Stick insects are among the easiest insects to keep as pets. They pretty much take care of themselves as long as you provide the right kind of food and enough space to move around. Even breeding is no big deal for the most part. Most stick insect species will breed just fine without human intervention.
Different Stick Insect Species Breed Differently
One of the most fascinating aspects about breeding stick insects is the fact that different species breed differently. There are two types of breeding to note:
- Parthenogenic – No male is required to produce offspring
- Non-parthenogenic – The traditional mating of male and female is required to produce offspring.
In the case of the former, offspring produced without the participation of a male are essentially genetic copies of the female. The female produces a fertilized egg that matures into a nymph and eventually an adult. Taking genetic samples from both insects would reveal they are identical.
When a male is involved, the offspring is not genetically identical. The offspring can also be either male or female. By contrast, a nymph produced via parthenogenic reproduction is always female.
Caring for Eggs
Stick insects will naturally breed by themselves without any help from pet owners. They will not necessarily take care of their eggs though. Like so many creatures in the animal kingdom, stick insects lay their eggs and then seem to forget about them.
As an insect owner, the biggest worry you have is keeping the eggs moist. The job is made easier if you separate the eggs from the rest of the environment, perhaps by putting them in a small, covered box with holes cut for ventilation. You need the ventilation to prevent the eggs from growing mold.
It can take between two and 14 months for eggs to hatch, depending on species. So read up as much as you can on whatever species you own. Also note that various species lay their eggs in different ways. It is best to mimic the natural environment in whatever enclosure you use for your sticks. So again, do your homework. Find out whether your species drops, buries, glues, or pierces its eggs.
Breeding stick insects is fairly simple. Caring for the eggs is a bit more challenging. But with enough practice, I am in no doubt that you can become an expert.
To that end, each of the articles listed below are lengthy explanations on relevant topics related to the breeding of stick insects as well as to looking after the eggs once laid.