Insects that Look Like Grass and Sticks

Insect in swamp

We received a very interesting question a while ago about some sort of insect that looks “like a blade of grass” (or a stick, to our eyes). The reader referred to the creature, which he found in a state park in Pennsylvania, as a “really weird worm,” but also added that it might not actually be a worm. Based on the video he sent in, it appears that the grass-like creature is an insect, not a worm. What kind of insect is, of course, the question. Below we investigate what this insect that look likes grass might be. (As mentioned, we think the insect looks a bit like a stick as well, so we’ll be using “grass” and “stick” to basically mean “some sort of elongated plant material.”)

Although the video was helpful and entertaining to watch, it was quite short, so we decided to include only a still frame from one of the clearest parts of the video:


ATTENTION: GET PARASITE HELP NOW! At All About Worms we get a lot of questions about skin parasites, blood parasites, and intestinal parasites in humans. Because we can't diagnose you, we have put together this list of doctors and labs who understand and specialize in dealing with parasites in humans! That resource is HERE

Insect in swamp

The insect in question is more or less in the middle of the image. It is kind of hard to see, however, as it does look approximately like one of the many blades of grass that surrounds it. The reader speculated that the insect disguised itself in such a way as to “trick some bugs and then eat them.” While this is reasonable suggestion, we suspect that the insect is actually disguising itself to avoid predation. This is in fact a common defense mechanism known as mimicry, whereby various creatures mimic some other animal or plant to avoid being eaten. This is what insects that are disguised as leaves, which we recently wrote about, are up to, and this is also why certain caterpillars appear to have large eyes. (When they appear to have large eyes, they look less like harmless caterpillars and more like harmful snakes, which can deter birds and various other predators from trying to eat them.) So, the “grass insect” is not hiding in order to prey on anything, but rather to avoid being preyed on.

The video is not clear enough for us name any particular species of insect, but it does seem like our reader found something that belongs to the order Phasmatodea, a grouping that includes various types of “stick bugs” and other insects that resemble parts of plants. (The leaf insects referenced above are in this order, for instance.) We think our reader found one of these stick insects for obvious reasons: what he found is a living creature that looks like a stick. Moreover, the one thing the video did show is the creature swaying back and forth, which is something that many species in the order Phasmatodea do to enhance their camouflage. A stick insect rocking back and forth looks a lot like a regular twig swaying in the breeze. Finally, the location in which the reader found the insect – Pennsylvania – does not preclude this suggestion. There are lots of stick insects in the U.S., and although particularly high concentrations are found in the southeast, there would be nothing unusual about finding one in Pennsylvania, especially in state park of all places.

No Paywall Here!
All About Worms is and always has been a free resource. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or make you give us your email address, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to pay our research authors, and to run and maintain the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep All About Worms free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:

So, we are reasonably confident that our reader found some sort of stick insect (or stick bug), although we are unsure exactly which species. However, if our reader wanted to do a little more research into the particular species of stick insects in his area, perhaps by speaking with the staff at the state park he visited – they generally love to answer these types of questions – he might be able to determine exactly what he found.

Summary
Insects that Look Like Grass and Sticks
Article Name
Insects that Look Like Grass and Sticks
Description
What are the insects that look like a blade of grass or a stick?
Author

2 thoughts on “Insects that Look Like Grass and Sticks

  1. Thank you. I can’t figure out where to click to see the video about creatures that look like sticks, but you gave me hope I can find out what I saw in a Colorado creek bed about 15 years ago. This was in a woodsy part of Colorado Springs, near the Starsmore Center and the & Falls area of Cheyenne Canyon. The water in the creek came down to a point then stopped. A tiny twig about 1 and 1/4 inch or 1 and 1/8 inches long, very skinny, seemed to be going against the flow of the water, like it was self propelled. It had some black, some beige or “buff”, and some white or whitish color. Three colors, very bark looking colors. No legs or noticeable head, so I decided it “had to” be only a twig and picked it up, then pressed it between my thumbnail and finger, but stopped fast because I’d just pressed into “flesh”, with no visible harm. What kind of creature was it? I’d like to know. Thank you!

  2. i also found a blade of grass looking bug that is alive dont know what it is can you tell me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *