Do Stick Insects Eat Bugs?

Female Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Female Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Some species of stick insects look so strange that it is easy to imagine them being carnivorous. However…

Stick insects are herbivores. This means they will not eat bugs of any kind. They will not eat house flies, bees, ants, or indeed any other living creature – just plant life.

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Being herbivores by nature, it probably never occurs to a stick insect that a bug might make a nice meal. But even if they wanted to eat bugs, they couldn’t. The stick insect’s mandible and jaw just aren’t built for carnivorous feasting. It is all they can do to manage leaves, stems, and occasionally small berries and fruit pieces.

This is not to say that stick insects will not defend themselves against predation. These beautiful insects tend to have hooks in their legs, and they may try to fend off other bugs by kicking them and piercing their bodies. This is a strictly defensive action though. Should a stick insect kill a predator – which is not likely – it still would not eat the carcass.

Giant Prickly Stick Insect
Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Insufficient Digestive Capabilities

In addition to jaws and mandibles not capable of consuming bugs, stick insects do not have the necessary digestive tools to consume anything but plant life. Their digestive tracts are made up of three compartments known as ‘guts’. Food sources are broken down by enzymes and absorbed into the insect’s body.

The stick insect’s digestive tract is perfectly suited to plant life; it is not well-suited to bugs. Not only would a stick insect’s digestive system have a tough time breaking down bug carcasses, it would also not be able to absorb any nutritional components. Thus bugs, as a food source, have no value to stick insects.

No, stick insects do not eat bugs. They do eat all sorts of plant life, so there are few worries about not finding sufficient food.

By Anthony

I am a content creator by profession but exotic animals are one of my great passions in life. Over the course of my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of looking after stick insects, terrapins, an Egyptian tortoise, giant African land snails, a crested gecko, a Chilean rose tarantula, a couple of curly-haired tarantulas, and a selection of millipedes, centipedes and worms!