Giant Walkingstick (Megaphasma denticrus)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Walkingstick.
Updated: 1/17/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Walkingsticks are proven masters of camouflage, which is necessary for this slow, wingless walker.
The Giant Walkingstick is the largest of all North American Walkingsticks. Walkingsticks, in general, have bodies that resemble the shape, and usually the color, of sticks, twigs or branches from a tree. This adaptation is a form of camouflage that allows the Walkingstick to avoid predators. The Giant Walkingstick is the largest Walkingstick species in North America, measuring anywhere between 75mm and 150mm. Their camouflage is so good that one can often miss these creatures in the wild.
Identifying features include a body of red and/or brown and in some cases a shade of green in color. Colors will seem to become lighter near the legs. These insects are generally found throughout the Midwest areas and feed within forests and grasslands on various greenery.
With only about one generation produced a year, Giant Walkingsticks stay active in the later hours of the day where their movement may not be so noticeable to predator and prey alike. They can be quite flashy and colorful or very muted and dull.
They are plant eaters, so they do not prey on insects themselves. They are slow walkers and can be delicate so they should not be handled or touched by humans. Almost all of them are wingless (except for one species in Florida) so they cannot fly. Their legs do not allow them to jump, either. Stealth and concealment are their only forms of defense. If disturbed, they may fall to the ground and remain motionless until the threat has passed.
The adults nibble on leafs of plants such as oak trees, grapevines and tall grasses. Active feeding usually occurs under the cover of night. This aids in making them difficult to prey on.
Females are generally larger and longer than males. In some species of Walkingstick, males ride on the backs of the females for most of their adult lives. Some types of Walkingstick females can reproduce asexually, where males are difficult to find.
Females lay eggs in foliage or on the ground, producing hundreds to perhaps thousands of eggs. Like its counterpart, the Northern Walkingstick, the Giant Walkingstick female will lay individual eggs over the winter in hidden areas on the ground such as dead or dying leaves and foliage. Hatchlings will push through their egg casings in about late spring, and then make their way upwards to edible greens.
Adult life spans range from a few weeks to a few months.