I frequently see many different questions about stick insect eggs here and on other platforms. Now, some are quite straightforward but are still helpful to know the answer. Others need a bit more explanation. When you have stick insects you almost certainly come across one point that you have stick insect eggs. In this article, I’ve summarized the most frequently asked questions that stick insect keepers have about stick insect eggs. I’m sure that some of them can also be helpful for you.
Don’t worry! If you have a question about stick insect eggs that is not answered in the list below, please send your question with the contact form so hopefully, I can help you find the answer.
Want to know more about breeding stick insects?
If you want more in-depth information about breeding stick insects you should check out the article I wrote about breeding stick insects and leaf insects. Here you can find the best methods and many practical tips for the breeding result with stick insects.
#1 What should I do with my stick insect eggs?
At some point in your stick insect keeping career, you will get eggs. Okay, but what should you do with those eggs? The answer to this question highly depends on what you want? If you have already enough stick insects you can get rid of them, or maybe you can sell them online to someone for some cash. If you incubate all eggs you have collected, you may soon have more stick insects than you can house properly.
If you want to breed with your stick insects you should keep them and make an effort to incubate them. With a little patience, you’ll soon have nymphs (little baby stick insects) walking around. If you wondering what the best way is where you should incubate your stick insect eggs, check out #3 Where do you incubate stick insect eggs?
#2 Can you touch stick insect eggs?
Stick insect eggshells are hard and they feel like little seeds. You can touch stick insect eggs without a problem and pick them up to collect them.
However, be careful. Although they feel strong and sturdy, they still can break when you squeeze them too hard. It is better to pick them up with your fingers than we a tool like tweezers. You have more feeling in your fingers than when using a tool. Using a tool increase the risk of breaking them, killing the embryo.
#3 Where do you incubate stick insect eggs?
Where you should incubate the stick insect eggs highly depend on the stick insect species, and more specifically how they lay their eggs.
When you have stick insects that drop the eggs on the tank floor, you get the highest hatching result by collecting the eggs and incubate them in a special container. Place them in a little cap or cotton bed (or as I do use some blue aquarium filter medium) and place a couple of eggs in it. Use some sort of substrate of cloth on the floor to regulate the humidity in your incubation container. However, you can also let the eggs just lay on the floor. Although you may have lower hatching results, some stick insect eggs will still hatch in the parent enclosure.
When stick insects bury their eggs, I like to let them in the parent enclosure so I don’t disturb the eggs when collecting them. It can be more tricky to replace them in an incubation container. If you collect them place them onto a little substrate with the lid cap pointing upwards and then cover it slightly with some more substrate.
With stick insects that pierce or glue their eggs onto leaves, I also like to let them in the enclosure. You can, however, carefully cut the piece of foliage out and place it in a separate container.
#4 How to dispose stick insect eggs?
Now there comes a point when keeping stick insects that you just have too many eggs for you to keep. If a larger part of them hatch, you can’t house them properly anymore. So you’ll need to get rid of them. One way is to sell your eggs to another enthusiast and some exotic pet stores are also happy to buy your stick insect eggs. But unfortunately, you probably need to dispose of some eggs someday. But, how to dispose of stick insect eggs?
You can’t release them in your garden or nature. It is even forbidden to do so. They can become invasive, destroying native plant species and compete with native animal species. So you need to throw them away.
Well, throwing them in the trash bin is not an option. They may still hatch, survive and still become a problem. So you have to destroy the eggs first. You can do that in two ways: one, you crush the eggs killing the embryo inside them. If you don’t feel like doing that, you can also freeze them for 3 days to be certain to kill the embryo. Although the first method is the most humane and quickest, not everyone is able to do so and freezing is a good alternative.
Dipping them in an alcohol solution will not always work (well, if you wait long enough… but it takes some time and you don’t want that). Heating them or baking them is also possible, but eggs can pop and can get messy. The best is to stick with the two options mentioned above.
#5 How safely pack stick insect eggs for mailing?
If you sell your eggs, you may have to mail the eggs. How can you safely pack eggs for mailing without damaging them? The method I like is to place the eggs in a little plastic tube or a very small deli cup and cover it with cotton wool as much so that the eggs will barely move. Don’t push in too much cotton wool, otherwise, the eggs can be crushed. Drill a little hole in it for some fresh air.
Now, if you need to mail a lot of eggs in one go, don’t place too many eggs in one tube or cup. It is better to distribute them over multiple tubes or cups. A good average is around 20 eggs per cup or little tube.
This little package can be placed inside a bubble foam envelope for mailing. You can also use a little box and stuff it up with old newspaper, but because of the size you probably need to pay more to send it.
#6 How to care for stick insect eggs?
Caring for stick insects mainly exists out of controlling the environment and have a lot of patience. Keeping the temperature and humidity stable is the main thing you can do. At which temperature and humidity you should keep the eggs depends on the species.
Temperature can be regulated with a light bulb or heating pad, although personally, I prefer a light bulb for a natural light cycle (see also #10 do stick insect eggs need (sun)light?). You can control the humidity by regularly mist spraying the incubation container. Don’t spray water directly on the eggs. Instead, spray on the walls and around the eggs or substrate to dampen it.
And then the waiting game begins.
#7 How long do stick insect eggs take to hatch?
The incubation time for a stick insect egg hatched will take on average around three to five months. However, the incubation time varies for every species. Some stick insect eggs have a relatively short incubation time of around five weeks, others can take up to eighteen months.
The conditions in the incubation container also influence the incubation time. If you keep your stick insect eggs in the optimal temperature and humidity range will shorten the incubation. Suboptimal conditions may lengthen the incubation time.
Stick insects can lay fertile eggs without the need of a male, which is called parthenogenesis. These eggs seem to take longer to hatch compared to eggs from mated females.
#8 How to tell if my stick insect eggs are good or not?
The simple truth is: No, you can’t see from the outside if eggs are good or not. You can’t even see if they are fertile. You just have to be patient and wait to see if the eggs hatch.
Now of course, if you see cracks or the lid at the top of the egg is missing, you can also certainly say that egg will not hatch. Some eggs also tend to mould more quickly. Now mould does not have to be a problem. For example, the eggs of Extatosoma tiaratum tend more quickly to mould but it seems that it does not affect the hatching result.
#9 Why are my stick insect eggs not hatching?
That your stick insect eggs do not hatch can have multiple reasons. Reasonably is that the eggs may not be fertile. If the female did not mate and only reproduce sexually then you can wait a long time before the eggs hatch. But if you have more than one of every sex it is hard to believe that you have no fertile egg at all.
However, there are two main reasons why embryos die during incubation: temperature and humidity. More specific the wrong temperature and humidity.
For most species, the eggs should be incubated within the temperature range of 20°C and 25°C. Short periods of cooler temperature during the night is perfectly fine, but warmer temperatures are not good for the development of the embryos and above 30°C could kill the embryo. So keep track of the temperature in your incubation container.
The second reason is that the incubation container is kept too wet or too dry. You should keep the average humidity around 60 to 80%. If you do not spray your eggs can dry out, but be careful you don’t spray too often and too much, and don’t spray directly on the eggs. It is about a higher relative humidity in the air, not a wet container.
Other reasons that can cause your eggs stopping for hatching is using the wrong breeding method for your eggs, the growth of mould and bacteria, and too much disturbance and vibrations of the eggs.
#10 Do stick insect eggs need (sun)light?
There is more and more reason to believe that eggs need light and a natural light cycle to have better development and hatching rates. Now, there is no scientific evidence to back up this statement, but it would be good practice to provide a 12h:12h light cycle for your incubation container.
And what do you have to lose? If you use a LED light or very low wattage light bulb it can’t harm your eggs any way or raise the temperature too much (also, keep an eye on the humidity though).
And what about sunlight and UVB? Well, there is no research evidence that it is needed and the main drawback of direct sunlight is that it heats your incubation room rather quickly to temperatures that are lethal to the embryos. But, if you have a nice spot with indirect sunlight and not too close to a window with draft or temperature fluctuations, you could make use of sunlight too.
#11 Is it best to start with stick insect eggs or nymphs?
Now you can start a nice group of stick insects with both nymphs and eggs, so in the end, it should not matter that much. But there is one thing that I like you to understand. Nymphs are fragile and nymphs of some species have more difficulties acclimatizing to a new environment. So generally, especially when you are a beginner with stick insects, I recommend you to start with eggs.
You have to have more patience with eggs though because it can take at least 5 weeks (but for many species rather more like 8 to 10 weeks) before they hatch. However, the benefits of starting with eggs, which can endure and cope better with changing environments outweighs starting with nymphs. Another thing you should consider is that diseases are spread by nymphs and adults, and often not by eggs. So it is also safer to start with stick insect eggs.
#12 How many eggs can a female stick insect lay?
Stick insect females, although it differs between species, can lay several hundred eggs on average. The stick insects that just simply drop the eggs tend to lay more eggs than females that are more careful burying, glueing or stitching their eggs.
So that means stick insects lay roughly between 2 eggs a week up to 15 eggs in one night. So with some species, like for example Extatosoma tiaratum, lay a heck of a lot of eggs.
#13 How long do stick insects keep laying eggs?
Stick insect females will start laying eggs around two weeks when they reached adulthood until they die of old age. Generally, that means that females will lay eggs for a couple of months. You will see that most eggs are laid when they are young adults, and when they become older the amount of eggs decreases.
Healthy and well-fed females, that are kept in the ideal environment, are generally laying more eggs. Now that doesn’t mean you should feed them less when you want fewer eggs, though. Always try to provide the best care for your animals. Read about how to dispose of the eggs if you have too many, or try to sell some to other people who like to keep stick insects.
#14 Do stick insects die after laying eggs?
Eventually, yes. But it is not that females die after their first clutch as some other insect species do. Now, laying eggs demands lots from the females and it is important to feed them well and plenty, and keep them in the optimal environment.
#15 How long do stick insect eggs last?
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how long stick insects last and it will definitely differ between species, but on average eggs will last at least for 1 or 2 weeks in suboptimal conditions before the embryos will start to have it difficult.
So, when you mail them in a good envelope they will be fine in normal weather conditions. With extreme cold weather in winter, it is best to pack them in an isolating box (styrofoam box for example) and add a long-lasting heating pack for transport.
Don’t worry if they lay in the parents’ enclosure for a long time. Stick insect eggs can perfectly hatch in this enclosure as well. But many keepers prefer to incubate them separately to have more control over the climate and have a better survival rate of nymphs (they are fragile and can be damaged by adults, or don’t get any space to feed on the leaves).
#16 What does a stick insect egg look like?
Stick insect eggs look just like seeds. Every stick insect species has its own shape and egg size. Every stick insect has a hard shell, but some have little hairy-like appendages as some plant seeds have too. They may stick in the hair or feather of animals and being distributed over larger distances.
Stick insect eggs sizes range from a tiny 3 mm up to 16 mm. Although most eggs are round, some are long and have a thin spine-like shape.
Most eggs have a sort of lid on them, where normally plant seeds will sprout. It is a cap that breaks open when the embryo is ready to hatch.
Eggs look so much like seeds that if you walk around in their natural habitat you probably will not find any eggs.
#17 How do you tell the difference between stick insect eggs and poop?
Poop of stick insects looks like brown to dark green spots of digested leaves. Nymphs have very small dots or specks that are the remains of their eating leaves. However, sometimes it can be rather difficult to differentiate poop from eggs.
Now there are two ways to easily tell what are eggs and what is poop. First, poop is soft and without any effort crumbles between your fingers. Eggs have a hard shell and you immediately feel the difference. Secondly, poop will immediately fall apart when it comes in contact with water, where stick insect eggs will keep their shape.
If you take some time and look closely, you definitely see the difference between the two.
If you have any question left unanswered, please send me a message with you question using the contact form. Although I get a lot of emails and messages and it can take a couple of days to answer your question, I like to hear from you nonetheless (try to make some clear expectations if the answer takes a little longer).
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