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The Northern Walkingstick is our most common "stick insect," which camouflages itself to look like a stick. Northern Walkingsticks grow over 3 1/2 inches long, with males being smaller than females. Walkingsticks have long, skinny bodies which closely resembles twigs or stems of plants. Males are brown, females are greenish-brown. These insects have very long antennae, about 2/3 the length of their bodies. Northern Walkingsticks live in forests where their host plants are found. Northern Walkingsticks feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees, including: oaks, Sassafras, Black Cherry, and Black Locust. They also eat clovers. Adult walkingsticks mate in the fall. Females drop eggs, one at a time, from the treetops. Eggs overwinter in leaf litter, and nymphs hatch the following Spring. Walkingstick nymphs look like tiny adults and are only a few millimeters long when they are born. The nymphs wait until nightfall, then crawl up onto small plants. They continue to eat and grow, staying amongst leaves and twigs where they are well hidden. As they get bigger, they climb higher, until they are in the tops of tall trees. Nymphs molt (shed their exoskeletons) as they grow. Each time they molt, they look more and more like an adult. In late Summer and early Fall, when they are full grown, walkingsticks mate and lay eggs. Northern Walkingstick eggs are small and look like black and white beans. One species of ant carries eggs underground and eats a small part of the egg. The eggs still hatches normally, and is actually protected by the ants. Northern Walkingsticks most important predators are birds. Walkingsticks stay very still during the day, so birds won't notice them. Other predators include lizards, mantids, and small mammals. To make the best use of their camouflage, walkingsticks can straighten out their antennae and front legs and stay motionless for a long time. If attacked, Northern Walkingsticks sometimes release a bad-smelling liquid. They can also lose a leg and grow it back. If many walkingsticks are on the same tree, they can injure, or even kill, it. Northern Walkingsticks can be pests when large numbers destroy trees on someone's property. Small amounts of walkingsticks can actually help a tree by pruning leaves which helps the plant grow.
Northern Walkingsticks feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees, including: oaks, Sassafras, Black Cherry, and Black Locust. They also eat clovers.