Sunday, July 5, 2020

Camel Cricket Updates

Well, my last surviving Ceuthophilus gracilipes gracilipes female matured to adulthood a couple days ago! 😁 She did not grow back her hindlegs obviously, that's a little too much regeneration for one molt, though the scabs where her legs popped off have healed over nicely. Her antennae are also a little droopy at the ends, as she molted in an odd, enclosed area in the enclosure and probably didn't have enough room to stretch them out to their full extent as they hardened... But other than these minor defects she came out fine, healthy, and has already started chowing down on food. 😅 She also has no problem climbing up on her bark hides despite only having four legs, and that's where I find her most of the time.

Here are some pictures of her in all her four legged glory:

Beautiful right? The adult coloration of this species is just stunning! 😍 The banding on the legs is really nice.

Considering all she's survived, her unique look and her sheer willpower to survive, I think I'll give this cricket a name... Athena seems suitable to me, if a little dramatic for a cricket. 😅 Let's hope Athena here lives a nice long life in my care!
As for my Ceuthophilus agassizii, they're doing OK, and the females were laying eggs, however their substrate has been completely overtaken by Leucocoprinus mycelium, which has kind of stopped them from ovipositing much, and the eggs they've laid up against the glass that I can see have the stuff growing on the substrate on top of them, so I don't even know if the hatchlings would be able to dig their way to the surface... So I'm probably gonna rehouse the adults to a new enclosure with fresh substrate, dig up and hopefully hatch out what old eggs I can find, and toss out the old substrate.

Also, I did recently catch an additional female for my culture, she's an immature one for sure though. Just thought I'd mention it, should probably look for another male TBH, but I mean my two adult females are laying anyways, so it doesn't matter too much.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

New Bristletails & a Silverfish Update!

These past couple days I've been out looking for bugs out in the old field behind my housing development, and I found two individuals of an archaic insect order which I hope to breed, the somewhat obscure bristletails! 😁
Bristletails are a primitive type of insect in the order Archaeognatha, (alternatively known as Microcoryphia), they are relatively poorly known and poorly studied, and honestly a lot of people who see them may just mistake them for silverfish at a glance. However, unlike silverfish, bristletails can actually jump using their elongate tails in a fashion similar to springtails, which is why some people call them "jumping bristletails". 😄

Also, very interestingly, and I literally just learned this, but apparently bristletails are unique among insects in that they continue to molt past adulthood, and tend to mate and breed once every instar afterwards. 😮 Some species may have a lifespan up to four years, though apparently two of those may be spent as nymphs, (all depending on the species, temps, food availability, etc.). Overall they are quite interesting little creatures, and I hope to be able to keep and breed them successfully, if only to help further their presence in the hobby, which has been essentially nonexistent thus far. 😅

Now, since they are poorly studied, going about and finding an ID can be very tricky... I've determined the species I am currently working with is something in the family Meinertellidae, but that's about it. So far I have found two out in the field next to a dead locust tree, under bark pieces that had fallen onto the dead grass besides it. Would be nice if they were a pair, but I'll keep looking for more nonetheless.
In the past, I have found what I believe was this exact same species, back when I went camping in 2014, in a similar scrubland habitat. I remember catching a bunch and then throwing them in with some Eleodes I kept back then, however they did not last long at all, whether it was because of being kept with the Eleodes, or because my setup for them was incorrect overall, I do not know.

I am keeping mine in a small deli cup with a cm of sandy, clay based substrate from where I collected them, (sterilized of course), with some old cork board pieces and a piece of bark for hides. I'll be keeping half the enclosure humid, the other half dry, and will offer chick feed, artificial pollen, oats and fruits for food. They are supposedly detritivores, so I hope they won't be too picky.

Here are some pictures of one, much like silverfish they are covered in fine scales, which make it hard for my camera to focus on them, this is the best I could do:

Definitely an interesting order of insects, I hope I can breed these successfully and maybe get more people interested in these odd critters! 😊
As for my silverfish, Lepisma saccharina, I actually found babies in their enclosure last week! 😃 Unfortunately though it seems several of said babies have died due to mold outbreaks in the enclosure, which have been running rampant for the entirety of my time keeping these things... 😐 I recently added some springtails and oribatid mites to their enclosure, which will hopefully start breeding soon and keep the dang mold in check... But at least the adults are doing well, and I have no doubt they'll keep on breeding for me, with the rest of their offspring hopefully being easy to rear when the enclosure isn't consumed by mold... 🙃

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

Monday, June 29, 2020

Some Nice Eleodes Updates!

I am FINALLY getting offspring from my Eleodes obscura now! 😁 I moved them to a larger enclosure a few days ago, this time with a vertical humidity gradient, with the bottom centimeter being made up of moist, pure coconut fiber, and the top couple centimeters was made up of their original sandy coconut fiber mix.
I spotted some eggs the day after I rehoused them, at the bottom of their enclosure in the coconut fiber, and so thought that they must need a vertical humidity gradient to induce oviposition, and that they maybe preferred coconut fiber to the sandy mix I had given them as far as oviposition goes. However, I found larvae around two days later, and there is simply no way their eggs hatch that fast, so they've obviously been laying eggs for longer than I thought, I just couldn't see them as well in the sandy substrate. 😅

So nice to finally have gotten some offspring from this large species, I'll of course take some pictures once the larvae get a little bit bigger, for now I'll be leaving them alone. In the meantime, here are some pictures of a bunch of males feeding on some apple, (I'm collecting a bunch for someone, as I myself have no use for males at this point, and unlike females they are relatively abundant outside):

Looking forward to rearing this species, hopefully I can get some nice sized CB adults! 😄
Also, another positive Eleodes update, surprisingly some of my E.nigrina larvae are starting to construct pupal cells already! 😃 Was not expecting them to mature so fast! 😅 So far the egg output has been rather low with this species, and the larvae definitely seem to prefer a more humid substrate than I thought they would, but other than that they appear to be hardy and evidently are quite fast growing!

I've isolated the larger larvae that were making cells and moved them to 2 oz deli cups with an inch of moist, compressed coconut fiber inside. They've made pupal cells again, and I'll be sure to post pictures of a pupa once they start pupating! 😁

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Pyrophorus Adults!!!

Four out of five of my Pyrophorus noctilucus pupae have eclosed, including the one pupa I disturbed and had to remove from it's pupal cell. I'm happy to report all adults seem perfectly healthy, so hopefully I have a pair out of these four and can get a colony established here soon! 😁

I'll be housing them in a moderately ventilated 2 gallon bin, with half of the substrate on one end being made up of flake soil and crushed oak wood, and the half on the other end will just be pure coconut fiber. I'm short on materials, and adults should oviposit in both substrates just fine, the rotten wood on one half is purely for the benefit of the hatchling larvae, which will nibble on it before becoming primarily protein hungry later on in their life cycle.
I'll keep the enclosure moist, give them some bark slabs to hide under and climb up on, and offer fresh fruits for food.

Here are some pictures of the pupa from the last post, further along in it's development. The more disturbed the pupa is, the brighter it glows:

And now the teneral adult, with it's abdomen still extending past the elytra, which is apparently a luminous green as well when teneral:

And lastly, here is the adult when mostly hardened and darkened up, the abdomen still has some shrinking left to do, but that's normal at this stage:

Such an amazing species, so glad to be working with them yet again, fingers crossed they'll start breeding here soon! 😄

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

Friday, June 19, 2020

Troubling Gyna News & a Ceuthophilus Update

Well, I've been seeing some more random nymph deaths in my Gyna capucina colony as of late, and noticed that the Oribatid mites in that enclosure had gotten out of hand, with the fruits I usually place on the substrate getting completely swarmed by them, possibly stopping my roaches from feeding the fruits much themselves. 😨 The amount of food being eaten as of late has dropped steeply, something to lend to this theory, so I sifted all the roaches out of the substrate and sterilized it, along with the bark and other decor in the enclosure.

Unfortunately, it seems that my colony has grown very little in the time I've had it, with most of my females maturing and evidently not giving birth, as the number of nymphs I sifted out was 113, not much more at all than what I started with. 😕 There are three healthy looking adult females in there right now, plus one really old one and like twenty adult males. I'm hoping the summer heat will do them good, however I am thinking I may increase the moisture in the enclosure, as many of the nymphs and adults were lapping at the moist paper towels in their holding container during the enclosure sterilization... I'll also only be offering food in bowls now, because that seems to keep the oribatid mite levels down to a normal amount.

Just thought I'd keep you updated on their progress, it's not too promising so far, but at least it seems the colony hasn't taken a major dip in terms of population, the numbers just aren't rising much either...
Unfortunately, only one of my Ceuthophilus gracilipes gracilipes survived, a lone subadult female, the last male that was in with her did not make it. This lone female seemed very healthy, and is eating by herself, climbing on the bark in her new permanent enclosure, and even pooping too, so it appeared she'd pulled through completely.
However, today I looked into her enclosure, and for SOME REASON, she decided to pop off her two hind legs... 🙃 No idea what triggered that, perhaps the stress of being moved to a new enclosure? I doubt she'll grow the legs back in one single molt, which is all she's got left in her before adulthood, so she will never have a pair of jumping legs again... With only four legs, I don't know if she'll be able to climb properly anymore, or how good her mobility will be... Overall quite a disappointment, when she seemed to be doing so well. 😣

I'll keep you all posted on how she does, if she survives the next molt, that'll be great, and then maybe I can look into getting a male for her... If not, I'll just have to wait for some offspring from one of my friends' colonies this Fall...

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Old Roaches & New Orthopterans!

Thanks to Alan Jeon, one of the most prominent members of Blatticulture and the invert hobby general, I've just received two pairs of a beautiful roach species I used to keep, as well as a pair of a large US native Orthopteran that is rarely cultured... 😁

First, let's start off with the roaches, a species that I used to keep but sold off before I could actually breed them, (as I was leaving the hobby at the time), the beautiful Hormetica strumosa! 😄 Yes, I now have two pairs of these beauties, I used to keep them, but as I mentioned earlier, I sold them just as mine were starting to mature, so I never got to breed them... Hopefully this go around I'll be able to rear larger adults, (as I'm giving them a bigger enclosure), and I'll be able to breed these beauties! 😁 Come to think of it, I don't think anyone BUT Alan's had much success breeding them in the US, kinda scary TBH, but hopefully I'll also have success in getting them to pop! 🤞

I'm keeping my two nymph pairs in a moderately ventilated two gallon tub full of moist, compressed coconut fiber, with some slanted bark slabs buried for them to construct burrows against, as apparently females of this species like having stable brooding chambers. I'll feed them the usual fare of chick feed, fruits and veggies, maybe some artificial pollen too. Got some leaf litter on top of the substrate just in case as well.

Here are some pictures of one of the nymphs:

Here goes round #2 with these guys, wish me luck! 😁 I will also probably be removing the males from the females after I'm sure they've mated, as this species may occasionally exhibit filicide, something one does not want to let happen with such a slow breeding species.
Now, for something new entirely... There is a very large Camel cricket species found in the eastern US, Ceuthophilus gracilipes, could be the largest native species in the US to be honest. They've been cultured in the past by a few enthusiasts, but had sadly died out in culture. Luckily, Alan knows where to find the nominate subspecies, C.g.gracilipes, and was kind enough to send me some pairs of this amazing species!

Unfortunately though, they are apparently VERY sensitive to shipping, as two attempts to send them to me ended in lifeless looking crickets that seemed DOA... 🙁 However, I have one pair that seemed to "revive" themselves a bit after cooling down from shipping, though they still seem quite shakey and may die here soon... I've been handfeeding them stuff, but the female doesn't seem hungry, and the male seems to regurgitate most of what he ingests, so my hopes aren't high...

Seeing as they're so cool and unique though, I figured I'd share some pictures of them:

These guys are beyond cool, and it would be amazing if I could keep my pair alive, but again, not too hopeful, might have to wait to breed this species for another day...

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

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Bittersweet Pyrophorus News...

Well, unfortunately, it happened, five of my Pyrophorus noctilucus larvae have decided to pupate prematurely... 🙃 I kinda suspected they would, as they all ate very little to nothing in my care, compared to the other two that have been chowing down on everything I've offered them, seems the five that pupated were probably quite close to doing so before I even got them... This kinda sucks, since they're going to be very small adults, but hopefully they'll all be fully functional and I'll get a pair or two out of five and get them breeding.

Luckily the other two larvae both seem to be doing well, one just molted into a larger larva actually, fingers crossed I can rear these ones up to the normal adult size, though it's possible the damage could have already been done in terms of stunting. I've just moved them to even larger enclosures than the ones they were in, which hopefully in combination with frequent feedings, will get them growing to a normal length.

However, I accidentally disturbed one of the five pre-pupal larvae and destroyed the pupal cell it had scratched out, usually they do this against the bottom of the enclosure, but this one did it right in the middle of the substrate, so I couldn't tell it had made a pupal cell without digging it up... 😅 So I removed it from the cell, put all the substrate back in the deli cup, compressed it and smoothed out the top by hand, and placed the larva on top, where it pupated successfully..

So here are some pictures of a Pyrophorus pupa:

The tail end is illuminated by my flashlight a bit here...

Again, partially illuminated by flashlight...

So yeah, kinda sucks in terms of the size, but hey hopefully I'll be able to breed them anyways, wouldn't mind seeing adults now anyways, and getting some more larvae from them now would be awesome too! 😁 Would be awesome if I could get the remaining two larvae to reach full size and get a pair outta them too, fingers crossed that with some TLC, that best case scenario becomes a reality! 🤞

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