Stick insects and their relatives are known as phasmids, they are found throughout the world, usually in tropical or subtropical countries. They are masters of disguise, as their name suggests, most species look like sticks, but others can imitate dead or living leaves and some even mimic other insects.

The pink winged stick insect is similar to the Indian stick insects, but the nymphs are bright green. Although they develop wings in their adult stage, they are weak fliers. They eat raspberry leaves and brambles and the females attach their eggs to the sides of their cage.

Of the many species seen in captivity, Macleay's specter, Extatosoma tiaratum, is one of the more spectacular. This Australian species is larger than the common insect and females can grow up to 4.7 inches long, the males are smaller, more slender and have wings. The nymphs have a black body and orange head and are said to mimic certain species of biting ants. As they grow, their colour changes to light brown.

The jungle nymph, Heteropteryx dilatata, comes from Malaysia. It is an enormous insect, females can reach 6.2 inches and males only slightly less. It also has a much thicker body than many other stick insects and large females can weigh up to 1.76oz. Both sexes have prickly spines, but whereas the males are brown with large, dark coloured wings, the females are bright green and do not have wings.

Stick insects belonging to the genus Dares, are easy to rear. The three species in culture all grow to around 2 inches and their bodies are covered with long spines. They are dark brown and males often have a wide cream, brown or orange stripe down their backs. Neither sex has wings.

All leaf insects belong to the genus Phyllium come from Southeast Asia. They are among the most highly modified of all insects, they have evolved to look exactly like the leaves of the plants on which they feed.

Stick insects are easy to care for, long-lived and inexpensive to keep.

All that is required is an insect cage, but large species require fairly tall cages, at least twice their own height, so that they can molt properly.

They can live at room temperature, but are more active at around 68-73F.

Most of the species eat common food plants and you can cut small branches of suitable species and place them in a small jar of water. Plug the top of the jar to avoid the insect crawling in and drowning.