Monday, November 7, 2022

Maybe New, Maybe Not: Princisia vanwaerebeki "Black & White"

That's right, me and a couple friends have come into possession of a strain of hissers long cultured in the European hobby, Princisia vanwaerebeki "Black & White". 😁 This strain is in the same complex of Princisia strains as "Tiger" and "Tricolor", and I'm of the opinion all three likely came in on the same import from Madagascar, probably from the same or very close localities, and were merely separated by minute coloration differences, sold as different strains, and then bred for slightly different coloration from each other over time due to purposeful or incidental line breeding. This is the first time the "Black & White" strain in particular has made it to the US hobby as far as I'm aware.

However, I'm a little skeptical of the purity right off the bat, because according to fellow hobbyist Nicolas Rousseaux, of the Cafarnarium in Belgium, MOST "Black & White" stocks in Europe have been hybridized with the "Tricolor" line and other random hissers as well, and are impure. However, this particular stock seems to have coloration consistent with known pure stock of this species, and based off the pictures I was able to get of one of the adult females, Nico says they look normal. We'll see as my colony grows though, I'll be sure to take notes on coloration consistency, and will also examine mature male pronotum morphology closely to determine purity (at least, I'll be able to tell if they were crossed to Gromphadorhina this way).

Now... As I've mentioned in my work in progress "Pure Hobby Hisser Key", there are some definite differences between how the "Black & White" strain looks current day, and how they supposedly looked back when they first entered culture... Some may say that these old pictures of an adult pair are overexposed, have too much flash, or are touched up in some way to exaggerate the pale striping in the photos... See here:

©Jörg Bernhardt
©Jörg Bernhardt
Now, I personally don't think the photos have been edited much at all, and are fairly accurate depictions of how those adults looked. But I DO think adults like this were probably in the minority, but due to laziness and seemingly no attempt to fully isolate and refine that coloration, individuals with more cream or yellowish/orange striping were allowed to proliferate, and over time they became the dominant color form in this captive strain. So, unless care is taken to painstakingly try and revive that old color form through selective breeding (which with how far these have gone without it, could take years, IF it's even possible at all), unfortunately we'll have to settle for their current coloration, which is still quite pretty, but much more reminiscent of "Tiger" or "Tricolor" coloration, and not really black and white.

In any case, the current "B&W" stock is still noticably different from the "Tiger" and "Tricolor" lines, namely, females of the "B&W" line seem to have much thicker black striping, and adults don't have ANY red coloration on their pronotums in this strain, (compared to adults of "Tiger" and "Tricolor", which can often have red spots on the sides of their pronotums, in females especially). Even the red spots on the thoracic pads of their metanotum and mesonotum are darker and smaller than you typically see in the other two strains, ("Tricolor" especially).

I've got my two pairs in a well ventilated container with a thin layer of coconut fiber as the substrate, and bark hides. I'm keeping half of the substrate humid, the other half dry, and am feeding them dog food and fruits, as well as some leaf litter. I'm keeping them at around 75-80F°.

Here are some pictures of an adult female, and a subadult (maybe pre-sub) male. Please note, these had clearly been kept in very crowded conditions beforehand, as the adults are TINY! 😂 So these are not indicative of full size, I imagine large adults of this species can get quite big, like full grown "Tiger" and "Tricolor" adults:

Adult female

Subadult(?) male

Very pretty, though the adults are definitely not black and white, more like black and yellow, or black and orange... 😅 The nymphs actually DO have white striping though. In any case, definitely a nice looking strain, can't wait to see adult males! Hopefully they'll breed well for me and my friends, and we can fully determine whether or not they're actually pure Princisia, and pure "B&W" at that!

Well, that does it for this post, but we got lots more new additions to cover, this is just the most exciting one to me, and the one that I had the most to talk about... 😅
Thanks for reading, hope everyone enjoyed, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

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