Sunday, March 17, 2024

More Princisia & a Line Purity Rant

This post is kind of a wall of text, soooo reader be warned. 😆

Me and Kyle from Roachcrossing, we agree on a lot. But there's also a lot of things we disagree on, and often civily debate at length about. One of those things is hisser purity, namely that of the Princisia stocks we have available in the US hobby. Even more specifically, the "Big/Black" phenotype we have.

Now, the stock I've been culturing for years, that came from CCR circa 2017 (at least that's as far back as we can trace said stock), seems pure to me. Coloration is a bit variable, but only insofar as producing some melanistic individuals, as well as some with an ever so slightly more brownish tinge to them. This seems like normal color variation from an unrefined line to me, and both me and Kyle concur that similar variations have been recorded in other pure hisser stocks. Yet this variability in our "Big/Black" colonies still worries him. 

However, the pronotum morphology in this stock is also stable and consistent with pure Princisia, with even the most minor of mature males sporting at least a shallow anterior pronotum notch. If the stock were hybridized with Gromphadorhina, some individuals, if not a majority of them would have Gromphadorhina shaped pronotums as well, as that has been the case in other Princisia x Gromphadorhina hybrids I've seen. Morphology seems the most reliable and important identifying feature to me when it comes to determining purity of lines, certainly with roaches that can be variable in coloration like hissers. Yet in our debates, Kyle has seemed to disagree with me on that, or at least disagrees that consistent morphology alone is not the smoking gun to the argument I think it is.

So to be clear, I do 100% believe the "2017 CCR" Princisia stock I have is pure; I've seen hybrids personally, and they just don't compare to these in morphology stability, and are even more variable in coloration, with paler "Gromphadorhina" patterned individuals often popping up in a lot of hybrid stocks. Kyle remains on the fence, though conceded that they at least look to be the purest "Big/Black" we have in the US hobby.

A big part of Kyle's hesitancy stems from the fact that he used to maintain another line of this "Big/Black" phenotype, one with more refined and slightly more vibrant coloration, and less variability in patterning (likely due to accidental selective breeding). There's a decent possibility that the "Big" and "Black" lines of Princisia truly were distinct and different lines, and that his old stock was the "Big" strain, and the CCR Stock is the "Black" line... however that distinction has been lost to history, if it ever existed, and even if they were separate lines, they still represent the ssme general phenotype, so I'll be sticking to the "Big/Black" phenotype name for all lines with this appearance for now, and recommend others do the same.
Anyways, Kyle lost his old line years ago, and there's evidently been a Princisia sized hole in his heart ever since.

Now our story truly begins with an interesting development; me finding a hobbyist on a North Carolina reptile group on Facebook selling off their small Princisia colony. Bit of a random find, but I was intrigued by the coloration of the adult male picture in her ad, it looked really nice and vibrant in coloration. I messaged her, and it turned out she got them from Kyle circa 2017! Here was Kyle's old stock, preserved by some random keeper in North Carolina! 😄 I asked if she still had them for sale, but she had already sold the lot to another NC keeper.
So, I messaged that guy, somewhat relentlessly, and after he had them for a while with no successful breeding, I was able to convince him to sell them to me (with some financing from Kyle behind the scenes, because of course he had to get in on this action).

After a long wait, I finally had a little group of Kyle's old Princisia stock, which I'll be referring to as Princisia vanwaerebeki "Big/Black - RC Stock" for now. And I gotta say, the coloration on the more vibrantly patterned individuals, is definitely an upgrade from the "2017 CCR" stock. The abdominal striping goes further into each abdominal segment (especially on the males), and some adults even have thin gold/orange posterior margins on each thoracic segment! Really beautiful animals for sure, I'm already in love with this line. 😍 

However, these "RC Stock" adults that I received are rather variable in coloration, in fact they have the exact same variations I see in my "2017 CCR" line. Some melanistic adults, some with less distinct abdominal striping, and some with slightly more brownish base coloration. However, all mature males have an anterior pronotum notch. This to me, would seemingly confirm this is normal variation for this species, as even Kyle's old stock has these genetics in them. Which just solidifies my opinion that the "2017 CCR" stock is also pure.

However, Kyle of course was instantly suspicious of the purity of these new adults when I mentioned this color variability, as his old colony simply was not this variable. I have a theory for this though; accidental line breeding.
The founding adults in a hisser colony seem to contribute greatly to the coloration genetics in future generations, as well as the major males in said colony, because they are normally the ones that breed with most of the females and pass on their genes.
I've noticed in my "2017 CCR" colony that, when the largest males all happen to be more vibrantly colored ones, I see a reduction in the less patterned, melanistic individuals in the subsequent generations. Indeed that has been the case in my colony for a few generations now, and the melanistic individuals in my colony are quite few and far between, compared to when the previous major males in the colony were mostly melanistic or low patterned males. 
Coloration of founding females in a colony also probably helps determine what patterning will be dominant in any given culture, and most of my founding females were high patterned individuals as well.

So, what I think happened is that when Kyle originally founded his Princisia colony, it happened to be with all high patterned individuals, and that kept those genes dominant. However, any time you sell individuals from a culture and someone else starts a new colony with them (unless you were meticulous and purposeful with your line breeding), that will always run the chance of having lower patterned or melanistic adults randomly popping up, and if those happen to be the founding individuals in the starter colony, that can lead to more variable coloration in the colony, unless of course the variations are culled off.

It doesn't sound like the North Carolinian lady who got these from Kyle ever mixed hers with another line, and the person she sold them to definitely didn't (he didn't even breed them, so there was no time to contaminate the line and sell me potentially bastardized offspring), so therefore these *should* be Kyle's unadulterated, uncontaminated stock (unless that NC lady was lying). So, since the morphology is consistent, and the coloration variability is within what I consider normal for this species, I'm of the opinion they're pure, they just merely had some repressed coloration genetics pop back up over the generations after separating from Kyle's colony.
Kyle still has his doubts, but we'll see what he thinks after having them in hand and breeding them for a couple generations. I'm positive that selective breeding for prettier individuals is all it'd take to get this line looking like exactly like it did when he previously had them. He also may have dead stock from his old colony that he should totally have genetically analyzed, alongside both these remaining "RC Stock" and "2017 CCR" lines in the future, to remove any doubt whatsoever about purity. But we're probably years away from that being a thing. 😅

Anyyyyyways, onto the setup. I've got mine set up in a well ventilated 5 gallon gasket tote, with a thin layer of coco fiber substrate, topped with bark and cardboard hides, and leaf litter. I'm feeding dog food and fruits, keeping them on a 50/50 humidity gradient, and keeping them at around 85F°.

Here are some pictures of the prettiest pair:



Such a nice line, the males especially are gorgeous! 😍 Hopefully they'll breed well for Kyle and I, so we can get this line reestablished in the US hobby! 🤞 And while he is certainly entitled to his own opinions, hopefully Kyle will come around to mine over time, especially once he has a chance to check out these new Princisia a bit more. 😄

Anyways, that does it for this post, thanks for reading (if anyone did 😂), hope everyone enjoyed, and I'll see you all next time! 😉 


  1. I always read them to the end! May not always comment but definitely read them!
    Your theory makes perfect sense!
    These roaches are huge! These yellow outlines are so very beautiful in contrast with the black!
    Great to know you were able to pin them down once again!

    1. Appreciated as always Martin! ❤️

      Yeah they are stunning for sure, and that male is only medium sized, a true major would be significantly larger. Hopefully they'll breed well for me and Kyle! 😄