Common name: Common tea tree stick insect, rō, whē, wairaka
Order: Phasmatodea Family: Phasmatidae
Size: Females 81-106mm, Males 67-74mm
Habitat: Commonly found on native trees such as mānuka and kānuka.
New Zealand has several native stick insects of various forms and shapes. Clitarchus hookeri can be brown or green and the males are smaller than the females. During the day they usually stand still to make the most of their amazing camouflage but at night they feed on mānuka and kānuka, and search for mates. If males and females find each other mating can take up to two days. Any eggs that the female produces are dropped on to the forest floor. But don’t worry, they survive the fall!
Because stick insects move so slowly and can’t fly, they may spend all their lives searching but never actually find a mate. Luckily, in some parts of New Zealand, females C. hookeri can lay eggs which will grow into adult insects without having to mating. Producing young without mating is known as “parthenogenesis”.
If you disturb or try to pick up a stick insect, they may release a reddish, smelly substance. This is an alarm chemical which is used to discourage predators.
Buckley T (2012). Clitarchus Stål. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/invertebrates/systematics/phasmatodea/classification/clitarchus/
Salmon JT (1955) Parthenogenesis in New Zealand stick insects. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand Zoology, 82, 1189–1192
T.E.R:R.A.I.N Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network (Last updated 2015). Stick Insect (Clitarchus hookeri) Green form. Retrieved from http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/local-insects/common-stick-insect.html.
Trewick, S. Story: Stick insects. Retrieved from http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/stick-insects/