The first thing you need to know about stick insects is that they are herbivores. This means they only eat plant matter. But which plants? Is there a particular plant leaf that they favor above all or do they eat any leaves? Do stick insects eat nettles?
Would Nettles be Good for Stick Insects?
With over 3,000 different species of stick insects on the planet and hailing from every continent except Antarctica, it is obvious that not all stick insects will eat the same thing. After all, in their natural habitat they will only be eating plants that are readily available. So where do nettles come into the equation? Are nettles found across the planet and, if so, do they make for a good food source for stick insects?
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Although nettles are originally native to Europe, they are now found in many parts of the world, including in North America and New Zealand. While I cannot say for definite if stick insects in some parts of the world eat nettles, other species of insects do use nettles as a food source (moths and butterflies, for example).
One thing about stick insects is the fact that they will never eat food that is harmful to them. This means that you could place any leaves into their enclosure to see if they will eat them or not. If they do not like the plant (either because said leaves are harmful to them or just that the do not like or are unfamiliar with the leaves), they will simply ignore them.
Why Nettles Might Not be a Good Idea
When it comes to nettles, the biggest issue would be for yourself when collecting the plant and placing it into the enclosure. This is because most nettles have stinging hairs that can inject chemicals such as histamine into the skin when they come into contact with it. This is what causes the stinging sensation.
If you wanted to try nettles as a food source for your stick insects, it would be wise to wear gloves and a long sleeve top to prevent these uncomfortable stings. You might be surprised to find that your stick insects quite enjoy this plant; if they don’t you will know soon enough as they will not eat it – no matter how hungry they are. To that end, when trying out nettle leaves for the first time, always make sure there are also leaves of a variety they eat within the enclosure so that they do not starve.