A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Stick With Legs

Tree Ents are mythical beings that live only in the realm of Tolken’s Middle Earth.  I can imagine a tree as a creature able to walk and talk and do things that most animals take for granted and plants can only dream of.  I know those Tree Ents reside only in my imagination and in the pages of books but if you know where to look you can find real life Tree Ents only on a much smaller scale.

I have the honor to work at a small charter school in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.   Surrounding my school is several acres of forested area.  My classroom has large windows looking out at this woodland habitat.  I have seen Bald Eagles, White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkey and other animals from my desk.  Last week I found something that I was not expecting clinging to my window.

Like a wayward stick glued to my window was this Norther Walking Stick.  It had its front legs stretched forward to complete the disguise, and had it not been on my window the disguise would have worked.

I have spent a lot of time in the woods of Minnesota and have only seen Walking Sticks a couple of times.  The tend to be arboreal, living high in the tree, and they have some of the best camouflage that mother nature has to offer.

These bizarre looking insects are herbivores and completely harmless to humans.

I had quite a bit of difficulty taking pictures of this insect because the focal length with my macro lens is already narrow, when that is combined with an subject that is no more than a quarter inch thick it makes for some challenging shooting!

I took all these pictures in my classroom during my prep hour.  I shared the Walking Stick with all my students and they LOVED it.  I had several students want to hold it and even those ‘insectaphobes’ were curious about it.

This Northern Walking Stick was one of only a handful that I have ever seen, and by far the largest I have seen in Minnesota.  I hope my students remember this unique and rarely seen member of our ecosystem.

Up Next:  Final Caterpillar Update and Nature Hike 2

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