I received this today and researched it! It is TRUE. I thought I would pass it
along for others who have small children and pets who live down South.
Teresa in Texas

Subject: Walking Stick Warning

A bit of friendly advice and a new learning for me. (Came to me via Paul from
"An Herb Garden" Yahoo group).

On Monday night Megan sniffed a rather large bug (about 3 inches long) that was
on our garage wall and immediately reeled back. I checked her over and saw
nothing wrong - she was just pawing at her nose a little then seemed normal.
Tuesday morning when I woke up she has an eye swollen shut. I irrigated it with
saline and took her to the vet - she had a chemical burn on her cornea. She is
getting treatment and making good progress to recovery.

I photographed the bug and sent pictures to Texas A & M Entomology department -
the bug is Anisomorpha monstrosa, a breed of walking stick insect imported from
Belize and becoming common on the Gulf coast. This is not the normal walking
stick most people are familiar with (if you are familiar with them). The female
is from two to four inches long and heavy bodied. It ranges from weathered gray
to shiny black in color with a distinctive pattern on its back in yellow or dull
orange. This insect has a pair of meta-thoracic defense glands which can spray
an irritating secretion towards "attacking" objects. Temporary blindness has
been recorded when the secretion contacts eyes. If washed out promptly with
sterile saline this poses no real hazard. If not promptly removed a chemical
burn of the cornea can occur.

Here is a quote from a commercial grower in Florida sent to me by the
entomologist: "I went out to pick blueberries yesterday and found the bushes
loaded with walking stick insects. As I picked I took to having sneezing fits. I
then noticed that an unusual scent as the sneezing fit came over me. I wondered
what the source of the substance could be, as I continued picking I glimpsed
wisps of a yellowish color appearing in the air as the scent occurred. Then a
walking stick jumped onto my hat just above my right eye, it let me have a face
full of it's defense secretion & I thought that I had been sprayed with mace!"

Another reported in the gulf coast is Anisomorpha buprestoides - same
capabilities. They can actually spray this chemical defense spray about 10 to 12
inches! It is recommended that you rinse the animal with water as the chemical
can stay on the fur for several hours. It is water soluble.

Again, these are not the normal thin green or brown walking sticks you are
familiar with - here are photos for those that can open them. The first two are
the harmful imports (the one labeled nasty is what got Megan (didn't mean to
photograph a mating pair, but...) the last is the not so bad Texas native.

After checking my yard I found three more of these and killed them - they are an
undesirable import and the A & M guy said if you see them kill them - he
actually recommended pouring boiling water on them to kill the eggs as well.
These are getting more and more common on the gulf coast - watch out for these
and don't let your kids near them.

Just when you thought killer bees were bad enough.

This is a pic of the walking sticks that ARE HARMFULL!!

Here is a pic of the walkingstick that are NOT harmful

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