The Peruphasma schultei is probably one of the most beautiful walking stick species. Therefore it is not surprising that the common name is “Black Beauty Stick Insect”.
This species is native to Peru and was almost extinct. But a breeding program by the Peruvian government and an environmental organization saved the species.
Thanks to many phasmid-lovers who keep and breed this species, it is now a popular and not too rare species that can be kept as a pet. Some individuals of this species are also introduced back into the wild, to make the population grow again.
The Black Beauty Stick Insect is a pitch-black stick bug with bright red wings and yellow eyes. The wings are tiny and cannot be used for flying or gliding. But they will use the wings to confuse predators.
The adults are able to use a chemical defense spray when they feel threatened. This fluid can sting the eyes and tingle in the mouth. The smell is like vinegar. It does not do any permanent damage, it will only cause a temporary burn on the skin.
Like many other stick insect species, the Peruphasma Schultei is nocturnal and hides in trees with leaves they eat such as the Peruvian pepper tree.
The Black Beauty Stick Insect can be fed with privet, honeysuckle, forsythia, and lilac. In nature, they will feed on the leaves of Peruvian trees such as the Peruvian Peppertree.
The leaves should always be fresh. You can keep the cuttings in a jar with water, and make sure that the stick insects cannot fall into the water.
Young nymphs can have trouble eating the edges of the leaves. You can have adults nibble on the leaves before you feed them to nymphs, or simply cut the edges off.
The enclosure for the Peruphasma Schultei should be at least 10 inches (25 cm) high. Depending on the number of insects you keep, you should adapt the size, so that the individuals can have some space.
The enclosure should not be completely closed with plastic or glass, because this species does not need super high humidity. Choose an enclosure with at least one side made of a mesh material and the rest made of plastic or glass, in order to allow some air to circulate.
The nymphs and adults can be kept in the same enclosure together. They need enough height to be able to molt properly, therefore height is more important than length or width.
Walking sticks molt while hanging upside down from the ceiling and they must not reach the floor during a molt, or they might get stuck in the exoskeleton and get hurt.
This species usually molts 5 to 6 times before they reach adulthood and are able to reproduce.
You can use some sheets of bark on the plastic and glass walls to allow the stick insects to hide or climb. If you try to clean the enclosure, you can remove the bark with the walking sticks on it and lean it somewhere else. The Black Beauty Stick Insects will stay on the bark and not try to escape.
The temperature for the Black Beauty Stick Insect can be at room temperature. Anything between 64° F (approx. 18° C) at night and 77° F (= 25° C) is good for this species.
The Peruphasma schultei needs humidity that is slightly higher than normal humidity on a home. Around 40% – 60% is enough. The enclosure should be properly ventilated by one or two mesh walls instead of glass or plastic to avoid any standing damp air.
You don’t have to mist it very often. Misting every 3-4 days is enough. Spray a fine mist of bottled spring water or dechlorinated tap water on the leaves or the substrate on the ground. This will allow the walking sticks to drinking the droplets of water from the leaves when they eat.
This species has a very special appearance. Both males and females are black and have yellow eyes. When you look at them from the front, you see their bright red lips.
As adults they have beautiful, but very small, red hind wings that can not be used for flying or gliding. The front wings are black with a white pattern.
The females are slightly larger with around 2 to 2.7 inches (2-7cm) and males are usually between 1.6 and 2 inches long (4-5 cm).
They are not the largest walking stick species, but definitively one of the most impressive ones, when it comes to appearance.
The lifespan of this species is around 8 months. They usually need approximately 6 months to maturity.
The Black Beauty Stick Insect reproduces only sexually.
Both males and females are needed to produce fertilized eggs which hatch into nymphs. The mating process can take quite a while. In some cases. the males stay on the back of the females for weeks. During that period, the female will move around and carry the male.
Ova, Incubation Period
The females tend to drop their ova (= eggs) on the ground. In order to see the ova, you can use paper towels on the ground of the enclosure.
The incubation period is between 3 to 6 months with a rather high success rate of 60% – 80%.
Once the females are mature and mated, they can lay more than 100 eggs throughout their lifetime.
If you want to incubate the ova, you can use vermiculite or dry forest moss to lay the eggs on. Place a damp paper towel over the ova and keep the temperature at a constant room temperature between 68° F (=20° C) and 77° F (25° C).
You can mist the paper towel every few days, but don’t spray too much water. Too much condensation can kill the nymphs. Make sure that no mold grows on the ground where the ova lays, and if you detect any mold, change the substrate. Mould can potentially kill the nymphs in the ova.
If you want the ova to hatch quicker, you can try to keep the temperature at 77° F (25°C). Higher temperature encourages hatching.
Once the nymphs hatched, they can be kept in the enclosure with adults. The adults will eat the edges of the leaves, leaving the softer parts for the nymphs. If you have no adults, you should trim the edges of the foodplants for the nymphs.
Nymphs can be tiny so make sure that the water for the foodplants is secured. The baby walking sticks can easily drown.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Black Beauty Stick Insect is rather easy to keep, but they are able to use a chemical defense spray if threatened. This spray can irritate the eyes and cause a burn on the skin.
Therefore it is not the best species to keep with children or other pets, besides that fact, the Peruphasma Schultei makes a very good, low maintenance pet, even for beginners.