Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Last Month's Losses...

Well, it's that time again unfortunately, gotta post about the losses in my collection and some misc sad updates as well. 😟 But you know I gotta do it, so let's dive right in...

Let's start off with one of the two roach species I re-entered the hobby with, Gyna capucina. My colony has unfortunately basically been in a long, downward spiral since I got them, due to a series of unfortunate mistakes on my part... First I let their Oribatid mite population get out of hand, then I accidentally starved them, and on top of it all, it appears I never really kept them warm enough for adequate reproduction. Despite my best efforts, with my current heating situation (a single heat cable) I could only heat them to 78F°, maybe 80F°, but it seems like they require temperatures closer to 88F° or higher for consistent reproduction.

So, I sent my remaining 3-4 adult females (only one of which probably still has an ootheca left in her), plus the 4-5 mixed nymphs I had left in my possession to Kyle Kandillian, who has a small starter colony ATM that he got from Ty Randall. They wouldn't have been of any use to anyone who didn't already have a culture of that species, so hopefully they help boost Kyle's small colony, and he can get his G.capucina thriving for him. Figured it was better than letting them die out on me, at least the remaining individuals of my broken colony can possibly help further the spread of this species the US hobby. Once I can get a heat lamp or space heater or something that would let me better heat an enclosure to 88-90F° or higher, I will get another colony of this species and hopefully do a lot better with them. 😅 But yeah, I no longer have pink roaches, so that's a bummer.

Unfortunately, all four of the Hemithyrsocera vittata ooths my females produced before dying prematurely were duds... 😭 So that species is functionally extinct from US culture, AGAIN. It's so frustrating and frankly embarrassing that I lost my females to what was probably a simple ventilation issue, my two males and the stunted nymph are still doing perfectly well in their better ventilated deli cup. I really hope I can get this species again and actually help establish them in the US hobby, but it looks like for now, this species is not getting established here.

Now, this isn't exactly an unexpected update IMO, but still disappointing nonetheless, my last Myrmecoblatta wheeleri female has finally died, seemingly of old age... and I didn't get a SINGLE. DANG. OOTHECA. Brandon and Alan have both told me their ooths are pretty similar to those of Compsodes, and they they just affix them to objects much like Compsodes. After scouring the various enclosures I housed my Myrmecoblatta in, I can definitely confirm that, for whatever reason, they NEVER produced so much as one ootheca, and honestly I don't know why not. For the first couple months I had them (before microfauna found their way into their enclosure), they were doing great and should have laid at least a few oothecae, but I suspect they needed higher heat and ventilation levels...

This species is probably possible to breed in captivity repeatably, but they're super, super finicky, perhaps the most difficult US native to ever enter culture. Here are my notes on their husbandry:

•1 They definitely seem to be mold feeders based on my personal observations, as my adults always lost a lot of weight when no mold was available. They'll nibble on other foods but can't survive solely on them, or at least probably won't breed without fungi to feed on. Food molds like the stringy white molds and Trichoderma spp. seem to sustain them pretty well. Still, this is more difficult a food source to provide than a lot of people would think.

•2 They can't handle ANY, I repeat, ANY springtails or mites in their enclosures, springtails both stress them out with constant tactile contact, and most importantly, absolutely wipe out their main food source, molds. Mites bother them with tactile contact and probably food competition as well, but honestly, besides mites that have hyposus stages (which can be fatal to Myrmecoblatta), springtails are more troublesome because they prevent mold growth, which Myrmecoblatta need to feed. Fungus gnats are also intolerable.

•3 They didn't seem to like cardboard or even smooth bark for hides, only rotten wood and hides made of cork board were readily accepted. 

•4 Temps 75F° or above and/or lots of airflow are probably needed for oothecae production. 

Overall, they're really a lot of dang work for a pretty low payoff, they are TINY, don't seem to be a prolific species so can't be used as feeders, and they certainly can't be used as cleaner crews given how finicky they are. The only purpose M.wheeleri serve in culture is as a challenge for true Blatticulture enthusiasts... 😅 I hope to try them again one day, but I need to wait until I can heat a whole room for my bugs, so I can keep mine in a corner far, far away from the rest of my collection so as to prevent mites or springtails being introduced to their enclosure, but still keep them warm enough to breed.

Sorry I let you down Alan, guess I owe you my kidneys, PM me to let me know how to go about doing that...

I was completely unable to get a SINGLE one of my Eleodes obscura sulcipennis larvae to mature successfully, a large portion of larvae died off in their later instars in the communal setups, and all survivors (including those reared individually in their own deli cups) died in the pupal or pre-pupal stages... In retrospect, I HIGHLY suspect a diapause was needed for the larvae, it would explain all the deaths, and it makes sense considering I never really see adult obscura emerging in any numbers until late Spring, so it seems likely that larvae overwinter, pupate in early Spring, and emerge as adults in late Spring or Summer.

So, that project was a complete and utter bust, but hey, at least I think I know what went wrong, and it's a pretty simple fix TBH, so I can try again one day, or just get a southern strain that doesn't require a diapause.

Lastly, one of the earlier ooths my Deropeltis sp. "Masai Mara" female laid split open a little at the seam and was all rotten inside... I'm very very worried all my ooths might be duds or just died for some reason, I've moved them straight into my Bantua enclosure to give them some more heat, better airflow, while still keeping them a bit humid and misting them often. Apparently female Deropeltis spp. sometimes just lay dud ooths, and the majority of mine still look healthy, but then again Deropeltis seem to hate me, and I wouldn't be surprised if I failed breeding them yet again at this point, (though I sincerely don't know why these ones would have failed to hatch). So yeah, don't know if this is a total loss yet, but it's been over four months since the first ooths were laid, and I'm growing more and more concerned about the lack of hatchings...

Well, that's it for today's bummer post, y'all know I hate doing these, but I gotta, since failures can be just as informative as successes. I hope some of you found this post helpful, thanks for reading, stay safe, and I'll see everyone next time! 😉

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