New Zealand Entomologist
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Stick insects are found in a variety of habitats throughout New Zealand, including at least four species that occur at high altitudes. Here they face physiological challenges that differ from their typically warmer lowland habitats, but their strategies to deal with harsh winter conditions are not known. Autumn and winter field surveys, coupled with caging experiments, were conducted to determine which life stages are overwintering in montane and lowland habitats. Data loggers were placed for approximately one year at each site to measure the leaf litter and canopy microhabitat temperatures. From this, we have found that alpine and lowland stick insects persist in a variety of life stages throughout the year despite multiple exposure to freezing temperatures.