Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Eleodes Updates

Alrighty, I've got some Eleodes updates for ya'll, so let's dig in! 😀

First off, my Eleodes nigrina. My females have been laying more eggs, they don't appear to be the most prolific of Eleodes, but having four is gonna ensure that I still get a lot of offspring... 😅 Some of my older larvae have grown quite a bit, I'd say they're a third of the way grown in terms of length already!

Here are some pictures I took of one of the larger individuals:

Not the best pictures, but hey, better than nothing... 😂 I'll be sure to keep you all updated on these, so far they seem rather easy to breed.
Now, for a kind of disappointing update, unfortunately I do suspect I was right in my original assumption that my "Eleodes cf. extricata" male was a male E.rileyi, as I just found a female of E.rileyi in the same area, and looking at her pronotum I really don't see much of a difference between hers and the male's in terms of the acute anterior angles...

Here are some pictures of the female I just found:

I could be wrong, but I do think the male my sister found is actually a male E.rileyi, like this female... I'll keep looking though, maybe I'm wrong and I'll find some E.extricata females! 😅
As far as my Eleodes obscura go, I unfortunately still have not seen offspring, neither eggs or larvae... BUT, my females have finally started burrowing, which is a good sign of egg laying, so fingers crossed I see some larvae in there soon! 🤞
And last but not least, just thought I'd let you all know that my Eleodes sp. (subgenus Blapylis) substrate is teeming with tiny larvae now. 😄 They seem just as easy to breed as I remember them being so far!

Well, that's gonna do it for this post, I hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

Saturday, May 23, 2020

New Darklings from ShapesInNature!!!

I just got five individuals of a very interesting Tenebrionid from Jesse Greene of ShapesInNature, allow me to introduce yet another Tenebrionid to my collection, Iphthiminus serratus! 😁

These beetles are in the tribe Cnodalonini, same as Alobates and Coelocnemis, two other genera I've kept in the past. In fact, I've technically kept this species in the past too, way back in 2014 I found and collected a single adult, which lived only for a few months, but at the time I was rather inexperienced, and was keeping it in far from optimal conditions... Unfortunately I've not been out in that area since then, and thus haven't seen this species in years!

My goal here is to try and breed these beauties, I suspect they'll be somewhat similar in husbandry and thus probably as difficult to breed as Alobates, however when I kept those, I really didn't take great care of their larvae TBH, and looking back I'm almost positive I lost a great deal of them due to cannibalism, (as Alobates larvae are supposedly at least partially predatory on other beetle larvae in the wild). With the Iphthiminus, if I'm successful in getting them to oviposit, I'll try separating some of the larvae for rearing, I'll keep them consistently humid, and I'll also try offering them Eleodes larvae for food.

This species is associated with rotting pine wood in the wild, and not only was I able to find some pine bark, but I also found some rotten wood out in the field I've been bugging in lately, which after soaking and microwaving to sterilize, I can definitely say is pine of some sort... However, it is very heavily rotted, so I've mixed in some good quality rotten oak wood and flake soil as well, so there is at least some nutritional value in the substrate for the larvae, (if they actually eat any wood...). I also threw some rotted pine needles on top of the substrate, really trying to trick the beetles into thinking they're in a pine forest here so they'll oviposit for me... 😂

I'll be feeding adults chick feed and fruits, as they apparently quite like both. Yes, I have actually observed them chowing down on chick feed, I have photographic proof! This comes as a bit of a surprise to me, since Alobates were a lot more picky and didn't seem to like grain based foods. I guess my Coelocnemis liked grain based foods a lot though, so I shouldn't be too surprised...

Also, in addition to the awesome beetles, Jesse also threw in some beautiful stickers, (which he sells on his website). His artwork is so good and anatomically correct, I wish I could draw invertebrates (or any animal for that matter) half as good as he can! 😄 The stickers are so high quality too, I've stuck one to the jacket of my tablet which I'm writing this post on right now, I'm in love with the design! 😍

Here are some pictures of the beetles, and their enclosure, and the sticker on my tablet because I have to! 😂

See, I wasn't lying!

The enclosure.

Cute little Asbolus sticker from ShapesInNature!!!

Beautiful beetles, I never realized this before, but their pronotum margins are actually jagged, and I'm pretty sure asymmetrical as well, so weird! Really hope I can breed them successfully, I don't believe anyone's ever actually done so yet! 😄
Big thanks to Jesse Greene for both the Iphthiminus and the stickers, I love both and the latter were a very pleasant surprise!

Well, that's gonna do it for today's post, hope you all enjoyed, thanks for reading, stay distanced, and I'll see you in the next post! 😉

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hello Cricket My Old Friend...

...I've come to culture you again. 🎶 😛 Seriously though, I found an adult female Orthopteran, more specifically a species that I've bred in the past, and have decided I want to breed again, Ceuthophilus agassizii, a type of camel cricket.

This species likes it's space and protein, and can be quite aggressive towards each other, still with minimal effort I established a colony and kept it going for a couple years, they really aren't that difficult, I just got bored of them and was in the middle of a big cull of the species in my collection at the time, so I let them go. But now I'm interested in them again so here we go. 😂

Here are some pictures of her:

Hopefully she is mated and starts laying eggs here soon, I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled for more individuals when I'm out collecting though.
This Spring has been an interesting one, I've kinda gone back to my roots during the quarantine and am working with a lot of natives, something I wasn't planning on doing. However, I am having fun, and have worked with species and genera I've never got to in the past, which is a good learning experience! 😁 One group of insects I've kept briefly but never really given my all in terms of breeding is the group Zygentoma, also known collectively as silverfish. Whilst looking around this week I have actually found a few silverfish under wooden boards and old cardboard outside, and have decided to give breeding them a go.

I'm unsure of the species, but I suspect they are Lepisma saccharina based on size and body shape, the silverfish species I've kept in the past was much larger, I suspect a species of Ctenolepisma. Oddly, I've NEVER seen silverfish indoors here in Idaho, only ever outdoors, meanwhile most people only ever see them indoors, not outdoors... Weird. 🤔

I've got all five of them set up in a jar with half an inch of sterilized sand/clay at the bottom, (I'm running out of coconut fiber here OK?), and have a whole bunch of bark chips and chunks layered on top, so they've got lots of surface area. The jar is minimally ventilated and I'm gonna try keeping them on the humid side. I'll offer chick feed and possibly leaf litter for food, maybe some cardboard too, they aren't supposed to be very picky.

Here are some pictures of them:

Kinda cute right? 😄 I don't understand how some people find them revolting, they're quite pretty IMO, nice and silvery, with a sleek build. Hopefully they do well for me, would be nice to get a colony established, I think people value them quite a bit for their feeder use...

Well, that's gonna do it for this post, I hope everyone enjoyed, thanks for reading, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bantua Hides & Jumper News

So, I decided to make a little bit of a guide on how I made the little "brooding chambers" for my Bantua sp. "Namibia", since it seems that they really like them and use them a lot in the absence of some piece of wood to chew their own brooding chambers into.

You'll need "natural" cork board first of all, I use this stuff. And then you just need scissors and hot glue, (the cheap Dollar Tree sticks for arts and crafts work just fine).

I cut two squares for the bottom and top, about 2" x 2", then cut some thinner strips for the walls, almost 2" long and I'd say 13-15 mm wide. Then I cut three smaller squares, almost 2 cm long and also 13-15 mm wide. I cut some holes in one of the smaller squares, as this is what's going to let moisture out of the humid coconut fiber area. Then, using all but one of the big 2" x 2" squares, assemble like so:

Then, fill the little squared off area with moist coconut fiber. Make sure you really pack it in there, press it down and fill it up until it's about level with the top. Then, cut a small hole out of the second 2" x 2" square, (the roof), positioned so that it's over the coconut fiber area, this way you can maintain the moisture levels in the chamber by misting some water into it. Assemble like so:

And bam, you've got yourself a brooding chamber fit for your Bantua females! 😁 Or you can just throw in a small (sterilized) rotten log so they can chew out their own brooding chambers, whatever's easier for you. 
This type of hide may also work well for Perisphaerus pygmaeus and similar Perisphaerinae species if you don't have rotten wood or curly bark hides for them, though with species that like most of the enclosure humid, a humid chamber in the hides would be quite unnecessary, and you should modify the design accordingly. 

By the way, an update on those deformed Bantua nymphs... Unfortunately one of them molted and still had the deformity, so I froze them all and then fed them to my Pyrophorus... Just thought I'd let you all know, kinda sucks, but hey the Pyrophorus certainly weren't complaining! 😂 
I've only seen one more nymph with said deformities in the colony though, adding more surface area seems to have helped, so I think it really was an environmental affliction rather than a genetic one, just one that takes several molts to recover from... 
Now, here's an interesting update on that Phidippus female I found a couple weeks ago. I've actually gotten a tentative ID from a friend, who suspects she is an old P.johnsoni female who's had much of her red hairs rubbed off due to wear and tear, either that or an atypically colored individual. That species seems to be a good match, so that's what I'll go with for now.

I have, however, figured out why she was so plump... She wasn't in pre-molt, she actually was gravid! 😁 She laid her sack on the 11th, and was quite thin afterwards. I didn't think they were supposed to eat after laying a sack, but she actually made a little hole in her web hide, and looked so thin, so a few days ago I tossed in an Eleodes nigrina larva for her to eat, which she took eagerly. She plumped up noticeably afterwards.

Here are some pictures of her and her web hide inside a cardboard tube, after eating the mealworm, (the dried husk of which was the only thing the camera wanted to focus on... 😑), as well as a couple shots of the eggsack:

Very neat, I don't know that I've ever seen a Phidippus egg sack in person! 😄 However, I am not that interested in nor equipped to rear Phidippus slings ATM, so I have sent her and her sack to a friend, Ben Lee, the person who identified her, who breeds spiders (including jumping spiders) and was actually quite interested in keeping her and her offspring. They arrived today and looked A-OK, so hopefully they do well for him! 😁

Well, that's gonna do it for today's post, hope everyone enjoyed, thanks for reading, stay distanced, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

Monday, May 18, 2020

My New Myrmecophilus!

Today I found what I consider my best find all year, I present, the diminutive ant crickets, Myrmecophilus! 😁 These crickets live inside ant nests, and I've seen one or two of them here and there in several locations, but was never able to collect any of them, and never found large groups.

However, today while flipping over partially buried wooden planks, which had ant brood chambers underneath them, I saw a dozen or two of the things! Unfortunately I was only able to collect five of them, as they are very small and can jump pretty well, but I'm hoping out of five I've got a pair or two and can breed these little cuties! (I may go out and try to collect more tomorrow).

I've got them set up in a plastic jar with a cm of old, cheap potting soil (with no harmful additives) at the bottom, a bunch of small bark chips and chunks thrown on top, with more potting soil piled along the edge of half the enclosure, (which is where I'll be placing food most likely). The lid is moderately ventilated, and I plan on keeping them quite humid. Some small white springtails were accidentally collected along with them, and I threw in some small silvers and Oribatid mites for good measure.
For food I'll be offering leaf litter, chick feed, and fruits. Hopefully they'll eat something from that array of foods! 😅

Here are some hastily taken pictures of them, they are very small little crickets, the largest I collected were no more than 4mm long:

So cute right? ☺ I hope I can successfully breed these crickets, it would be awesome if they were as easy to breed as Compsodes or Myrmecoblatta roaches, which lead similar lives as these. 

Well, that's gonna do it for today's post, thanks for reading, I hope everyone enjoyed, stay safe, and I'll see you in the next post! 😉

Sunday, May 17, 2020

More May Finds, & a Hemipteran Mystery Solved! (sorta)

Whilst looking out for Tenebs yesterday in the field by my house, (specifically Eleodes extricata females), I found many neat animals, including a nearly two foot garter snake, (which while quite docile, musked me upon capture pretty good), some more Eleodes obscura, (I'm up to 5 females now), as well as many many Eleodes hispilabris, Eleodes sp. (subgenus Blapylis), Apsena sp., and some Eleodes nigrina males. Overall nothing too crazy, besides the obscura females, I didn't collect any of those species.

However, I found individuals of one small Tenebrionid I've not seen in this neighborhood yet, Blapstinus. I've bred this particular species in the past, but with little effort to provide a proper pupation environment, and in my "experimental" Teneb breeding phase... (when I knew little about proper husbandry methodologies for smaller Tenebrionids). Thus, I had little success in establishing stable colonies.

I'm going to give these guys another chance, this time with a more proper setup, similar to how I set up my Apsena sp. "Kuna", (which I found side by side with these Blapstinus incidentally). I believe I caught one male and two females, so fingers crossed I can breed them successfully!

Here are some pictures of them:

With any luck they'll lay for me soon, getting eggs and rearing larvae isn't that difficult, I just never kept them in conditions optimal for pupation, and thus the amount of captive reared adults I got was often less than what I had collected from the wild.

It would be nice to get an ID for this species, I'll ask around, but I don't know if these will ever be identified down to species.
Now, for the conclusion of our little "Hemipteran Mystery"... The eggs "hatched" a few days ago, though what came out of them was quite unexpected... Evidently my sister was not the first to find these eggs, a tiny parasitic wasp, or several tiny parasitic wasps beat her to them, and appear to have eaten all the developing Hemipterans within! 😂

I've submitted images to Bugguide for an ID, and currently it seems that these are most likely some species of Trissolcus. Here are the images of one of the cuties that emerged:

These images are of a female, I did not see a male emerge before I put the eggs back outside yesterday, (in a more suitable, undisturbed habitat than the mound of dirt they were originally found on BTW).

So yeah, I guess we'll never know what species of Hemipteran came from these eggs, though I know it was some sort of Pentatomidae species... Oh well, I'm still glad I kept these eggs, this little project took quite the unexpected turn! I feel like I got a little taste of the BugTracks experience! 😜

Well, that's gonna do it for this post everyone, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉