City Cast

Walking Sticks Are Experts At Hiding From Predators

Brooke Lewis
Posted on September 19
A brown walking stick rests in a person's hand.

This walking stick made its way onto a volunteer at Houston Arboretum. (Houston Arboretum)

It might be hard for you to spot a Walking Stick because they easily camouflage into their surroundings. To escape predators, they usually blend into plant material. These insects sometimes sway back and forth, making them look like twigs blowing in the wind.

Walking Sticks are pretty common across the world. They’re found in Texas and every continent except Antarctica, residing in woodlands and tropical forests. Bats are one of the insects most common predators. They’re not thrown off by their camouflage skills because bats hunt by sound and not by sight. However, walking sticks will pull out other tricks to confuse their predators. A walking stick recently found its way on the back of a Houston Arboretum volunteer.

Justin Clay of Houston Arboretum explains more: “Sometimes insects hitchhike their way into buildings on people. This was the case for this large two striped walking stick. She hitched a ride on the back of one of our botany volunteers. These walking sticks are harmless but are sometimes called spitting devils. This is because they can release a chemical defense that smells somewhat like movie theater popcorn and is an irritant. They rarely do this unless provoked.”

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