northern walkingstick

(Diapheromera femorata)

Conservation Status
northern walkingstick
Photo by M.j. Horgan
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern walkingstick is common in the eastern half of the United states and adjacent Canadian provinces. It is the only stick insect found in Canada. It is the most common walkingstick in North America and in Minnesota.

The body is extremely long, thin, and almost cylindrical. The male is about 3 long, the female about 3¾ long. The body strongly resembles a leafless twig and provides effective camouflage from predators. The male is brown, the female greenish-brown. The sensory appendages at the tip of the abdomen (cerci) are short and have only one segment. They resemble the sensory organs (palpi) that are part of a spider’s mouthparts. The cerci on the female are short and straight. Those on the male are longer and curved, and serve as claspers. Nymphs are green but otherwise look like miniature adults.

The legs are long and slender. The group of end segments that together correspond to feet (tarsi) have 5 segments. On the male, the large third segment (femur) of the middle leg is dilated and tends to be banded.

There are no wings.

The head is small. The antennae are long, slender, and thread-like. They are as long as the body.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Male: 3

Female: 3¾

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Prairie walkingstick (Diapheromera velii) males usually have a pale stripe on each side. The femur is never banded or dilated. The cerci on the female are much longer. It is found in weedy, open areas.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Deciduous forests and woodlands

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

May through September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

They feed at night. During the day they remain motionless, clinging to a twig or branch, and often swaying with the wind.

When at rest, the front legs are extended forward like the antennae.

When threatened, they will drop to the ground or remain motionless, often for a long period.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

In Minnesota, the northern walkingstick population fluctuates on a two-year cycle. The odd numbered years are the “boom” years, the even numbered years the “bust” years. Mating takes place during the day from late August to mid-September. The female drops eggs to the ground one at a time. During heavy infestations, female egg-dropping can sound like falling rain. The eggs overwinter in the leaf litter. In the south, they hatch the following spring. In Minnesota, they remain on the ground until the second following spring. After almost two years, they hatch between mid-June late July. During the night, the nymph crawls up the first vertical object it encounters. If that is a stem of a shrub or tree, it begins feeding. Otherwise, it returns to the ground and seeks another vertical object.

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Leaves of low-growing plants, including hazel, rose, serviceberry, blueberry, and strawberry.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Leaves of hardwood trees, especially black oak, red oak, beaked hazel, American basswood, American elm, black locust, and black cherry. Avoids maple and boxelder.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 24, 27, 29, 30.

 
  7/31/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common and widespread in eastern North America

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Phasmatodea/Phasmida (walking sticks)  
 

Suborder

Verophasmatodea  
 

Infraorder

Anareolatae  
 

Family

Diapheromeridae  
 

Subfamily

Diapheromerinae  
 

Tribe

Diapheromerini  
 

Genus

Diapheromera  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

common American walkingstick

common walkingstick

northern walkingstick

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Cercus

One of a pair of small sensory appendages at the end of the abdomen of many insects and other arthropods. In Odonata, one of the upper pair of claspers. Plural: cerci.

 

Femur

On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.

 

Palp

Short for pedipalp. A segmented, finger-like process of an arthropod; one is attached to each maxilla and two are attached to the labium. They function as sense organs in spiders and insects, and as weapons in scorpions.

 

Tarsus

The last two to five sections of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
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Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.
 
 

Mark Schumacher

 
  Mark Schumacher, my son Maverick is a bug hunting expert he has another photo of a walking stick we posted 3 years ago when he was 5. This is his current find, these insects are so cool and bring him so much joy! Good job Maverick Schumacher   northern walkingstick  
           
  My 5 year old found this “stick bug” really cool. Good job Maverick.   northern walkingstick  
 

Molly and Robert Power

 
  Our entire family loved seeing this insect so much that it was brought to the 2nd grade classroom at Avon Elementary for show and tell! We released it back into the wild a few days later.   northern walkingstick  
 

Chad & Autumn Brekke

 
 

Check out what we found in our garage tonight. This walking stick was amazing!

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

Lindsay Freeland

 
 

Spotted crossing a sidewalk in town

 
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
 

Trisha Parks

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

L Fuller

 
 

Walking stick on a milkweed

 
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
           
    northern walkingstick      
 

B. Leppink

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

S Shroyer

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

Luciearl

 
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
           
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
           
    northern walkingstick      
 

Adrian Thompson

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

Scott & Nan Knowlton

 
 

Found on the hood of our pickup

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

Cyndy Showalter

 
  I thought it was pine needles stuck on the screen of my cabin, but it moved when I tried to pick it off. I have never seen anything like this before in MN, very neat!   northern walkingstick  
 

Ashley Merkle

 
 

so cool

 
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
 

Bart Lutton

 
    northern walkingstick      
 

Kris Larson

 
    northern walkingstick   northern walkingstick  
 

P. Contons

 
 

Northern walking Stick, Female

was crawling up my leg....

  northern walkingstick  
 

M.J. Horgan

 
  I just found this walking stick (Diapheromera femorata) on the side of the house in Ham Lake, Mn. Wow! : ) — in Andover, Minnesota.   northern walkingstick  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
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S Shroyer

 
  northern walkingstick 01
Published on Sep 17, 2019
 
   
 
About

northern walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata)
Stillwater Township, MN 55082
9/13/2019

   
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Walkingstick at Mount Wachusett - September 7, 2014
Don Gagnon
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 8, 2014

Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata), Mount Wachusett Summit, Princeton, Massachusetts, Sunday morning, September 7, 2014, 11:54 AM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 00039 / 00040 / 00041 / 00042; 59 sec.

 
  Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera fermorata)
Heidi Poodle
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 30, 2010

One of two I found in the backyard re-stacking a woodpile. Weird bug.

 
  The Common Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata)
danielofantioch
 
   
 
About

Published on Nov 12, 2012

A Walking Stick in Central Arkansas

 
  SciWorks Walking Stick
Kaleideum
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 1, 2013

Northern Walkingsticks grow over 3 1/2 inches long, with males being smaller than females. Walkingsticks have long, skinny bodies which closely resembles twigs or stems of plants. Males are brown, females are greenish-brown. These insects have very long antennae, about 2/3 the length of their bodies.

Scientific Name: Diapheromera femorata

 
  Walkingstick Insect/ "Stick Bug"
Krista SingsWithTrees
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 14, 2016

Twiggy the Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata, often called a "stick bug") shows how much she's grown on a delicious diet of oak leaves! Song "Word of Mouth" by Ash Dargan.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Mark Schumacher
7/22/2021

Location: Location: Zimmerman, MN

Mark Schumacher, my son Maverick is a bug hunting expert he has another photo of a walking stick we posted 3 years ago when he was 5. This is his current find, these insects are so cool and bring him so much joy! Good job Maverick Schumacher

northern walkingstick

 
  Chad & Autumn Brekke
9/27/2020

Location: Kilkenny, Minnesota

Check out what we found in our garage tonight. This walking stick was amazing!

northern walkingstick

 
  Molly and Robert Power
9/22/2020

Location: Albany MN

Our entire family loved seeing this insect so much that it was brought to the 2nd grade classroom at Avon Elementary for show and tell! We released it back into the wild a few days later.

northern walkingstick

 
  Lindsay Freeland
8/27/2020

Location: New London, MN

Spotted crossing a sidewalk in town

northern walkingstick

 
  L Fuller
8/9/2020

Location: Eagan, MN

Walking stick on a milkweed

northern walkingstick

 
  B. Leppink
9/6/2019

Location: Hubbard County

northern walkingstick

 
  Luciearl
Summer 2019

Location: Cass County

northern walkingstick

 
  S Shroyer
9/13/2019

Location: Lake Shore, Cass County

northern walkingstick

 
  Derek Helfenstein
8/24/2019

Location: North Branch, MN

 

 
  Luciearl
8/25/2019

Location: Lake Shore, Cass County

northern walkingstick

 
  Luciearl
8/20/2019

Location: Lake Shore, MN, Cass County

northern walkingstick

 
  Adrian
Thompson

8/20/2019

Location: Miltona MN

northern walkingstick

 
  Jason R.
8/18/2019

Location: Randall

 

 
  Terry
8/14/2019

Location: 6997 90th Ave., Princeton, MN

 

 
  Scott & Nan Knowlton
9/8/2018

Location: Cut Foot Sioux Lake

Found on the hood of our pickup

northern walkingstick

 
  Cyndy Showalter
9/6/2018

Location: Ada lake, Pine River

I thought it was pine needles stuck on the screen of my cabin, but it moved when I tried to pick it off. I have never seen anything like this before in MN, very neat!

northern walkingstick

 
  Mark Schumacher
9/1/2018

Location: Location: Zimmerman, MN

my 5 year old found this “stick bug” really cool. Good job maverick

northern walkingstick

 
  Steven Casperson
8/20/2018

Location: Lakeshore, MN, near Brainerd

 
  Ashley Merkle
8/18/2018

Location: Elk River, MN

so cool

northern walkingstick

 
  Bart Lutton
8/16/2018

Location: Burnsville, MN

northern walkingstick

 
  Kris Larson
8/11/2018

Location: 17085 262nd Ave NW Big Lake, Sherburne County, MN

northern walkingstick

 
  P. Contons
8/6/2018

Location: qdoba patio Plymouth, Mn

was crawling up my leg....

northern walkingstick

 
  M.j. Horgan
9/13/2017

Location: Andover, MN

I just found this walking stick (Diapheromera femorata) on the side of the house in Ham Lake, Mn. Wow! : ) — in Andover, Minnesota.

northern walkingstick

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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