December 9, 2013
Phasmids are insects that look like sticks or leaves. These insects have developed many unusual shapes so that their predators find it very difficult to find them. Phasmids are invertebrates - animals without backbones. They have 6 legs. Some have wings folded up and hidden. These stick and leaf insects eat plants. The three most common Phasmids are the walking leaf, the Katydid and the walking stick.
Phasmids have developed the shape and color of the leaves and twigs of plants they live on. If disturbed, they may sway gently like leaves or twigs in the breeze. They may drop to the ground, pull their legs to their body and remain very still. If grabbed by a predator, they can drop a leg, and later grow a replacement.
Phasmids have a long body, either a cylinder shape or flattened. They are often quite large and can reach a length of over 20cm. A few kinds of phasmid are wingless, but most kinds have two pairs of wings. The front wings are short and hard and form a protection over the larger and more delicate back wings. They have antennae which may be long or short. Phasmids are usually green or brown, but some have bright colors on the underside of their wings. These colors are only seen when the insect flies.
Male phasmids are usually smaller than the females and have larger wings. Depending on the species, females lay 100 - 1,000 eggs, flicking them one at a time onto the ground below. How soon the eggs hatch depends on conditions. The young, called nymphs, look like adults but do not have wings. They climb up into a tree when they hatch. They shed their skin several times as they grow. Underneath is a new, bigger, skin. This is called moulting. They do this because their skin does not grow like a mammal's skin does. It can take weeks or months for nymphs to reach adulthood, depending on the species of phasmid.
Phasmids are generally nocturnal, that is, active at night. They...