Leaf Insects

a Leaf Insect hiding on top of a pile of leaves

Are you looking for a unique pet that will bring some excitement to your home? Leaf Insects may be the perfect choice! These fascinating creatures are part of the Phasmatodea family and have been kept as pets for centuries.

Leaf Insects, also known as walking leaves, are one of the most interesting insects in the world. They get their name from their ability to camouflage themselves as leaves. They have flattened bodies and long legs that help them blend in with their surroundings.

Leaf Insects are tiny creatures that live in trees and shrubs. They are thought to originate in Southern Asia as well as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.Leaf Insects are also a great addition to your family because they’re very easy to take care of. Most Leaf Insects are pretty low maintenance pets, requiring minimal human attention.

Leaf Insects are surprisingly easy to care for, making them a great choice for first time pet owners. They require minimal space and can be kept in a terrarium or other small enclosure. All they need is a few inches of soil, some branches, and plenty of foliage to hide in.

Most Leaf Insects are harmless to humans, but there are some species that may bite. Leaf Insects are very small, and are very easy to care for. They are very gentle, and will not harm you or your home. They are very quiet, and will rarely make noise unless disturbed.

Leaf Insects are one of the most rewarding pets to keep in your home and children love them. It can be a fun game to try to find where your Leaf Insect is hiding each day. Kids also love them because they’re so different from other types of insects, but still look familiar.

Leaf Insects can be purchased online or at local pet stores. You can expect to pay between $12 and $150 depending on the type of Leaf Insect you want, and the seller. It pays to shop around because the same type can be found online with a $25 range.

Leaf Insects are also very social creatures and can be kept in groups. They enjoy interacting with each other and will often form bonds with their owners. Watching them explore their environment and interact with one another is a great way to bond with your pet.

Overall, Leaf Insects make excellent family pets that are sure to bring some excitement into your home. They are easy to care for and require minimal space, making them a great choice for first time pet owners. With their unique camouflage abilities and social nature, Leaf Insects are sure to be a hit with the whole family!

Leaf Insects Information

  • Average Length: 2 inches
  • Average Weight: Up to .9 ounces
  • Skin Appearance: Leaf like
  • Skin Colors: Green but some are yellow, brown and pink 
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Several times until they become adults
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No 
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Lost Limbs
  • Average Life Span: Up to 1 year in captivity

Physical Appearance of Leaf Insects

a Leaf Insect waiting to catch prey while hiding on top of a leaf

Leaf Insects are closely related to Stick Insects. Both these insects have physical characteristics that let them blend in with their surroundings. Leaf Insects look just like a leaf and that is how they got their name. They are usually a bright green but some can be yellow, brown or even pink.

Leaf Insects have a flat and broad body with brown spots on their edges. There are veins on their abdomen and this along with other physical features help them blend in like a leaf.

Males and females look the same when they are young but after becoming adults they become easier to tell apart. Females will have a larger thicker body while males are smaller and sleek. Males will grow to be just under 2.5” long and females grow to just over 2.5”.

Adult females have broad forewings that lay flat on their backs, but are unable to use them to fly. Their wings have the appearance of leaves. Males have small forewings that are sometimes transparent and they can fly because males have hindwings. Newly hatched insects (nymphs) don’t have wings and cannot fly.

Males have longer antennas than females. The length of males antennae is a little longer than an inch, and females antennae are only about half an inch long.

Temperament of Leaf Insects

Leaf Insects are generally quiet during the day and active at night. They are harmless and can be handled by their owners because they’re not aggressive and don’t bite.

They get along with each other and the same species can be housed together. Male and female Leaf Insects can be kept together but they breed fast and that’s something that can quickly get out of control.

Their Compatibility with Children

a Leaf Insect standing on the back of someones hand

Leaf Insects are able to be safely handled by children as long as they’re held gently. Leaf Insects won’t bite your children and aren’t known to carry any diseases. Because they are fragile insects, children should be taught how to hold them when they handling them for the first time. Don’t let children handle the younger insects because the young Leaf Insects are very delicate.

Living Space for Leaf Insects

Setting up an enclosure for Leaf Insects is easy because they don’t have specific needs. They can be housed in a mesh cage or a glass tank. The cage should be secured from all sides and should have a mesh lid at the top. The lid should be well secured to stop your insect from escaping. 

Cage Size

8 to 10 inches should be the minimum cage height. If you can find one 12 to 18 inches tall, that will be better. The height is very important because Leaf Insects attach themselves to a branch and hang when they molt. If their cage isn’t tall enough they may have problems molting. As with most insects the length of their cage should be at least 3 times and the width 2 times the length of your insect. We recommend that the minimum size cage should be 18Hx12Wcm. 

If more than a pair are kept together a larger tank will be needed. There should be enough space for your insects to move around without feeling crowded.

Substrate

The bottom of the cage can be lined with something as simple as a kitchen towel. Kitchen towels are easy to replace and absorb excess moisture from the cage. Another good option is to use moss as substrate.

Best Climate for Leaf Insects

a Leaf Insect walking across a very large leaf

The cage for adult Leaf Insects should be kept in a warm and well-ventilated area, but it needs to be kept very humid. 

Young Leaf Insects should be housed in a closed plastic container, sealable food containers work very well for this job. The container should have very little ventilation and moisture. High moisture can lead to the condensation forming on cage walls or on the floor. Water droplets on the bottom of the cage can cause the young Leaf Insects to drown if they get large enough.

Temperature

The temperature should be kept between 77°F and 86°F. If the temperature in your home is not in this range then an external heat source should be used. Using an under-tank heat mat can keep their enclosure warm. The heat mat should not cover more than half of their tank. Using the heat mat on only half their tank will create both a warm and hot area inside the tank, allowing the insect to regulate their body temperature. Place a thermometer inside the cage and check the temperature daily.

Humidity

Adult Leaf Insects need a humid environment. The substrate, branches and cage should be misted every day to keep the cage humid. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity inside the cage to make sure it’s high enough. The humidity should be kept between 70 and 90%. 

It can be hard keeping their enclosure so humid, but it’s possible to do. Besides misting their enclosure, using a good moisture retaining substrate is a good start. Keeping moss in their tank will also help with the humidity. With these two options, misting their tank shouldn’t be needed as often.

The Attention a Leaf Insect Needs

Apart from keeping their cage clean and making sure they have fresh leaves to eat, there is not a lot of attention that these insects need. While they don’t need human interaction they are receptive to human handling. A family can handle them a few times a week but avoid handling them too much because they are frail and can get hurt.

Health Issues

There are not many health issues that these insects tend to have, except for Lost Limbs.

Missing Limbs

Leaf Insects tend to have missing limbs because the humidity in their enclosure wasn’t high enough. There are times where they can lose them because of a fall, or because of another aggressive Leaf Insect biting it off.

These insects will molt several times over their life, and it’s possible that after molting they may regrow the missing limb. If they’re already adults and have stopped molting, they will never regrow their missing limb.

The best way to prevent missing limbs is to make sure their enclosures’ humidity is kept between 80% and 90% while they molt.

General Leaf Insects Care

Leaf Insects tend to stay clean and don’t have many grooming needs but their cage should be cleaned regularly. Replace their substrate once a week. With the high humidity in their cage your insects droppings can become a breeding ground for mold or fungus. If you’re using a paper towel it will be easy to replace, or a kitchen towel it can be washed and reused. Sand can be filtered through a siv and boiled to kill anything living in it.

Leaves usually become dry after 2 to 3 days and dried branches should be replaced with fresh branches. Leaf Insects don’t eat decaying leaves and always need fresh leaves to eat.

Clean their cage completely after removing everything from their cage once a month. Wipe the walls, substrate and water container once a month. Make sure their cage is completely dry before putting your insects back.

Feeding A Leaf Insect

Leaf Insects are herbivores and can be fed a variety of plant materials. They like eating bramble or blackberry leaves, oak, rose or guava plant leaves. Only feed them fresh leaves. Replace dry leaves with fresh ones when needed.

Fresh branches of leaves can be kept in a small water jar inside their tank. The branches resting in water will keep their food fresh longer.

Young Leaf Insects often have difficulty eating leaves. Giving them damaged leaves or cutting the leaves into small pieces can help them eat.

The leaves that are fed to them should be pesticide free.

Related Questions:

How Many Species of Leaf Insects are There?

There are close to 50 species of Leaf Insects. While all of them closely resemble leaves, there are differences with color, size and some body parts between the different species.

Can Stick Insects and Leaf Insects be Kept Together?

Stick Insects and Leaf Insects shouldn’t be housed together. The Stick Insects will eat Leaf Insects when they run out of food. Even if there is enough food, Stick Insects may still bite your Leaf Insects. Even if they wouldn’t bite each other, the climate needs of both these species are different.

It’s also important to mention that different species of Leaf Insects should not be kept together.

How to Breed Leaf Insects?

Most Leaf Insect species don’t need to mate with a male to start laying eggs. Females will start laying eggs within a few weeks after they become an adult. A single female Leaf Insect can lay several eggs a day.

The females can lay 1 to 2 eggs every day, or 60 eggs a month. The eggs will usually be laying on the floor of their cage. They look like brown cones with tiny hairs. If you want to breed them, collect the eggs and keep them on moist sand inside a plastic box. The eggs of Leaf Insect need specific conditions to hatch properly. The eggs need a humid climate and a temperature of 77°F.

The eggs can take between 4 to 5 months to hatch. The young insects or nymphs will be a gray-black color when they hatch and they’ll get their green leaf-like color after their first molt.