Class: Insecta

Order: Phasmida

Number of families: 8 families


Most phasmids are long, smooth bodied, and are colored green or brown to better match the surrounding vegetation. A few species are brightly marked with bold stripes. Their bodies are usually smooth, but some vary from slightly to very rough. A few species are covered with short, sharp spines. The head is distinct. Compound eyes are present, with each eye having multiple lenses. There are no simple eyes, or eyes with a single lens. Their chewing mouthparts are directed forward. Stick insects may have fully developed or small wings or lack wings altogether, except for one species with small, rounded wings in southern Florida. All six legs are similar to one another in size and shape and are not designed for jumping. The fingerlike appendages on the tip of the abdomen are very short. Some males have claspers on the tips of their abdomens used to grasp the female while mating. Females have longer and heavier bodies than males.

Stick insects are mostly long, slender insects resembling twigs. They are sometimes two-toned, with lighter colors underneath and darker colors above. Some species have fully developed wings, while those of others are very small or absent altogether. Several stick insects have beautifully colored hind wings and rival the color of butterflies. Unlike grasshoppers, the back legs are not enlarged for jumping. Instead, all of their legs are about the same size and length. They range in length from 1.2 to 12.9 inches (30 to 328 millimeters). Several species of tropical phasmids are among the world's longest insects. For phylum class subclass • order monotypic order suborder family example, the body of Australia's Phobaeticus kirbyi reaches up to 12.9 inches (328 millimeters) in length, but with its front legs outstretched in front of its body, its total length jumps to 21.5 inches (546 millimeters).

Leaf insects have broad, flattened, leaflike bodies and legs. The wings are long and slender in males, shorter and wider in females, but they do not cover the edges of the abdomen. They measure 1.1 to 4.4 inches (28 to 112 millimeters) in length. The largest leaf insect is from Malaysia.

Timemas are not typical of stick or leaf insects. They are smaller (0.5 to 1.2 inches or 13 to 30 millimeters), somewhat flattened insects with thicker bodies and never have wings. Unlike most other phasmids, timemas are able to jump when threatened.

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