What's that weird Florida bug?

By
Real Estate Services with Mobile Notary Services

I woke up this morning and went out on the back porch like I do everyday.
While watching two young lizards play on the screen, I noticed something odd
on another screen. I got closer to the thing that was definitely NOT a
lizard, for further inspection. I could see it was on the outside of the
screen so I felt reasonably safe getting a closer look. What I saw gave me
the heebeegeebees something awful. I had never seen anything like it before
and wanted a closer look, but not too close. Leaving the safety of my
screened in porch, I went out the patio door and walked around to inspect
the alien bug. This is what I saw...

 

muskmares mating

Muskmares Mating II

 

 

What the heck is that thing? I called my significant other and told him he
was needed expeditiously to check this thing out. He told me to try to catch
it. CATCH IT? Are you kidding? While waiting for the SO to arrive, I decided
to see what I could find out about this scary bug. Google is my friend and
google led me to Whatsthatbug.com
http://whatsthatbug.com/walking_stick.htmland this is what I found...

 

These are mating Muskmares, or more correctly, a Muskmare and her
stallion. They are Anisomorpha buprestoides, Two-striped Walkingsticks. The
smell you mentioned was the least of your worries. These Walkingsticks can
shoot a noxious substance from glands in the "neck" region with amazing
accuracy. They have hit more than one of our readers in the eye and the
irritation and blurry vision may last for hours.

This is a Two-Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, also known
as a Muskmare. The Muskmare is capable of spraying a noxious substance with
incredible accuracy, and we get numerous reports of people and their pets
being sprayed in the eye.

This is a pair of Two-lined Walkingsticks, Anisomorpha buprestoides, also
known as Musk-Mares or Devil Riders because of their habit of remaining in
coitus for extremely long periods of time. The male is much smaller than the
female. Beware!! They do not bite but they can spray a noxious substance
from their necks that is painful if it gets in your eye.

It's the two-lined walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides .  In the case of the pairs, they are mating, and the smaller one on top is the male.  It's a common walkingstick in much of Florida, but you do have to be careful with them.  As you already know, they will spray an acidic defensive chemical from the end of their abdomen.  They often aim for the eyes, and the chemical can cause pain and temporary blindness.  Pets often experience this.  They feed on foliage, probably of various hardwood trees and shrubs.  I've kept them in captivity for a while and fed them oak leaves.  In the populations around the Ocala National Forest, the stripes are a much brighter shade of cream/white than in other parts of the state.  If you have internet access, take a look at these websites for pictures and more info:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.watson/psg12.htm
http://www.woodbat.co.uk/am.htm

WOW! Good thing I didn't get too close to these buggers. They're still on
the porch screen (10 hours later) stuck together and have hardly moved an
inch.

 

 

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Location:
Florida Indian River County Vero Beach
Groups:
All Things Florida
Tags:
florida
indian river
vero beach
bugs
walking stick

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Anonymous #11
Anonymous
Keith, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

After living in Alabama nearly 60 years, I first noticed these curious insects a few years ago when I found them clinging to my clothes hanging in the woods where I was living. I would carefully move them before taking clothes off the line, and once I immediately afterwards wiped the sweat off my face. I felt like I had been hit with pepper spray. I had gotten the protective secretion on my hand and when I wiped my face it stunk AND burned! Looking it up, I found that it was the two-striped walking stick, the noxious secretion being the positive identification.

May 16, 2008 01:29 PM
Anonymous #12
Anonymous
Leanna

What happens if this things shoots the substance into your mouth?

August 17, 2008 03:00 PM
Rainmaker
724,625
Carol Zingone
Global Realtor Based in Jax Beach, FL
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty

Never seen one of those in NE FL, and don't really care to, now that I know they can shoot something that causes temporary blindness!

August 18, 2008 08:39 AM
Anonymous #14
Anonymous
Tim Fortson

I live in Myrtle Beach Sc and have seen two of these in the last month. Both times the male was attached to the female. I didn't notice the pungent smell the first time I picked one up, but sure noticed tonight when I found the second pair. It smells strangely intrigueing from three or four inches( almost minty), but when I put my nose directly on my hand where I had touched them, it was like wasabi in the nasal passage, my eyes watered up, but strangely enough, i couldn't stop tempting fate and had to keep smelling the weird odor. when I got home I washed my hands but there must have been something left because my cats couldn't stop licking that area. They would get all freaky trying to clean thier toungues, but would always come back and lick the spot more.. seems like some kind of kitty crack

September 17, 2009 09:52 PM
Anonymous #15
Anonymous
Myna Hill

Found a pair of these yesterday...I am usually intrigued with unusual bugs, but this REALLY gave me the creeps.  I had no idea what they were, and got very close to shoot a couple photos; fortunately they were too "preoccupied" to shoot me with anything.  Now that I have identified these nasty things, how do we get rid of them? I find it extremely disturbing that they were reproducing on the side of our home, as we do not need more of these things running around!

June 21, 2011 04:16 AM
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Rebecca Fair

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