Monday, August 29, 2022

New Dermestids, Showy Moth Flies, & Other Updates!

So a few months ago, I found a few dermestid beetles in my room. They looked kinda pretty, and were not a dermestid I've ever seen before, so I dumped them into a minimally ventilated deli cup with some crumpled up paper towel at the bottom, and dog food and dead inverts on top (mainly dead darkling larvae and roaches). They produced a decent amount of larvae, which have been thriving for the past couple months, mainly feeding on the dead insects (but also nibbling into the dog food a bit). Most of the larvae have now matured, and the adults are doing pretty well, and now will likely start producing larvae of their own soon.

However, until writing this post, I still had no idea what species this is, they're not Anthrenus, nor are they Dermestes. But now that I actually got around to taking pictures of my CB adults, I've spent some time comparing them to pictures on, and I'm now pretty sure they are a Trogoderma species. Not sure which one, there's 15 in the US, most of them look pretty dang similar, but at least I know what genus they belong to now.

Here are a couple crappy pictures of the adults:

Hopefully they'll continue to do well for me, I quite like their appearance, and may experiment with using them as cleaners here in the future. 🤔 Anyways, figured I'd share this little project with y'all!

Now for a bummer update, unfortunately my firefly project failed. The few Photinus pyralis eggs I got did hatch, however the larvae would not eat dog food, prekilled and cut up mealworms, or live nematodes, and they died after about a week. So, definitely seems like cut up earthworms/snails are a must for that species, which is unfortunate, but oh well, at least now I know for sure. I'll have to wait to try breeding fireflies again until I have a good source of snails/worms for them.

In more positive news, my Helleria brevicornis have been breeding very well, I counted over 60 babies in their enclosure a couple weeks ago! 😁 Most of my founding individuals are still alive and well, and should breed again next year after I give them a diapause this Fall/Winter.

Lastly, there's an invertebrate I got off of Roachcrossing months ago that I never talked about on my blog before, mostly because I thought I killed them all shortly after acquiring them: the Showy Moth Fly, Lepiseodina conspicua.

Many people are probably familiar with moth flies, particularly Clogmia and Psychoda spp., which are common household "pests" that resemble moths, and breed in sink and bath/shower drains, feeding on various gunk that gets stuck in said drains. However, this particular species, L.conspicua, is less commonly sighted, and doesn't seem to infest houses, preferring to inhabit flooded treeholes and such in the wild. The common name "Showy Moth Fly" is well deserved, adults are black with tufts of white hairs covering their pronotums and margins of their wings.

These flies are fairly easy to breed, in general you want to set them up in a container with a layer of crushed, decaying leaf litter at the bottom, flooded with water, but preferably not completely submerged, you want some of the leaf litter to go above the waterline, both for larvae/pupae to reach the surface to breath, and for adults to land on I suppose. The larvae feed on the leaf litter a bit, but also really enjoy dog food being dropped into the water, they feed on the dog food once it soaks up water and essentially melts, and adults probably feed on that gunk too. However, it's VERY important that you provide them with good ventilation (preferably those mesh lids a lot of deli cups come with, since larvae can make their way up smooth surfaces and could escape out of basically any actual ventilation holes). If you don't give them ventilation, when the dog food rots in the water, the rotting process eats up most of the oxygen in the container, so if there's no ventilation you'll literally gas/suffocate your moth flies to death.

Now, unfortunately, I initially put my group of these L.conspicua in a container with next to no ventilation, and fed them dog food... So, a few days after I got them, I looked at their enclosure one day and saw that most of the larvae were dead and lifeless, and their enclosure stunk to high heaven. 🤢 However, there were still a few larvae that were alive, so I dumped the contents into a 16 oz deli cup with one of those mesh lids, which fixed the problem immediately.

Now I'm not sure how many larvae survived that initial mistake, but I estimate about a dozen. Over the next few months, I had adults come and go in pairs or trios, and honestly doubted I got any actual breeding pairs to mature at the same time, because I didn't really see any young larvae being produced. Oddly there's always been a few large larvae visible, even when it seemed like most of them should have been mature already... Well, apparently one of those small groups of adults in the past few months DID have a breeding pair, and did produce offspring without me noticing, because I checked their container last week, and there's at LEAST 25 adults in there... 😳😂 So yeah, they're thriving now, and I'm sure there's gonna be a TON of new larvae in there soon!

Here are some pictures of an adult (getting these pics was NOT easy):

Their white hairs turned kinda grey on camera, as did their black wings, as a result of the flash, this species looks so much more pretty in person. I'm glad these have recovered so phenomenally, just goes to show how hardy these flies are! 😄 Definitely a neat little group of flies, underrated in the hobby as neat little novelty pets (or even possible feeders).

EDIT 9/10/22: Welp, as it turns out, these are actually Setomima nitida, not Lepiseodina conspicua... 😅 Read this post for more info.

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

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