Phasmids are medium to very large (30-300mm) insects. Stick insects are usually very thin and elongated. In contrast Leaf insects are often very flat and wide, thus more closely resembling leaves rather than sticks. Many species are wingless but, when wings are present, the fore wings are shortened and hardened. The hind wings are membranous. The legs are often very thin and can be held almost flat against the body of the insect.

Some species have brightly coloured hind wings which can be 'flashed' to scare away predators. Other species, such as the American Walking Stick (Anisomorpha bupestroides) and to a lesser extent the Pink Winged Stick insect (Sipyloidea sipylus), have a defensive chemical spray which can cause temporary blindness and considerable pain to humans.

A photograph of a Giant Spiny Stick insect (_Extatosoma tiaratum_)

The Giant Spiny Stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) is one of the commonly kept pet species.
Photograph by Stephan M. Höhne, used under GFDL.

Other names for (or types of) Phasmatodea include:

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