Sticky Wicket

My youngest daughter, our bug fanatic, flew down the stairs earlier to tell me she had to clean the stick insects out immediately. “Yes of course”, I said, knowing they can be tricky blighters but trying to maintain composed.

She brought them down, looking concerned. Apparently she was worried about Stick Insect 1 because he wasn’t moving. I’ve had this joy before when I thought one was brown bread and in fact it wasn’t, however on closer inspection this time it looked even more dead than last time. I picked the stick insect up and it looked like even more wrinkly than usual. It didn’t move in the slightest, despite prodding. and for a second I wondered if it was actually a stick. P began to sob, confirming it was indeed an insect not a bit of ivy so I decided I needed to take confident action.

While verbally comforting P I put the demised stick insect in the second insect tank (not to be confused with our third insect tank – oh yes I know that’s a bit weird) accidentally leaving the zip open of the first one, forgetting that the other stick insect was still very much alive.

Stick Insect 2 moved swiftly out of it’s enclosure so I deftly scooped it up and transferred it to tank two which still contained dead Stick Insect 1. This was an error as P didn’t seem to feel putting the two of them in together was a good idea and began to wail. Before I had closed the lid though Stick Insect 2 had climbed up onto the inside of the lid making it impossible for me to close it and very likely it would escape. A tricky manoeuvre was required.

I quickly ushered Stick Insect 2 onto my right hand while reaching in past the ivy to retrieve dead Stick Insect 1 from the bottom of the tank before popping Stick Insect 2 back into the tank and shutting the lid. P was still crying so I tried not to look satisfied with my achievement.

Then I remembered I was still holding a dead stick insect and if you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll know I’m not great with ill or dead creatures.

There is some disagreement about what happened next. I think P screamed and I jumped and threw the dead Stick Insect 1 at her. She says the scream definitely came after Stick Insect 1 was thrown at her and landed, very much alive on her jumper. Stick Insect 1 climbed rapidly up her chest towards her face despite the fact that the screaming was now quite loud as I had also joined in. In retrospect I think the stick insect was actually just trying to get as close to P as possible since she is in effect it’s surrogate mother.

I recovered my senses, rescued Stick Insect 1 before it reached P’s mouth and shoved it back into tank 2 while trying to pretend the whole thing was hilarious and not terrifying at all. I then emptied the stick insect poo out (remarkably large for such small creatures) and put in fresh water and ivy before wrestling the very much alive stick insects into their enclosure, all while trying to hug P. A job well done with hardly any hysteria.

Both stick insects are now recovering and keeping P awake with their leaf chomping. I am recovering with a glass of wine. I wonder if a tortoise would be easier. At least they don’t climb.

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