Walking Sticks - Help!!!! They're eating us to ruin!!!
Hi all, What a nightmare here!!!!
My neighbors and I are going wild. We have been invaded by Walking Sticks -- If you've never heard of 'em, there's a good reason, they come from India and southeast Asia. They are of the order Phasmida (formerly grouped w/ Orthoptera [grasshoppers, crickets, etc.]), full-grown adults are about 6 1/2 inches long and 1/2 as big around as a pencil with long gawky legs, when still, they are almost indistinguishable from a twig, witness their name. Here's a good picture of the things: http://www.animatedchildrenstories.com/Images/WalkingStickInsects.jpg here's another one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Medauroidea.extradentata.jpg
That skinny long little body doesn't have much room for a sophisticated or efficient digestive system. Instead they rely on quantity -- huge munchings in, big flow out: continuously. Pretty easy to see where they've been: leaf decimation, accompanied by viscous trail of goop. One full-grown spcecimen can denude 1/2 a rosebush in a night. Agggh!
After much research, I'm finding that we in La Jolla may, in fact, owe our infestation of these things to one 14 year-old who about 4 years ago bought them as _pets_ over the internet and then decided he didn't want them anymore and turned 'em loose. Each female holding some 100,000 eggs. Uh-huh. They liked it here, clearly.
OK, my neighbors and I have thousands of these things ranging from about 1 1/2" to 6 1/2" long chewing their way through our gardens. Balboa Park and the Zoo are apparently also suffering from an onslaught. According to their reports, the darned things appreciate over 80% of the zoos horticultural offerings as prime chow (verry bad for them, since they are committed to a no-pesticide approach, for obvious reasons). They have no natural predators here. Crows love 'em, but "sticks" (as their afficionados affectionately call them) are nocturnal and crows are diurnal, so that's not much help.
I have contacted the UC IPM extension about the problem, but the only advice that I have received so far has been to try Orthene over the whole area. We are very reluctant to blast the neighborhood with such a broad-spectrum killer. Yes, it would probably do in a lot of Walking Sticks. But it would also harm a lot of birds, and do in our entire, carefully cultivated array of beneficials (we have a lot of psyllid problems here between Eugenias and eucalyptus, not to mention the honey bee issues). We've worked hard to cultivate a strong beneficial insect population in this area and are verrrrry reluctant to louse it up, so have been avoiding the "Just blast it all and hope for the best." approach.
As a result, we can all be found doing a late-night Edward Scissorhands impression-- I'm out there with a big flashlight and a pair of scissors, snipping the suckers in half. So are many of my neighbors. We are, sad to say, losing the battle. Since every female is launching 100,000 eggs at a drop and the predators are few and far between (never thought I'd pray for a rat infestation in my life), our plants are being decimated. Roses, bay laurels, gardenias, orchids, you name it, they're loving it.
Snail bait (Deadline, Sluggo) has had no effect. Beer traps have had no effect. We even built sticky traps of boxes with their favorite leaves in them (none entered, no chewing). I've done a ton of internet searches on the things -- nothing tells me how to kill them. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to raising them, cuddling them, appreciating them. Nothing on how to kill them. I even posted a couple of questions on those forums. They were deleted. They don't want to talk about them as pests, only as pets. The only thing I could find on killing them was that if you raise them in a house, airfresheners/plugins/etc. can kill them as their respiratory system is "unprotected". I tried putting some Glade fresheners next to my rose bushes, but evidently the open air dissipates it enough that they don't avoid it. Accckkkkk!
Does anyone have any suggestions????? My followup query to the UC IPM extension regarding soil drench effectiveness (imidacloparid) has not rec'vd a response in oer 2 weeks, so I'm guessing they don't know. Has anyone had any success with anything in dealing with these things? One of my neighbor's gardener brought her a hawthorn branch that he'd cut off the tree that they could see over 50 of the things "frozen" on the branch trying to look like twigs.
They're winning so far and I don't know what to do -- any guesses? Any ideas who to ask? Helpppp!