People unfamiliar with stick insects’ eating habits may find it hard to believe that these creatures consume their skin. However, there are a few reasons why stick insects do this strange behavior.
Why do stick insects eat their skin?
One of the main reasons why stick insects eat their skin is to get rid of the old, damaged layer and make way for the new one. Like how we continuously shed our skin cells, sticking insects also need to do the same to prevent infection and keep their bodies healthy.
Another reason is that some species of stick insects eat plants that contain toxic substances. When they eat their skin, they also get rid of these harmful toxins from their system.
As anyone who has ever stepped on a crunchy stick insect knows, these creatures have a hard exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is made up of a substance called chitin, which is also found in the exoskeletons of crabs and shrimp.
To grow, stick insects must periodically shed their old exoskeleton and replace it with a new one. And it turns out they like to eat their old skin!
Scientists believe there are several reasons for this behavior.
- First, eating the old exoskeleton gives the stick insect much-needed nutrients since the skin is rich in protein and other nutrients.
- Additionally, scientists think that eating the skin may help the stick insect get rid of any parasites clinging to it.
- Finally, some researchers believe that eating the skin helps the stick insect to bond with its new exoskeleton, making it stronger and more resistant to predators.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that there are many benefits to this strange behavior!
Different types of Stick Insects
The Indian stick insect will climb up a plant and hang upside down while it molts. It will start by munching on its hind legs until it makes its way up to its head. Once done, the Indian stick insect will drop to the ground, shed its exoskeleton, and immediately start eating it.
Another type of stick insect, the Malayan walking stick, does things differently. It will first find a safe place to hide before it molts. Once it’s done, it will eat its shed skin as quickly as possible so that other predators cannot find it.
So there you have it! These are just some of the reasons why stick insects consume their skin. Now that you know more about this fascinating creature, you can amaze your friends and family with your new found knowledge the next time you see a stick insect!