Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Dead stick!

Ed note: Another post that's been hanging around waiting to be posted!

This month has marked the end of an era in our house. Our final Stick insect has passed peacefully over to the other side.
It's been a rather fun and slightly enchanting journey our 'Stick journey', which began back in 2011 when someone gave us a little pot of teeny tiny, pin head sized eggs. The funny thing back then was that we obtained them against Tim's will. He wasn't up for the idea of more pets! They sat dormant for several months (the incubation period is four months) and were almost forgotten, until one day we noticed that one had hatched. Unfortunately we hadn't realised early enough and it only survived for three days before popping its clogs - leaving one small child, at the time, in a deep state of upset.
Some months later we ordered five live insects from someone selling on Ebay. Once again my dearly beloved didn't have any knowledge of such goings on. Seven little darlings arrived in a small box cube and there our journey began.
Upon hatching, the little creatures are already an inch long although very spindly and delicate. They are fully mature and ready to reproduce by about six months (at which point they are around four inches in length). They are dual sex, so don't need a partner to reproduce - how handy!
It wasn't long of course (naturally for my family) that Miss P had plans of her own to have a fully fledged 'Stick insect breeding hospital'. As soon as our stock was mature and laying eggs, we began to save them for incubation. I recall that at the point we stopped counting we had some four hundred eggs! - Virtually all of them hatched!!

The type of Sticks that we owned feasted on privet and bramble leaves. As privet isn't something that I have yet found growing near to our house, they had to settle for bramble of which there is a substantial amount. Feeding one or two insects is not a problem but feeding four hundred was quite a different matter. It was not completely dis-similar to having a swarm of locusts! They munched through that bramble at a staggering rate and needed cleaning out every couple of days. Of course we couldn't sustain such large quantities and so after a few desperate plea's to friends, we re-homed a few, sold two, a couple accidentally dropped in their water container and masses were fortunately taken from us by the good folk at the local garden centre's pet department!
The life span of our particular type of Stick is roughly one year. For a couple of years now we've got down to one and thought that we'd be 'stick free' after the last one and then, somehow, as if by some strange 'have to keep the breed alive' phenomenon, we find one lurking with intent either on the outside bin or on the ceiling and not having the heart to dispatch of the poor creature, nor to liberate it to the outside elements, I reluctantly bring it in and home it.

So here we are some five years down the line of our Stick journey and the final stick has finally gone to meet his/her maker. We are 'Stick free!'
I do however have just a tiny pot of eggs reserved from  a couple of months ago for a friend to embark on a similar journey. Despite the shenanigans, they do make very easy to manage pets, are interesting to watch and relatively low maintenance.