Born To Climb

Tarsus of stick insect

Tarsus of stick insect showing euplantulae (arrows) and the tarsal claw


Stick insects live in trees and are adapted to climbing and “sticking” to vertical and horizontal surfaces. The tarsi of the legs are divided into 5 segments that maintain contact with surfaces. The first four segments are equipped with hairy pads called euplantulae. The terminal tarsal segment differs from the first four in the structure of the tarsal pad and the presence of a tarsal claw.

The tarsal claw is most useful for walking or climbing on rough surfaces. The claw is sharp like a spike and catches on ridges in the surface. The claw point slightly backward; its grip is directional. When the leg is pulled inward toward the body (as pulling the body forward) the claws provide a firm grip similar to an athlete’s cleats. When the leg is pushed away from the body to be extended forward, the claws easily release from the surface.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Born To Climb

  1. Pingback: Walking Stick Walking | Living With Insects Blog

  2. Major just blog article.Really getting excited about read more. Great.

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