What To Feed Stick Insects?

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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If you have a stick bug as a pet, you’ll need to feed it leaves and branches that grow in its home area. Most stick bugs prefer blackberry, ivy, and privet leaves. However, Indian stick insects (the most popular pet stick bug species) like hawthorn, rose, and oak leaves. You should also offer them the branches of those trees. 

Overall, you must know what to feed a pet you’re keeping.

What to feed stick insects tips
Feed stick insects

Insects aren’t picky, but you still want to ensure you give them the nutrition they need to be healthy.

Everything you need to know about feeding stick bugs is below, so let’s begin! 

What Do Stick Insects Eat? 

First of all, stick insects are herbivores; they eat only leaves.

However, you’ll need to know where the stick bug came from because they prefer to eat leaves native to their homes.

Since there are more than 3,000 stick bug species on this planet, you’ll need to choose their leaves carefully.  

Green stick insect
What stick insects usually eat 

Stick insects aren’t picky and will enjoy most non-toxic leaves, but you should pick the ones they prefer to eat when you can.

These are some of the most commonly enjoyed leaves among stick bugs: 

  • Blackberry leaves 
  • Bramble leaves 
  • Eucalyptus leaves 
  • Hawthorn leaves 
  • Hazel leaves 
  • Ivy leaves 
  • Oak leaves 
  • Privet leaves 
  • Rose leaves 

You can also occasionally offer your walking stick lettuce or spinach.

Some stick bugs can even eat berries, but you’ll need to research what they can have beforehand. 

Do Stick Bugs Eat Branches? 

Additionally, you can offer stick bugs branches.

You’ll want to give them twigs from the plants mentioned in the list above.

Make sure the branches are healthy and cut them from the tree, too— your stick insect will get more nutrients this way and enjoy chewing on the fresh sticks much more. 

Stick bugs eat branches 
Do stick bugs eat branches 

To offer your stick bug tree branches, you’ll want to put them in water in their enclosure.

Keeping the sticks moist helps keep the enclosure comfortable for your bug and makes the twigs easier for them to gnaw on.

You’ll need to replace the sticks when they become dry, or the stick insect eats almost all of them. 

You also must ensure that you don’t leave open water sources in their enclosure.

It’s easy for a stick insect to fall into a water dish and drown, so you’ll need to use something else.

We Recommend placing the branches in a narrow vase or jar with the tops sticking out. If you fill the container enough, there shouldn’t be room for the insect to fall into the water. 

Many people also grow plants in the stick insect’s enclosure.

You can plant a fresh branch from one of those trees in a small pot; it should take root and form a tiny plant after several weeks.

If you don’t have cut branches to offer, you can instead give your insect organic lettuce or spinach. 

Can I Give a Stick Bug Fruit? 

Most stick insects won’t eat fruit and prefer to eat leaves or leafy greens like lettuce.

However, there are so many different species of stick bugs that some of them will eat fruit.

stick insects do not eat fruit
Can stick bug eat fruit 

You can always add a small amount to their enclosure and see what they do. They’ll ignore it if it’s something they can’t eat. 

Some stick bugs eat berries when they’re young, then eat leaves only. You should research your insect to see what foods they like the most.  

In Short – You can try to give your stick insect fruit and see what they do. They may drink water from it, chew on it, or ignore it entirely.

You’ll want to remove the fruit from their enclosure soon, so it doesn’t sit there to rot. 

Will Stick Bugs Eat Dead Leaves? 

Stick bugs avoid eating dead or dry leaves, even if they’re already hungry. You’ll need to make sure that you always give them fresh food. 

The leaves should be green, flexible, and moist when you place them in their enclosure.

Once the leaves dry, you’ll need to replace them with fresh ones.

It’s not hard to take care of a stick bug and have them live a long time if you keep up with giving them clean, fresh leaves. 

Does It Matter Where I Get Their Leaves? 

Yes, you must know the leaves your stick bug eats weren’t treated with chemicals like pesticides.

Stick bug eat leaves in the forest
Stick bug eat leaves

These are fatal to insects. So, you should gather their leaves from somewhere that you trust. 

It’s also good not to get their leaves from along the roadside. These areas have frequent exposure to chemicals from car exhaust and more. 

If you see your stick bug twitching after eating a leaf, pesticides are likely on it.

Unfortunately – You can’t help when that happens, so carefully choosing the leaves you feed them is critical. 

What is a Stick Insect’s Favorite Food? 

Every species of stick insect is different, so they’ll each have their preferred food.

The leaves they like to eat the most are always local to the stick bug’s home.

So, you’ll want to know where the species comes from to give them the leaves they’ll like the most. 

The most common stick insect pet is the Indian stick bug. These insects love to eat oak, hawthorn, ivy, blackberry, and rose leaves the most. 

How Often Do I Change a Stick Insect’s Food? 

The leaves stay fresh for about a week after you add them to the stick bug’s enclosure.

You’ll want to change them at least one time every week. Although, if they start looking dry and old before that, you should swap them out as soon as you notice. 

Changing stick insects food advice
Changing stick insects food

Next, make sure you mist the leaves every day, even if you didn’t just add them to the enclosure. Doing so encourages the stick bugs to eat and drink.  

If you have multiple stick bugs in an enclosure, you may need to add the leaves more often.

Since they’re strictly herbivores, you don’t need to worry about the bugs eating or attacking each other.

Still, they’ll become stressed without constant access to fresh leaves, so keeping them in good supply is best. 

To Summarize – Make sure you change your stick insect’s food at least once a week. Doing so will keep your walking bug healthy and happy. 

How Does a Stick Bug Eat? 

Stick bugs have mandibles on their heads that allow them to eat leaves.

They’ll use them to gnaw on the leaves and pull them into their mouths.  

Stick bugs also only need to eat every two to three days, so catching them in the act can be challenging.

You’re most likely to see them eating after adding new leaves to their enclosure or misting the cage. 

Stick bugs also instinctively know what’s good for them and what’s not. If they’re not eating, you’ll need to try adding different leaves to their space and see how they react. 

How Do I Get a Stick Insect To Drink? 

It’s easy to get your stick bug to drink water.

Simply mist the leaves that you offer them with a small spray bottle. The leaves will hold droplets of water that the insect can them drink.

Stick insects drink water explained
How stick insects drink water

Doing so all helps keep the enclosure humid and comfortable for the bug. 

You should never put a water source directly in your insect’s enclosure.

The bugs don’t know how to drink from bowls and can fall in easily, no matter how shallow it is. It’s always better to mist the enclosure daily, so your pet has fresh water droplets to drink. 

Overall, you can get your stick insect to drink water by misting the leaves in their cage. This method is the most effective since putting water bowls in with the bugs is dangerous. 

What Do Stick Bugs Eat in the Wild? 

stick bugs eating in the wild
What stick bugs eat in the wild

There are tons of different species of stick insects, so they have diverse diets depending on where they live.

Wild stick insects will eat available leaves that are not toxic to them. Wild stick bugs are also nocturnal, so they do most of their eating during the night. 

Both wild and pet stick insects have very similar dietary needs. You can catch a stick bug and feed it fresh leaves and branches that you find in your local area. 

If a wild stick bug makes its way into your home, it can chew on fabrics when desperate for food.

However, this isn’t healthy for them, so never offer fabric materials to ones you keep as a pet. 

How Long Can a Stick Bug Go Without Eating? 

Stick bugs can live for a long time without eating, and larger ones can go longer than smaller ones. Most average-sized stick bugs can survive about five days without eating leaves.

However, you should always ensure that the ones you keep as a pet have reliable food sources. 

Overall, your stick bugs will be fine if you keep a constant rotation of fresh leaves in their living space.

They won’t need prompting to eat, so you just put the leaves in, mist them, and the stick bug will come around when they’re hungry.