Last year I did an insect presentation at one of my daughter’s preschool and a couple of weeks later I did an entomology presentation for career day at my oldest daughters elementary school. It was a little crazy. For the preschool I did maggot art with them, which is a separate tale that deserves its own telling, and I had various live and preserved insects for them to see. For the elementary school I brought a microscope, collecting equipment, and the same live and preserved specimens that I used for the preschool. Of the live specimens, by far the most popular were the walking sticks. I had acquired 4 or 5 individuals from a friend specifically for these presentations, and the kids loved them. Because they are slow moving, I was able to let the kids hold them and check them out up close. Unfortunately this took its toll on the delicate insects and by the end of it all only one survived. It lost one of its forelegs, but it seemed to otherwise be in good health. Sipyloidea sipylus (Orthoptera: Phasmidae) is not a native Hawaiian species, and I think they are relatively new to the state. I do not know the details, but I recall that they first became established on the big island and then spread to other islands (although I am not sure about this). Because this is an alien species, I was hesitant to let it go after the presentations were over. But it had performed extremely well for the kids and was the sole survivor, so I couldn’t bring myself to kill it either. I ended up just letting it go at Pearl Harbor – probably not the best thing to do, but they’re pretty much ubiquitous on Oahu by now so I don’t think it was a huge deal.
I took a few pics before releasing it: