What are the Smallest Stick Insects?

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If you are thinking about keeping a Stick Insect as a pet, but you don’t have too much space, you will be thrilled to find out that some species are tiny enough to be kept in kitchen jars.

Not every person has a lot of space at home. But keeping a pet is a very rewarding hobby and stick insects are definitively a great pet if you don’t have too much space available. 

As a whole, some of the smallest stick insect species are Dares murudensis, Dares validispinus, Epidares nolimetangere, Orestes draegeri, Orestes guangxiensis, Hoploclonia cuspidata, Dinophasma kinabaluense, and Hoploclonia gecko.

In the following, you will find many more tiny stick bugs and some facts about them.

What are the Smallest Stick Insects?

Chances are high, that many more tiny stick insect species will be discovered within the next few decades. Normal walking sticks are already hard to find, but these tiny species are almost invisible in their natural habitat.

Timema Cristinae

The Timema Critinae or Cristina’s Timema is the tiniest stick insect species that was discovered so far. It is only 0.8 – 1.2 inches long (2-3 cm), bright green or brown, and has a rounded body without wings. This species looks more like a caterpillar than like a walking stick but can hide incredibly well on leaves.

Abrosoma Festinatum

This species is only between 1.2 and 1.6 (3 – 4 cm) large and is native to West Malaysia. This tiny, brown stick insect is wingless.

Abrosoma Johorensis

The Abrosoma Johorensis usually grows to up 1.8 inches (4,5 cm) and is another tiny species that is native to West Malaysia. Just like the Abrosoma Festinatum, it is brown and disguises itself as a twig. It is very easy to handle and to care for.

Dares Species

The species that belong to the genus Dares are mostly native to Borneo and are all around 1.2 and 1.8 inches big (3 – 4,5 cm). These species are all wingless, brown, and reproduce sexually. Examples for the Dares family are the Dares Murudensis, Dares validispinus, Dares verrucosus, Dares philippinensis (native to the Philippines), and Dares Ulala. These spiny little creatures can make great pets in kitchen jars with a mesh lid on top to allow some air to circulate.

Dinophasma Kinabaluense

This wingless species is usually between 1.4 and 1.6 inches (3,5 – 4 cm) and native to Malaysia. It is a rather rare species that comes in different shades of brown and even reddish-brown.

Epidares Nolimetangere

The Epidares nolimetangere is commonly known as the “Touch Me Not Stick Insect”. This species is tiny (1.4 – 1.8 inches / 3,5 – 4,5 cm) and covered in sharp spines. It is native to Borneo and very easy to care for and keep as a pet. This Phasmid species is very sturdy and active day and night, which makes them even more interesting to watch. 

Hoploclonia Gecko

The average Hoploclonia gecko is between 1.2 and 1.6 (3 – 4 cm) long and native to Borneo.  This species comes in many shades of brown and is very thorny.

Neohirasea Asper

The Neohirasea asper is between 1.5 inches and 1.7 inches (3,9 – 4,4 cm) large as an adult and native to Vietnam. The colors vary from light to dark brown and tiny spines can be spotted on the back of this insect.

Orestes Species

Several species of this family also belong to the smallest walking sticks. The Orestes bachmaensis, Orestes Draegeri, and Orestes Krijinsi are native to Vietnam, while the Orestes guangxiensis is native to Hong Kong, and the Orestes Mouhotii is native to Thailand and Malaysia. The Orestes Mouhotii is one of the very few tiny walking sticks, that also reproduce parthenogenetically. Most of the tiny species only reproduce sexually. 

As adults, they will all be around 1.3 inches to 1.9 inches (3,4 cm – 5 cm) big. They are all brown and mimic bark perfectly. 

Orthomeria Kangi

The Orthomeria Kangi looks a bit different than the other tiny species. This walking stick species has a black body and black antenna with red hind wings. Even though it has striking wings, it cannot fly. This species is native to the Philippines and is able to spray a milky chemical substance towards predators. The adults are usually around 1.5 inches 1.65 inches long (3,8 cm – 4,2 cm).

Pylaemenes Species

These species are small (1.4 – 1.8 inches / 3,5 cm – 4,5 cm), brown, and wingless. They disguise themselves as bark and become basically invisible on trees. 

How to Care for Tiny Walking Sticks 

Other than bigger species, these tiny species do not need a lot of space. Depending on the species, the necessary humidity level and temperature might differ a bit.

As an enclosure, you can use a kitchen jar made of glass or plastic. 

Most of the tiny species need rather high humidity, therefore you should use some kind of substrate that can retain and slowly release humidity. Examples of suitable substrates are vermiculite, Spagna moss, a mixture of humus and sand, or a paper towel.

When your walking sticks are mature and the females start to produce ova (= eggs), the paper towel will make it easier for you to detect the ova and control the population by either incubating the ova or destroying it.

As a lid, you can either use the normal lid, punch a few holes in it and make sure that some ventilation is possible. Or you can use a paper towel and a rubber band as a lid. This DIY lid will allow the walking sticks to hang upside down from the ceiling in order to molt, and paper also allows the air to circulate.

The glass should be positioned in a room with natural light, but never directly into the sunlight. A glass or plastic jar can easily heat up within just a few minutes.

Insert fresh leaves or a foodplant (most species will eat bramble, but check for each species individually, just to be sure) every few days. You don’t have to change the leaves every day. If you put the leaves directly into the substrate, it will last even longer.

Usually, you will have enough humidity in the jar thanks to the substrate and the fresh leaves. If you feel like there is not enough humidity in the air, you can mist the substrate lightly once a week.

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