Stick Bugs...


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Cool bugs if you ask me. I just picked a bunch up at a show to add to my ever expanding variety for my chams. My plan is to start up a colony with the batch that I got and start feeding them off. So far so good, they lay eggs like crazy. if they keep this up, its going to be almost as bad as keeping roaches.

I'm interested to see if anyone knows of any kind of nutritional analysis thats been done on Phasmids. I cant find anything to save my life.
Hi Noah,

I haven't seen any information on stick bug nutrition, but I have been looking for some stick bugs! Can you tell me what variety you purchased, and who sold them to you? I have read that non-native species are illegal to ship in the US without a permit, but the native ones are ok. Or, maybe it is just illegal to transport them accross state lines? Heck, I don't know. Very cool bugs though, and I would love to have a colony of them.

I bought them from the Hamburg reptile show here in PA. I really have no clue what the guys name, or buissness was. He just had a bunch of roaches and stick bugs and I figured why not. It cant hurt to have an extra food source.
The guy told me they were vietnamese barrel stick bugs. No clue what the scientific name is, but they look very similar to the indian stick bugs. I'll try and snap a pic tomorrow and get it up for you. Maybe you can tell me exactly what they are. I do know that they seem to be lovin romain lettuce and other leafy greens. He had said they would, but I was afraid I'd get them home and find out they wouldn't eat anything but bramble.
And as far as the legality of shipping them, and transporting them i'm also really not sure. I havn't heard anything about them being illegal until now. I do know that they can be considered agricultural pests because they eat so much. So when you get them, you dont want to let them out or apparently they'll eat your bushes hard core.
Whatever the case may be, I cant wait to have tons for my kids. I'm sure they're going to absolutely love them.
Hi Noah,

That is interesting that they are available for purchase. I will do some more research on the topic, but the agricultural pest issue seems to prevail. I have found a source of indian stick eggs, but haven't decided if I will purchase any or not. I really want to find an answer to the legality issue before I do that. If I need a permit, I will get one from the USDA first.

good idea heika. If you come up with anything let me know so I can take the proper steps if necessary.

You should be careful because there are a few varieties of stick bugs that spray an acid based poison from their upper thorax or "neck" region that can cause temporary blindness. But on the most part they are safe to handle.
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There are a few varieties that spray an acidic substance from their "neck" region that cause temporary blindness. No wive's tail, it is a defense mechanism. The vast majority are safe to keep and handle.

I received a return call this morning from my state's Department of Agriculture bug department about walking sticks. He was very informative, and answered my questions about the legality of keeping and shipping these insects.

In my state, the only stick insect that I would be allowed to keep or sell (within the state of Oregon) without a permit is the Australian Giant Prickly Stick Insect. I may try them out, but they get very large. Adult females are 6 inches long and weigh about 25 grams. Perhaps the young would be a viable option for feeding. The Oregon Department of Agriculture bug guy told me that the main reason these are allowed is because they are not parthenogenetic and require a male and a female to reproduce. With many other walking sticks, including the indian and vietnamese species, one escaped female can produce thousands of offspring by herself. I could apply for a permit to keep these other walking stick breeds, but as a hobbyist, it is very unlikely that it would be approved.

Shipping walking sticks of any species across state lines is strictly regulated by the USDA. The receiver has to apply for a permit to receive them. I spoke to a distinctly unfriendly woman from this department on Friday of last week, and she told me that the permit process takes around 8 weeks. In addition, people caught receiving controlled insects without a permit are subject to a large fine. Among other controlled shipments of insects are crickets, cockroaches and sow bugs. It is possible for a company that sells these bugs to receive a permit that allows them to ship to a variety of states. Those permits mean that the purchaser doesn't have to file for a permit from the USDA, and after taking a look at some of the websites that I purchase insects from, it looks like the big bug companies have them. I have purchased insects from other sources that I am pretty certain didn't have the necessary permits, and in the future, I will be more cautious. Unfortunately, permits for walking stick shipments are very rarely approved in the US, and usually only laboratories and research facilities are allowed to receive them. This includes any living form of the insect, including viable ovas. The only way they can be shipped without a permit is if they are dead.

Those of you who are keeping these insects may want to check with your state's department of agriculture to find out whether or not they are legal in your state. In addition, if you plan to ship them or purchase them, be very cautious. I saw some for sale on Insecthobbyist, the insect side of Kingsnake, and emailed the seller. He is from Las Vegas, and when I asked about permit requirements for shipping and the legality of keeping them in Oregon, he said that permits weren't needed. After I did some more research, I sent him the USDA website that states that it is required. He replied, insisting that he and his buyers don't need to have a permit to ship them. It just goes to show that even the people who are selling these bugs aren't as knowledgable (or honest?) as they need to be, which means that the customer needs to do the research.

Here is the site for the USDA:

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Thank you Heika for all the information. I must admit I'm fairly embarrassed that I didn't do my research on this before i purchased these guys. It was a spur of the moment thing and it didn't even cross my mind that they may be illegal. If the guy that I bought them from (I have no clue what his name was) is at the next show....he can count on mouth full from me at some point during that show.
As for where I'm at right now with these guys. I've talked with a couple different insect breeders in the state of PA and each one has told me that stick insects are illegal to sell....but they aren't illegal to keep??? When I heard that at first it didn't make any sense and quite frankly I didn't believe it. But then I heard it from 2 other (3 total) breeders.
You can count on the fact that i'll be calling my state department of aggriculture to find out exactly what the rules and regs are.

A couple things however do not make sense to me. In states like Oregon where you live in, and Pennsylvania where I live, we already have stick bugs. I'm not sure what kinds, but I know as a kid i found tons in my back yard. The other thing I dont understand is why stick bugs like the vietnamese and indian varieties would be illegal. They come from climates that never get cold. I wouldn't think that they would be able to live through as harsh of a winter as we have where sometimes temps drop below 0.

Oh well. Either way hopefully tomorrow I'll find out just what the laws are on this interesting and aparently controversial insect. Thanks again Heika for alerting me to this.
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