Thursday, May 5, 2022

Arboreal, Antisocial, Archiblatta!!!

Martin's Spring Gift Series Pt. 2/4
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Archiblatta hoeveni
is perhaps one of the most sought after roach species in the world. They've entered culture many times, in Asia, Europe, and even the US recently... But people have had quite a bit of trouble getting them to last more than three generations. This does not appear to be due to inbreeding, despite some rumors, but rather incorrect husbandry, and lapses in care, both of which this species is incredibly sensitive to.
These are far different in terms of care and setup compared to what most Blatticulturists are used to, additionally, if you don't start with healthy individuals, your chances of getting a colony established are slim to none. 

Thanks to Martin, I now have two oothecae of this species (perhaps F3 ooths?). I believe I am one of only two people with this species here in the US, I hope to succeed in breeding them over multiple generations, and with any luck will help establish them in the US hobby once and for all! 😁 I will share with you all my future experience in rearing this species, as well as the information I've gathered on rearing this incredibly unique Blattid!

According to my research, this species seems to spend much of it's time up in trees during the day, coming down at night to forage for food and deposit their oothecae. They also can't seem to molt properly from the ground, they need a rough, vertical surface to molt from correctly. Additionally, they spend much of their time alone in the wild, particularly as they get older. Other than young nymphs, this species is almost never found in groups, though they are sometimes found rarely in pairs. 
This means a large enclosure with lots of large vertical bark pieces, (and maybe some branches) is needed, and the population density must be kept relatively low compared to other roaches, or else there will be cannibalism, random die offs, and lots of mis-molts...

They come from very humid, tropical areas, and thus like it warm and very humid. Humidity levels must remain consistent for optimum survival rates of nymphs and oothecae. The amount of ventilation offered should be probably be moderate to high, for while they do like very high ambient humidity, they are large animals, and you don't want to suffocate them.

Diet wise, while there are many rumors that they are strict fungivores, or at least absolutely need mushrooms in their diet in some capacity, this does not appear to be true. While they will happily munch on various mushrooms, with oyster mushrooms apparently being their favorite shrooms, according to my surveys of other breeders' experiences, they'll eat just about everything, often with just as much vigor as they do mushrooms. 
The confusion is likely due to the fact that Archiblatta have pretty small appetites for their size. Thus, it can be hard to notice them feeding on anything until you have a whole bunch of them... Except for mushrooms, because mushrooms are mostly air by volume, so when they do eat mushrooms, it often looks like they're ingesting a lot more food mass than they actually are, which has likely lead to the rumor that they are fungivores, when in fact they appear to be general scavengers.
A varied diet is still suggested, but they'll eat pretty much anything, grain based foods, animal based foods, fruits, veggies, fungi, pollen, nectar, probably some leaf litter, etc., they aren't too picky. 

In my opinion, most colony crashes are probably due to overpopulation, lack of suitable vertical hides, and lapses in care causing the enclosures to dry out or the roaches to go too long without food. They're also probably quite sensitive to filth buildups, (and cleaner crews), so the substrate will probably need to be changed every now and then. 

So, now that we've gotten the primary husbandry information out of the way, let's get to my ooth setup! 😄 I've got them both housed in a well ventilated deli cup with a layer of coconut fiber as the substrate, which I'm keep very moist. They're being kept at around 80F°, and will hopefully hatch in around two months if all goes well.

Here are some pictures of these giant ooths:

Such large ooths, which is to be expected from a species as large as these. It appears shriveling is an unavoidable and natural occurrence in Archiblattini oothecae, and in fact while this one looks quite dented in, the dents stop where the eggs actually are... There's a LOT of extra space around the eggs when initially laid, which seems to be filled with a foamy liquid of some sort. I think the eggs must absorb it or something, or it acts as a buffer against dehydration.

What an amazing species of cockroach, can't wait until they start hatching out, I'm SO ready to see this species finally established in mainstream, captive culture here in the US! It's been an iconic species in Blatticulture for soooo long, really hoping we can get them well established via captive breeding and stop having to collect so many WC specimens for the pet trade.

Anyways, that's gonna do it for this LONG post everyone, hope I didn't bore y'all too much with the walls of text, just kinda vomiting all the knowledge I've accumulated on this species over the past few years, as it can be hard to find said information all in one place online. 😅 Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and I'll see you all in the next post! 😉

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