Stick bug abortions

Stick bug eggs

Courtesy of Robert Gromadka

Stick bugs are egg-laying machines. They have the ability to lay hundreds of eggs in their adult life – which only lasts a few months.

Stick bug reproduction, however, is not something to be taken lightly. If the eggs are not monitored, taken care of or disposed of correctly, there will be an overpopulation problem.

Think about it like this: I have 30 young stick bugs at the moment. If all of them lay 200 eggs, I’ll end up with 6,000 eggs!

Now imagine if all the eggs hatched? I can barely handle the stick bug parties, let alone try to raise 6,000 nymphs.

The eggs of my bugs, which of the Baculum extradentatum species, look like this:

Overpopulation of stick bugs in the wild can lead to the destruction of entire gardens and fields. That is why the United States Department of Agriculture has made the selling and transporting of these bugs illegal. If they are raised in a terrarium like the ones in my room or in classrooms, where they are commonly found, overpopulation can cause crowding, food shortage, territorial aggression and even sickness.

I am taking care of the third generation of my stick bugs. It took me the first generation to figure out a solution to all of those eggs – a stick bug abortion. For a stick bug abortion to go smoothly, you can’t get too attached to the nymphs that hatch. This may be hard for someone who likes bugs because the baby stick bugs are so darn cute!

Here is a photo of the first newborn of the third generation that I’m raising:

Baby stick bugOnce the bugs reach adult-hood and start laying eggs, it’s a good idea to monitor the amount of eggs found on the floor of the terrarium. You have to think ahead of time about how many stick bugs you would be willing to raise if all the eggs hatched. That number will determine when the bugs are ready for their abortion.

After my bugs laid about 50 eggs, I knew it was time. I then took all the bugs out of the terrarium, carefully collected the eggs and surrounding dirt from the bottom of the cage, and put my collection in another container. Everything else had to go. I put the remaining dirt and eggs in a zip-lock bag so nothing had the chance to hatch and escape into the wild. The bag ended up in the trash, never to see the sun again.

This process must be repeated every few weeks as long as the adult bugs are still alive and attempting to reproduce. The babies tend to start hatching two to four months after the eggs are laid and usually after the adult bugs die. Their lifespan is only between six months to a year.

The only way to control over population after the nymphs hatch is to kill them. My heart could never take that; This is why I’ve decided that stick bug abortions are the way to go. I’d rather take care of the

Baby stick bug and a pennyproblem before I get attached and the problem turns into cute little bugs.

Thank God I’m dealing with bugs and not kids.

After a successful abortion and once you are ready for baby stick bugs, you can return the remaining eggs to the terrarium or wait for them to hatch. You will be a better stick bug mother because you made the right decision to avoid population control and helped save gardens.

Here is a video of a stick bug nymph hatching from its tiny egg. Enjoy!

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