Thursday, September 28, 2023

More "Meh" Updates

As always, there's gonna be ups and downs with this hobby, and while I still have many new additions to my collection and breeding successes that I'm behind on covering, I feel it's time to get some more morose updates out of the way before I forget them and they get lost in the hustle and bustle.

First off, I've completely failed at rearing Ammopelmatus mescaleroensis. My male ended up having a horsehair worm, so Alan was kind enough to send me another pair. Sadly the male he sent mis-molted in transit and died shortly afterwards... and then both my female nymphs died before they could even mature. I'm not really sure why the females died, it may have been due to the consistency of the sand I used not being to their liking, or I kept them too humid (but if I kept them any drier the sand would be completely loose and they wouldn't able to make stable burrows and resting/molting chambers). In any case, I'm pretty much done with Jerusalem crickets for the time being, that group is just so damn finicky and difficult to breed with any consistency. I'm sure it's possible, but I'm also sure that it's not nearly worth the effort for me personally. Perhaps if I could ever acquire one of the winged Central American Stenopelmatus spp., or the Tropical Asian Sia spp., I'd consider giving the group another try, but as for Ammopelmatus, I'm done.

Next up, some Metallyticus woes. After painstakingly power-feeding my lone female M.splendidus nymph (BY HAND, because for some f**king reason these things won't eat anything on their own for me), she finally matured... and mismolted in doing so. 🤬 Of course, both my males matured perfectly with no defects, but in the same exact setup, my female came out with one of her front raptorial legs bent, and crumpled up, matte textured wings to boot. 🙃 The latter is merely an eyesore, nothing more, but the bent front raptorial leg has been a big pain. Thankfully she broke/chewed the bent part off, so she can move normally now, but that leg is now shorter and not very effective for holding prey... which not only means I absolutely have to hand feed her, BUT she can't hold her food properly and keeps dropping it.

To make matters worse, my males died not that long after she matured, and I'm not even sure she was ready to mate... thankfully my buddy Brandon had an adult male and a subadult male to spare (his "breeding" group he got at the same time I did all ended up being males), so that problem should be taken care of at least. Now it's just a matter of getting the female to actually eat and gain some substantial weight, which she has been reluctant to do so...

Of all of the annoying, PIA inverts I've worked with, these are one of the worst, but I am SO determined for this work to pay off and pay for itself. I'm not in this hobby for the money, but goddammit I'm gonna get my money's worth from these f*ckers if it's the last thing I do, whether that be in money, trade value, or a sense of personal achievement having bred this rare mantis species.

I sadly made a grave error with my Microtomus purcis hatchlings, and tried keeping them all communally... the larger nymphs and adults got along fine, but I found out too late that the small nymphs are very cannibalistic. I only have two nymphs now, there may still be some unhatched eggs, and my last remaining, old adult female might lay some more, but my hopes are not high for recovering this culture due to my stupid mistake... however TBH I'm figuring out that I kinda hate keeping most predatory inverts, regardless of whether they are communal or not, so this isn't a huge loss for me as I'm probably not going to be keeping inverts like these much in the future anyways. I always end up getting bored with my predators, it's just not my forte.

Sadly, my Rochaina peruana ooth and my two Nyctibora sp. "Peña Blanca Lake" ooths have all died and rotted... not really sure what I could have done differently TBH, I thought the humidity and ventilation levels were fine, the Rochaina ooth may have been DOA to be honest considering it was shipped in the winter, but the Nyctibora were definitely viable on arrival. All hope seems lost for Rochaina in captivity ATM, we'll see if Kyle can hatch his Nyctibora ooths though... Definitely a big bummer for me, and not even much of a learning experience. 

I'm pretty sure I've completely failed with Thorax porcellana. My adults are all old now, and my females just kept aborting every single ooth they made. I've tried keeping them dry, humid, well ventilated, poorly ventilated, basically every damn combination I could think of, to no avail. Pretty upset about this since again, I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, and these are some of the neatest roaches in the hobby, which I was very excited to work with. THANKFULLY both Brandon and Junior have been quite successful with breeding theirs, so this species will be spread around in the US hobby, which is the most important thing... but I am quite sad I was unable to breed this species as well.

Lastly, I've had huge die offs in my Blaberus cf. chacoensis colony as of late... I did not realize this species needed vertically slanted surfaces to hang from in order to molt to adulthood properly, many of the more heavily burrowing Blaberus spp. don't.... but that's not the case with these, so the vast majority of my colony reached subadult stage, mismolted to maturity and died. 😣 Several males molted successfully regardless, but then seemed to have harassed and killed the few females that also matured successfully shortly after they molted... so to sum things up, I have three adult males, and ONE subadult female.
I removed the males from the setup and added bark hides, which the female nymph is already clinging to. So, she'll probably mature successfully, and after she's been mature for a little while I'll introduce a single male to her... and then I'll be right back at square one, where I was a year ago with this species. 🙃 Sucks to have made no notable progress in establishing a healthy colony after all this time, but at least I was able to send some off to a couple friends over the past several months, so it hasn't been a complete waste of effort.

I think that's it for this bummer of a post, at least, that's everything I can remember for now. 😆 Thanks for reading, hope at least some of this post was informative (even though the majority of failures in this post were due to unknown reasons), and I'll see you all next time.

Friday, September 1, 2023

My Holy Grail of Sand Roaches (& Other Goodies from Alan)

So, there is one species of sand roach native to the US, that I have wanted to try keeping FOREVER. Eremoblatta subdiaphana has got to be one of the cutest species of Corydiid, period. They are more rotund in build than Arenivaga, and the nymphs and females are absolutely covered in hair. 😊
However, while they are widespread across the southwest, their populations appear very spotty, and so they have proven much, much harder for hobbyists to find with any regularity. They are strict psammophiles and don't seem to utilize rodent burrows as much as their close relatives Arenivaga do, so this makes them harder to collect too. Seems the best way of doing so is digging through sand at the base of vegetation in the proper habitats, they seem particularly fond of sand that's been a bit compacted as well.
Thankfully the absolute legend that is Alan Jeon just went on a trip out west, and was able to collect and send me 6 individuals, so hopefully I'll be able to fulfill my dream of breeding this adorable species! He and Kyle have tried a couple times in the past, however nether have been successful in getting females to produce a decent amount of ooths, or in getting any ooths to hatch at all.

I've got mine set up similar to how I've set up my Arenivaga floridensis, I have mine on pure riverbed sand I gathered myself, mixed in with a TINY amount of fine clay. The substrate is a couple inches deep, I'm keeping one third of the substrate humid, the rest dry. I'm also lightly misting the substrate every few days, so that it compacts and then dries up, since they apparently like that compacted sand the best (the clay is to help aid in the compaction). The substrate is topped with leaf litter, and the humid area also has some sphagnum moss on top for moisture retention. The enclosure is very well ventilated, I'm keeping them at around 80-85F°, and am feeding them dog food and artificial pollen in addition to the leaf litter.

Here are some pictures of two adult females and a nymph:

Absolutely adorable, and my new favorite roach in the collection for now. 😍 Fingers crossed I can succeed where others have failed, and somehow breed this amazing US native!

Now, I've struggled with breeding Jerusalem crickets several times now, so much so that I'd decided not to try again this year unless some really amazing species became available to me... And wouldn't you know it, Alan delivered, and offered to send me a pair of Ammopelmatus mescaleroensis, which I couldn't refuse.

This species is endemic to the Mescalero Sand Dunes, and is very dark in coloration, unusual for this genus. Being a sand dune endemic species, this makes them a psammophile, and one thing I've really struggled with in breeding Jerusalem Crickets is getting the substrate just right for females to want to oviposit in or for nymphs to properly develop in. With these, the guessing is taken out of the equation, because they just need straight sand as the substrate, so then humidity is the only hurdle to overcome (they won't want the sand wet I'm sure, but it needs to be humid enough to retain it's shape). So, all that being said, I'm optimistic I can breed this species, so long as I get my subadult pair to maturity successfully. 😄 

I've got mine in moderately ventilated containers filled to the brim with, you guessed it, sand. 😆 I'm keeping them humid, and at around 75-80F°. I'm offering dog food, prekilled inverts and fruits for the diet.

Here are some pictures of the subadult female:

Definitely excited to see what they look like when mature, I'm guessing they'll be even darker, but we shall see. 😄 

Next up, Alan sent me some "normal" Porcellio expansus. I say "normal", since they're the typical white form, however Alan's colony produces unusually pure white bordered individuals, while a lot of people's cultures have more offwhite or yellow bordered individuals. This may be due to diet, or could be genetic, I'm not entirely sure. But nevertheless, I'm excited to try my hand at this species again, hopefully with more success than my last attempt to breed them (to be fair, I'm pretty sure my last group was poisoned by fire retardant latent cardboard).

Got them set up currently in a well ventilated enclosure with a thin layer of coconut fiber substrate, topped with lots of bark, leaf litter, and eggcrate hides. I'm keeping a third of the setup humid, the rest dry, have them at around 80-85F°, and am offering dog food in addition to the leaf litter for their diet.

Here are some pictures of them:

It'll be interesting to see if they yellow up over time in my care, which would indicate the coloration is solely diet related.

I also got some Parcoblatta zebra "Montgomery", one of my favorite Parcoblatta species, and certainly one of the most colorful. They're still small nymphs, but I'm really looking forward to seeing adults of this species once again, and hopefully will succeed in establishing a healthy breeding colony!

I have mine set up in a moderately ventilated container with a thin layer of coconut fiber substrate, topped with leaf litter, bark and cardboard hides. I'm keeping them humid, at 85F°, and am offering dog food and the occasional bit of fruit for the diet.

Here are some pics of the nymphs:

Definitely an underrated native in my opinion!

Well, that does it for this post, huge thanks to Alan for sending me these amazing species! Thanks for reading, hope everyone enjoyed, and I'll see you all next time! 😉