Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Elusive Apsena

Unbeknownst to many of you, I've actually been keeping a small Tenebrionid species for the past month or so, and I figured I'd make a blog post on them, as they are poorly studied little things, and among the prettiest of the micro desert Tenebs in the USA. 🙂

So we recently moved to a new housing development, close to other areas I've lived here in ID, and towards the end of winter, I started seeing these dead Tenebs popping up in the house. Now I've lived in southwest Idaho for years, and have extensively explored the surrounding area looking for new Tenebrionid species, and I'd like to think I know most of the Teneb fauna in the area. However, I had never seen this particular species before, and decided to collect some of the bodies and try to ID them myself.
Turns out, they are an Apsena species, which isn't a genus I've encountered before! I don't know if their larvae or pupae have been formally described before, (something tells me they haven't), and I've never seen anyone breeding this genus before, so I figured I'd keep a few if I could find any live ones, and photograph some of their developmental stages, for science. 😛

I ended up finding a few live adults, and placed them in a small, well ventilated enclosure with about a CM of coconut fiber. I'm keeping less than one third of the enclosure moist, and the rest bone dry. They have eggcrate pieces for hides, and have both cotton springtails and some stowaway Dermestid beetles (Anthrenus sp.), for cleaner crews. (Oddly enough, this is the first time Dermestid beetles have done even remotely well for me, I have no idea why these ones are thriving in the Apsena enclosure, hopefully they won't pose a threat to them, or get into my roach enclosures...).

I'm feeding them mostly chick feed, might offer some veggies or leaf litter later on, but they seem to be loving the chick feed right now. Room temperature seems to suit them fine.

With minimal effort, they've been thriving and have laid dozens of eggs, which are about 1-2 mm long, white, and easy to see through the bottom of the enclosure. The eggs seem to take about 1-2 weeks to hatch, and the resulting larvae are tiny! Pretty sure I'm the first person to ever breed this genus, and I'm almost certain I'm the only one who's photographed the larvae. 😁

Anyways, here are some pictures of them! First, one of the pretty adults:

Now the larvae, first picture is of an L1, the others are of later instars:

Overall they've proven very easy to breed so far, and the larvae are growing quickly! Fingers crossed they pupate easily, and I can snag some pics of the pupae and teneral adults!

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

Monday, May 27, 2019

Call It a Comeback! (Pt. 2)

Well ladies and gents, time to address the other new roach species I got from "Santa Roach" last week! I am excited to introduce the highly coveted, and slightly infamous, Gyna capucina! 😃 These beauties are known as the "Pink roach" in the hobby, due to the pinkish coloration of the adults, (kinda comes out more of a orange-pink in photos though).
They are one of the "Holy Grail" species in the US, due to their beautiful adult coloration and rareness, however they have proven to be a challenging species to breed over multiple generations. There are many theories floating around as to why that may be, some say specific fruits like peaches are needed in their diet, others insist that a chunky, coarse substrate is key to the health of the colony. However, after talking with people who have successfully bred this species in decent quantities for more than a couple generations, it seems like they may just need to be kept drier than most people would think for good reproduction.

I received about 10 individuals, ranging from nearly newborn nymphs, to half grown nymphs, and even one mature male! Apparently females take quite a bit longer to mature than males, so I'm hoping this mix will ensure I'll have at least one male and female mature at the same time, I'd really like to get at least a few babies from these cuties, especially since they can be rather difficult to source...

Anyways, I've put mine in a 2 gallon Tupperware, with a lot of ventilation, and a substrate mix of coconut fiber, Zilla jungle mix, and some rotten oak wood, about an inch deep. On top of the substrate is a layer of decaying oak leaves, and I've placed some vertically slanted bark slabs in the enclosure for the adults to climb and rest on if need be. I've also made and glued a little corkboard hide to the lid of the enclosure, which has already been used by my adult male.
Apparently the adults of this species appreciate a bit of height to their enclosures, (particularly the males), unfortunately the enclosure I gave mine is a bit shallow, but it was the best I could do for now, and should be more than adequate for this first generation, (my G.lurida, caffrorum and centurio bred in similar enclosures, so these capucina should be OK too). If/when they breed, I'll be sure to move the offspring to a five gallon tub like what my Bantua are in, which will give the following generation of adults all the height they could want.

I'm keeping one corner of the enclosure moist, and the rest of the substrate bone dry. Apparently this is just how they like it, and most of the people I know of who have had great success breeding this species are keeping them with similar humidity levels. Seeing as this is a South African species, I shouldn't be too surprised. I'm keeping them pretty warm as well, via a heat cable under part of the enclosure.
I'll be feeding them chick feed, fresh fruits and veggies, (no peaches though!), and the nymphs will also nibble on decaying leaf litter, and possibly rotten hardwood as well. Apparently they have big appetites compared to other Gyna, so I must keep an eye on them and make sure they always have food available. As for cleaner crews, I'm using the same mix of red orabatid mites, booklice, and cotton springtails that my Bantua sp. "Namibia" have, seeing as they are dry hardy cleaners.

Unfortunately, the substrate Seb shipped the Gyna in had grain mites and some isopod mancae in it, which have now been introduced to the Gyna enclosure. However, seeing as most of the enclosure is being kept bone dry, with a single moist corner and LOTS of ventilation, and there are more dry hardy cleaners already in the enclosure, I can't imagine either the grain mites or isopods breeding well or reaching plague populations in this setup, and I'm hoping the cleaners will virtually wipe them out over time, (same goes for the grain mites that were introduced to my Bantua enclosure via the leaf litter they were shipped in, don't why I added it to their enclosure in the first place...).

Now, here are some pictures of the beauties! 😁 First, one of the nymphs:

Now the adult male: 😍

Lastly, their current enclosure and the special hide on the lid I made:

Hopefully they do well in this setup, apparently it's the second generation that normally fails on people if they aren't keeping them right, the adults just stop breeding for some reason. I'll be sure to update you on any important developments, would be amazing to get some babies from this rarely kept species! 😊

Anyway, that's gonna do it for this post, hope you all enjoyed, thanks for reading, I'll see ya'll soon! 😉

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Call It a Comeback! (Pt. 1)

I'm baaaaaack! 😁 Well, on a trial basis that is... I've been working to better control my anxiety disorder the past few months, and think it's time I try to get back on the saddle and see if I can keep roaches again. This may be a short lived attempt, we'll see, but for now let's just enjoy the two roach species I've decided to work with! 😄 (I've actually been keeping a small Tenebrionid species for like a month now, and have had no panic problems yet).

Thanks to a good old friend of mine, Seb Marc, AKA "Santa Roach", I've got two new species of roach, one of which is an oldie but a goody in the US Blatticulture hobby, and the other is one that's completely new to US Blatticulture, I am actually one of a handful of people keeping this species in the whole world right now!

In this post, we'll focus on the species new to US Blatticulture, one that I've wanted for quite a long time, that I left a clue about in the cryptic post I released last week... Ladies and gentlemen, I now have a starter colony of the adorable Bantua sp. "Namibia"! 😊 Bantua is one of several, very unique African Perisphaerinae genera, which are live bearers in the family Blaberidae. Funnily enough, the "African bullet roaches" many breeders are familiar with used to be called Bantua sp., despite obviously being oothecae layers in the family Blattidae, but these Bantua sp. "Namibia" are the real deal, and far more interesting to me, (albeit, less colorful than the African bullets).

These entered the European Blatticulture hobby in late 2017 I believe, and almost everyone's cultures ended up dying out, but not Seb's! He's kept them going strong for over a year, and now that he is leaving the hobby, he's been sending them to several breeders across the globe, me included. Hopefully we can keep this species going in the hobby, they appear to be like other Perisphaerinae in that once you've got their enclosure set up just right, they can be pretty dang easy to keep, with little to no die offs.

Seb told me that at first, the individuals in his colony liked nothing more than to climb on branches and such, and when they had no aboreal hides, they would rest on the sides of his enclosure. But nowadays, he's noticed a shift in his colony's behavior, now they prefer hiding in between stacks of horizontally and vertically placed bark slabs. So just in case, I've made sure my colony has lots of bark slabs to hide between AND branches to climb on, for variety's sake. Hopefully they'll enjoy this enclosure, it's one of my most elaborate builds yet! (Topped only by the secret Archiblatta hoeveni enclosure I built just before getting rid of most of my collection, which unfortunately went unused...).

In addition to lots of bark slabs and branches, the enclosure also has a small layer of leaf litter on top of about an inch of substrate, which consists of coconut fiber, Zilla jungle mix, and a small amount of rotten oak wood. I've given them quite a bit of ventilation, as it seems most Perisphaerinae like a high amount of airflow for optimal reproduction, I'm fairly certain they have enough ventilation holes at the moment, but I might have to add more in the future, time will tell. I'm keeping one corner of the enclosure moist, and the rest dry as I can, as apparently that's how this species likes it, (which makes sense, since they come from the arid regions of South Africa).

I'll be feeding them chick feed, fruits and veggies, and may offer artificial pollen in the future. As for cleaner crews, I've added some red Oribatid mites from my succulent pots to their enclosure, (as they are dry tolerant and fill the niche that the much worse grain mites inhabit), as well as a few booklice and a group of cotton springtails, Entomobrya unostrigata. All of those are pretty dry tolerant, and should work well as cleaner crews for this species, at least I certainly hope so! 😅
Lastly, I've put a heat cable under one half of the enclosure, as this species likes it pretty warm for breeding, and I will be replicating a day/night cycle to some extent by unplugging said heat cable at night. Hopefully it'll be enough to sufficiently heat the enclosure, (it'll certainly aid in keeping the substrate dry in that half of the enclosure at least!).

I have about a dozen or so nymphs, all in various stages of growth, pretty sure I have subadults or presubs of both sexes, which is exciting, can't wait to see some adults! 😀 Interestingly enough, nymphs seem to "hunker down" and tuck their appendages in a bit when resting, which I find absolutely adorable! You can see this behavior in the second photo below.

Well, without further adieu, here are some pictures of the cuties!

And their enclosure

Aren't they so unique? They can be surprisingly fast and pretty difficult to get a hold of, yet clumsy in a way, and when well fed or gravid, they look like little armored sausages! 😄 Their pronotum shape is quite interesting as well! Overall, it's quite an interesting species that I am really looking forward to working with, and I'll be sure to keep you all posted on any interesting developments!

Well, I think that's gonna do it for this post, we'll talk about the other roach species I got in my next post, (here's a hint, they prefer similar humidity conditions to the Bantua, come from the same continent, but are also burrowers). I'm glad to be back, and while posts are likely going to be a lot less frequent than they used to be, less frequent is better than non-existent! 😅
I hope you guys enjoyed this post, thanks for reading, and I'll see you all soon! 😉

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


...dneirf A llet ,kcab s'edUd etarbeTrevni ?Niaga kcAb ,kcaB s'ohw sseug

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