Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tinley Park NARBC 2017!!!

What's Up Everybody! ๐Ÿ™‚
The new school year has hit me HARD, hence these last two post-less months, the longest drought of posts I've had since the creation of this blog. However, the severe inactivity of this blog couldn't be farther from the representation of all the action that's been going on in my collection. My setup has undergone a significant expansion, many, many, many new and exciting arthropod species have been/will be added to my buggy horde, and very painfully, many have also faded out of it. To start the lengthy process of getting you all caught up to date, let's get into this post about my favorite event of the year, Tinley Park NARBC!!! ๐Ÿ˜†

A couple Saturday's ago, I stood and paced around my house, full of nerves, with a very uneasy feeling in my stomach. This huge, exciting even was taking place, actually this MASSIVE and DAZZLING event was taking place, nope, wrong again. Most accurately put into words, this is the one place to be every year for both the reptile and arthropod enthusiast, absolutely no question. Now that we've established that, you know why I was so nervous! To top this off, me and Kyle had agreed to a trade and that he'd bring my end to the show for me to pick up......except that the last contact I had with him was a couple days before saying that he was in a crunch for time and needed me to quickly send him the list (of what to bring) again. Not to even mention, I still had one last species from his end of said trade in my possession, so if I didn't bring it, I'd have to pay the dreaded DOUBLE SHIPPING. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
I heavily contemplated whether I would go or not for a few hours before finally packing up his roaches, and deciding to head off to Tinley. With all jitters thrown behind, a strong excitement and anticipation overtook me, which, of course, made the ride feel ten times longer!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฌWith all that pondering I had done before setting out, getting there was truly a fight against time. Luckily, just as the clock hit 4:00 PM, one hour before the show would close, the Tinley Park Convention Center came into sight! We pulled into the parking lot, jumped out of the car, and passed through the entrance of the intimidating building.
Flashbacks of last year hit me as I gazed upon the mounds of people, admission booths, and "Bubba" the adult alligator (Who I had actually taken pics with around five years back at Woodhaven Lakes) sitting calmly in the middle of all of this. After taking a brief trip to the ATMs, we finally were able to make it inside the final set of doors and into the show!
We walked back and forth through a few aisles before, at then end of one of them, I saw a familiar, Blattodea-covered street sign in the distance, it was ROACH CROSSING! As I made my way up to the booth, one thing was for certain, he was definitely getting some profound action! People were in front of the booth, around the sides of the booth, and even behind the booth! I had to be patient, but was ultimately able to squeeze to the front and without having to say a word, Kyle looked up from the commotion and exclaimed, "Nice to see you, I'll be right with you in about two minutes." He explained that he had gotten my message at the very last second and wasn't able to bring along his pieces of the trade, but if there was anything that I liked at the table, to let him know. I was a bit disappointed, but fully understood. I handed him his group of roaches, which he very gladly accepted and proceeded to ask if I had any interest in Gyna bisannulata. I expressed that I really didn't think I was ready to take on a species of that caliber yet, but after learning that I was already succeeding with the husbandry-sharing (except in heat requirements) Gyna centurio, he encouraged me to take off the "training wheels" and give them a try. I still was a little reluctant to accept, but after saying that he'd literally let me try them out for free, I gave in because, after all, what kind of blatticultarist says no to free roaches!?!
Time was quickly dwindling away when Kyle announced that he was going to leave for a few minutes and that he'd be right back in case I found any species I wanted to trade for. I took a look around the whole table scoping out anything I could reasonably trade in exchange for the species I had just brought him. There were so many things to choose from- isopods, roaches, millipedes, grasshoppers, beetles, stick insects, and everything in between; truly both an arthropod enthusiast's best dream and worst nightmare! Nonetheless, I managed to get a few propositions in my head and then waited and waited.....and waited. It likely wasn't as long as it felt, but everything seems like an eternity when you're eager to make your first in-person trade! The lights started to turn off at the booths and there was an announcement on the speaker that the show would be closing in five minutes! Luckily, just a few moments later, Kyle returned with what looked like an axolotl or a raw piece of meat floating in a cup of water; one of those two for sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But anyway, I offered the first preposition- a pair of M.rhinoceros nymphs and one or two of the species we had previously agreed upon (for everything I had already given him).........let's just say that didn't exactly go well, but he did agree to trade me a pair next year for certain. ๐Ÿ™‚ The second thing I inquired about were the gigantic adult Romalea microptera I had been eyeballing the entire time. We strolled over to the tanks and since there were only a couple left, he offered some that he had back at his house, but I kindly rejected. He also offered some WC Brachystola magna adults, but since many had already died since he received them about a week before, I decided it wasn't worth the risk and opted for something else again. Long story short, I ended up taking home a group of ten R.microptera "Yellow" nymphs in exchange for the roaches I brought him along with the free group of twelve Gyna bisannulata! ๐Ÿ˜†

Now onto the portion of this post that's actually about the arthropods! ๐Ÿ˜›
When I used to scroll the web looking at pictures of the supposedly "big" and "amazing" Romalea microptera, I thought, "Eh, I'll pick those up one day, but I'm in no rush, there are cooler natives/adventives out there". My experience seeing some of these imposing beasts in person made my opinion do a total 180. I couldn't mean it more when I say these are arthropods that you MUST see in person to understand the true majesty of. I ended picking up the smaller of the two strains I saw ("Yellow" and "Tiger"), but without a doubt, the bright yellow coloring on the adults makes up for the size gap and then some. Although all that my individuals currently sport are yellow stripes on a black background with some cherry-colored legs, they apparently will mature in only about a month so the wait will thankfully be very limited! I'll be keeping my young monsters in a 10 gallon tank with a substrate of cypress mulch (that I will be misting daily), a few sticks to climb around on, and an overhead heat lamp fit with a 100 watt incandescent bulb (which produces heat more comparably to a 72 watt for some reason).
Here's the pics!

Small R.microptera"Yellow" nymphs

R.microptera"Yellow" enclosure
As you can easily tell by the enclosure photo, these have a bad habit of just wiping their frass all over the walls of the enclosure, but oh well, looks like I'll just have to be on cleaning duty every couple weeks or so....... ☹ Also, very sadly, one of the nymphs ended up dropping dead in the corner of the enclosure a few days ago possibly due to a molting mishap. Really, really hoping none of the others encounter this early demise and prove some sort of flaw in my husbandry. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Gyna bisannulata, better known as the Patchwork Roach, is one of the more cryptic Gyna species, exhibiting black nymphs with a number of fiery markings and primarily gray adults with hints of brown and black. These guys weren't actually on my wishlist before acquiring them at the show, but I've since grown very fond of the them and am excited to be trying my hand at breeding only the second "advanced" level species in my collection! Despite the suggestion to keep them in a smaller enclosure by Kyle, I decided to set up my nymphs in one of the usual escape-proof colony containers I use, a 20 qt. Sterilite Gasket Box fit with two 1.25 in. ventilation holes on the first end and one on the other. One of my main concerns was the moisture in the substrate evaporating too fast, but so far, this doesn't seem to be happening with my slightly lowered ventilation. ๐Ÿ™‚ As for the substrate, it is identical to that in my G.centurio enclosure, a moist, 2.5 in. deep mix of about 50% coconut fiber, 25% coconut husk, 20% cypress mulch, and 5% sphagnum moss along with a nice layer of dead leaves on top. Besides that, I'll be keeping them on the warmer side for roaches, aiming for the mid 80s.
G.bisannulata nymphs

Large G.bisannulata nymph

Small G.bisannulata nymph

G.bisannulata enclosure
Wish me the best of luck breeding these guys!

I hope you guys enjoyed this big post coming back from my very long hiatus and to make it up, I'd like to leave you all with a jumpy Patchwork nymph doing some acrobatics off of my hand, goodbye!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Roaches; They SURVIVE!!!

Hey, Hi, Hello, What's up, and whatever other intro, let's get into the meat of this post! ๐Ÿ˜
Nearly a month ago, two packages were shipped out for me. One containing a group of very rare and beautiful Ectobiids from Alan Jeon, and the other containing an adult female Lucihormetica verrucosa (Which didn't end up coming alone ๐Ÿ˜‰) from Cody Will to go with my male from two posts ago. Little did I know this was the very start of the most nerve wracking shipping experience in my life.........
Shortly after the packages had been sent out my mom let me know that she had notified the post office of a change of address (since we're nearly moved into our new house), which I MIGHT have been informed of before, but oh well. ๐Ÿ˜‘ In this case, all mail would start being sent to our new house, but I still just crossed my fingers that it wouldn't be taken into effect yet and hoped for the best. Well.....this didn't happen. ๐Ÿ™ After being out for delivery, they were marked as "forwarded". We didn't really know what actions took place in this process so we contacted our local post office about their location and were directed to the one near our new house. A quick visit to this one revealed that they indeed were not in possession of them. So after decided to call and visit the post office a few more times (since the tracking sat for days without any update) and turning up empty handed, we decided to just let things take their course. Daily, for nearly a week, we drove past the house to see if they had finally been delivered, each and every time, nothing. It wasn't until three Thursday/Fridays ago (the tenth/eleventh day in shipping) that we heard the forwarding had, at long last, been our local post office that supposedly didn't have our mail! ๐Ÿ˜  I was completely outraged that they likely just had the packages sitting in a corner or something for all that time and directed us somewhere else for them, but since you obviously can't change the past, again I said, oh well.
That Friday, I saw something on the tracking for Alan's package that I semi-thought was a dream, "Delivered, In/At Mailbox"! So we drove over to the house with an assurance nonexistent any previous time, I picked up the dented package, and stepped inside for the unboxing. Expecting to find containers of putrid, dead bodies, I hesitantly sliced through the tape and removed the newspaper insulation to find something much different........a cup of  living, moving Symploce morsei!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Every single one of nineteen S.morsei nymphs I received was perfectly alive and well! Yes, a couple were a bit lethargic, but very similar in behavior to any other roach I've seen that's coming close to a molt. In fact, one has even molted to adulthood already (I presume a male)! 
Anyway, now that we've established the fact that they got through USPS unscaved, let's get into the routine physical and enclosure description, shall we? ๐Ÿ˜‰
This species of Symploce is the rarest and, in my opinion, the most eye catching/interesting of the three members of it's genus currently cultured in the U.S hobby. The main reason for this would definitely lie in the very curious appearance or should I say appearances of the nymphs. They start out with plain black coloration and then transition to a very Blattella-esque look with two vertically-oriented stripes (sometimes accompanied by a nice orange center) along with a couple things that will stay with them their entire lives, off white specks and streaks (which would be light yellow at the time) with the first bordering the abdomen and the latter bordering the pronotum and "wingbuds". From this, the "Blattella" coloration disappears as they develop some more black coloration which fades to brown at the front portion of the roach. The brown changes to more of a dark crimson as they grow and the light yellow of the marginal streaks (and legs for that matter) turn to a bronze color. As they hit adulthood, they gain a nice, long set of tan tegmina (and likely normal, colorless wings) and the previously bronze streaks bordering the "wing buds" turn transparent with the ones on the pronotum switching to an eggshell-like color. In addition, the whole underside, legs, and head transform to a beautiful pale with attractive black speckling (underside) and bronze highlights (legs).
I hope you guys enjoyed that edition of "Completely and Utterly Describe That Roach", but I'm afraid we're going to have to move onto the enclosure now. ๐Ÿ˜‰
At the moment, I'm keeping these guys in a temporary 64 oz. Glad container, which will soon be replaced with a permanent colony container. The substrate is a moist version of my usual mix (I would recite it again, but I'm sure you guys know by now) and I have a few pieces of egg crate in there for the hides.
Here are the pics!

Large S.morsei nymphs

Adult S.morsei with orange pronotum

S.morsei enclosure

As you can see above, the surprises weren't done with the maturation of this individual, I have a new morph on my hands! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Unlike any other adults that that currently exist in the hobby, this guy has a very nice electric orange pronotum! Since my individuals all came from one WC female, I could definitely see this marvelous variation popping up again, but even if this ends up being the only one, I will be doing my best to isolate it.

With all the Symploce amazement aside, I still waited for Cody's package to arrive, and (after being out for delivery in the wrong location for a second time) that's exactly what happened that Saturday! On sight of opening the box, I could already see one gorgeous and lively adult female Warty Glowspot, but when I lifted the container out of the box, the real surprise revealed itself. Cody was actually nice enough to send me half a dozen nymphs of a species that'd made a home on my wish list for quite some time, the Giant Lobster Roach, Henschoutedenia flexivitta! ๐Ÿ˜ Just like their close relatives, the Lobster Roach, Nauphoeta cinerea, these guys have a jaw dropping rainbow sheen, but visibility isn't limited to sun light or the flash of a camera as it seems to be with N.cinerea and it also seems to show up at a younger age. Besides that, this species is also much bulkier and a bit longer than its cousin throughout all live stages and sports orange stripes as older nymphs.
I'm actually just keeping mine in the container they were shipped in for right now since they're still young and aren't really cramped much at all in it. My substrate for these guys is, again, a moist version of my standard mix and my universal egg crate hides were not left out.
Photos Here! ⬇

Small H.flexivitta nymphs

H.flexivitta enclosure
If you're wondering why I didn't elaborate on the new L.verrucosa female, it's because I'll be editing pics of it into the post I mentioned earlier. ๐Ÿ™‚ Regardless, I hope you guys enjoyed my 80th post here on the blog, and until next time, goodbye!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Offspring of a Giant!

Hello and welcome everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚
Remember one of the last posts I made about my first babies from a few roach species? Well, I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually leaving out one of my largest species.........Archimandrita tesselata! Long story short, while misting the Archimandrita enclosure, I detected some faint movement in a small patch of substrate, thinking it was too good to be true, I decided to grab a handful anyway. Not feeling the characteristic huge form of an adult, I opened my hand to find a first instar nymph!๐Ÿ˜ƒ Filled with excitement, I ended up digging around to see what else I could find and turned up with about thirty more nymphs. The next day, I rounded up the last few stragglers and was left with a final count of thirty eight! These guys had apparently been eluding me for a while since about half were already second instars, likely also signaling (along with the large count) that they were the results of two separate births.
Besides seeing how many nymphs I had in total, another initiative of mine for gathering everyone was to save the substrate from a slime mold that was threatening to take a foothold. So after taking all roaches out, I removed the affected portions and mixed in the remaining components for my new and better substrate mix (cypress mulch, sphagnum moss, and coconut husk in this case since there was already more than enough coco fiber for the mix and plenty of dead leaves to cover the top layer).
But enough about that, hear are some pics of my baby giants (or giant babies)! ๐Ÿ˜Š

1st/2nd instar A.tesselata nymphs

1st instar A.tesselata nymph

2nd instar A.tesselata nymph
Like with my other two species that I recently got my first offspring from, these guys also came with a bunch of relief since most of my adults were beginning to grow old and sort of tattered-looking. Really, really love when stuff like this happens.๐Ÿ˜„
I hope all of you who had time to check this post out enjoyed it and be sure to keep an eye out for my next one where I hope to be introducing a couple awesome roach species despite some significant moving complications! Goodbye!๐Ÿ™‚

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Roaches from Cody!

Hello everybody and welcome to another one of my elusive new posts! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
Almost two weeks ago, out of curiosity, I asked one of the "least-publicized" yet most knowledgeable blatticulturalists out there, Cody Will, what species of roaches he kept. Well this led to him sharing his fantastic Flickr account with me (which I HIGHLY recommend you check out right here) and us swapping collection lists. His list was epic (the largest I had seen behind those of a couple hobbyists by the names of Kyle K and Alan J) and apparently a few species from mine caught his eye! So anyway, he very kindly sent me four species in exchange for a few of mine when they start reproducing! ๐Ÿ˜ This package that I received about a week ago contained two African Bullet Roach oothecae, an adult Lucihormetica verrucosa pair, ten small-medium Eublaberus sp."Ivory" nymphs, and an adult female Eurycotis decipiens! As always, I'll start with the species I'm most excited about getting my hands on below. ⬇ ๐Ÿ˜€ 
Before the introduction of grossei, Lucihormetica verrucosa, the Warty Glowspot Roach, was my favorite species in the genus and now it's mine! I was expecting nymphs, but Cody graciously sent me a pair of adults instead, which I really appreciate. ๐Ÿ™‚ These guys are a bit smaller in person than I imagined, but I don't care since they are just as beautiful! The male I received seems to be on the latter end of his lifespan, but the female is still young and full of exuberance so as long as they pair up a couple times before he passes away, she should still be producing young for a long while.
I have them housed in a 64 oz. container with a couple dozen needle-holes poked in the lid currently, but once my girl produces her first litter of young, I'll move them to a more spacious colony container. In addition to this, I am keeping them on a moist substrate mix of coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, rotten wood, dead hardwood leaves, and coconut husk with a piece of egg crate for hiding/climbing purposes.
Here's a few pics of my beauts and their enclosure!

Adult male L.verrucosa

Adult female L.verrucosa

Adult pair of L.verrucosa

L.verrucosa enclosure
Secondly, besides it's blatticomposting capabilities, Eublaberus sp."Ivory" makes for an attractive pet with it's exceptional glossiness as nymphs/ivory coloration as adults as well as a good feeder once colonies are established. It makes a ton of sense due to their lifestyle in nature, but since acquiring them I have noticed that they are very strong burrowers, even more so than L.grossei. In fact, it is hard to even contain them in a closed hand because they will just push their way out from right in between your fingers! In addition to this, the adaptations for their burrowing prowess are quite noticeable in the form of a barrel-shaped body and short/bulky legs with reduced tarsi.
I'm keeping my group of ten nymphs in a 6 qt. Sterilite container with four moderately-sized ventilation holes on each side. Their substrate is a moist mix of coconut fiber, coconut husk, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and dead hardwood leaves.
Here's some pics of the roaches and their enclosure!

Eublaberus sp."Ivory" nymphs

Eublaberus sp."Ivory" enclosure
Thirdly, the unidentified African Bullet Roach (some say it's Neostylopyga propinqua, but this has yet to be confirmed) is a neat little species, that, as the name suggests, hails from Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tanzania to be specific) and supposedly runs like a flying bullet! Both nymphs and adults are decorated with streaks of color that run down the sides of the pronotum and wing pads growing from a light orange to red color with age. BUT before I can witness those wonderful things, I have to get my oothecae to hatch! I'm keeping the two of them in a deli cup about half-filled with moist sphagnum moss until they (fingers crossed) hatch, in which case I will move the resulting nymphs into a larger container. One of them has already started to mold a bit around the opening so I honestly might just be dealing with one healthy ootheca here, but we'll see.
Anyway here's a couple pics of the (admittedly pretty ordinary-looking) oothecae!

African Bullet Roach oothecae
And last, but certainly not least, I got a gorgeous adult female Eurycotis decipiens to pair with my lone first generation male. Upon taking her out, I actually thought she was so large that she matched up to an adult Eurycotis lixa, but a quick test with a ruler swiftly dismissed this bad observation (goes to show how long I've been without adult Eurycotis ๐Ÿ˜›). Shortly after this, she decided to lay a MONSTER ootheca for me and, despite having provided bark, she decided to stick it to the piece of egg crate I had in the container (something that is very rarely done in many people's experience with this species). Looks like babies are already in my near future!
Here are some pics of her and the huge ootheca!

Adult female E.decipiens

E.decipiens ootheca
I'm super pumped to work with all these new and compelling species and I'd like to give a big thank you to Cody Will for providing me them in advance, I won't forget this man.๐Ÿ™‚
Hope you guys enjoyed this post and I'll meet you again where I always do, at the next post. Goodbye!