Sunday, November 15, 2009

Watch Your Step With Walkingsticks


I was cleaning out some cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior), and came across this walking stick pair. The male is really hard to see as he is tiny relative to the female. While I thought they looked like walking sticks, I was not positive and so I wrote my resource at IFAS and here is his response:

It is the twostriped walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides.  In the case of the pairs, they are mating, and the smaller one on top is the male.  It's a common walkingstick in much of Florida, but you do have to be careful with them.  When disturbed, they will spray an acidic defensive chemical from the end of their abdomen.  They often aim for the eyes, and the chemical can cause pain and possibly temporary blindness in small animals.  Pets often experience this.  They feed on foliage, probably of various hardwood trees and shrubs.  I've kept them in captivity for a while and fed them oak leaves.  In the populations around the Ocala National Forest, the stripes are a much brighter shade of cream/white than in other parts of the state.  There's an excellent article about this species on the web at


I had no idea.

The webpage describes how awful the spray was for one man’s eye.

So, keep an eye out for walkingsticks ---and then to keep your eyes, keep your distance.

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