Friday, June 8, 2012

The Trees are Alive .... With Walkingsticks!

Texas giant walking sticks or are a staple in the Hill Country and areas of San Antonio outside of the north loop of 1604.  We definitely see them in the city, especially if you have large trees, but they grow them big a little farther north!  Walking sticks tend to by cyclical in their outbreaks or population bursts, and this is the year for them!
Photo: Male and femal walking sticks, Megaphasma dentricus (Stål)

There are several species of walking sticks - all can grow various sizes.  The largest species, (Megaphasma dentricus (Stål)), can grow up to 7 inches long (although there are many reports of larger ones) and are the longest insect in the United States!  This species is what many people are finding right now and pictured in this blog.

Walking sticks have a creepy appearance, simply because they are so slow moving.  They are not harmful and at the worst, may stick to your t-shirt, or emit a foul odor as defense.  Walking sticks cannot sting, do not bite, cannot fly, and are not very fast runners - so there is really nothing to fear from them.  They have chewing mouthparts, but even in massive outbreaks, do not defoliate trees.

Watch the oak trees closely and it may not be the wind moving the branches, it may actually be walking sticks rocking back and forth.

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