Biodiversity in Belize
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Stick Insects (Phasmatodea) from Belize

By Jan Meerman

The Phasmatodea (also known as Phasmida or Phasmatoptera) are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects (in Europe and Australasia), stick-bugs or walking sticks (in the United States and Canada), or phasmids. Their natural camouflage makes them difficult for predators to detect, but many species have a secondary line of defence in the form of startle displays, spines or irritant secretions.

Members of the order are found all over the world except for the Antarctic and Patagonia, but they are most abundant in the tropics and subtropics. They are herbivorous with many species living unobtrusively in the tree canopy. Many phasmids can, if needed, reproduce through parthenogesis, which means that they do not require fertilised eggs for female offspring to be produced. Some species have wings and can disperse by flying, while others are more restricted.

Stick insects are often kept in captivity: almost 400 - 500 species have been reared in laboratories or as pets.The most commonly kept is the Indian (or laboratory) stick insect, Carausius morosus.

A good website to learn about different Stick Insects is

of a female Citharacanthus meermani (top) and of a female Crassicrus lamanai (bottom). Unfortunately, in the male this distinction is somewhat less obvious.

Alienobostra brocki
Alienobostra brocki (Hausleithner, 1987)

Large species with females reaching from 12-16 cm in length. The males are not winged and only 8-10 cm long. Recognized by the long subgenital plate of the female. Otherwise with two parallel bright stripes on the back and with two blunt spines on the head.

The only specimen I ever found was feeding on a spiny Mimosaceae shrub. Also reported from Melastomataceae and Asteraceae

Known from Costa Rica and Belize

Anisomorpha paromalus

Anisomorpha paromalus Westwood, 1859

A medium sized species with the females reaching 7.5 cm and the males 4.5 cm They tend to be all black with two orange stripes. They are capable of secreting a substance from glands on the metathorax that can cause an intense burning irritation of the eyes and mouth of potential predators on contact.

The species is cultivated in Europe from Belizean stock, but little is known about how they live in the wild. From the little we know they appear to be terrestrial and hide under stones and logs during the day. Nothing is known about their natural food plant in Belize

Known from Mexico and Belize

Autolyca pallidicornis
Autolyca pallidicornis Stål, 1875

I have never found this species, but it has been recorded from the Sarstoon area in the Toledo District. Also reported from Guatemala and Mexico.

Based on info in Phasmida.Speciesfile it is a terrestrial species.

Hypocyrtus ornatissimus
Hypocyrtus ornatissimus (Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1907)

This is a small species of 7-8 cm long (males 6 cm). Both sexes are wingless. Many females have a protuberance on the dorsal mesothorax, which is often just two small spines, but occassionally becomes a prominent bump-like protuberance. Body is rough-textured. Females may have small lobe-like expansions and small spines on the legs

I have found this species feeding on Trichilia havanensis (Meliaceae).

Recorded from Guatemala and Belize

Paracalydna utilaensis

Paracalynda utilaensis (Zompro, 1998).

A thin and fragile lookig phasmids, they even look like nymphs when being already adult. The body length is about 11 cm (males 9 cm). Both sexes are wingless. The males are even thinner with a green thorax, while the rest of the body is brown with some light markings.

I have this species found feeding on:

  • Piper sp. (Piperaceae)
  • Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae)
  • Gonzalunga panamensis (Rubiaceae)
  • Aristolochia veracruzana (Aristolochiaceae)
  • Citrus sp. (Rutaceae)

Recorded from Honduras, Guatemala and Belize

Phanocles vosseleri
Phanocles vosseleri (Redtenbacher, 1908)

This is a big phasmids, moderately thick, about 17 - 18 cm long. The coloration is variable, different shades of brown with some green. Some females have a white dorsal line. The males are thin, about 10,5 - 11,5 cm long with a very uniform brown coloration although the meso- and metathorax may have a slight blueish dorsal coloration

Wild food plants unknown but at Green Hills Butterfly Ranch it accepted:

  • Wild Bramble Rubus fagifolius (Rosaceae)
  • Cupania belizensis (Sapindaceae)

Reported from Guatemala and Belize.

Prisopus berosus

Prisopus berosus Westwood, 1859

A relatively small winged species that is extremely well camouflaged when it presses itself against the bark of a tree. Virtually nothing is known about it.

Found throughout Central America.


Pseudosermyle phalangiphora
Pseudosermyle phalangiphora (Rehn, 1907)

A very typical, standard shaped stick insect. Body length of female wild caught specimens  81 - 85 mm. Females are greenish or brown. No wings, long antennae. Males are smaller 60 - 70 mm, they are thin, brown, have no wings and they have two small, blunt warts just above their eyes plus big, claper-like ceri

I have found them on Piper sp. (Piperaceae), Urticaceae sp., Psychotria sp. (Rubiaceae) and Critonia morifolia (Asteraceae)

Reported from Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.


Pterinoxylus cf. spinulosus Redtenbacker, 1908

The female is a rather stout and big phasmid of about 15.5 – 16.5 cm long. The body strongly granlated and rough. With short fore and hind wings which it rubs together when agitated. Causing a quite startling hissing sound. Males probably winged, but not known as yet.

I found a female of this species feeding on Coccoloba belizensis (Polygonaceae), but in captivity she moved to Cupania belizensis (Sapindaceae).

Sermyle kujawskii
Sermyle kujawskii Zompro, 1998
The female is about 9,5 cm long and coloured in different brown and grey shades. The dorsal surface of the head, thorax and abdomen (partially) is strongly granulated. The male is about 6 to 7 cm long, brown, with greenish zones in the dorsal thorax area.

The female is about 9,5 cm long and coloured in different brown an grey shades. The dorsal surface of the head, thorax and abdomen is strongly granulated. The Male is about 6-7 cm long. brown, with greenish zones in the dorsal thorax area.

Found during nightwalk feeding on Serjania grosii (Sapindaceae). Also found feeding on unidentified Asteraceae vine.

Unidentfied phasmid
Tenerella sp.

I found this winged male once in the Toledo district.

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