Many insects eat cucumber. But as far as we are concerned, can stick insects eat cucumber?
This is a question that many stick insect owners ask as the majority know that their insects are rather fussy about what they eat. Cucumbers are not necessarily something that every stick insect will encounter very often, so this is probably where all the confusion stems from.
For the most part, they can eat limited amounts of cucumber, but it would certainly not be the foundation of their diet. The reason they would consider consuming cucumber is because of its copious water content.
Let us take a closer look at why cucumbers can be the perfect treat meal for many stick insect species.
What is a Stick Insect’s Favourite Food?
A stick insect’s favourite food depends on where the particular species happens to come from. Not every stick insect will like the same things in terms of food as they are native to different parts of the world and so have evolved to eat leaves specific to their region.
As you likely already know, and as we mentioned above, stick insects are picky. If you do not give them what they enjoy, they will just not eat it. And know that many species will do this to the point of starvation. Countless stick insect owners have lost insects because of this.
Indeed, in some cases, even slightly browned leaves will go ignored. At the very least, the stick insect will eat around the brown parts.
But getting back on point, the answer to the question of whether sticks can eat cucumber is – to try to feed them some. If it is left alone, the chances are that your stick(s) will never learn to like it.
Why the Species Matters
The number one piece of advice we can offer is to research your particular species. You should then learn all you need to know about, among other things, what your species of insect prefers to eat.
There are actually larger variations in diet than you might think. The Australian Museum elaborated on this by highlighting the fact that native Australian stick insects enjoy feeding on eucalyptus leaves yet stick insects from other part of the world will not touch them.
Cucumbers are not much different in this sense. Before humans cultivated them to such a massive extent, most stick insects will never have encountered them before.
Times have obviously changed, so the best way to find out if your stick insect is compatible with cucumber is to put a small piece in the enclosure and see if it eats it. As simple as that.
So Can Stick Insects Eat Cucumber Then?
Cucumber is a strange food (in terms of stick insects) because it is not a leaf, yet some stick insect species have been known to eat it. As touched upon above, the main reason for this is that cucumber is full of water.
Stick insects take their water requirements from their food. Apart from a very few exceptions, stick insects will always get their water through the moisture in (and sometimes on) the leaves. Cucumber is a great way for them to consume a lot of water in a short space of time.
The best way to prepare cucumber for them is to offer only small pieces and place them in the enclosure. The sticks will inspect it and make a decision about if they want to eat it or not.
If it goes untouched, you know not to serve it again. Just make sure it is served alongside their usual leaves.
How to Prepare Cucumber for Stick Insects
So you know that your stick insect enjoys eating cucumber. The way you prepare it is important and doing this wrong could even end up killing them.
For a start, the cucumber should be fresh. If it has dried out, the stick insects will not touch it and even if they did, they would derive no nutritional value from it. So make sure the cucumber is kept in the fridge to stop it from drying it out.
Another risk you need to be aware of is that of starvation as a result of a lack of freshness. You cannot compromise when it comes to cucumber preparation or your stick insects will not eat it.
Another danger to be aware of is insecticide use and pollution. Just going to the supermarket and buying a cucumber and using it straight up could kill them. The majority of supermarket greens have had pesticides used on them when growing. Humans would not be in any danger, but insects are extremely sensitive to these types of chemicals. This means the cucumbers have to be washed under running water thoroughly before serving it up.
The better option is to either grow your own cucumbers or source them from a farm where cucumbers are grown naturally without the use of any chemicals. It also helps if the farm is not located near a busy road. Even car fumes coming into contact with growing cucumbers could pose problems for the insects if they are not washed properly before use.
How Often Should You Feed Your Stick Insects Cucumber?
As cucumber would not be part of their regular diet, you should not feed it to them as a replacement for their usual type of food. Use it as an addition or supplement to their usual fare. Whenever you do give your stick insects cucumber, offer it during the evenings as stick insects are nocturnal creatures and like to eat at night. This will ensure maximum freshness and increase the likelihood of them eating it.
Another reason to offer cucumber at night is so it will not dry out quickly.
This is even more true if you own exotic stick insects. These species require higher temperatures, so you will frequently find that food dries out faster as a result of the heat mats and heat lamps required to maintain the environment at the necessary temperature.
You can also soak part of the cucumber in water to increase its freshness. However, you need to take care if there are any nymphs in the enclosure. Stick insect nymphs that fall into water will not be able to pull themselves out and will therefore drown rather quickly.
The answer to this is to cut up the cucumber into small chunks and stick them through the holes of a mosquito net. This is easier to do with leaves, so it might actually be better to avoid serving cucumber in enclosures that contain nymphs.
Experimenting with Cucumber the Right Way
Follow our serving instructions and give some cucumber to your stick insects alongside their normal source of food. Observe them and see if they try it. You will know within hours if they will eat cucumber as it is easy to see the distinctive marks from a stick insect that has eaten something.
Last Word – Do Stick Insects Eat Cucumbers?
It is true that stick insects can and do eat cucumbers from time to time. The amount of water locked inside means they will often eat it to take in the water.
But make sure you take the same care over sourcing cucumbers for them as you would anything else. Do not go to the supermarket and just pick one up and serve it straight up.
If you are going to be meticulous about it, you need to know where it came from and how it was grown.