Sunday, June 25, 2017

It's a Spider, It's a Beetle, It's a Spider Beetle!

Hey!
A couple years back I remember scrolling through the YouTube channel of Bugsincyberspace.com when my curiosity was taken swiftly at the glimpse of an obscure and particularly peculiar beetle. My mind was blown when a culture of these outlandish organisms was noted to have been kept alive for three decades on dog biscuits in a glass jar. The sheer oddness of this beetle and the fact that I had only seen it once in that old video pretty much ensured that I would never be able to get my hands on them. Visions of this species still drifted in my mind for days and months and then one day as I was scrolling through Beetleforum.com , I stumbled upon that glorious needle in the haystack. A member of the forum by the name of cfreidsma had gotten a few individuals from bugsincyberspace and was secretly breeding them for a couple years!
Upon noticing this, I knew the species had to be mine, so we agreed to a trade and last week I finally received the beetle of my dreams and IMO one of the coolest "pests" out there, Mezium affine! 😃 This species, sometimes called the "Hooded spider beetle", strongly resemble a large mite or small spider (as the name suggests). After doing my homework on them, I also discovered that they are actually a household pest consuming grain-based foods, dead arthropods, animal skins, animal feces, feathers, hair, and old or decaying wood, a diet that you would not expect for such a unique, little beetle. Quite needless to say, I will be making sure that none of these guys escape (although this would be very unlikely anyway considering that they lack both agility and the ability to climb smooth surfaces). 
I set the majority of my 200+ individuals up in a 64 oz. container with some ventilation holes in the lid, but also housed some in a smaller, ventilated deli-cup. I provided both populations with a food/substrate of oatmeal (that they were shipped with) and dog food (which was recommended by cfreidsma for pupation, but shouldn't actually affect this since they actually just spin their own pupal chambers out of a silk) with a couple pieces of egg-crate as hides.
Pics Below! 😊




M.affine


Main M.affine enclosure
In whole, I'm very pleased to have, at last, acquired this elusive and one of a kind beetle! Although I received so many that I'll be selling off most to gain ammo for a huge, upcoming trade (and personal interests), I'll still be keeping a nice amount of both populations as I definitely wouldn't want to have these ever slip out of my collection.
I hope all of you enjoyed the presentation of my little pseudospiders and I'll meet you again at my next post, goodbye! 🙂

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Box from Mr.McMonigle

Hey Everyone!
After a very busy and technologically problem-filled last couple months, I'm very glad to finally be up and posting again! 🙂 As you guys can tell from the title, this post will be on a package I recently received from the author of many arthropod husbandry guides, creator/editor of Invertebrates Magazine, co-creator/moderator of the roach, beetle, and mantid forums, and one of the founding fathers of the modern arthropod culturing hobby, Orin McMonigle! So let's jump right in.
In this package I received a "nearly certain" sexed pair of Apeuthes sp. and Acladocricus sp., along with six Gyna lurida"Yellow", Simandoa conserfariam, and, most excitingly, Dorylaea orini nymphs!
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Let's start with the new addition to my collection that I'm probably most thrilled about keeping, the Orin's zebra roach! I purchased five of these guys, but ended up with six small-large nymphs. There are some pretty sizeable gaps between the ages, but four of them seem like they'll mature close enough to each other that they'll be able to breed, so I'm just really keeping my fingers crossed that there's at least one of each sex. Besides just getting this species to breed, the infamously tough part comes in, getting the oothecae to hatch. I will be sticking closely to Kyle Kandilian and Orin's advice on culturing this species successfully: offering plentiful food, keeping the substrate consistently moist, providing rotten wood and/or bark for oviposition, and keeping the humidity at 75% or higher. Following these guidelines, I really, REALLY hope to be successful with this species that many have failed with, wish me luck! I'll be keeping my group in a large cheeseball container with a completely sealed lid and a nice amount of pinholes for ventilation on either side. Their substrate is a good mix of 50% coconut fiber, 15% sphagnum moss, 10% coconut husk, 15% cypress mulch, and 10% dead leaves (like I will be providing in slightly different ratios to almost all my roaches now).
Here are some pics of my gems and their enclosure!



Large D.orini nymphs

Small D.orini nymphs


D,orini enclosure
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Very pleased to have now acquired this gorgeous strain of the "Poster roach" of it's genus, Gyna lurida! This strain, which was isolated by Orin a while back, apparently throws out yellows of varying intensity so it'll be my little project refining it, but I don't mind a bit. 🙂 My six tiny-small nymphs basically look identical to G.caffrorum, but definitely won't as adults. I'll be keeping them in a small, plastic container with two ventilation holes in the lid until they grow larger, then will be transferring them to a more appropriate enclosure to start a colony in. Their current substrate consists of the standard roach mix, coconut fiber, coconut husk, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and dead leaves.
Here are the pictures!

Small G.lurida"Yellow" nymph


G.lurida"Yellow" enclosure
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The last roach species I picked up is surely the most unique considering that it is now thought to be completely extinct in the wild. The only place where this species, Simandoa conserfariam, was ever found in the wild was destroyed as a result of a bauxite mining project back in 2004. However, shortly before this a few scientists discovered and described this species bringing back some individuals for captive cultivation. Very fortunately, they did well and were then distributed to hobbyists all around the U.S. There looks to be no end in sight for this species as they display a number of characteristics that would appeal to any hobbyist: iridescent and colorfully striped nymphs, red legs, production of a squeaking noise when startled, and silvery, bronze-flecked wings at adulthood.
I've started my culture of this species with six small nymphs, which will hopefully turn out to be a good mix of males and females and have a ton of babies for me! 😃 I'm currently keeping them in a 64 oz. plastic container with a well-sealing lid, which has numerous pinholes poked through it for ventilation. Like the others, I'm keeping these guys on my general roach mix of coconut fiber, coconut husk, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and dead leaves.
Here's some photos!

Small S.conserfariam nymphs


S.conserfariam enclosure
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Now to the arthropods which are entirely new for me, millipedes!
It seems like there is a little confusion regarding the scientific name of the first species I picked up, the Thai rainbow millipede. I have seen these guys labeled as both Tonkinbolus caudulanus and (By Orin) Apeuthes sp., since they were sold to me as the latter and Orin has had more experience than many in the millipede hobby, I'll be labeling them as Apeuthes sp.
Anyway, Orin was super kind in sending me millipedes that were twice the offering size (4 inches) so he could sex them with more certainty.  These millipedes are one of the smaller species currently in culture, being fairly thin and only measuring four inches or slightly over at adulthood. However, what they lack in size, they surely make up for in beauty sporting an attractive silverish-blue base color with pink banding and antennae. I'll be keeping my two individuals in a 64 oz. plastic container with decent ventilation through the lid in the form of pinholes. Their substrate consists of about 25% topsoil, 35% compost, 20% rotten wood, and 20% dead leaves.
Pics below. 😊





Apeuthes sp.
(Would have shown pics of their enclosure, but I figured that I'd just show the Acladocricus' since they are identical)
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The other species of millie I had the pleasure of acquiring was Acladocricus sp., commonly circulated in the hobby by the name "Giant Philippine Blue" or "Giant Philippine Blue-Gray". These guys are far less common than the rainbows and supposedly reproduce in much smaller numbers. Also contrasting from the rainbows, these millipedes are among the thickest in the hobby and have comparatively tiny legs for their mass. In similarity, Orin tried to sex these the best he could for me and sent individuals nearly triple the listed size (2.5-3 inches). Although they are called blue or blue-gray millipedes, these don't show off any of that deep blue coloration until they hit adulthood. I will be keeping them in the same set-up and substrate as my Apeuthes sp.
Here's the photos!







Acladocricus sp.


Acladocricus enclosure
As awesome as these guys are, a certain someone made me an offer I could couldn't refuse for them........so I will only have this species for the next month or so. I'm very excitedly awaiting this trade and am keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well considering that I'll likely be moving shortly before or after it. In any case, I hope you guys enjoyed my first post back from a long hiatus and I'll see you all next time! 🙂

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Parcos and Porcellio

Hey Everyone!
I've got some pretty neat updates on a couple species to share with you guys today, both having new babies and one with a new morph! Let's get into them now. 🙂
Firstly, I'm proud to announce the first ever captive breeding of a certain genus for me......Parcoblatta! 😃 Over the last few days one of the two oothecae that I ended up getting from my female P.pennsylvanica hatched yielded fifteen healthy, little nymphs! I really love the look of these first instars compared to the usual, pretty dull-looking Eurycotis hatchlings that I usually get. lol I still have them all housed in the oothecae incubation-container, but will rehouse them once I'm able to pick up some more coconut fiber (likely on Monday).
Enough talk, here's some pics of the puny suckers! LOL


1st instar P.pennsylvanica nymphs
While we were on the topic of P.pennsylvanica, I thought you guys might find it a bit interesting to hear that my remaining two individuals from the first group I ever collected are not long gone like the others, but in fact actually still sub-adults! These particular two individuals have been sub-adults for months now suggesting that they require a diapause in order to mature, which I find very odd considering that the others(which were all close enough in age that I could say that they were probably even from the same ootheca) required no such thing at all! I guess I'll have to give those guys a cool period soon, although I might just wait until they're instars line up with the new batch of nymphs so that I could crossbreed the two generations.....but anyway, that's enough about the Pennsylvanians, let's move onto the second species.
Well, the second and last species that I've had notable developments with are my Porcellio scaber. I hadn't really posted on it or anything, but around a month ago I found a single specimen at one of the forests I regularly collect at and to my surprise it ended up being a gravid female! The reason I mention this is because she finally popped, giving birth to about two dozen mancae! 😄 I have to admit, even though I had heard that this species was very prolific, I still wasn't expecting as many nymphs as I got! lol
Additionally, while on a much more recent collecting trip at a different location, I came across a turned over piece of bark in the moist soil about ten feet off the edge of a small lake. When I flipped this over, much to my delight it was covered in Trachelipus rathkii.....accompanied by the ever elusive Porcellio scaber! I managed to collect about seven individuals including a very nice "Calico" specimen (which happened to be a gravid female)! When I returned home, I eventually added the new guys in with my female and mancae and rehoused them to a slightly larger enclosure.
Here's some pics of both the mancae and my neat "Calico" specimen!
P.scaber mancae



P.scaber"Calico"
Hopefully my "Calico" female ends up producing some similarly patterned mancae for me and I'll see you guys at the next post, goodbye! 😊

Monday, April 3, 2017

Orange Pillbugs, Chromes, Centurions, Mega Glowspots, and a Mystery Sp., Oh My!

What's Up Everybody!
I was lucky enough to just complete a mega trade with the "Roach man" himself, Kyle Kandilian! 😀 In this trade, I picked up (as you can tell from the title) a dozen Armadillidium vulgare"Orange Vigor", twenty Gyna caffrorum nymphs, seven Gyna centurio nymphs, a nymph pair of Lucihormetica grossei, and a mystery species!!!😃 Needless to say, this was the best package that I've received since entering the hobby. The thing I was most astonished about upon opening the box was the amount of Gyna I had been sent, I only asked for one female nymph of each species, but instead received twenty chromes and seven centurions! I think it is definitely safe to say that I won't be getting an over-count that large anytime soon. LOL The thing I was also very surprised about was the mystery species, the species I received ended up being one of the rarest isopods in the hobby.......Adroniscus dentiger!!! Besides all that, the A.vulgare"Orange Vigor" and L.grossei(a species that just entered the U.S hobby late last year) were just icing on the cake. 😜
Even with all the rare/cool stuff I got, the species that I was most excited to acquire would definitely have to be the Lucihormetica grossei. These roaches, which are brand new to the U.S hobby, dwarf the other two currently cultured members of its genus, L.subcincta and Lverrucosa, in both length and (at least with males) width. The pronotum on the nymphs of this species are also uniquely adorned with beautiful satin markings along with the bright orange coloration on the head typical to the other Lucihormetica. I have one smallish nymph(which I assume is the male) and then one medium-sized nymph(which I assume is the female) that appears to be an instar or two ahead of the other. Right now I have them set up in a 6 oz. plastic Sterilite container with about a 1.5 inch deep moist substrate mix of coconut fiber and a small amount of rotten wood. Besides that I have some crumbled up dead leaves along the top of the substrate and will likely melt a couple holes into the sides for added ventilation.
Here's some pics of them and their enclosure!





Presumably female L.grossei nymph




Presumably male L.grossei nymph

L.grossei nymph pair

L.grossei enclosure

Perhaps the species/cultivar that I was second-most thrilled about getting was the Armadillidium vulgare"Orange Vigor". This strain, as described on Roachcrossing.com, shows a variety of orange hues(with an additional brick red color occasionally popping up) and has been "heavily outcrossed' resulting in "extreme vigor". I'm particularly fond of the fact that this strain exhibits so many different variations, a very interesting characteristic that isn't present in many strains at all. Anyway, all twelve individuals I received are a decent size and are definitely sexually mature so I should be seeing mancae very soon! I'll be keeping these guys in a 6 oz. plastic Sterilite container(which I will soon add a few ventilation holes to) with a one inch deep substrate mix of coconut fiber and a little bit of rotten wood. I've topped this off with a layer of crumbled dead leaves and an upside down piece of bark(I've found that isopods are actually more attracted to hiding under bark like this rather than when it's right side-up).
Here's some photos!





A.vulgare"Orange Vigor"

A.vulgare"Orange Vigor" enclosure
Now let's move onto the Gyna. 🙂
I originally only wanted a couple female nymphs to go with my males, but I guess all the nymphs I received are fine as well. 😉 What was once a scrape up job getting individuals of both sexes should be smooth sailing now that I have good breeding populations of both species. Of each species, about three fourths are small nymphs with the other fourth of the groups being made up of medium-large nymphs. I have both species housed in 20 qt. plastic Sterilite Gasket Box containers just so I won't have to move either of them into larger enclosures as they grow and for the reason that there are a few nymphs close to maturation and I don't want there to be any chance of escapees. They are both being kept on around an inch of moist coconut fiber(although I'll be letting the G.caffrorum's substrate dry out to a suitable moisture level) with a layer of dead leaves on top.
Here's some pictures of my two Gyna species and an enclosure!
(To specify, I'm only including pics of one enclosure since they are virtually identical).





G.centurio






G.caffrorum


Gyna enclosure
Lastly, probably the rarest arthropods I received in the trade were the A.dentiger. I'm not exactly sure when these guys entered the U.S hobby, but I'd say at around the earlier portion of last year. Despite the fact that these have likely been in culture for about a year, most people have not heard of them and they are very rarely offered. When you look up this species on Google you will come across pictures of a rough-bodied, crazy-looking, reddish-pink isopod, but upon acquiring this species I quickly found out that this wasn't the case. That species pictured online looks very different from A.dentiger, which in actuality, is a smooth-bodied species with beige coloration that closely resembles Hylo and Trichoniscus in size and appearance. Nonetheless, this is still a rare, neat little species that fulfills my longing to breed members of the other two genera(which have proven tricky for some breeders). I will be keeping my group of I'd say about fifteen individuals in a 6 oz. plastic Sterilite container with a 1+ inch deep substrate mix of coconut fiber, rotten wood, and a small bit of sphagnum moss. As always I've topped this off with a layer of crumbled, dead leaves.
Here's some pics of these tiny isopods and their enclosure!

A.dentiger


A.dentiger enclosure
Well, that should wrap things up for this post, wish me luck with breeding these species and I'll see you all next time, goodbye! 🙂