Northern Walkingstick

Diapheromera femorata

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Photo of walkingsticks during outbreak
Because they eat tree leaves, any occasional peaks in walkingstick populations can defoliate trees. Unless this happens repeatedly, the trees usually recover with no problems.
Jim Rathert
Other Common Name
Common Walkingstick; Walking Stick
Family

Diapheromeridae, in the order Phasmida (sometimes Phasmatodea) (walkingsticks)

Description

The northern walkingstick is Missouri's most common species of walkingstick. It is very slender, and the antennae are two-thirds the total body length. Males are brown; females are greenish brown and larger. The pincerlike circi at the tip of the abdomen are not segmented. Immatures are green.

Like other stick insects, the northern walkingstick eats leaves. It is perfectly camouflaged for a life in trees and shrubs. Walkingsticks not only look like twigs but also sway their bodies to mimic the motion of branches in a breeze. This species prefers the foliage of oaks and hazelnut. With Missouri’s many oak-hickory forests, it is no surprise it is common here.

Learn more about this and other walkingsticks on their group page.

Size

Adult length (not counting antennae or other appendages): 3 inches (males) to 3¾ inches (females)

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Photo of a northern walkingstick on autumn dogwood leaves
Northern Walkingstick on Autumn Dogwood Leaves
Walkingsticks are long, slender insects that are perfectly camouflaged to look like brown or green twigs. Most species are tropical, but some types are found in Missouri.

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Photo of mating walkingsticks on tree trunk
Walkingsticks Mating
Walkingsticks mate in late summer and autumn. As with many insects, female walkingsticks are larger than males.

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Photo of a walkingstick on a tree trunk
Walkingstick
Walkingsticks are long, slender insects that are perfectly camouflaged to look like brown or green twigs. They chew tree leaves. In Missouri, they “stick” mostly to deciduous trees such as oaks, hazelnut, locusts, walnut, and cherry.