Thursday, October 5, 2023

Bruneau Beetles & Baltimore Bioluminescence!

A few months back I went to Bruneau, ID, and collected some Eleodes longipilosa, and some E.armata. The latter are fairly widespread and common, and while I'm happy to have some again, the E.longipilosa are the real prize of this trip, as they are far more difficult for me to find. I came back with a nice group of adults and set them up on a purely sand substrate, as I have finally figured out from two past failed attempts to keep this species that they are psammophiles. And wouldn't you know it, not only are my adults all still alive (when in my past attempts at keeping this species on coir, they all died within a month or two of me keeping them), but I've got larvae from them! 😁 

I'm keeping them in a well ventilated gallon shoebox with a couple inches of sand substrate, which I'm keeping one third of humid, the rest dry. I'm keeping them at around 80-85F°, and am feeding them a staple diet of dog food.

Here are some pictures of an adult, and larvae:

The larvae of this species have a very thick and textured exoskeleton (especially when younger), which is unusual for this genus, but is probably an adaptation for their strictly sand dwelling lifestyle. Here's hoping I can rear some up to adulthood successfully! 

On the topic of neat beetles I've failed to breed in the past, thanks to Jerimiah Lum, I was able to acquire a good breeding group of adult Photinus pyralis (Common Eastern Firefly) from Baltimore, Maryland, and unlike last year (when I received a group from Kyle), this time the females survived shipping! 😂  Not only that, but they laid TONS of eggs, all of which have hatched, and I ended up with around 100 larvae.

I had the adults set up in a well ventilated enclosure with about an inch of coconut fiber substrate, which I kept pretty moist at all times. The females readily oviposited in the substrate, and both they and the males fed on sugar water and freshly sliced fruits. They were kept at around 80-85F°. The adults lasted about a month, which I'm pretty sure is a normal life expectancy for this species.

The larvae had been doing OK in the same setup, but I noticed after a while that some were getting infected with some sort of fungal pathogen, perhaps a Trichoderma species... I've since moved them to a wet paper towel substrate, and they seem to be doing better, less fungal infections and I'm able to remove said infected individuals quickly. Thankfully, not only are these fully predatory, but they won't even eat their own dead, so the spread of pathogens like this is far slower, and it should be completely eradicated in a couple more weeks based on how few are succumbing to the fungus now. Especially considering their new rearing setup is far more sterile and easy to clean.
On that note though, there were tons of nematodes in their old substrate, and those honestly could have been stressing these larvae out and killing them, and the mold growing on their bodies could be mere scavenger mold. I also don't think the larvae loved the heat, so I'm also keeping them a bit cooler, around 73F°. And plan to give them a winter diapause as well.

Anyways, the remaining 50 or so larvae are being fed chopped up earthworms. I actually acquired a couple of snail species to use as feeders, but in addition to me not having bred either species in sufficient numbers to use as feeders yet, the few smashed snails I offered weren't as well received as the earthworms, so I think the Photinus prefer earthworms as their main food source.
The larvae have an unexpectedly big appetite, and it's fun to watch them swarm their prey items communally. 

Here are some pictures of an adult female, as well as pics of the larvae:

Adult female


So cool to actually have a species of proper firefly in my collection, I'd love to collect more species and introduce Lampyrids into the hobby, since they aren't all that difficult to breed as long as you have access to the proper food sources for the larvae. 😊

Well, that does it for this oddball beetle post, thanks for reading, hope everyone enjoyed, and I'll see you all next time! 😉