Thursday, 14 May 2009

Grim Reaper picks up sticks

Last of this year's Stick Insects has now curled up its toes. MacLeay’s Wraiths weren’t discovered until 1828, but if they had been, they’d have been popular in the Middle Ages, as reminders of slow and constant mortality. They develop papery, blotchy skin, lose their grip, and finally start falling to pieces, when, in the course of nature, something would snaffle them up, no doubt.

Bits of Tinky Winky II started falling off a week or so ago, and she ended up doing a kind of Byronic deathbed scene on leaves at the bottom of the tank, because she couldn’t hang from brambles any more but was obviously still just alive. We hope she died happy.

We should have provided piped Mahler for a kind of Death in Venice effect. Try that next year. Woodland burial out the back was this morning. We have 600 eggs for next year, expected to start hatching this autumn. MacLeay’s Wraiths live just under a year, so anthropomorphically minded fans will be glad to know that each Stick Insect Year is about 4 days....


Erika Baker said...

After we'd had stick insects for 4 years we finally got to the stage where the last one was almost dead. We were quite looking forward to a dignified burial and the end of stick insects and brambles, when mother-in-law looked after the children one weekend. I will never forget her delighted face when she told us on our return that we've had 25 new babies!!

A year or so later we ended up committing wholesale murder of eggs and evicted 2 adults stick insects to take their chances on the local bramble bushes.
I still feel vaguely guilty about that.

Steve Hayes said...

Amazing what one learns from blogs - etymology, entomology, you name it!

Pam Smith said...

My sister had a stick insect - called Ivy I think (because that's what she ate) - who she staunchly refused to pronounce dead even when she started falling to bits.

The next year I opened a drawer in the sideboard that Ivy had mainly lived on top of and six tiny stick insects crawled out.

Can't remember what happened to their eggs but there were no more stick insects.

I know keeping pets is meant to teach you things, the main thing I learnt from Ivy was the meaning of the word 'parthogenetic' I think.

I was excited to discover
there is also an 'online stick insect community' but sadly it seems to be written by humans.

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