Stick Insect (Clitarchus hookeri) Green form
Class: Insecta - insects
Order: Phasmatodea - walking sticks and leaf insects
Species: C. hookeri
Scientific names: Clitarchus hookeri
Common names: Smooth Stick insect, Common Stick insect.
Stick insects are a group of plant-feeding insects characterised by a remarkable similarity to their host vegetation. Stick insects belong to the insect order Phasmatodea and are found throughout the world, being most common and diverse in the tropics.
This genus is perhaps the most common stick insect in New Zealand. It is a native and is very common throughout the North Island and part of the South Island. They can be found on a variety of native trees (Manuka, Kanuka and Pohutukawa) and some introduced plants common in gardens. This species is usually green, but can often be various shades of brown or even red. Some individuals have many tubercles on the body surface. Female grow to 81 - 106 mm and the males to 67 - 74mm.
Stick insects feed on vegetation and are usually active after dark. When disturbed, stick insects will often fall to the ground and 'play dead' for hours. Another bizarre behaviour is the 'dance', where the stick insect sways back and forwards for hours in a peculiar motion, the function of which is a mystery.
Many stick insect species, including some New Zealand species, can reproduce without males, a mode of reproduction known as parthenogenesis.
Although stick insects are relatively common in New Zealand introduced wasps and possums are a threat in some areas.
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