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Macleay's Spectre Stick Insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) PSG 9 - Nymphs

Macleay's Spectre Stick Insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) PSG 9 - Nymphs


  • Adult size: females 15-20cm, males 11-12cm
  • Lifespan: approx. 18 months females, 6-8 months males
  • Status: captive bred
  • Place of Origin: New South Wales and Eastern Queensland, Australia
  • Parthenogenetic: yes
  • Temperature: 20-24˚C
  • Humidity: 60-65%
  • Diet: bramble, raspberry, hazel, oak, eucalyptus (not store bought!)


  • Special requirements: prefer well ventilated, ‘airy’ conditions on the drier side. Only need a light spraying 2-3 times a week. Nmyphs will benefit from higher humidity range for molting


  • Note: Nymphs will be L2/L3 unsexed, feeding on bramble



Possibly one of the most popular species of stick insect available within the hobby, thanks to their large size and spiky appearance! E. tiaratum are also called Giant Prickly stick insects. This species is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger, stockier, and have spines covering the body with vestigial wings. Males in comparison are slender and smaller, with spines only on the head, and three ocelli. They also have long wings which they use to fly away from threats or to find a female. Adult females will lay multiple eggs with or without a male, but parthenogenetic eggs will always hatch a female nymph. We often hear our females flicking their eggs against their enclosure, or sometimes at us during a clean! Freshly hatched nymphs are black/ dark brown with a red head, which mimics the ant genus Leptomyrmex and makes them appear toxic! L1 nymphs are super speedy but slow down after a few molts and start to gain their classic appearance.


Both sexes have the ability to excrete a defensive liquid which smells like toffee or marshmallows! However, their preferred method of defense is to threat pose by coiling their abdomen towards their head, similar to a scorpion. Large females can puncture skin with their spines, so be very patient and let them walk onto your hand when handling to avoid injuring yourself and the stick insect.

  • We like to keep our Macleays around 22˚C and humidity ranges between 55-65%, but these will do just fine at average room temperature so long as the humidity is kept in the higher ranges which aids the molting process. Enclosure size should be at least 3 times the length of the body of the insect in height, and at least 2x the length of the insect in width. If housing different species together, use the largest individual as a guide. We house multiple individuals together successfully in a 90cm x 60cm enclosure, but 4-5  individuals will live together just fine in a 60cm x 30cm enclosure. 


  •  We use a wire mesh enclosure, as we find the mesh provides excellent cross-ventilation whilst maintaining humidity and provides extra surface area for the stick insects to utilise. As these invertebrates are arboreal, its important to try and replicate these conditions in captivity. Alternatively, a tall glass or plastic enclosure can be used if it has adequate cross ventilation and surface grip. We add a variety of hardwood branches as décor and to provide a more natural, enriching habitat.


  • We like to line the floor of the enclosure with some paper towels which catch the faeces and absorb excess moisture, reducing the chances of mold. PLEASE AVOID USING SUBSTRATE AND CLEAN UP CREW. The light colouration of the tissue also helps with spotting eggs and differentiating them from droppings. Once a week we replace the tissue and separate out eggs from poo. It is important to mention that we ONLY collect as many eggs as we can care for, the remainder are frozen for 72+ hours to prevent hatching. Eggs can be incubated in moist sphagnum moss or vermiculite at 20-22˚C and can take between 4-9 months to hatch.


  • We like to gather our own foodplants for our stick insects from local parks and forests which we know are safe and have minimal or no pesticide use. We suggest picking branches with leaves that are away from the main path, higher than ground level, and are healthy and free from signs of fungal infections and disease. Generally, if the leaves are green, intact and have other little critters living on them, then you are good to go!  Avoid super new growth as these leaves are high in sugar and some species will not eat them.


  • We cut the branches at a length that is 10cm or so less than the height of the enclosure which ensures there is a suitable gap at the top for stick insects to molt if the choose to do it there. The branches are soaked in water for 15-20 minutes to remove any surface debris and hitchhikers. The end of the branches are placed in a jar of fresh water to keep the cuttings fresher for longer. We push some paper towel into the top of the jar to close off the opening which prevents any smaller stick insects from drowning, but you can use sponges or alternatively non-spill paint pots. Once a week we replace the branches with fresh ones, but this can vary for different hobbyists. You will want to change the branches once they have gone limp and start to look dry. Stick insects will only eat live leaves, so its important to keep on top of food changes. 
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