Breeding Stick Insects is not difficult.
They are known for their voracious sexual appetites; a female between puberty and menopause can produce nearly seven hundred times her body weight in eggs - that’s potentially 400 million children.
Between the hours of 9pm and midnight, the fertile female Phasmid exudes a hormone which advertises her availability to all
adult males. This gives rise to the familiar apple-like scent often commented upon by visitors. These odours can be detected by male insects up to 4cm away.
On identifying the source of the odours (which takes less than an hour), the males begin a battle for supremacy which can, in
extreme circumstances, leave one of more of them baffled.
Each pack of stick insects has a “top dog,” an alpha male who is nominally in control of the gang, and who has the rights to
any female in his territory. This is a hard-won position, and one which must be defended at all times.
Phasmid males fight using their mandibles, chewing at their opponents’ legs as easily as if they were twigs; indeed,
mistakes often occur. A defeated male will signify his submission by lowering his tail by 6 or 7 degrees, and moving very slowly backwards.
When the victor emerges, and moves towards the female, an elaborate courtship ritual commences which is both fascinating and
beautiful to watch.
The male adopts a standing position facing the female, who turns until her head is in line with his. They then lift their legs in a manner reminiscent of T’ai Chi, slowly raising and lowering each limb in a clockwise direction for up to two hours.
Then they have steamy sex that lasts all night.