New Mexico: Creosote Bush Walking Sticks

2019 January 27

While we were visiting Dale in New Mexico, she introduced us to several of her favorite hiking spots. On December 2, 2018, she took us to a “slot canyon”, which is a deep, narrow canyon that is essentially a cave with no roof. Here is the entrance:


The place where that photo was taken is this spot. It doesn’t look like much on Google Maps because it is only a few feet wide in most places, but it is really deep.

Once we got further in, it looked more like this:


There was some life down there, like a couple of the stink beetles I posted last time, but one thing that surprised us were two walkingsticks. The first one was dead, caught in a spiderweb:

while the second one was very much alive, and was climbing up the wall.


These looked quite different from each other. I think the first one was a mature male, while the second one was only about half the size and was probably immature.

Walkingsticks are herbivores, and there were no plants growing in the bottom of the canyon, so they had clearly fallen over the edge from whatever plants were growing up there. And, the most common plants up topside were creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata), like this one:



So I says to myself, “I bet if I search for Creosote Bush Walkingstick”, I’ll get an ID on this”. And sure enough, not only did I find it (Diapheromera covilleae), but that is even the correct common name. Their range according to BugGuide is Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Given that (a) creosote bushes are very common; (b) these guys are superbly camouflaged; and (c) we found two of them who had fallen over the cliff by accident, I bet they are all over the place. Walkingsticks make good pets, so anyone who lives in that area could probably find one or more of these to keep fairly quickly.

One Response
  1. February 24, 2019

    Way cool!

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