DEAR JOAN: I found an Indian walking stick on my garage door this morning. I have seen some in Australia and Costa Rica, but never in California.
I have lots of ivy in my front yard. Should I be worried that this insect will endanger my ivy?
Benton Gross, Piedmont
DEAR BENTON: Indian walking sticks are native to, you guessed it, India, but because they are popular pets, they’ve traveled far and wide.
As people grew tired of the insects, they released them into the wild, or accidentally spread their eggs when they cleaned their cages and dumped the debris.
The first reported sighting of these large walking sticks in California was in 1991 in San Diego County. Shortly after that, the insects were found in San Luis Obispo, and in the past decade, the insects have spread along the coast into the Bay Area.
Indian walking sticks present no threat to humans, but they can harm landscapes. The most damage occurs in the spring when the nymphs are hatching. They feed on a number of landscape plants, including ivy and privet.
If your walking stick has laid eggs, you may see dozens of nymphs next year and your ivy could take a hit. But as most gardeners will attest, it’s hard to kill ivy, even when you try.
There are no effective pesticides or chemicals that you can use against the walking sticks. Natural predators manage to keep populations in check.
California has a number of native walking sticks, including the Western short-horned and the gray. None of the native walking…