Water stick insect

Water Stick Insect

Water Stick Insect ©Jack Perks

Water stick insect

Scientific name: Ranatra linearis
The Water stick insect looks just like a mantis. An underwater predator, it uses its front legs to catch its prey. Its tail acts as a kind of 'snorkel', so it can breathe in the water. Look for it in ponds and lakes.

Species information


Length: 5cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


An underwater predator, and a relative of the Water Scorpion, the Water Stick Insect hides among reeds and stems in lakes and ponds. Here, it waits, perfectly camouflaged, ready to ambush its prey. It adopts a mantis-like pose when submerged, capturing passing creatures like tadpoles and small fish. Like the Water Scorpion, the Water Stick Insect uses its long, thin 'tail' as a siphon for breathing: it protrudes above the water's surface and acts just like a snorkel. Mating occurs in spring and the eggs are laid soon after on floating plants and stems. Nymphs go through a series of moults to reach adulthood.

How to identify

The Water stick insect has a long, thin, brown body, and a long 'tail'. It resembles a mantis, with long, hooked front legs.


Found in Central and Southern England, and Wales.

Did you know?

During hot summer days, adult Water stick insects often leave the pond to hunt in emergent vegetation, or may fly to a new pond.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.