Step 4: Breeding Spiny Leaf Insects
If you have a male and female stick insect, they will probably mate and the female will begin laying eggs within a few weeks. When changing the newspaper on the floor of the cage, take a minute to collect any eggs that lie among the excrement. The excrement is dry, and smells like eucalyptus so you don't need to worry about it smelling bad. the eggs are oval, with a small orange lump on one end. they are easily discernible from the droppings which are cylindrical.
Note that parthenogenesis is possible in spiny leaf insects- the female can lay eggs without a male but they will be genetically uniform and identical to their mother and siblings.
Store the eggs in a tupperware lined with tissue paper (make sure that the paper has no harmful chemicals added). Once a day, remove the lid of the tupperware and lightly spray the eggs with your plant mister. drill several very small holes in the lid so that the moisture can escape, otherwise the humidity will result in fungal growth which can be harmful to the eggs.
If you can get it, coco-peat is also a good substrate for the eggs, and I would recommend it over tissue paper because it holds its moisture for longer. You can buy it in bricks from gardening stores which expand to form 5 or so litres of the stuff quite cheaply
The eggs will eventually hatch, although it can sometimes take more than a year for them to do so. check the tupperware every day when you spray the eggs for newborns- they will look like ant/scorpion hybrids, small black insects with curly tails.
You can house the baby stick insects the same way you house the adults, but add some young leaf growth to the cage as the babies wont eat the older growth until they are more mature. Make ABSOLUTELY sure that the cage you house them in is completely escape proof- you wouldn't believe how small a gap a baby spiny leaf insect can escape through. I keep my spiny leaf insect babies (known as nymphs) in a whole separate container which is more escape-proof than a fly screen cage.
After the nymphs' first molt they will turn brown and begin looking like miniature adults. This will take about 2-3 weeks. once they have had their first molt, they will be much larger, and they will no longer "run". At this stage you can introduce them to the main cage.