Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stick Bug Amnesty


One of the thrills for visitors to Pacific Science Center's Insect Village is the opportunity to handle some of our arthropods. In the past, our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) permit allowed us to let visitors hold the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, African Giant Millipedes or Vietnamese Stick Insects in a controlled setting. Unfortunately, the conditions of our USDA permit have changed recently and the Vietnamese Sticks will no longer be available for public handling.

According to Life Sciences Manager, Sarah Moore this is not really bad news from a containment point of view. Vietnamese Stick insects are parthenogenic. This means eggs from females are viable without being fertilized – not an uncommon occurrence in insects. It has been a long held concern of the USDA. What if a Vietnamese Stick dropped an egg into someone’s clothing?

The USDA fears that there are many non-native stick bugs out in public schools, pet stores, and private homes that have the potential to become naturalized and harmful pests. We encourage these owners to retire their colonies. As an incentive, the USDA has given the Life Sciences Department permission to accept any stick bugs from the public. Please contact us at feedback@pacsci.org if you would like to participate in our Stick Bug Amnesty Program.

6 comments:

  1. Hi,

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  2. I had to read this a couple of times to figure out what the amnesty is, but what a good idea. I know my kids' school had a bunch of them - never knew they could be a problem.

    Keep up the good work.

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  3. i have heard that the Indian Walking Stick has been a big problem in parts of California. Do you know anything about this?

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  4. The California Department of Agriculture lists the Indian Stick Insect (Carausius morosus)as having been introduced into San Diego and Orange counties.

    These relatives of the Vietnames stick insect eat a diverse diet that includes privet, ivy, bramble, camellia, pyracantha, rose, hawthorn, geranium, oak, hibiscus and azalea. Because of its potential to multiply quickly (it is also parthenogenic), and because it is swift moving and has a proven record as an invasive, the USDA rarely grants permits for it, and only for very specific situations. As most people who have kept stick insects already know, their population can grow swiftly and uncontrollably.

    If you have a colony of this species, please do not release them in the wild, and please do not dispose of their bedding by composting. They are not established in Seattle and we can keep it that way.

    Please contact the number listed above if you have insects of this species and have questions regarding their care or containment.

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  5. Is there a native stick bug that could be a good alternative "pet" for budding entomologists?

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  6. Hi. Unfortunately there isn't a stick insect native to the Pacific Northwest, although there are species native to other parts of the US.

    I can't think of an exactly similar insect with the long legs and cool camouflage feature, but I think our local darkling beetles are fun to observe. They are big, shiny, harmless and pretty easy to find among plants and rocks.

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