29 March 2012

Black Beauty Stick Insect

Peruphasma schultei.

Photo via Don't Panic and A London Salmagundi.  I found a source where you can purchase these at Virginia Cheeseman (an entomological supplier).  Does anyone know if they are hard to raise/take care of, because I'm rather tempted...

Addendum:  Those similarly interested should read Liesel Weppen's comment on this post.

8 comments:

  1. Info on care can be found here: http://www.insectstore.com/phasmid/showthread.php?t=798

    Author advises to wear goggles when cleaning their living area as these stick insects have a nasty chemical defense that can cause intense burning in the eyes if they get you. The chemical can even cause temporary blindness.

    They certainly are pretty, but I think I'll stick to playing with the ones I grow on my rose bushes each year. :)

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  2. Since they are native only to a small area in the Cordillera del Condor region of northern Peru, I would ask that you not. So many invasive species of plants and animals have been distributed outside of their native habitat and have caused significant degradation to the population of the local species. It only takes a mating pair to escape to cause great havoc in your local ecosystem.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anon.

      The scorpion-like stance is interesting, even more interesting given the chemical defense present.

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  3. Both items of advice noted; I'll look for some local stick insects or get some mantid egg cases.

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  4. Can insects live rich, rewarding lives in aquariums?

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  5. I keep a (oops...vocab failure here....flock? herd? pride? murder? colony? ;) ah, what the...) large terrarium full of peruphasmids. In response to your original question: they are VERY easy to take care of; they prefer blackberry/bramble leaves (which can be found almost everywhere throughout the whole year, even under snow); they are partial to lilac leaves, too...and in dire straits they can survive for a few weeks on rose leaves.

    Apart from feeding them, the only other thing you'll have to do is to spray some water into the cage every day with a pump sprayer, as the little beauties sip dew directly from the leaves - and high air humidity helps them to shed their skins when they reach their next growth stage. (I believe it takes 6 stages to adulthood, only adults have the beautiful red winglets)

    They reproduce at a breathtaking rate; one mating pair can produce more than 200 offspring, with eggs hatching in waves of about 20-50 over the course of a few hours...so in order to avoid some ethical and logistical problems :) you'll want to make one corner of your terrarium more attractive by keeping it a little damp - that way you'll be able to collect the eggs more easily.

    The potential danger to the ecosystem is neglectable - at least here in Germany - because the phasmids die at temperatures below ca. 12 degrees celsius and can therefor not survive long enough to complete a reproduction cycle.

    They are neither agressive nor poisonous, and the brown liquid they use as a last ditch defense against predators is harmless; in an exceptionally ill-advised and utterly stupid move, my then-6-year-old son tasted the (somewhat oily) stuff......and, before i could stop him, he rubbed his eyes with "tainted" fingers *SIGH* He described the sensation als "mild, very harmless compared to chili fingers" (earning him the dumb-descendants-of-robert-koch medal 2010 ;) )

    Actually, during the early years (before we adopted a strict ovary-control politic) :) ...in a last ditch-effort to manage the unexpected flood of critters, we donated a few hundred peruphasma to the local zoo, where they were used as a treat for several kinds of small monkeys. The monkeys seem to be rather fond of non-chitinous and non-thorny species of stick animal, and never had any problems re: phasmid defense chemical.


    To sum it up, i'd definitely recommend peruphasma schultei (or "bondage grasshoppers" ;) as a "beginner" stick insect. Pointedly ignoring moral dilemmas re: happiness of imprisoned insects, @ the link you mentioned, 4 pounds per adult does sound quite ok; you will probably want 2 males & 2 females to start your own 'farm'.

    (Here's another thought, though: I could probably part with some 10 - 100 eggs for free and squeeze them in an envelope; they'll hatch in about 3-6 months, giving you ample time to reconsider :)

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting, Liesel; I've referenced your authoritatively informative comment in the post.

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    2. they only eat privet or honeysuckle

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