Ask any person in the street the first thing that comes into their head when you tell them that you’re a Stick Insect Fancier,
and camouflage is a word that will soon crop up.
From the French camouflagier, meaning to conceal oneself from one’s predators or prey by means of appearing similar or
identical to one’s surroundings, the word is taken by us to mean “hiding”.
Indeed, Stick Insects are masters of the art of camouflage, blending into a whole range of backgrounds from bark to
So good are they at masking their identity that it is easy to make mistakes.
The author remembers clearly a visit from the tragically late Dr F P Woods, then President of the Stick Insect Foundation, one Tuesday evening. I was sure that I had 428 specimens in the cage in the study, but, after careful counting, Dr Woods had spotted no less than 433. I had to endure his gentle ribbing on this subject for many years afterwards!
Many people wonder how it is that Phasmids achieve such remarkable feats of concealment.
The answer is so simple that some will doubt it: the insects themselves are shaped like twigs! Lest anyone doubt you on this plain statement of fact, simply point out to them that the derivation of
the word “Stick” as in “Stick Insect” and “stick” as in “stick of wood” are identical.
The photographs below, taken by my late nephew David, illustrate how effective Stick Insects are at the art of camouflage: