Sunday, December 24, 2023

Happy Holidays, Here's a Throwback!

Happy 2023 Holidays, I hope y'all are doing well! 😃 

For this post, I'm gonna be talking about a failed breeding attempt me and my friend went into last year. In early 2022 a buddy of mine bought (and I brought in) some Sundablatta sexpunctata. Since he was the one who bought them, not me, and since only a few showed up alive (over two separate shipments), they all obviously went to him, and he didn't want me posting about them until he actually bred them, or failed to breed them for that matter. Sadly the latter happened, but I still wanted to share my pictures of them, as well as talk about what went wrong.

Now, this locality came from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This species is well known as being one of the prettiest roaches out there, and you'll often see pictures of these being pulled from Google and posted by newcomers to the hobby in various roach groups, asking if they're in culture at all. They appear to be beetle or Hemipteran mimics of some sort, but we're not sure exactly. They're often found out and about on tree stumps, logs, etc., and often in groups, so clearly not that afraid of being seen.

Now, some notes on their care. They were not difficult to rear, or keep alive, but rather it seemed getting females to oviposit, and getting ooths to hatch was the hurdle. Only two sexed pairs arrived alive, one adult male, and three nymphs. Now unfortunately, for whatever reason, the first female to mature either had a prolapse, or some other internal issue causing her to only make a few deformed ooths that never hatched, and then she died. The second female thankfully was much healthier, and through some trial and error, Brandon was able to get her to produce several viable looking oothecae, but they sadly never hatched. These are some of the more useful tips from what we learned in keeping them:
  • The Allee Effect: They don't seem to do well solo, at least we noticed that the second female made ooths much more infrequently when she was kept solo. Brandon had separated the surviving male from the second female, as he feared he would stress her out with constant mating attempts. However, she soon stopped making ooths, and only seemed to start laying again when Brandon reintroduced the male to her enclosure.
  • Territorialism: Despite not doing well solo, they also show a decent amount of territorial behavior, chasing and nipping at each other. So in a small enclosure, a decent sized group of individuals seems to stress each other out, and indeed in the wild they are normally only found singly or in very small, spread out groups on the same logs/stumps. So it would seem a large enclosure with lots of surface area is most conducive to rearing a sustainable colony of this species. Overcrowding is seemingly not acceptable.
  • They prefer semi-humid conditions: Contrary to our initial hunch, this species doesn't actually like super high humidity, and instead does better with a horizontal 50/50 humidity gradient, in a well ventilated enclosure, with light mistings every now and then. When the entire enclosure was kept humid, it appears the majority of oothecae rotted. Whereas when multiple different microclimates, including drier ones were added, only then did oothecae start hatching. The adults also actively preferred hiding on the dry side, especially in hides that were touching the humid side. A look into their locality shows that the ambient humidity in their habitat is only around 50% for most of the year. Unfortunately we learned that bit quite late on in the breeding attempt, and so I think quite a few of the viable ooths may have rotted due to excess humidity.
  • Not picky about food: Really, they aren't picky at all, they seem rather protein hungry and will eagerly feed on dog food and pollen. Fruits will also be accepted, most mushrooms are ignored. Overall pretty easy to feed, contrary to anecdotal reports of them being picky eaters.
Overall, not THE most difficult Ectobiids to keep alive, though can be finicky and unforgiving in terms of improper husbandry. And obviously we never figured out how to incubate their ooths...

Anyways, I did of course manage to take pictures of these when they were briefly in my possession, before handing them off to Brandon. Here they are in all their adorable, colorful glory:

Subadult female

Adult male

While I'm quite sad these failed to get established in my friend's collection, I am at least happy I got to see these wonderful little roaches in person. And hopefully one day I'll actually be able to try keeping these myself, and apply what we've learned so far into culturing them. 😄 

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

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