Stick Insects And People

Natives of Goodenough Island, New Guinea, used the large hooks found on the back legs of male Eurycantha, a large spiny species common in the region, as fishhooks. Large and spectacularly colored species are commonly collected, preserved, and mounted in decorative frames for sale to tourists. Living phasmids are popular with hobbyists, but the importation of exotic stick insects is strictly regulated in many countries, especially in the United States. Authorities are concerned that the accidentally or purposefully introduced foreign species may become plant pests. Exotic species can also crowd out native species or introduce harmful diseases to their populations. Exotic species are often displayed, under special permits, in insect zoos and other institutions with living arthropod exhibits. Nearly all phasmids are harmless, but some species can deliver a painful pinch with sharp spines on their legs or squirt bad-smelling sprays that are known to cause temporary blindness in humans. A few stick insects are occasionally regarded as pests when they devour nearly all of the leaves of individual trees.

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