Can Stick Insects Fly?

Anyone with a fascination for insects might be interested in stick insects as pets. Indeed, these interesting creatures are great starter pets for children. Nevertheless, there might also be those who are a still a little squeamish about insects so before jumping in want to know can stick insects fly. Some people can tolerate insects that keep their feet firmly on the ground; flying insects is a whole different ball game though. So, can stick insects fly? Read the rest of this article to find out.


Stick Insect on Wood


Do Stick Insects Fly?

In a general sense, stick insects do not fly. However, there are some species that have wings and, as such, the ability to ‘fly’. If you are thinking about buying stick insects as pets but would prefer them not to be able to fly, just select a species that does not have wings. It is as simple as that.

Most people are not aware that there are around 3,000 distinct species of stick insect in the world. And since the vast majority of these do not have wings and cannot fly, it is generally assumed that all stick insects do not fly when in fact some can and do. Another interesting fact in relation to stick insects and flying is that only males of the specific species can fly.

The reason for this is actually quite simple. When it comes to mating, the onus is firmly on the male and as he may have to travel quite a distance to find a female, he will have the ability to fly. Nonetheless, not all male stick insects have to travel very far to locate a mate. These are the species that generally do not have wings. They have never needed wings, so these have not evolved.

Although the stick insects that do have wings use them to find a mate, they also utilise them to evade predators. When necessary, stick insects with wings fly away when threatened or are under attack, although most prefer to use other defensive mechanisms, such as the ability to camouflage themselves.

If previous to reading this article you wondered why female stick insects do not have wings, now you know – females have never needed to fly. She does not need to locate a mate as a male will come to her. As well as this, most female stick insects carry eggs in their abdomen and are therefore too heavy to fly.

Why Stick Insects Make Great Starter Pets

Stick insects are an excellent choice as a starter pet for a young child. They are easy to care for, meaning that young children especially can learn how to care for another living thing. Stick insects tend to spend most of the day resting on leaves, usually only ‘coming out’ to eat at night.

As the life cycle of a stick insect is relatively short, children could get to experience the whole life cycle – from hatching to metamorphosis to reproduction. Typically living for between twelve and sixteen months, these insects are often chosen as class pets. Children get to learn all about looking after these fascinating creatures and can watch as they change from tiny insects about a centimetre long to adults that can, in the very extreme cases, measure up to 21 inches (obviously depending on the species).

What Do You Need to Keep Stick Insects?

Setting up a home for your stick insects is both easy and cheap. All you need is a tank or enclosure. Most pet shops sell tanks that come with mesh tops so that your stick insects can hang upside down when shedding their skins. You can also order starter kits online – click here for a selection from Amazon.

It is important that the height of the enclosure is at the very least twice the height that your stick insect is expected to reach at adulthood. It should also provide adequate room for the sticks to move about and explore. Stick insects like to move about and climb, so if you can provide somewhere for them to hang, they will love it. Think twigs, small plant branches, etc.

Which Ones to Buy

As mentioned above, some stick insects can fly but most do not. If you do not have experience taking care of stick insects, it might be best to start with one of the more hardy species, like the Indian stick insect for example. This species does not fly and can reproduce without a male.


Indian Stick Insect Nymph
Indian Stick Insect Nymph


As a parthenogenic species, the Indian stick insect can lay eggs that will hatch without fertilisation. Any insects that hatch this way will be female clones of their mother.

The Indian stick insect can be handled by young children, but care must be taken to ensure the safety of the sticks. They are delicate creatures and rough handling can result in lost limbs. Other more exotic species of stick insect are not so easy to handle. Some have thorns on their limbs that are used as a defence mechanism; these could hurt young children.

If you are interested in stick insects that can fly, the leaf insect is a good choice. However, remember that it is only the males that can fly. The female of the species is larger and although they do have broad wings on their backs, do not have the underwings required for flight.

Stick insects are not only interesting creatures, but they also make fantastic first pets for individuals of all ages.

For more miscellaneous stick insect information, please click on the link to visit the category page.