Thursday, March 25, 2021

Ammopelmatus pictus New Males & Pairings!

The two adult Ammopelmatus pictus males Brendan Lan collected for me from San Joaquin County, CA, about a week ago, (the 19th to be exact). Both were alive on arrival thankfully, male #1 with full length antennae, quite active, and in perfect condition. The other male looked a little worse for wear though, not only were his antennae cut a bit short, (which isn't too uncommon on WC inverts), but he was also missing his left mating hook, and acting quite weak. I actually thought male #2 might have had a horsehair worm at first, but it seems he was just dehydrated and/or hungry, as after a couple days in my care he perked right up.

I've got them set up in small, moderately ventilated containers with a couple inches of moist coconut fiber for substrate, and am feeding them chick feed and live/pre-killed invertebrate prey. 

Here are some pictures of the new additions:

Adult male #1

Both mating hooks intact

Adult male #2

Note the left mating hook is missing

Pretty right? 😍 It's important to note though, that these males are both at least a little longer than the largest of my two adult females, which was a bit concerning considering that this genus actually has a small male mating advantage.

Now, for some bad news... I made a dumb mistake in housing my small male nymph that I received in my original group, and just housed him in a deli cup one of the females was shipped in, that had four big holes drilled in the top. Rather than fill in the big holes and drill in tiny ones like I SHOULD have, I just lazily left it as it was, as I knew the male was still too big to get out of the holes... But stupid me forgot Jerusalem crickets can chew through plastic, so one day I checked on him and found this:

Little bugger chewed through the plastic and made one of the holes bigger, then escaped... It's been several days now, and I've not found him anywhere in my hotel room, I'm sad to say he's gone for good, all thanks to my incredibly stupid mistake. 😣 Now my plan is to heat up my lone female nymph and try to get her to mature ASAP, and then just mate her with one of these adult males I got.

Anyways, back to more happy news... After ensuring the males were well fed and recovered from their shipping trip, I paired them up with my two adult females, and actually livestreamed the process on Instagram. Both pairings actually went smoothly, despite the size differences and male #2 missing one of his mating hooks. I made sure to leave the females in the mating enclosures overnight, and thus they should have absorbed all the sperm in their spermatophores, instead of rubbing the whole spermatophore off right after mating like what I think happened to my Ammopelmatus sp. "Long Beach" in the past, when I moved them straight back to their normal enclosures with deeper substrate right after mating.

However, the matings were not without their anomalies. Let's start with pairing #1, which was between my largest, darkest female and male #1. The mating went smoothly, however a couple hours after mating I saw that the female had begun consuming her spermatophore... Something that's not normal for virgin females to do. I think this female was probably already mated, hence being so quick to consume the spermatophore, she didn't need it. After conferring with David Weissman, he also thinks this is the case, and also reassured me that all sperm in the spermatophore is likely absorbed by the female a couple hours after mating, so even if she hadn't been mated prior, she should be fully fertilized now, as she'd barely made a dent in the spermatophore a couple hours after mating, and it took 24 hours for her to consume the entire thing. 

Female from paring #1, consuming spermatophore a couple hours after mating

Same female 24 hours later, almost done consuming spermatophore
Spermatophore all gone.

Pairing #2 was between my smaller female and male #2 (the weak one with a single mating hook). As expected, this pairing took a bit longer, but did actually end in a successful spermatophore transfer. This female made no attempt to feed on her spermatophore whatsoever, which leads me to believe she had not been mated prior. However, 24 hours later, I checked on her, and the right half of her spermatophore had fallen off! Spermatophores supposedly should stay on for 3-4 days after mating according to one of Weissman's papers on JC mating. However, after talking with him, he again reassured me that this female had likely absorbed all the sperm left in the spermatophore before that half fell off, and apparently the part that did fall off wasn't even the part where the sperm was stored... So the female should still be fertilized. 

Pairing #2, beginning of courtship

Successful spermatophore transfer

Female a couple hours after mating, note intact spermatophore

Same female 24 hours later, only half of spermatophore still present
Remaining half shrunken and mostly absorbed
Found the detached half next to the female

All in all, seems like a success to me after chatting with David Weissman, if there was any doubt about these WC adult females being fertilized before, there should be none now! 😄 So now I just gotta hope they lay some good, fertile eggs, fingers crossed! I'll be sure to keep you all updated on how they do! 

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

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