Southern Two Striped Walking Sticks: Bug with a Superpower

The Southern Two Striped Walkingstick is a bug with a superpower: the ability to shoot a poison from glands behind their heads right into the eyes of a predator.  The Two Striped Walkingstick, Anisomorpha buprestoides, is found all over the southeast, and we often find males hanging on to a female when we see them out and about.

Also known as a prairie alligator, witches horse, musk mare, devil’s darning needle, devil’s riding horse, and scorpion, these unassuming insects have gathered a bunch of alarming names which are likely a result of their toxic spray, according to this article at the University of Florida’s Etymology Department.  They reference articles from as far back as the 1830’s which describe people and dogs having blood red eyes, blurred vision, and light sensitivity for days.  This, of course, is a fact I wish I had known BEFORE lying on the boardwalk to get a closer view!