Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stick Insect Babies

Australian prickly stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) are a mainstay of Pacific Science Center’s Insect Village. They live just over a year, so to have continuous insects, we rear them through their whole life cycle.

Each year, we incubate and hatch out eggs. As they grow, the stick insects will shed five times in the process of becoming adults. They will then mate and lay eggs, which we collect and hatch out, to start the cycle again.

This year, the last of the adults was starting to age before the first of their eggs hatched. We did not want a gap in our population, and started looking for some new recruits to fill the gap. Martin Feather of the San Antonio Zoo came to the rescue. He had plenty of 2nd instar (developmental or growth stage) stick bugs, more than he could use. After confirming that they were allowed on our USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) permit, he packed them up and sent them over.

These new youngsters arrived with some of their host plant material. They had been eating eucalyptus, but appear to be transitioning to wax myrtle without complaint. Come see them next time you visit.

No comments:

Post a Comment