Had a very exciting find yesterday!
One of the girls at work radioed to say she had located some stick insects! Now these guys aren’t actually native to Britain, however around 100 years ago, 3 different NZ species managed to find their way into Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (likely due to introduction) and have remained here ever since, quite happily. The temperate summers and warm winters seem to suit their needs. Whilst stick-insects are quite prolific breeders, they tend to stay in the same area, so the creatures haven’t really moved out of the South West. Whilst not a great deal of research has undergone thus far, it appears that the creatures have no major impact on the environment, which is fantastic news, as some introduced and invasive species can cause havoc to other wildlife.
The two of them were easy to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for thanks to their astonishing camouflage. Not just their amazing stick-like appearance, but the way they moved was also incredible and all too easily you could walk on past them without having any idea that they were even there.
The pair seem to be smooth stick insects (Clitarchus hookeri), although I am waiting on confirmation of identification. Stick insects, also known as phasmids, love to eat bramble and here at the sanctuary, we have lots of suitable bushes here for them to feed upon!
Due to how rare these guys are, I have also reported the sighting to both ORKS (the Online wildlife Recording for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) and the Phasmid Study Group for their records as well as informing Buglife and the Amateur Entomology Society, so excited to hear their thoughts.
I love moments like these. It proves just how amazing Cornwall, and the Lizard, really are. The unique climate means that a whole plethora of life can be supported here that you just don’t find anywhere else in the UK!