The almost incredible looking Phasmatodea, or Walking Sticks as they are commonly called, are among the most interesting insects to look at. If you are fortunate enough to spot one in your garden you may be inclined to protect it however, walking sticks are not beneficial insects in the garden. They are herbivores that feed on trees, shrubs and plants. Some of their favorite are oak, rose, rhododendron, azalea, blackberry, hibiscus, ivy, apple and strawberry. They munch, munch and munch all night long and can cause great devastation.
Spiders, rodents, reptiles and birds will all eat walking sticks but the walking stick’s ability to camouflage itself in order to blend in to it’s surroundings is quite advanced. Bats are the walking stick’s number one enemy. Bats use echolocation so the walking stick’s camouflage ability is useless.
For the organic gardener the best way to rid your garden of these insects is to hand pick them off your plants and kill them. They will not bite you. You can step on them or drop them in a bucket of soapy water. During the day they will usually position themselves out of sight underneath foliage or in where foliage is dense. But occasionally we see one out and about as in the picture above.
Fortunately here in Michigan at this point in time we do not have a walking stick invasion as they do in our south western states. However, it is not wise to allow one to live in your garden area. One could soon become more.
This photo was taken at the MSU Credit Union drive through in Okemos Michigan. I am thankful it was not taken in my garden.