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by Valerie

January, 2016

Giant Walkingstick

giant walkingstick

The amorous pair of giant walkingsticks (Megaphasma denticrus) shown above are the longest insects in North America. Well, the female is, as that gender frequently reaches 6 inches in length, and that is not including legs or antennae. The individual in this photo is one of the largest I've seen, while her companion is only about half her size. Males vary greatly in length, but they are often around 4 inches long, so this one is rather diminutive. There are several kinds of walkingsticks in central Texas, with this species normally the most common and easily seen. They usually feed on oak leaves but sometimes can be found in lower branches of shrubs nearby, especially after storms. Color is variable, consisting of a mottled mixture of brown, gray, and green.

Although they are huge, these insects are never numerous enough to cause much damage to trees. They have scant defense against predators except for their excellent camouflage and sharp spines on their legs that they use to pinch with if they are handled.

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