Vietnamese Walking Stick, Medauroidea extradentatum
The name of this large Order of insects is Phasmatodea, originating from the Latin word ‘phasma’ which means ghost – this is due to their excellent camouflage, including insects that look like sticks or leaves or even thorny plants.
There are approximately 2000 tropical species of walking sticks with 10 in North America. Only one species is native to Ontario, the northern walking stick.
Besides their uncanny ability to imitate vegetation, other forms of defense include freezing in place, or rocking back and forth to mimic a twig shaking in the breeze. Most species can easily break off a leg to escape from a predator, and nymphs can often replace missing limbs by regenerating them at the next molt.
Their growth is completed by incomplete metamorphosis (3 stages) in which a female lays eggs, and the nymphs that hatch look like miniature versions of the adult. They then molt their exoskeleton several times until they reach adult size. Females of the Vietnamese walking stick exhibit a strange phenomenon called parthenogenesis – they have the ability lay eggs that are identical clones of themselves, and do not require mating with a male to reproduce.
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