Although quite unusual for exotic insects, most of the species which are imported to Europe accept bramble (Rubus spp., Rosacea) as an alternative foodplant. As bramble is an evergreen plant, this is a situation close to the ideal for the phasmid breeder, due to the cultures are usually wished to be maintained throughout the winter as well, when only little fresh foliage is available. In very cold winters the access to fresh bramble stems may become difficult, but usually at least a few green stems can be found in slightly sheltered localities or in the forest. In spring the problem can become even more acute as the very young leaves are usually not eaten by the phasmids and the last year´s foliage exhibits strong damage by frost. For small nymphs or very fragile species the brown, dehydrated pieces of the foliage need to be cut off. After about onBrombeeree month the fresh leaves are accepted by most species, but as a reserve potted bramble plants can be raised. Generally the foodplant should only be taken from unpolluted localities, why one should avoid cutting food alongside roads, agricultural areas like fields or plantages and public parks. In the latter often insecticides or pesticides are applicated which may cause considerable harm to your phasmids. For cutting and handling the thornBrombeerblatty bramble stems a pair of strong gloves and scissors are required.

If phasmids are collected in the tropics one should directly try to find out and cut a sample of the native foodplant. Back in Europe the imported specimens or nymphs which hatched from the imported eggs should (if possible) be offered their natural foodplant or a plant of the same family. If it is impossible to offer the natural foodplant, an assortment of different available plants, most preferable evergreen ones, should be offered. Frequently, bramble (Rubus spp., Rosaceae), rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae), strawberry (Fragaria spp., Rosaceae), oak (Quercus spp., Fagáceae), Eucalyptus (e.g. Eucalytus gunnii, Myrtaceae), Salal (Gaultheria shallon, Ericaceae) or Pyracantha (Pyracantha spp., Rosaceae) are accepted as alternative foodplants by most species but some also prefer e.g. rhododendron (Rhododendron spp., Ericaceae), privet (Ligustrum spp., Oleaceae), ivy (Hedera spp., Araliaceae) or ferns (various genera).
For most of the larger genera (e.g. Achrioptera, Eurycnema, Phyllium) guava (Psidium guajava, Handschuhe und SchereMyrtaceae) has proven to be a very suitable and sufficient foodplant. This originally South American fruit-tree which has also been introduced to Asia can be easily cultivated from seeds and is also reported to be a natural foodplant of various species.
For species which preferably or exceptionally feed on oaks, potted plants should be cultivated. These can be raised from seeds collected in summer or, what has proven more sufficient is to obtain potted evergreen, mediterranean- or stone-oaks (Quercus ilex, Q. turneri, Q. pseudpturneri or Q. hispanica).
Especially the Australian species (e.g. Acrophylla, Anchiale, Eurycnema, Extatosoma) show a strong preference to eucalyptus (e.g. Eucalyptus gunnii, Myrtaceae), which can either be obtained as 1-3 year old potted plants from good tree-nurseries or raised from seeds. The latter method shall not be underestimated as the eucalyptus-tree is one of the world’s fastest growing plants. When a suitable place (saved from strong winds and frosts) is available the trees can also be planted in ones garden, at least in the more mild regions of continental Europe or England. If the trees are wished to remain potted and mobile they should for the winter be transferred to a cool and bright room but never into a heated environment (e.g. ones house or flat). Guave
If rhododendron is used, the very young and sticky leaves and flowers must be cut or broken off, as small nymphs may run in danger to adhere to these.
Breeding has shown that in general, winged and well flying species are less polyphagous and much more specialized feeders than wingless species. This may be mainly due to flying species, which predominantly settle the canopy region of the forest, are more mobile and thus have better possibilities to find and reach their preferred foodplant. Most of these species (e.g. Necroscia, Orthonecroscia, Pseudophasma) are very specialized feeders and will only accept a very small range of plants (mostly from the same family or even genus only), which makes finding a suitable alternative foodplant most difficult in most cases. If species like these are wished to be cultured successfully, a very wide range of different plants from various families should be offered. For several species e.g. ribworth-plantain (Plantago lanceolata, Plantaginaceae), fuchsia (Fuchsia spp., Onagraceae),Eucalyptus gunnii cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolium, Rosaceae), bay (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), St. John's Worth (Hypericum spp., Hypericacáeae), Salal (Gaultheria shallon, Ericaceae) or different grasses haven proven to be prolific alternative foodplants.
The stems of the fresh foodplants should be placed in jars with fresh water. This keeps most plants (e.g. bramble or oak) fresh for about one to two weeks, which however depends on the temperature, humidity and degree of direct light. In very humid only slightly heated cages the foodplants remain fresh much longer than in well ventilated and strongly heated cages. Especially rhododendron and privet last as long as two weeks in humid, unheated cages and certain variations of cultivated brambles, most of which lack spines, may remain fresh for almost three weeks. The water jars must be kept covered with a piece of kitchen-roll or paper so that no insects can fall into the water and drown. If jars with a suitable lid are used, you can simply draw some holes into the lid in order to place the stems of the foodplants into these. When very low-growing plants are being used for food (e.g. strawberry, hypericum or scindapsus) it is best to place these in small plastic water jars or containers which can then be fixed to the lid of the cage by using a thread or wire. For this case it is also good to fix a strong branch tightly to the top of the cage which can then be used as a holder. If potted seedlings of e.g. guava, oak or ferns are used, these can be placed into the cages including the pots and should be replaced from time to time.
Signs for a lack of food or the wrong foodplants are constant walking of the phasmids during daytime or, except for very old specimens, the lack of antennae or tarsi. Often, phasmids can be observed to erroneously nibbling on each others tarsi or antennae because they are confused with the foodplant.
Due to some phasmids (e.g. Phyllium) are the real masters of mimicry one Ligustershould be very careful when cleaning out the cages and throwing away the old stems and branches. Check the old foodplant carefully in order not to throw any small nymphs in the garbage!
Further information can be found in our foodplant-list.