and now they can't wait to meet her as a moth!
Great to hear that Elsa is so popular! Indian Eri silk moths need to mate as adults and then the female can lay fertilised eggs, these hatch after several days. If no male moth is present, the female moth will still lay eggs, but fewer of them. The likelihood of these eggs hatching is low, and if they do hatch, the incubation time will be much longer than if the female had mated with a male. The caterpillars don't mate, only the adult moths can mate.

I have been given a number of Indian Stick Insect eggs to hatch out. I was told to keep them in a Tupperware box with plenty of air holes, after reading about your QBOX this seems to be incorrect? I was also told to mist them daily with water, is this correct? I am worrying that I have now done some damage to the eggs.
You have been given incorrect advice. For best results keep the Indian stick insect eggs (Carausius morosus) in a QBOX (this has no airholes) and wait for them to hatch. This occurs four months after they were laid. Only mist the eggs with water if the stick insects are getting stuck in their eggshells and not managing to emerge properly. But if you're keeping the eggs in the QBOX it is unlikely that there will be any hatching problems. If the eggs still look OK, and have not gone mouldy, they may still be viable, but it's important that you transfer them to a QBOX and stop misting them with water as soon as possible.

I have four of your Indian stick insects in the excellent ELC cage. I have ample supplies of bramble leaves in the neighbouring country lanes, which they have been eating for the last three months. But when I visited my sister earlier this week, I brought back some clippings from her privet hedge, thinking they would like a change? But they are refusing to eat the privet. Any ideas as to why?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) don't need a varied diet and they will do well if fed solely on bramble (blackberry) leaves. So it's fortunate that you have a good supply of bramble locally. Here at Small-Life Supplies, we used to feed our Indian stick insects a mixture of bramble and privet leaves, but stopped feeding them privet about five years ago. Now, our Indian stick insects will not eat privet, but they will eat hazel, rose and eucalyptus leaves, but their staple diet is bramble (blackberry) leaves.

My wife and I would like to purchase some of your young adult stick insects for our young son, we're thinking the Indian stick insects would be the best choice? I like the look of your ELC cage but my wife has already purchased a larger enclosure at 1 metre high. A mistake?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) are an excellent choice for your young son. He can handle the young adults and collect some of the eggs and hatch out the next generation in four months time. A 100cm high cage is generous height-wise for Indian stick insects, they do well in a cage roughly half that height (the ELC stick insect cage is 51cm high). But the important factor, apart from height, is ventilation. So a bigger cage is not necessarily better for your stick insects if the ventilation is not right. The ELC has two mesh sides which provide the optimum through-draught of air, this is ideal for Indian stick insects. You do not say what ventilation your cage has, but if it is all-netting, it will be too airy for Indian stick insects. And if it is a large glass enclosure, it will not have enough ventilation. If the large cage you have is all-netting, you could use it to house butterflies or moths. And then you could get the proper ELC cage to house your Indian stick insects. We can send the cage at the same time as the stick insects.

We have two British Eyed hawk-moth caterpillars. Overnight, one has gone underneath the liner, has eaten nothing, no droppings and is much smaller and still this morning. Should I place it on a dish of soil now, even though it seems to be in stasis? Wondering how best to treat it?
Yes, place it on a dish of soil/potting compost, about 5cm or 2 inches deep. You can flick some soil over it so that is is lightly buried. That caterpillar has entered the next stage of its lifecycle, pupation, and so should be left alone for the next week so it can transform into a pupa successfully. It won't eat anymore, but keep on feeding the other one with fresh willow leaves until it starts to pupate too.

My daughter recently gave me two Giant African Land Snails to care for. I read in your care sheet (which you kindly sent with the HLQ cage) to feed them on vegetable peelings. My question is can they eat whole or part vegetables as well? As I now live on my own, since the death of my husband, I find myself throwing away perfectly good vegetables because I can't stomach a whole potato or a whole carrot.
Yes, Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica) can gnaw at carrots and potatoes, it's best to dice these so that the pieces aren't too large. We feed ours daily with diced vegetables and peelings. A Giant African Land Snail needs a varied diet to produce a nicely patterned shell. Regarding greens, fresh dandelion leaves are always a favourite food of these snails, so if you have a lawn you can always encourage dandelions to grow in it. You then have the benefit of being able to harvest fresh dandelion leaves throughout the year.

One of my Indian Eri silk-moths has pupated, but I am afraid one didn't. It stopped holding onto the stalks of lilac and was at the bottom of the pot. And even if I put lilac on the floor he didn't eat. I don't think anything untoward happened to it but I guess there is going to be some that just don't survive. It was barely alive, looked like it was a gonner and rather than throw it in the bin I fed it to my resident robin. But the other is cocooned and on top of a cupboard.
The Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillar usually spins a silk cocoon around itself and then pupates within the silk cocoon. But very occasionally, the caterpillar is unable to spin a silk cocoon. So it just lies in the floor, looks shrunken and as though it is dying. But then it's body gradually turns brown and it changes shape into a pupa. I think this is what was happening to yours. If a caterpillar becomes ill it dies very quickly and decomposes rapidly. Anyway, at least your other one has developed properly and so hopefully you will see the adult silk-moth within weeks.

I enjoyed the wildlife segment on BBC's "The One Show" yesterday with the dragonfly adult emerging from its exuvia. I noticed that the dragonfly emerged upwards out of its old skin, but my Pink Winged stick insects always emerge downwards?
Yes, you are correct. When an adult dragonfly emerges from its skin, it emerges upwards and then flicks its body around so that it's wings hang downwards. It then pumps its wings out and waits as they hang down and harden. In contrast, stick insects always shed their skins by sliding vertically downwards. Winged stick insects also pump their wings out and wait as they hang down and harden. Like dragonflies, stick insect wings usually take a few hours to harden properly, they are then strong enough to sustain the insect in flight.

I received my parcel containing the ELC cage today but the lid is broken. The white piping has a cut in it.
The lid has a join in the middle at the back, this is how they are made. So there should be a join across the middle and down the back of the lid frame, in the white plastic, opposite the 2017 label on the front. Is this what you mean? If you're able to email a photo that would be helpful.

Is it safe to handle stick insects without wearing gloves? Is there any risk of getting an infectious disease from them? Do they bite?
The stick insects that Small-Life Supplies breed and supply are all used to being handled (without gloves) and we supply species of stick insect that are safe to keep as pets or in school. Stick insects have mouths designed for eating leaves, they do not have biting mouthparts and so no, they do not bite. And no, you won't contract a disease from handling our stick insects. Small-Life Supplies supply stick insects to nursery schools, where the young children can enjoy handling them safely (without gloves).

We would love to give a home to a Hawk Moth caterpillar. I have a question about housing: We keep our 10 Indian Stick Insects in your ELC cage, which suits them very well. Once a caterpillar pupates, would it be suitable to keep it alongside the Stick Insects in the same cage, or should we house it somewhere else? And is there a "best" temperature for the pupa, please?
You can enjoy seeing the British Eyed Hawk caterpillar grow dramatically over the next few weeks. When it is 8cm long, it pupates in soil and then you place the pupa (still in the soil) in your garage or unheated shed. And wait for the beautiful hawk-moth to emerge next Spring. Most people like to set the hawk-moths free outside straight away. But if you wanted to keep it for a day or two before letting it fly off, we recommend an enclosure with soft netting sides (this is better than the ELC stick insect cage which has hard sides because hawk-moth wings can be damaged by hard sides). We keep our hawk-moths in the AUC cage, this is an excellent cage for housing large silk-moths and hawk-moths. The best temperature for the pupa is whatever it is outdoors, that's why you store it in an unheated garage or shed. Don't keep the pupa in your house because the warmer temperatures inside would make it emerge early and it would be cruel to release it in a cold month, for example November, when it has no hope of surviving outdoors. We are sending out the British Eyed Hawk-moth caterpillars next week, so please hurry if you'd like to order, before they sell out. A detailed info sheet is included with the caterpillars.

I am an artist and I am fascinated by the heavy duty armour appearance of the New Guinea stick insects. I know that most insects have the three pairs of legs coming out of the thorax? But it looks to me that only two pairs of their legs come out of their thorax, and the third pair comes out of the abdomen? Or am I mistaken?
You are mistaken. New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) are the same basic design as other stick insects. So despite being big and chunky, they still follow this stick insect design of having three pairs of legs coming out of their thorax. The abdomen starts immediately behind the third pair of legs, you can see the abdomen is made up of lots of similar-sized segments.

I missed the nature event in Cambridge. I had promised my grandchildren to take them there, but instead I had a little operation on my foot a few days earlier. Is there on other event soon?
The next large insect event that Small-Life Supplies will be exhibiting at is the indoor insect fair in the halls of Kempton Park racecourse on the Middlesex/Surrey border. This event is on Saturday 30th Sept 2017 and is an event exclusively focussed on insects.

I saw your caterpillar kits at the Cambridge show and have now had a think about getting one. If I paid postage, could you send one to me? It's a late father's day present, my dad has been a bit down lately and I think it would cheer him up to focus on seeing a massive caterpillar grow.
Yes, we are now sending out the British Eyed Hawk moth caterpillars. These have smooth green bodies and a harmless tail-spike, and will grow to an amazing 8cm (3 inches) long during the next few weeks. They are now listed online, here is the link caterpillars, or you can phone to place your order on 01733 203358.

I have some adult pink-winged stick insects in one of your ELC cages and they are doing very well. I love the fact that they can fly! They've started laying eggs but annoyingly they've decided to lay their eggs in the mesh on the sides and top of the cage rather than the hatch mats. I can't remove the eggs from the little holes without breaking them. Any tips?
You need to re-position the Hatch Mats. They need to be on the outside of the cage, near the top of each mesh side. We put one on each mesh side, secured with sellotape at the top only. The Hatch Mat shouldn't be flat against the side, it needs to be offset by 1cm or so. This is because the Pink Winged propel their eggs through the holes in the white mesh. Inevitably a few eggs may still be glued around the cage or on the foodplant, but if you position the Hatch Mats correctly, most eggs should be stuck on them instead.

Would the Green Bean stick insect and Macleays Spectre co-habit in your AUC cage? Or would I be better buying two ELC cages and keep these species separate? Also, I already have New Guineas doing well in an ELC cage, but if they breed could I add them to the AUC cage too?
The AUC cage has four mesh sides and is very airy. This makes it ideal for Green Bean stick insects, the proper name for these is the Grenadan stick insect (Diapherodes gigantea) and Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum). Both these types of stick insects eat eucalyptus leaves and they live happily together. So the AUC would be an excellent choice for housing Grenadan stick insects and Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects together. In contrast, the New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) prefers a cage with only two mesh sides, so it's best to continue to house New Guinea stick insects in ELC cages.

My adult female giant spiny has stopped using her front legs and become very weak. I don't know how old she is but she has been very healthy in the five weeks we've had her. However she has been more active over the last two days. Crawling all over the mesh terrarium over and over. She seemed restless. There is no water dish in there because of the risk of drowning.
Unfortunately your stick insect is dying. She has been so restless because she is desperate for water, it is very hot and she is dehydrated. The correct name for giant spiny stick insects is New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata), these stick insects need to drink a lot more water than other species and so there should always be a shallow dish of water in the cage for the large nymphs and adults. The kindest action now is to place her mouth in a shallow dish of water, she can't recover now because she has lost the use of her front legs, but at least if she can drink water, this will lessen her suffering during her final hours of life.

I saw your Thailand stick insects in the Cambridge lab on Saturday, you may remember I said I needed to check what species mine are? Well, mine were sold to me as Ramulus artemis, but they have the same horns on their heads as yours, so I think maybe the seller made a mistake in their ID? I've asked my boss for funding for the AUC cage as it looks fantastic and they need the space.
Yes, about ten years ago a seller flooded the market with Thailand stick insects, Baculum thaii, but the seller mis-identified them as Ramulus artemis, which is a different, larger species. Here at Small-Life Supplies we have been rearing the Thailand stick insects, Baculum thaii, since the late 1970s when Mr Julian-Ottie discovered them in Thailand. Anyway, they are easy to breed and so people who bought them thinking they were Ramulus artemis have sold their surplus as Ramulus artemis , not realising this is the wrong identification. And so the mis-identification of this Thailand stick insect is now widespread. Thailand stick insects do really well in the AUC cage because it provides the extra room and ventilation they require to thrive.

Someone was telling me that the Eurycantha calcarata is now split into two species- one with small adults and one with large adults? I don't understand, surely the size variation within a species is normal?
Yes, you are correct. New Guinea stick insects belong to the species Eurycantha calcarata. Some adults are very large, whilst others are smaller, sometimes approximately three -quarters or occasionally half the size! We see a lot of variation in size within the same cage, so New Guinea stick insects kept in the same ELC cage at the same time can achieve vastly different sizes as adults. They are not different species, the variations in size are just natural occurrences.

What is the juvenile form of the ladybird called. No one seems to know on the Springwatch FB page and so I thought I'd ask the expert!
A juvenile ladybird is called a ladybird larva. The plural of larva is larvae and so two immature ladybirds would be called two ladybird larvae. The ladybird larvae have no wings and no feet.

I am really worried about my Indian stick insects. They are in my sunny kitchen and it's so swelteringly hot, they have gone limp and aren't moving when I blow on them. Can they overheat, I know it's over 30 degrees here, but surely it's hotter than that in India?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) have been reared indoors in the UK for over a century and so are used to normal daytime room temperatures of 18- 21 degrees Celsius. They do not like to be kept in hotter conditions, we take action to keep ours below 25 degrees Celsius when it is hot and sunny. At temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius the structure of their waxy outer exo-skeleton can start to disintegrate and the stick insects will overheat and die. Unfortunately if yours are limp and not responding, they will have overheated and died. Indian stick insects seem more susceptible to suffering from high temperatures than many other species of stick insect. So in very hot weather, Indian stick insects must be moved to a cooler room (and given more water to drink).

I want some Giant Malaysian Jungle Nymph stick insects, but am finding it difficult to find any. There is someone selling eggs, recently laid. But I don't know how long they take to hatch?
Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) are very impressive large wide stick insects with striped antennae. The adult females are wide and lime green, and the adult males are brown with plum coloured wings (but they are too heavy to fly). Malaysian stick insects (Heteropteryx dilatata) don't lay that many eggs and their eggs take a staggering one and a half years to hatch. So it's usually better to buy the actual stick insects to save you waiting a very long time for the eggs to hatch. But if you want to the get the eggs, you need to check that they are from females that have mated with males. This is because unfertilised Malaysian stick insect eggs take even longer to hatch and the hatchlings are not as healthy as those emerging from eggs that have been fertilised by a male.

I saw Small-Life Supplies at the Kempton fair last autumn - I bought an ELC cage and some New Guinea stick insects from you. Well, since then they have prospered and so I'd like to visit you at the Cambridge nature event to buy your book. I'd like to bring along my grandson too, I liked your description of it being a relaxed event, I found Kempton a bit of a scrum!
Yes, the Cambridge nature event (on this Friday 16th June afternoon and Saturday 17th June 2017 all day) is a nice relaxed event, where there is plenty of opportunity to wander around the stands and chat to the exhibitors who are promoting their special interest in nature. It's nothing like the noisy market atmosphere of Kempton. So we will be delighted to see you again and meet your grandson. You can see the creatures on our stand and also look down microscopes etc on other stands. And yes, signed copies of the book "Keeping Stick Insects" will be available to purchase. Please bring cash because it is cash sales only at this event.

I am worried about Rosa, our Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillar. She was eating loads and last measured at 6cm long. But now she seems to be shrinking and is off her food. She also seems to have had an "upset tummy". Is she dying?
On the contrary, Rosa is getting ready to spin a cocoon around herself. The classic signs before the caterpillar enters this change of its lifecycle are hyper-activity, followed by shrinking, not eating anymore and having wet runny faeces (similar to the "upset tummy" you describe). So, do not be concerned, Rosa will start to spin her cocoon today or tomorrow, the process takes several hours to complete. She (or he, because you can't visually determine the gender of caterpillars) will remain in the pupa stage for a few weeks before emerging as a large Indian Eri silk-moth. You could provide half a cardboard loo roll for her to spin her cocoon in, we have found they often prefer cardboard to twigs!

I saw your advice about feeding New Guinea stick insects with hazel leaves and thought I'd try it. There is a hazel hedge by a field next to a main road, but I'm hesitating because the field has crops and may have been sprayed?
I wouldn't risk it. Lots of arable fields are sprayed with pesticides and these chemicals can drift over the plants bordering the fields. So there is a chance that the hazel leaves may be contaminated and if they are, your stick insects will die. So you need to find hazel trees or hazel hedges that are not next to farmed fields.

I'm tempted to come along to the Cambridge event on Saturday. I'm in London so I'd need to come by train - is the event anywhere near the train station?
Cambridge train station is about a 20 minute walk from the venue in Downing Street, or a 15 minute bus ride (it is a busy road). It's an easy route to take and when you walk along Downing Street, just enter through the archway (this is on the same side of the road as the small cafe and will be signposted.)

I am getting a bit nervous at the numbers of New Guinea stick insects eggs that my son and I have collected. So far, it's 68, we saved so many because we were told they're hard to hatch. But if we are "lucky" and loads hatched, could we send them back to you? I live in Southampton. They're terrific pets and look good in the ELC cage. The females we got from you are really fat and large!

New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) eggs can be difficult to hatch and so it's a good idea to keep lots of eggs to maximise your chances of hatching out the next generation. In the unlikely event that you are too successful in hatching out the eggs, you can always post the stick insects (and spare eggs) back to Small-Life Supplies. If you wish to do this, just contact us at the time and we shall advise on how to package them up for safe travel in the post. Our New Guinea stick insects are a really good healthy strain and so it's good to hear that's your adult females are fat and large, this is what healthy New Guinea stick insects should look like.

I think my Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars are almost ready to be upgraded to their new home, the TTQ cage. I have a TTQ cage that I purchased last year for my Emperor caterpillars, will I need to buy lots of Liners too?
It's very important to keep Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars in clean surroundings. A handy way to do this is to use the new Privet Platform in the TTQ cage. Just push small stems of privet through the holes. The caterpillars can climb up the privet (which is now vertical) and their droppings (called frass) accumulate on the platform. Every day, put in a fresh lot of privet inserted in the Privet Platform and tip the old stems of privet and the frass away. Because the frass is gathering on the platform rather than the Liner, this reduces the frequency of having to replace the TTQ Liner. It's a good idea to get two Privet Platforms, then you can have one all prepared with the fresh privet, so you can easily insert that into the cage. Then transfer the caterpillars by laying the cut stems they are resting on across the fresh privet in the cage.

Will you be showing your new AUC cage at the Cambridge nature event?
Yes. The new large AUC cage will be on the Small-Life Supplies stand at the Cambridge insect and nature event, on Friday 16th June 2017 (afternoon) and Saturday 17th June 2017 (all day). This is a relaxed FREE public event, where visitors can leisurely see lots of displays about nature (plants, birds, insects, rocks, microscopic organisms) and ask the people by the display stands questions about the natural world. The venue is the Zoology Department, Downing Street, Cambridge. CB2 3EJ. It's well signposted, just walk through the arch on Downing Street (towards the Zoology Museum).

I volunteer at the local animal sanctuary and we are having an Open Day soon to raise funds. One of the other volunteers has made some wooden and wire netting cages for stick insects, which she has gifted and we are planning to sell these at this event. But we don't have any stick insects! I was wondering if you have any stick insects going cheap that you could send to us, the event is on Saturday 10th June.
Yes, we have a few damaged ones (these may have a snapped antenna or missing a leg), these are sent out free, you just pay the delivery charge. The stick insects can re-grow a new leg at their next skin-change , but can't re-grow a new antenna (but they can manage with a damaged antenna). The damaged species include Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus), New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) and Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii). All these stick insects like airy surroundings, so will do well in the cages you have (thank you for sending the photos). We can also include several of our free colour stick insect information sheets so you can give these to people who purchase your set-ups. We also sell new copies of the book "Keeping Stick Insects" for re-sale, at a discount rate. The minimum order is four copies, you pay 7 pounds a copy, and sell the book for 12 pounds, thereby making a profit of 20 pounds! These books can be autographed too, at no extra charge.

I am 32 and live in a small flat where we're not allowed pets. But I can keep a few caterpillars and release butterflies, yay! The Commas I got from Small-Life Supplies flew off really fast! Will you be listing anymore soon...I'd really like some more?
Small-Life Supplies breed various species of butterflies and moths and sell the caterpillars when they are available. They are really popular and so it's important not to delay too long when they are listed because they sell out really quickly. We have British eggs waiting to hatch, and so the caterpillars will be listed on the website within a few weeks. Not sure which species will be ready first, but you are now on our "caterpillar waiting list" and so we'll let you know as soon as some are ready to send.

Do New Guinea stick insects jump? Mine arrived today, they are larger than expected! Also, two have gone into the cardboard tube, one is on the white side and the other one is laying flat on the Liner, is he/she OK? It's been like that for hours.
No, New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do not jump. They walk, either quickly or slowly depending on the situation. Small-Life Supplies are sending out medium-grown New Guinea stick insects nymphs at the moment, we don't send out the small nymphs because these are more delicate than the larger ones. Don't worry about the one laying flat against the Liner, this is normal behaviour for stick insects of this species, they like to press their bodies flat against a surface and rest like that for hours.

Oh gawd! I saw another site selling foreign green snails that eat other snails and telling people to gather up the Cepaea snails to feed them. How awful. I have some of these lovely Cepaea snails as pets, I got them from you and they're fab.
Yes, the British Cepaea snails make great pets, they are easy to keep (they eat Weetabix and buddleia stems) and are very pretty, with lots of colour variations. They are easy to breed too, and if you breed too many you can release them outside because they are a native British species. So I share your revulsion at the idea of keeping carnivorous snails that kill the British Cepaea snails. It's also wrong to gather up and kill British wildlife.

I have just seen your Budget Emergence Cage on the Small-Life Supplies Facebook page, I have some of your Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars, could I keep these in there? I am finding them to be most interesting but they are now looking like they are getting rather large for the HUA Pot.
The cardboard Budget Emergence Cage is not suitable for housing caterpillars, this is because caterpillars need to be kept in cages that are frequently washed to ensure that their living conditions are kept really clean. An ideal cage for the large Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars is the TTQ cage (£36), this is made from washable plastic and is what we use to rear these impressive caterpillars. The cocoons and adult silk-moths can be kept in the low-cost Budget Emergence Cage(£12.50) or the premium AUC cage.

I have four Guadeloupe stick insects, which I am totally delighted with, but I think they are all female. Will they require a male to reproduce or will they still be able to do this on their own?
Adult Guadeloupe stick insects (Lamponius guerini) need to mate regularly throughout their adult lives and then the female can lay fertilised eggs which hatch into males and females eight months later. If you only have female Guadeloupe stick insects, they will stay lay eggs. But because the eggs have not been fertilised by a male, the incubation time is longer, the hatching rate lower, and those that do hatch tend to be sickly weak individuals. So, I'd strongly recommend you purchase four male Guadeloupe stick insects. Small-Life Supplies used to breed this species but don't anymore so you'd need to source them elsewhere.

Is it OK in the warm summer weather to move the Indian Stick Insects to an undercover area on the patio?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do not like hot surroundings and so it's best to keep them between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius during the day. They will tolerate slightly higher temperatures, but above 25 degrees Celsius they become stressed and may start to fight. It's important to mist the leaves more generously in hot weather because they are more thirsty when the surroundings are hot. So you could put your Indian stick insects in the shade on the patio, providing the surrounding air temperature is below 25 degrees Celsius. And ensure that no garden ants or wasps can access the cage because those insects can harm stick insects.

I have recently acquired several Indian stick insects. They were eggs from a friend and they are starting to hatch, I am keeping them in a jar at the moment but would like to buy a nicer larger container for them. I like the look of your ELC but am worried the tiny new stick insects will crawl through the holes in the white walls! Also would I need mesh roof or not? Surely they can't breathe if clear plastic roof? Are these tanks OK for such tiny stick insects? I am feeding them ivy at the moment but I see you use bramble, should I change it?
Keep baby Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) in an unventilated container, for example a jar like you are using, or we keep ours in HUA Pots. It's when they are about a month or two old that they need more ventilated surroundings. The ELC cage has two mesh sides so there is a through draught of air, this is ideal for Indian stick insect nymphs and adults. The standard ELC roof, which is solid clear plastic, is best for Indian stick insects. Small-Life Supplies also produce a ventilated roof but this would mean the surroundings would be too airy for Indian stick insects, so you wouldn't want that. Ivy can be eaten by Indian stick insects, but they usually prefer bramble/blackberry leaves. You could give them a mixture of leaves so they have a choice, they can easily switch between eating foodplants.

Do stick insects like music?
Yes. Their ears are by their knees. It's also a good idea to talk to stick insects so they are able to hear your voice. They are also able to recognise the scent of your fingers by using the advanced sensory pads on their feet.

I have just received Indian and New Guinea stick insects from Small-Life Supplies, they are doing well thank you. Do both species eat privet too or just bramble ?
Only the Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) can eat privet, the New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) do not eat privet. You need to give the New Guinea stick insects bramble (blackberry) leaves, they can also eat hazel leaves. It's best to mist the leaves with water from the Mister Curvy before you put the fresh leaves into the cage. And keep them fresh by standing the cut stems in a Sprig Pot of cold tap water.

Is this correct? "A moth caterpillar weaves a silk cocoon. A butterfly caterpillar sheds its skin to reveal a chrysalis."
Not quite. Caterpillars of both butterflies and moths shed their skins and transform (metamorphosise) into pupae. The silk-moth caterpillar spins a silk cocoon and then changes into a pupa within this cocoon, hidden from view. Many other moth caterpillars transform into brown pupae, these are often underground. Butterfly caterpillars change into pupae above ground, often suspended from a leaf. Only a few butterfly caterpillars, for example from the Vanessid family, change into gold coloured pupae, these pupae are called chrysalises (from the Greek word chrysos which means gold).

I am thrilled with my new Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars that I received this morning, they are munching and pooing away! Of course I shall follow the instructions, but I wanted to ask why you can't stand the privet in water? I have privet in water for my stick insects, I use the Sprig Pot.
Standing privet in a Sprig Pot of water works well for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) and so you should continue to do this, also mist the leaves with water so the stick insects can drink from the droplets on the leaves. Caterpillar husbandry is different, many caterpillars can get ill if they are given wet leaves to eat, that is why we emphasise giving them leaves which are not wet. And decades of experience from many caterpillar breeders has shown that many caterpillars, including the Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars (Samia ricini) do best if given cut foodplant rather than sprigs of leaves stood in water. Leaves stood in water take up more water than nature intended, thereby increasing their water content. This is OK for stick insects but not OK for caterpillars.

Is the ELC stick insect cage appropriate for Indian stick insects? As preferably I was looking for a cage that had a net roof, so they can hang and moult? Is this necessary? And how would they moult if not on the roof?
Yes, the ELC cage is a proper stick insect cage and so is ideal to house Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus). The ELC cage has two sides full of specially made holes and the stick insects choose to spend most of their time resting on these ventilated sides. These holes give the stick insects an excellent foothold and so the stick insects are able to anchor themselves securely and then shed their skins successfully, sliding downwards against the side panel. There is a mesh lid option for the ELC cage, but this should only be used for Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) and leaf insects (Phyllium sp). Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) do best in the ELC cage with the standard solid clear roof, this is what we use to breed them and what we recommend to others.

Do stick insect eggs change in appearance before they hatch? I have some that should be hatching soon, but they look the same now as they did when I bought them off ebay three weeks ago.
No, you can't detect any changes in the appearance of a stick insect egg with the naked eye. So the best way to estimate when they will hatch is to know the date they were laid. Reputable sellers will supply this detail when they send the eggs to you. The incubation time depends on the species, for example, Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) eggs hatch after four months, New Guinea (Eurycantha calcarata) after six months.

I was telling my friend about how much me and my son enjoyed keeping the British Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars and seeing them becoming butterflies. But I didn't know what the word is for when the caterpillar becomes a pupa, is it "to pupae"? Anyway the one that "pupaed?" first actually emerged last! It was lovely to set the butterflies free, and I'm expecting your Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars next week, they look very exciting!
Great that you've enjoyed the experience of raising butterflies. When the caterpillar becomes a pupa, this process is called "pupation" and so the caterpillar "pupates" into a pupa. The plural of pupa is pupae, so you have one pupa and two pupae. The Indian Eri silk-moth caterpillars spin a silk cocoon and then pupate inside this cocoon, so the pupa is hidden from view.

I am worried about Martha, my largest Pink Winged stick insect. She tried to shed her skin last night, and now has cream coloured wings, but she has not folded them together because they are ruffled? Will they straighten out? Will she be able to fly? I have three others, they are smaller, can I do anything to stop this happening to them?
Unfortunately Martha has messed up her final skin-change and not pumped out her wings properly. If they are badly crumpled she will be unable to fly, but if they are only crumpled at the ends, short flights are still possible. Usually Pink Winged stick insects (Sipyloidea sipylus) manage to complete their final skin-changes successfully, but there is a correlation between poor quality bramble and unsuccessful skin-changes. We have been seeing poor quality bramble recently (due to lack of rain and sunshine), and so have switched our Pink Winged stick insects onto eating Eucalyptus gunnii leaves (these leaves are currently of better quality than the bramble leaves), so you could try and source a locally growing Eucalyptus gunnii tree.

I just wanted to confirm; do the New Guinea stick insect nymphs require the sand pit and water dish to be in the tank or is this only needed when they are fully grown? Also does the tank need to misted with water for the nymphs in the same way as Indian stick insects or do they not need this? 
The the New Guinea stick insect (Eurycantha calcarata) nymphs need the Water Dish to be filled with cold tap water (so they can drink). In addition, you need to lightly mist the bramble leaves with water (from the Mister Curvy) every day or so. This is best done in the afternoon/early evening. Indian stick insect (Carausius morosus) nymphs also benefit form the leaves being lightly misted with water, but Indian stick insects do not require the Water Dish. Avoid getting the stick insects and the sides of the cage wet, the water spray should be directed at the leaves. When the New Guinea stick insects are fully grown that is when you insert the Sand Pit into the cage. The Sand Pit is provided for the females to bury their eggs in.

I read somewhere on your site to avoid newly growing bramble leaves as they can be too toxic. Could you please advise how old the bramble leaves should be before they are safe? Its getting harder to find any decent leaves from last year. The new leaves are large but still fairly light green.
If the new leaves are large, they will be OK, it doesn't matter that they are still light green. It is the size that matters, each part of the leaf needs to be at least 3cm long (the main leaf is usually made up of three smaller leaves).

We bought our first ever Indian stick insect eggs after reading about how easy they are to keep and my 5 year old wanted a wee pet. We have one hatched so far but I have a concern as its eggshell is stuck to it's bum and one leg is trapped in it too. Not sure if to try to remove it or leave it as it will fall off when she sheds the skin first time?
It's very important that you remove the eggshell off her bum or she will die. It's OK to leave the eggshell on her leg. The surroundings are too dry which is why the stick insect has struggled to hatch properly. The eggs should be kept in a small unventilated box, the QBOX is ideal. It's important to give the stick insect a wet bramble leaf to eat and to keep her in the enclosed box. Ventilated mesh enclosures are not suitable for baby Indian stick insects or their eggs, so please look at the set-up you have and make changes if necessary.

My British Comma caterpillars that I got from you are growing well, but I'm worried about the nettle leaves that I have left in the bag because they are now looking rather dry. I have some nettle leaves in my garden - the ones at the front are shrivelled and dry (we haven't had any decent rain for weeks) but the ones next to plants I have been watering are looking good- should I pick those?
Yes, juicy nettle leaves are better for the caterpillars than leaves that are starting to look dry. So your watered garden nettles leaves should be nice and nutritious for your British Comma caterpillars. Lots of British nettle patches are suffering because of lack of rain, it has now officially been declared the driest month in England for 20 years, and also the dullest (which is bad news for caterpillars).

I live in London and I'm not a gardener, so I don't know what plants look like. Where does one find bramble leaves or do shops sell them? Can Indian stick insects eat any type of leaves?
Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) need to eat particular leaves, these include bramble/blackberry, privet, rose and eucalyptus. You can find bramble/blackberry leaves in overgrown areas, these are sprawling wild plants with thorny stems and produce the edible purple blackberries in the late summer/early autumn. Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) is evergreen and often grown as hedges around gardens. Rose bushes can be found in parks and gardens (but take care that they have not been sprayed with insecticide). Eucalyptus gunnii trees have distinctive silvery green leaves and are evergreen, these trees can be found in gardens, parks and sometimes around train station car parks. You need to be sure you can find these leaves because Indian stick insects need to eat one of the above, you can't just feed them with any type of leaf. Small-Life Supplies sell wallets of Fresh Cut Bramble, these will feed your Indian stick insects for 7- 10 days, and the price is 7.88 pounds including first class postage. Don't be tempted to buy a potted rose/privet/eucalyptus plant from a shop because potted plants are usually grown in compost infused with pesticides. These chemicals remain active for 12 months and are taken up by the leaves and will kill any insect that eats the leaves.

Do you supply silkworms? I used to keep these years ago and remember feeding them with mulberry leaves.
The silkworm that eats mulberry leaves is the Bombyx mori species. We don't breed that species but instead have a larger type, the Samia ricini species. These silkworms (of course they're not really "worms", they are caterpillars) will be ready to send out next week. The Samia ricini caterpillars are white with a blue-ish tinge and eat privet and lilac leaves, they are easy to keep. To reserve yours, please phone 01733 203358.

I would really like some New Guinea stick insects, they look awesome! I have an old glass tank, it's pretty big, about 60cm square, so bigger than your ELC cage. But I get it that the glass tank doesn't have the mesh sides that they need to climb. But I was thinking I could put branches in there for them to climb? Or do you think I should get the ELC cage? I want to do it right.
The ELC cage is the best cage for New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata). As well as providing great climbing surfaces, the two mesh sides also facilitate a through-draught of air, which is the optimum ventilation for New Guinea stick insects. It's not recommended to keep them in a stuffy tank, because air can only enter from the top and so cannot circulate properly. Also a glass tank is heavy and so is not as easy to move around as the ELC cage (which is made from strong plastic).

What does a baby ladybird look like? Is it like a really small version of the fully grown one?
No, baby ladybirds, also called larvae at stage L1, look entirely different from the adults. These ladybird larvae are black with six legs but no feet. They hatch out of clusters of orange eggs laid in the underside of leaves (usually rose and bramble), these sites are chosen because the ladybird larvae, like the adults, eat live aphids which are often found on plants belonging to the Rubus (rose) family. A photo of British ladybird larvae just hatching is on my Instagram page.

I have some Australian Macleays Spectre stick insect nymphs but they aren't looking very well, and one died today. I'm wondering if the bramble is to blame because the leaves are softer than usual because it's been so dry recently?
Yes, Australian Macleays Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) stick insect nymphs need to eat nutritious leaves and, as you have observed, a lot of bramble leaves are not too good at the moment because there hasn't been enough rain. We are feeding our Australian Macleays Spectre stick insects on Eucalyptus gunnii leaves and dog rose leaves until the bramble is of better quality.

I just received the British Comma caterpillars, and am intrigued why they have a white splodge on their backs?
It's camouflage. From a distance, the white area could be mistaken for a bird dropping, so this colouration helps to protect the caterpillar from being eaten.

I am a retired teacher and have fond memories of having assorted animals in the classroom- it was certainly very effective with keeping control and reaching even the most troublesome of pupils. I am dismayed at how little compassion is being shown in some schools now, for example I recently read about a school nature project where the school is growing kale. Well, of course, there are now Cabbage White caterpillars on it, but instead of embracing this fact, the teacher is asking how best to kill them! Those poor souls are just trying to survive. And speaking from my own experience, I am sure the pupils would be more interested in the caterpillars than recording the growth of the kale leaves!
Yes, I agree that there is now far too much emphasis on recording and measuring things, instead of observing and appreciating the wonder and beauty of nature. The example you highlight demonstrates this well. Also, there is a disturbing trend to call even small groups of wild animals and insects by inappropriate derogatory terms such as "vermin" and "infestation". Unfortunately some newspapers in the UK contribute to the hysteria urging people to kill anything they are unsure about. This is particularly ridiculous in Britain because we are not surrounded by dangerous insects and spiders (and of course wild pigeons are most certainly not "disease ridden"). Fortunately there are still lots of good teachers keen to embrace the natural world and challenge the concept of being afraid of nature. And businesses such as Small-Life Supplies continue to breed and supply harmless creatures to schools so they can be kept in the classroom and stimulate children to engage with nature.

I went to the insect event Ollerton at the weekend, it was busier than I had expected and I couldn't believe how many pots of spiders and praying mantises there were! I was hoping to see Small-Life Supplies but I'm guessing tables in a sports hall is more aimed at amateurs. Anyway, could you tell me a bit more about the Cambridge event in June because I would like to meet you.
The two-day Cambridge event in June is more of a relaxed event where experts and academics are happy to talk to visitors about their work and projects. It's not a market style event, like Ollerton. Small-Life Supplies will be there, showcasing our latest insect cages and new stick insects and caterpillars. Other stands have exhibition display boards about various creatures, including swifts and mice. There are also conservation groups and the British Antarctic Survey is usually there too. There are also displays about the microscopic world of nature. There is free admission to the Cambridge event, parking is next door in the multi-storey Grand Arcade car park (this is a council car park and you have to pay for parking).

I just stood on one of my Indian stick insects and I think I killed it, there is a bendy tube sticking out. I feel terrible, I didn't mean to do it, she must have dropped off the table when I was cleaning the cage out. I have put her in a box and will bury her later. I have three left, but she was the biggest and had laid some eggs. Her name was Poppy. My sister says I'm silly to be so upset, but I love my stick insects. Other people bury their stick insects too, don't they?
Oh dear, this was an accident and so try not to feel too bad about it. And yes, lots of people bury their pet stick insects. It is perfectly normal to become attached to a pet, whatever type of animal it may be, and be upset when the pet dies. At least you have some of Poppy's eggs and so you can look forward to seeing her babies, when these hatch in about four months time.

I currently have four New Guinea stick insects that I reared and one male(!) who was from the originally batch you sent me maybe nearly two years ago. Three of these originals died within in days of each other last August. I now have the five (as I thought he might have died by now). The fact that there are three males and two females will this affect them pairing off and mating? The old male is healthy and shiny. They are in the ELC cage.
Looking at our records, I can see that your three New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) that died in August were approx 18 months old, which is the average lifespan of this species. The male that is still going strong is now over two years old. The fact that he is healthy and still shiny indicates that he could live for up to another year, and so it would be a good idea to get him a new female mate. That way your younger adult stick insects can pair up and reproduce, and your old male will have a partner too. It's always best to have an equal number of males and female New Guinea stick insects in the same cage and there's plenty of room in the ELC cage for three pairs of adult New Guinea stick insects.

I have been researching how to keep Indian stick insects on-line before I purchase them. Another site suggests keeping Indian stick insects in a glass tank with coir on the base, surely this is the complete opposite of what Small-Life Supplies recommend?
The basic requirements of a proper stick insect cage are that it is tall (51cm, 20"), so they have room to grow, and well-ventilated. Therefore mesh sides are essential, two mesh sides are ideal for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) because they facilitate a through-draught of air. Adult Indian stick insects drop their eggs onto the floor, and so a paper ELC Liner is a great floor covering because when you replace this Liner every week , you just tilt the Liner, tap it underneath and the Indian stick insect eggs roll off. So the best set-up for Indian stick insects (Carausius morosus) is an ELC cage with ELC Liners. A glass tank is not tall enough, and the solid sides make the enclosure stuffy because air can only enter from the roof. Coir (a sustainable alternative to peat) clogs up the sticky pads on the stick insects' feet and also traps the stick insects' eggs and droppings, which can lead to unhygienic surroundings.

I'm a teacher and have been looking for stick insects and found them on your website. I want to do an independent project with them with a student, not to harm them. I live in the United States, will they survive the shipment if they get shipped to America?
The US Dept of Agriculture prohibits the import of non-native insects. So it is illegal to send stick insect eggs from the UK to the USA and so that is why Small-Life Supplies does not do this. The stick insect eggs we sell are not American species, they are from species native to India and Thailand. We can send these stick insect eggs within Europe because it is legal to do so. But American import laws are stricter and it is not legal to send these eggs to the US, so we do not do this and would not advise you to ask another European supplier either because the same laws apply to them. Instead, you would need to source a local supplier of stick insects.

I am really interested in having a New Guinea stick insect but I am only interested in having males as I do not want eggs and I have looked on your website and you only do the pack of four (two males and two females). I am only interested in the males, is there any other deal you do ?
It is not a good idea to just have males. This is because adult pairs of New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) form close bonds and stay with each other throughout their adult lives, mating regularly. As adults, they can live a year or more. So that's why we sell them in pairs. If you don't want to hatch out the next generation, you can always post the eggs to us, or, if you don't want to do that, then dispose of the eggs.

About ten years ago I visited your showroom and bought some stick insects with a cage etc. They did really well and I ended up donating them to my neighbour when I moved abroad! Anyway, I am back in England now, living just outside Cambridge, and I see that you have relocated to the Peterborough area. Do you still have a showroom open to the public? I would love to see what stick insects you have and your new cages, I am keen to restart keeping stick insects and need the correct kit!
We no longer have a showroom open to the public, but do exhibit at nature and insect events open to the public, where we meet new and existing customers. The next event is actually in Cambridge city centre, at the Department of Zoology in Downing Street (just along from the Grand Arcade multi-storey carpark). This is a free event, on Friday 16th June 2017 (afternoon) and Saturday 17th June 2017 (all day). Small-Life Supplies will have a large stand at this popular event and I hope to see you there!

I was going to buy some of the Lime Green stick insects for my son, but have been driving around and can't find any eucalyptus trees! Is this why you don't sell that type?
The Grenadan stick insect (Diapherodes gigantea), is sometimes called the "Lime Green" stick insect and "Green Bean" stick insect and is sold by sellers on ebay. These stick insects grow large and have big appetites, but need to eat Eucalyptus gunnii leaves to thrive. So it is essential that you have a good supply of eucalyptus before purchasing these Grenadan stick insects. And yes, the reason why Small-Life Supplies does not breed this species is because not everyone can find a Eucalyptus gunnii tree growing nearby, and we have limited stocks of eucalyptus leaves here which we can send to customers. It is very risky to use potted plants from garden centres straight away because it can take 12 months for the plant to be free of pesticides (these are in the potting compost and so are regularly taken up by the plant roots and carried to the leaves).

I would like to breed and raise ladybird larvae and adults for use in my large glasshouse to control the aphids, on your website you have aphid cages, would they be suitable? Which plants are best as food for aphids in a cage? Would ladybirds eat artificial food on a temporary basis (long enough to lay eggs before being released)? Perhaps there is a book which deals with the subject?
Yes, our galvanised steel GSC Aphid Cage is being used to breed aphids and ladybirds. Ladybirds breed best in sunny surroundings, so you would need to keep the cage in a sunny place. Your glasshouse sounds ideal, so you would not need to purchase the Growth Lighting Unit (this is required if the cage is to be used indoors without much natural light). Adult ladybirds and ladybird larvae eat aphids, so one option is to place potted plants (for example roses) in the cage. The aphids will breed on the plants and the ladybirds will eat the aphids and lay eggs on the underside of the plant leaves. Ladybirds like to lay eggs under Maple leaves, so you could have a small Maple plant in the cage also, or vases of water with sprigs of maple leaves. Dr Mike Majerus (now deceased) of Cambridge University, wrote articles on ladybirds, and shared a recipe for artificial food see "Artificial diet" (pp 85-86) in his booklet:" Ladybirds. Naturalists’ handbook 10", author: Majerus, M.E.N., Kearns, P , year 1989, publisher: Richmond Publishing Company, Slough, UK.

I'm just so confused as there is so much conflicting advice about New Guinea stick insects. My ten year old wants some and he is a responsible child and so I am keen to proceed. But some sites say they need a large shallow tank as they are "ground dwelling", but your site makes no mention of this and recommends the ELC cage?
During the day, New Guinea stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata) like to pile on top of each other and rest horizontally in cardboard tubes. This has caused some people to believe, mistakenly, that these stick insects spend all their time on the ground. In fact, at dusk, the New Guinea stick insects start to move around and climb up and down the sides of the cage, and also onto the bramble to eat it. The New Guinea stick insects are large heavy insects that rely on their claws for climbing, so they need to be able to hook their claws around strong plastic mesh holes to get a grip, so they can climb. Small-Life Supplies has been breeding New Guinea stick insects for thirty years and during this time we have designed and tested lots of different cages to see which provide the best environment for these stick insects. The ELC cage is currently the best cage to house New Guinea stick insects.

So happy! I've got some baby Thailand stick insects this morning! They hatched from the eggs you sent me last month. They look so fragile and cute. I have the ELC cage ready and have misted the bramble leaves, are you sure they won't get lost in the cage?
Young Thailand stick insects (Baculum thaii) do well in the ELC cage from birth. Just transfer the babies (called first instar nymphs) onto wet bramble leaves, the 30cm+ long stems keeping fresh in the Sprig Pot of water. The Thailand stick insects usually rest on the leaves, near the tips of the sprigs. These stick insects will grow dramatically over the next few months. Some nymphs have stripey legs. Thailand stick insects are delicate and so take care when handling them. They won't get lost in the cage.

I'm finding it difficult to locate old bramble leaves and I know that it's risky to give the stick insects the pale green shoots. Please could you tell me at what size the new growth is safe to eat?
If you look at a bramble leaf you will see that it is made up of three smaller leaves. You need to measure the longest part of these smaller leaves. If they are 3cm or longer, the bramble leaf is safe for the stick insect to eat. Some stick insects know not to eat the very small shoots, but unfortunately some other stick insects do not know these small shoots can be harmful. So it's best to discard the very small shoots and only put the larger leaves into the cage.


MYTH: "If you get bitten by a malaria infected mosquito in Africa, you can die within days"
WRONG! It takes about two weeks for the symptoms to develop in people. This is because the parasites live and multiply in the red blood corpuscles. And after two weeks, these corpuscles burst and this is what causes the symptoms of fever and anaemia.

Once again Small-Life Supplies can look after your stick insects whilst you are on holiday. We will clean them out, give them fresh food and water, save their shed skins for you and collect their eggs. The price is £3 a day per standard cage (ELC size) of stick insects. You need to drop the stick insects off with us and collect them again at the end of your holiday. For details, please call 01733 203358.

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