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Insect Identification Key
Order Phasmida: the stick insects (or walkingsticks) and leaf insects

walking stick
If this stick insect was sitting on a skinny limb, chances are no one would have even seen it. That's some amazing camouflage! Photo credit: U. S. National Park Service. Photo taken in Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, USA. Click here to see examples of more stick insects and leaf insects!

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Phasmida!

Members of this order include: stick insects (or walkingsticks) and leaf insects.

Etymology: Phasmida comes from the Greek word phasm, which means phantom. This refers to these insects’ amazing camouflage, which allows them to almost disappear into their surroundings.

General characteristics:
• most are wingless, but some have wings
• slow-moving
• usually large in overall size
• long, thin antennae
• in stick insects, the legs are spaced out over a very long thorax
• in stick insects, the body is long, thin and cylindrical
• in leaf insects (which are mainly tropical in distribution), the bodies are dorsoventrally flattened with leaf-like projections on body and legs
hemimetabolous metamorphosis (egg — nymph — adult)

Number of species worldwide: about 2,500

Click here to see examples of more stick insects and leaf insects!

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Phasmida (sometimes called Phasmatodea)

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: Some authorities refer to this order as Phasmatodea rather than Phasmida. At one time, this order was classified as a suborder within the order Orthoptera (the grasshoppers, crickets and katydids).

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz,; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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