Wednesday, March 17, 2021

My Birthday Parcoblatta!

Last Saturday (the 13th) was my 21st birthday, and boy was it fun! 😁 One of of the things I wanted to do this year was revisit the site where I found my old Parcoblatta americana, the Table Rock foothills in Boise, Idaho (I've erroneously been calling that locale "Tabletop Mountain" for the past few years, whoops!), since the strain I introduced into the hobby years ago has all but died out in culture... Which I find surprising considering how hardy they were for me.

Luckily as a birthday treat I was able to go out and collect these beauties again, and after several hours of flipping rocks, logs and wooden boards, I found 7 nymphs, the most I've ever collected in a single trip! 😀 
Still, they seem very sparse in that habitat, and I couldn't help but notice that, unlike the other times I went collecting in that area, the invasive Tenebrionid beetle Opatriodes punctulatus was EXTREMELY common, seems like every rock I turned over had several adults underneath... A bit concerning TBH, makes me wonder if they're competing with the roaches directly for food and habitat. 😟 Most invasive Tenebs in the US are grain pests, and don't really compete with native Tenebs and other inverts much for food/habitat, considering their ideal habitats are man-made, this isn't the case with Opatroides though. 

But anyways, back to the roaches. I found 6 of the 7 under rocks and wooden boards on one hill, this entire area is scrubland habitat, very dry and barren, and the roaches were only found under rocks and objects that were still humid underneath. Oddly, none were found under the leaf litter or slightly rotten wood on that hill underneath the small trees, where humidity was better retained.
One nymph was found inside a rotten log at the very beginning of the trail, and looks weird compared to the other nymphs, more of an olive brownish color, and kind of skinny too... Almost looks like a different species, but I'm pretty sure it's just a weird as heck P.americana nymph. 

Here are some pictures of the habitat:

The hill I found 6 of the nymphs on

The view opposite that hill

This is near the beginning of the trail, didn't bother looking here

The rotten wood I found that 1 odd nymph inside
One last thing, before we get to the pics of the roaches... I found a female Meloe sp. "Oil Beetle", a genus I've seen a lot of pictures of online, but have never seen in person! 😍 I was quite excited and snapped some pictures of her in the field, I found her under a wood board. Unfortunately, these can't really be bred in captivity, their larvae feed on Hymenopteran brood, so after taking these pictures I released her back under the board. But it was still very cool to see this iconic beetle genus in person!

Yes yes, I'm aware these are a type of blister beetle, and that holding it probably wasn't a great idea, but she was actually super mellow and calm, and I was gentle with her, so I didn't get sprayed with the nasty chemical defense that these beetles can produce. 😅

Now, here are some pictures of a few of the Parcoblatta americana nymphs I collected! 

The weird nymph.
I've got them all set up in a moderately ventilated (almost well ventilated) container with a cm or so of moist coconut fiber as the substrate, with bark pieces and leaf litter for hides. I'll feed them chick feed and fruits, and they should do well. The largest are only half grown, so it'll be a few months until I get adults. I'm keeping them at around 75F° though, so growth should be fast. 
Fingers crossed these thrive for me like they did last time, and I can get this species established in the hobby once again! 🤞😄

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

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