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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Stick bugs in Louisiana

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Question
Hello.
I live in central Louisiana and while we were visiting with my parents yesterday (July 2 at about 4 pm) we saw a stick bug walking around. We assume that it came from the dead tree my husband had just cut down and wanted to show our daughter. My mother was very gently prodding it with an actual stick so it would move and it bowed up like a scorpion with its tail over its abdomen. I need to know if stick bugs sting. This one was probably a good six inches long and I was a bit worried about whether it could harm my kids or not. Thank you so much for your assistance.
Sarah Sharp

Answer

Sarah:

Walkingsticks are perfectly harmless vegetarians:-)  I suspect the specimen you saw was a male.  Males have wicked-looking claspers at the tip of the abdomen, but they are used in mating, not for defense.  The species was probably Diapheromera femorata, the northern walkingstick.  It is the common species in eastern North America. Thanks for writing!

Eric
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Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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