Stick Insects Travel Long Distances - By Being Eaten By Birds

29th May 2018

Many plants use birds to disperse their seeds. Birds eat the fruits, move away from the plant, and then poop, depositing the plant’s seeds in a new location. When insects are eaten it is assumed that they and their unborn young don’t survive, but a team of researchers wondered whether a similar mechanism helps insects transport their offspring long distances. Stick insects make eggs that have a very hard shell, which can survive acidic environments, such as those in bird guts.

The team fed eggs from three species of stick insect to brown-eared bulbuls (Hypsipetes amaurotis, pictured), a medium-size bird that is common in eastern Asia and one of the main avian predators of stick insects in Japan. A few hours later the birds passed the eggs, and the researchers found that for each species, between 5% and 20% of the eggs had survived unharmed. 

a article by SceinceMag