Water Stick Insect

Ranatra linearis

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Bugs
  4. Water Stick Insect


An underwater predator and a relative of the Water Scorpion, the Water Stick Insect hides amongst reeds and stems where it waits, camouflaged, to ambush its prey. It adopts a mantid-like pose when submerged, capturing passing creatures like tadpoles and small fish. 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

Unmistakeable: the Water Stick Insect has a long, brown thin body, a long 'tail' and resembles a mantid with long, hooked front legs.

Where to find it

Southern and central Britain.

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, from bugs to dragonflies, fish to Otters. But these precious sites are under threat from development, drainage and climate change. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Water Stick Insect
Latin name
Ranatra linearis
Length: 5cm including long 'tail'
Conservation status