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The Ultimate Stick Trick!


Stick Insect, Coorg


When you think of flying sticks and tricks, you tend to think of Bruce Lee and his famous split-stick, the Nunchaku, or circus acts where clowns and magicians make simple sticks do their bidding. But have you ever known a stick that has a mind of its own, and can do things beyond the normal? Welcome to the world of the esoteric Phasmatodea, otherwise known as the Stick Insect or ‘Walking Stick’. This past master of disguise lives among the trees and twigs looking like one of them. If the mimicry doesn’t work, it confounds predators by either playing dead, or breaking off a limb, and scurrying away, only to regrow it by molting again. This long-legged lady is no simpering lass… she’s not only the longest insect in the world, but a true blue Amazon: she can do very well without men, thank you! She can reproduce parthenogenetically, without the need for a male, and on the rare occasion that she does choose a mate, it’s likely more for recreation than procreation. When she lays her eggs, she only reinforces her unmaternal, Amazonesque reputation by dropping the eggs over the side onto the forest floor, where they lie, looking like scattered seeds. But don’t judge Momma too harshly; she scatters the eggs so there’s less chance of a predator destroying all of them. And the ‘seed’ act ensures that they pass under the radar of most predators that don’t fancy a spot of vegetarian nosh! But that’s not the end of it. Our Sticks begin their tricks rather early in life. They have a fatty capsule called Capitulum that does to ants what honey does to bears. The ants carry the eggs back to their nests for a leisurely meal and then leave the eggs alone, where they incubate safe from any predation. Very soon, the next generation of walking sticks emerge, ready to dazzle the world with their nifty tricks.


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