Phasmida or stick insects are masters of disguise. They are a predominantly tropical order of more than 2,958 species placed in 13 families.

All phasmids are herbivorous and their body shapes range from cylindrical and stick-like to flattened like leaves to blend into their surroundings. They can measure from 12 – 357 millimetres in length.

Stick insects are varied in appearance but share the following characteristics:

  • the mouthparts are mandibulate
  • the compound eyes relatively small, with ocelli only in winged species
  • the antennae are short to long, with 8 – 100 segments
  • the legs are elongate, slender, and adapted for walking
  • the wings, when present, are functional in males, but often reduced in females

About the name

Phasmida is derived from the Greek phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, and refers to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves.