What Do Stick Insects Drink?

water droplets on a leaf

There are many guides on my website dedicated to determining what stick insects eat. And with over 3,000 stick insect species in the world, it is a big topic to cover, but what do stick insects drink?

The answer is not complex, but there are some points you need to know about how to keep them hydrated and the reasons why they don’t necessarily eat certain types of food.

The short answer to what stick insects drink is: water. They can drink tiny water droplets found on leaves, but they get the majority of their water through the leaves the eat. Misting the enclosure using a spray bottle helps keeps the leaves moist.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at why stick insects drink water. 

 For more advice and information on keeping and looking after stick insects, check out my ebook on Amazon click hereOpens in a new tab. (opens in a new tab).  

Stick Insects Drink Just Water 

Water is the only thing that stick insects drink because it’s what keeps them hydrated. You can’t substitute water in a stick insect’s diet.

They also need water to help keep their skin supple when they moult because if they can’t moult correctly when the skin is too tough, it could leave them severely deformed – or worse.

So we know that water is important, but how do stick insects get it?

Green Stick Insect on Leaf
Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User/Rohitjahnavi

It’s All in the Leaves 

You may have noticed that the majority of guides talk about the need to always provide fresh leaves to stick insects because they won’t eat it otherwise, even if they’re starving.

This is true and it’s not necessarily just because your pets are extremely picky about what they eat. Often, it is a case of needing hydration.

Leaves that have brown edges no longer have any nutritional value and no hydration. Your stick insects will not touch them.

On the other hand, the little veins in fresh leaves are filled with water because it’s how they survive. So, when you pick some leaves and place them inside your stick insect tankOpens in a new tab., they are providing vital water droplets for your stick insects.

It’s also why you need to take precautions to ensure that the leaves remain fresh for the longest possible time.

How Can You Keep Leaves Fresh for Your Stick Insects? 

Leaves already start to lose the water they have inside them from the moment they are picked. This effect is amplified if you’re keeping exotic stick insects in an enclosure that uses heat bulbs and matsOpens in a new tab..

You should take the branches or stems of your food source of choice and submerge them in water. In many ways this is like providing life support for the leaves. The stems can continue to suck up water even after they have been removed from the tree or bush.

You should also mist the enclosure every couple of days or so. This accomplishes two things:

First of all, it raises the humidity levels, which many exotic stick insects require to moult successfully.

Secondly, it leaves water droplets on the leaves. This provides them with an extra drink of water, which is important for stick insects that live in conditions of high humidity and heat.

rose leaves with water droplets
Rose Leaves

Is it Dangerous to Place Leaves in a Vase? 

Whenever guides advise stick insect ownersOpens in a new tab. to place leaves in a vase or other container filled with water, it brings up the question as to whether stick insects can swim.

Stick insects that have developed beyond the nymph stage are capable of pulling themselves out of a small amount of water if they happen to fall in. Not that they are likely to fall when they are large enough anyway, though.

However, nymphs are tiny and are not capable of extracting themselves from even the smallest amount of water. That’s why you have to take care of them.

The easiest way to do this is to use a mosquito net. The stems of the leaves will fit in the holes and into the water. But the holes will be too small for the nymphs to fall in while also offering a good footing for them.

Do Any Stick Insects Drink Water Directly? 

Many insects drink directly from water and don’t exclusively get their sustenance from the leaves themselves. Some stick insects are also capable of this.

The Haaniella speciesOpens in a new tab. is one stick insect that needs a drinking source of standing water. They require a low bowl to drink from.

You may be shocked at how long they will keep their heads underneath the water. Some novice stick insect owners might even believe that their stick insect is in trouble and needs rescuing.

However, before you rush in to save them, you should remember that a stick insect does not breathe through their mouth or nose. They get their oxygen through spiracles on the thorax and abdomen.

So a stick insect with its head under the water is in no more danger than you sinking your hand into a pool of water.

How Should You Prepare Standing Water for Stick Insects? 

If you happen to own one of the few species that do require drinking water from some sort of receptacle, you need to take care as to where you source that water from.

Water sources differ all over the world. Depending on the country you live in, the water may have been heavily chlorinated or laced with large amounts of fluorine.

This may just give the water a funny taste for humans, but for stick insects this can be fatal.

It’s best to avoid using tap water for your stick insects, unless you really know what you’re doing. Tap water should be made to stand for a day or two before giving it to your stick insects. Heavily chlorinated water should be avoided completely.

You can also use rain water. Rain water is perfectly digestible for stick insects and can be used immediately. If you have a water butt in your garden, you’ll have no problems having a constant supply of water.

Last Word – Keep Your Stick Insects Well Watered

The majority of stick insects are able to take in their water as they consume fresh leaves. Some stick insects may require a low, open receptacle to drink from.

But you need to ensure that water is plentiful and isn’t contaminated with additives, such as chlorine and fluorine. It could inadvertently kill your pet.


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!

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