Friday, February 5, 2021

Blatticulture Taxonomy PSA: US "Panchlora nivea" = Several Different Panchlora spp.

Oh man, there's a lot to unpack here... So, long time hobbyist Kyle Kandillian, owner of the well known website Roachcrossing, has started becoming more consistent in his service and on getting back to people again, and has also started taking orders at a reasonable rate and has been consistent with actually filling them out again, which is great. On top of that though, he has opened a can of worms in discovering that not all "Panchlora nivea" established in the Southern US are actually P.nivea... Or at least, they're not the same as whatever the old hobby P.nivea are, (which either come from FL or Cuba). 

See, Panchlora are established in many of the southern states here in the USA, and while the old P.nivea hobby stock (of unknown origin) is still commonly available, some people have still been collecting wild Panchlora in their area to breed, just because it's free and fun to start up colonies from new locales I guess, (though they seldom LIST the locales when selling them, which is gonna be a big problem now). For whatever reason, despite the fact that many different Panchlora species have been caught at ports of entry on produce and plants being brought into the country from Central and South America, all green Panchlora established in the US have just been historically identified as "Panchlora nivea".
However, hobbyist Satchell Watts-Ker has collected Panchlora from his state of Alabama and introduced them to the hobby, and when Kyle compared the subgenital plates (last ventral segments) of adult males of Satchell's "Tuscaloosa, Alabama" strain and his old hobby P.nivea (descended from Orin Mcmonigle's stock), he discovered that the subgenital plates of the two looked completely different, and they were indeed two different species of Panchlora.

So, this begs a LOT of questions... 

  • First of all, just how many Panchlora species are established in the wild in the US?
  • How many different species and locales are circulating in the US hobby? 
  • Have hybrids inadvertently been created, not just in captivity due to people adding "new blood" to their cultures (which is just NEVER a good idea it seems), but in the wild where different species' invasive ranges may overlap? 
  • Or, are these species that have naturally overlapping ranges in their native habitats, and thus have natural hybridization barriers in their morphology?
  • Are the hobby P.nivea even really P.nivea? What is their origin locality, FL, Cuba?
  • And what exactly ARE the sp. "Tuscaloosa - AL"?

What we really, really need are for people to start labeling any new WC strains they bring into the hobby with proper locality data, and it'd be nice if we could send specimens of all known distinct Panchlora strains to taxonomists for identification. People also need to STOP adding "new blood" from different sources to their colonies, because holy crap is that a bad idea considering we now know at least TWO different species are circulating in the US hobby as "P.nivea", and hybridization is still a very valid concern at this point in time. If your colony is crashing, just get a new one and start from scratch, PLEASE don't mix different stocks together. 

Here are some pictures, ©Roachcrossing, thanks to Kyle for letting me use them in this post:

Male hobby P.nivea on bottom, male P.sp. "Tuscaloosa - AL" on top
Male hobby P.nivea
Male P.sp. "Tuscaloosa - AL"
Male P.sp. "Tuscaloosa - AL" on left, male hobby P.nivea on right
Male and female hobby P.nivea, for comparison
So, there's simply a LOT to be done when it comes to figuring out the US Panchlora spp., most Panchlora in the US hobby probably are pure hobby P.nivea, but there are definitely several strains from different parts of the US in culture now that may or may not be the same species, so labeling everything with locality data is super important at this point, as well as getting pictures of the subgenital plates of the males of all the different localities.
It's a big headache when it comes to labeling, but kind of exciting too, because this means we have more Panchlora spp. in the hobby than we thought, and perhaps more not yet in culture to collect from around the US! 😄

Props to Kyle for noticing all this, and big thanks to him for letting me know and for letting me use his pics in this post. Since he's been consistent with orders again, giving people back what he owed them, taking better care of his collection, and overall cleaning up his act from the last few years, I'd recommend checking out his revamped website, lots of neat stuff happening there, and he's actually been using the blog section of his site frequently now. 🙂

That's gonna do it for this post, I hope everyone enjoyed and found this informative, thanks for reading, take care, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

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