Interview with a Premier Blatticulturist!

Hello all, this time we are jumping tracks in terms of posts, and I am happy to present you my interview with Tristan Shanahan AKA TJ Ombrelle AKA Hisserdude AKA Invertebrate Dude (that’s a mouthful)!

Tristan is one of the premier invertebrate enthusiasts in the US, focusing mainly on roaches, but also with experience in a wide variety of other invertebrates. His blog has served as a source of credible information and experience for more than five years, and, fun fact, was one of the inspirations for this blog itself! Needless to say it was only a matter of time before I would try to get the scoop (so long as he agreed…) on this contributor to the invertebrate hobby.

And so, without further ado, I present to you my interview with Invertebrate Dude and a few photos of his specimens, past and present!

Arthroverts: “How did you get into the hobby?


Invertebrate Dude: “I’ve always been interested in wildlife, from a very young age, with a particular fascination for animals often perceived as “gross” or “scary” to people, prime examples being cockroaches, snakes, Suriname toads, hagfish, etc. I was always out catching various invertebrates, (roaches were a favorite), sometimes keeping them in jars and such temporarily. I was around 9 years old when my grandfather, (who kept and bred ball pythons and other reptiles), gifted me a male Madagascar hissing cockroach, (a Gromphadorhina hybrid), and I believe that’s what really kick-started my love for keeping invertebrates in captivity long term. Over the next couple years I started getting more males of other hisser species, and then started attempting to keep and breed almost every US native or adventive invertebrate I could find. A few years later I started keeping breeding groups of exotic roaches for the first time, and that’s when I founded my blog. :)”

A: “Over the years as you have detailed your experiences in the hobby on your blog, there has been a noticeable shift in your interest towards roaches; what is it about these insects that so captivates you?

ID: “To be honest, I’m not really sure, for some reason I’ve always loved animals the world loves to hate, and roaches are one of the most misunderstood insects out there. Periplaneta spp. were also a common sight in the areas I lived as a younger child, and having such large, non-biting insects to catch and handle often probably helped me develop a love for roaches early on. As for keeping them as pets, roaches are pretty easy to maintain, even most of the more difficult ones are relatively simple to set up compared to many other invertebrates, they’re also a very diverse group, and this is reflected in the array of species available in the hobby. I’d say those are the two major drawing factors for roaches that I can’t resist. “

Lanxoblatta rudis nymph, an incredible South American species that precariously exists here in the US in the hands of a few breeders. Easily one of my favorite roach species, I hope to one day acquire them and get them firmly established here, though by that time I hope they already are…

Lanxoblatta rudis adult. The texturing on this species is incredible…

A: “What do you have in your collection currently? Do you think it’ll grow further?

ID: “I currently have two roach species, (Gyna capucina, Bantua sp. “Namibia”), three darkling beetle species, (Eleodes nigrina, E. obscura, E. sp. subgenus Blapylis), and I have some interesting click beetles on the way as well. I was planning on keeping my collection down to ten species, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to adhere to that. I definitely won’t be keeping anywhere near 100+ species like I did in the past though, and several of the species I’ll be keeping will be on a temporary basis, just to help get them established in the hobby. “

Gyna capucina specimen, a more finicky species in the genus, and one of the two species of roach Invertebrate Dude is currently keeping. Look at those colors!

Eleodes obscurus, a rare Eleodes species within the hobby.

A: “Do you have a favorite species/genus?

ID: “Hands down, my favorite genus is Pilema, a weird genus of cockroach that spends most of it’s life in a neat round burrow dug into hardened clay. They may look boring to some people but I absolutely love their weird habits, they’ll eat decaying organic matter around their burrows, and mothers will keep their offspring in their burrows for at least a molt or two, often building up little “chimneys” to accommodate them all. I actually had plans to acquire a Pilema species this year, but unfortunately I may not be able to period, thanks to the pandemic…”

A: “Is their still a “holy grail” species that you’d like to one day acquire?

ID: “I’d really like to try my hand at Archiblatta hoeveni, they seem like they’d be easy enough to breed if consistently given proper care, just so long as one took into account their solitary and arboreal nature. The closely related Catara rugosicollis would also be nice to work with.”

A: “You have talked quite a bit about the importance of conservation (such as in your post on Platerodrilus sp. beetles), both in captivity and in the wild, of various invertebrates. Where do you see the hobby being in this regard?

ID: “I see the hobby as potentially being very helpful in the conservation of many species, but also being detrimental to the conservation of others.¬†Some species, particularly of well known and commonly kept orders, can often easily be kept and bred long term in captivity, and if they’re pretty or interesting enough, usually a wide variety of people will want to keep them, thus cementing their place in captive breeding.¬†However, I believe that other, less studied organisms, ones that have traditionally done very poorly in the pet hobby like trilobite beetles and Madagascan pill millipedes, should only be kept by zoos and labs until adequate, repeatable husbandry methodologies can be produced, after which introduction to the pet hobby could potentially be very beneficial.¬†Unfortunately where we stand right now, there is next to no effort from professional labs or institutions to successfully cultivate most invertebrates, so the pet hobby can be hit or miss when it comes to conservation. Sometimes we can save species from extinction or eliminate collection pressure for some species with captive breeding, other times we can actually harm wild populations with excessive collection, which is normally only a problem with species that are extremely difficult to keep or species no one even tries to breed (like Emperor scorpions, Chilean rose hair tarantulas, etc.). In my opinion we should strive to successfully breed as many species as possible, and thus greatly reduce or eliminate the collection of wild individuals of said species. For those that we can’t seem to breed after dozens of tries, giving up and fighting instead for conservation of their wild habitats may be the best course of action.”

Panchlora sp. “White”, another amazing, maddeningly-sensitive species that has also gone the way of Arthopleura in the US…

A: “Where do you see yourself in the future in this hobby?

ID: “I hope to continue to get enjoyment from this hobby, help establish as many species as possible in captive culture, and be a reliable source of husbandry information for newbies and experienced breeders alike.”

A few of you may recognize this amazing photo capturing the bioluminescent glow from a Pyrophorus noctilucus, a species of elaterid beetle formerly kept by Invertebrate Dude. Truly an incredible specimen. Can’t wait to see what new species of elaterids you are getting Tristan!

A: “Do you see yourself continuing to dial in on roaches or perhaps expanding into other invertebrate groups once again in the future?

ID: “I think I’ll probably keep honing in on rare roaches for the time being, (I say as I currently have more beetles than roaches), but branching out is bound to happen, I’m sure I’ll be keeping some non-roach oddball inverts in the future, though they will have to be true oddballs or otherwise very remarkable to earn a place in my collection.”

Psytalla horrida adult. Big. Colorful. Expensive.

A: “Finally, do you have any tips for an aspiring blatticulturist like myself?

ID: “So long as you’re consistent with your care, start out with widely recommended beginner species, and are sure to get husbandry information from not just one, but several trusted sources, there’s almost no limit to the species you should be able to breed in this hobby! Also, pro tip, if something goes wrong and a colony crashes for seemingly no reason, just know that while inbreeding is usually the big bad boogeyman people point their fingers to first, inbreeding’s almost never actually the cause. Pro pro tip, large, prolific springtails and many isopods can actually be as detrimental to roaches as grain mites can, so be careful what you use as cleaner crews.”

Hormetica strumosa adult. A site to behold that alas, is quite rare in the hobby…

Huge thank you to Tristan Shanahan AKA Invertebrate Dude AKA…you know who he is…

Anyway, again, thank you Tristan for sharing your knowledge and photos with us! I greatly appreciate it, and look forward to seeing you continue to share your knowledge, experience, and pictures with us on your blog and elsewhere. If you want to see all of Invertebrate Dude’s content, check out his blog here, his YouTube channel here, and his forum activities here, here, and here.

Surprise L. rudis profile photo!

That’s all for now, catch ya on the flip side, or if I’m not there, look for me outside wherever there is creation and invertebrates!

Thanks,

Jessiah AKA Arthroverts

Quite a lot of Photos

Hello all! Just a short post for today, but I have been sitting on, as the title says, quite a lot of photos (as well as a few updates), including some of a few new additions, so let’s bring them out of storage!

Damon medius. One of two 4th instar juveniles I received from my amblypygid enthusiast/breeder friend. These were captively bred from wild caught specimens, not born of an already-inseminated wild caught female (that’s a mouthful).

To show the scale of the specimen. This specimen and its sibling are only two instars off the mothers back, but already they are larger than all US-native species! Except of course for maybe the mythical Acanthophrynus coronatus

Freshly molted Aphonopelma seemani. Roughly 0.75″ or 2 cm.
Aphonopelma seemani chowing down on a cricket after the above molt.
Freshly molted Bumba cabocla. Roughly 1″ or 2.7 cm.
Chilobrachys sp. “Khiri Khan”: refusing to burrow but continuing to eat. Seen here being photo-shy after attacking the freshly molted cricket of the right.
Phyrnus marginemaculatus male. I was able to successfully pair this specimen, graciously loaned to me by a friend, with my adult female. A spermatophore were witnessed within hours of introduction.
Grammostola porteri eating! Quick, snap a blurry photo!
Apomastus kristenae female. A very rare trapdoor spider species from Southern California, it makes its abode in the beds of leaf litter surrounding oak trees. I collected this and one other small specimen on a collecting trip with a friend.
Apomastus sp. defy photographing. I dont know how a perfectly zoomed in camera can produce such a fuzzy photo…

To give one an idea of finding Apomastus, find this, which is less than 1/3 of an inch (0.84 cm) across…

In this…

Centruroides exilicauda. Notice the exceptionally long telson, a hallmark of many male Centruroides.
A fat (gravid?) female C. exilicauda.

Pause for a short update on my diplopods:

My millipede collection has been in a state of flux, with the disheartening loss of three Spirostreptidae sp. “1”. However, I did acquire four large immature Apeuthes sp. specimens and four Trigoniulus macropygus, which are currently too small to photograph properly, as well as three Bollmaniulus sp., a small native julid with a very interesting grey-green pattern. I also discovered my Anadenobolus monilicornis have kept right on trucking despite multiple rehousings in the past few months, and I estimate I now have over a hundred specimens of various. My remaining Narceus gordanus seem to be doing relatively well, as does my Spirostreptidae sp. “8”; if only I could find a mature male for her!

Lastly, the mystery millipede I mentioned a post or so back has grown considerably in size, to close to 2.5″. With every molt it looks more like Tylobolus claremontus; how that could be, I have no idea.

Bollmaniulus sp.
Apeuthes! A species I have been looking to acquire for a long time, I finally was able to trade for these amazing creatures. Just look at the color!
And, of course, the identifying mark of Apeuthes, the pointed tail-end.
Tylobolus claremontus adult with babies and juvenile, collected by myself. A very pretty native species. I traded away the five specimens I collected, but hope to collect some more soon.
Large T. claremontus adult with large juveniles.
Spirostreptus sp. “1” large immature next to a dead specimen. Unfortunately the five of these I had has been reduced to two in the span of only a few months. A few deaths I think I know the cause behind, but one or two of the others leave me scratching my head. Either way very disheartening as these are amazing creatures that I’d love to have a chance to breed.

Abrupt ending alert.

And that will bring to the end of this photo journey, at least for now. As always I seem to have a backlog of information to post about, so that by the time I get around to posting about Apomastus kristenae for example I need to update y’all on Eublaberus s…hah! You won’t weasel that update out of me early!

Anyway, I’ll catch y’all later!

Thanks,

Jessiah

Crustacean Adventures

Hello all! As probably none of you know (;), I have been eying crabs for a while now. No, not your typical hermit crabs or other marine aquarium crabs, though those are awesome too. Rather, my interest has grown in freshwater/brackish terrestrial crabs, specifically of the genus Geosesarma.

Bam! Surprise Photo.

I have always had an interest in these fascinating freshwater denizens, but doors started to open in regards to their availability after I saw a 1:1 pair of vampire crabs come up for sale/trade on Arachnoboards. I eagerly contacted the seller, and soon we had a trade worked out. Unfortunately, one of the specimens died before we shipped out, and since I was primarily interested in breeding them (which you can’t do with only a male), the trade fell through.

However, sometime after, I discovered one of my friend’s, also interested in the obscure invertebrates of the world, already had two species of Geosesarma! He let me know that he was able to order more, and that if I wanted some to let him know. Long story short, I ended up with 5 Geosesarma dennerle, two females and three males (the shipment was male-biased), of an odd color variation! They seem to lack a full splotch of yellow on their carapace, a usual characteristic of G. dennerle, rather appearing to somewhat retain their juvenile coloration of just splotches of yellow/whitish-grey. Then again, a few of the specimens still are juveniles starting to transfer into adulthood, so we’ll see how it pans out with them.

Geosesarma sp. definitely are on the small side, and all of my specimens are only about 1.5″ in terms of leg span (that’s about 3.81 cm for all you people on the metric system), but what they lack in size they make up for in coloration, behavior, and ease of breeding. They are one of the few crab genera to breed fully in freshwater, with the females giving birth to fully-formed baby crabs! They also are very communal, making it even easier to breed these awesome crabs in captivity.

I already had an empty 20 gallon (75.70 liters) paludarium, purpose built for vampire crabs a few months before by my insanely-skilled brother, calling for some inhabitants, so I’m sure you can guess where they are being housed…photos below!

Yellow variant.
Much lighter variant, with almost white eyestalks.
Each crab has its own personality of sorts, and this female specimen has proven to be the boldest of them all, regularly venturing out into the open. Normally they hide until the observer is gone and movement is no longer visible, but not this crab.

The paludarium. A small water feature, kept moving by the small waterfall of sorts coming out of the rock on the left, is kept hard by the presence of calcium carbonate coral sand and a few coral rocks. Soft water will lead to deformities in the crabs.

On land there is a plethora of plants, Cissus discolor, Selanginella sp., Pepperomia rosso, Epiperemnum aureum, and various other unknown plants in both the soil and in the water. My skill with plants is not where I’d like it to be yet…

Everything has been happy and growing, with one plant even flowering. The crabs have done quite a bit of rearranging however, including exposing the tubing and blue foam underneath the substrate in several areas. Also, besides eating their regular food of springtails, dwarf isopods, and biodegradable peat pots (a trick shared by the above mentioned friend), they have also decided they like the taste of both decaying and growing moss, and the leaves of the fern in the back left of the second paludarium photo. They crawl up the leaves of what looks like a lemon plant in the mid-left of the same photo, and then strip off the low-hanging fern leaves. Considering this fern has been the most sensitive and difficult plant to get growing, I can only say that I am mildly frustrated with their sudden favorite food. But just so long as the crabs are happy, I’m happy, ha ha.

And there you have it! My crustacean adventure as of now. My plan is to breed them if you haven’t picked that up yet, and hopefully start to increase the numbers of captive bred specimens available in the hobby. Hopefully by doing so more species will come into the hobby, including two of my favorites: Geosesarma borogensis and G. malayanum.

As always, I thank God for all these incredible creatures to marvel at. The diversity He created is truly breathtaking.

I’ll catch y’all next post!

Thanks,

Jessiah

First Post of 2020

Ah, you didn’t think I’d make a January post, did ya now? Well, I did, so let’s get on to the cool part…

Well, I started this in January…

January has been kinda all over the place for me, just like this post will likely be. The celebration of the Invertebrate Club of Southern California’s 1st Anniversary meant I came home with quite a few invertebrates, and then a few collecting trips meant I came home with a few more+a lot of rotting leaves and wood for my detrivorous charges. Unfortunately I seem to be continuing my theme of gaining species only at the loss of something else…

Anywho, let’s start with the new stuff. I traded for one new species of isopod and one new morph, Porcellio scaber “Koi”, a species I seek to redeem myself with, and Porcellionides pruinosus “Powder Orange”.

Porcellio scaber “Koi”. I ended up with about 10 of these awesome little isopods.
One of the reasons I am so happy to have these is that I now have an opportunity to redeem myself. The last P. scaber I kept, the “Orange” morph, got wiped out after a preventable mold outbreak in their enclosure. Ever since I’ve missed having these in my collection…
Side view. From this angle the orange at the head of this particular specimen makes it look similar to an “Oranda” goldfish, ha ha.
Porcellionides pruinosus “Powder Orange”. This variety seems to attain a larger maximum size than the “Powder Blue’s” I have. Only 1 more morph of P. pruinosus to go (“White Out”)!

Continuing with isopods, Some Time Ago, at a Reptile Show Not Far From You…I half-traded/half-bought a starter culture of Armadillidium sp. “Montenegro” (this was before the name klugii was in common use), one of my all-time favorite isopod species. They thrived for a while, but then a mold outbreak in combination with poor feeding resulted in the loss of the entire colony. That is, except for one specimen. It has survived over a year now on it’s own in a tub, and to be completely frank I didn’t think much of it. However, I was discussing invertebrates with a friend when he mentioned he had a colony of A. klugii “Montenegro”. I mentioned I had one specimen left, and that if he liked I could trade/give it to him. He agreed, and soon I went digging through the tub to find the one specimen I had left. However, much to my surprise, I found two specimens! I have no idea how I missed the second one despite the multiple times when I looked through the enclosure. Anyway, I moved them to a smaller 3 ounce deli cup where I could keep an eye on them. I then sexed them a few days later, both turning out to be female, and again to my surprise I found that they both had the distinctive white mancae dots. Now I tore apart the tub they had been in, but no male isopod was to be found. There were a few old exoskeletons of specimens that had died, but I assumed they were from the previous colony crash. Maybe a male survived, impregnated the two females, and then died before I could find it?

However it happened, I’m glad there is still the possibility that these two specimens could restart the colony for me. The saying “Where there’s life there’s hope” holds very true in this instance.

Moving on, we shall leave the isopods in favor of another mystery…

While pulling some stow-away babies from my old Porcellio laevis “Dairy Cow” enclosure, I did a little digging around to see if I had missed any. I certainly hadn’t missed any isopods, but I had missed a millipede!

To lend context to this story, the enclosure I used to keep the P. laevis in had formerly been the enclosure for a 1:1 pair of Acladocricus sp. “Philippine Blue” millipedes. Unfortunately the female I believe died early on, and the male I transferred over to another enclosure. The enclosure sat empty of specimens for a while, although I retained the substrate, until I purchased the P. laevis. Needless to say they didn’t do well, so I moved them to a different enclosure. As stated above, I did find P. laevis babies however in the enclosure a few months later, leading to the discovery of the mystery millipede…

It doesn’t look like an Acladocricus sp. baby, but considering that that was the only millipede species kept in the enclosure, it seems that it has to be. The 1:1 pair never made it to maturity together however…

A true conundrum!

This ends our regularly scheduled “Isopods and Myriapods” segment. Now we turn to our spin-off program, “Insects Among Us”.

As some of you may recall, my Blaberus giganteus weren’t doing so hot (both figuratively and literally) last time we took a look at them. However, I am happy to announce that they have made a comeback! I was able to get some new specimens from a good friend to supplement the remaining three I had, and the night I introduced the new specimens one of those three, which had been looking plump for a while, decided to give birth to a bunch of nymphs!

What’s incredible is that the female gave birth despite the temperatures having been in the mid-to-low 60s (degrees Fahrenheit). A hardy strain or just a lucky break?

I also acquired 10+ Gromphadorhina portentosa of various sizes from the same friend, as her colonies have increased in size immensely. They do seem to be hybrids of some sort, but either way I am very happy to add another roach species to the collection!

During a recent collecting trip I was able to locate three or so Jerusalem Crickets (Stenopelmatus sp.) within 5 feet of each other! I collected one and let the others remain. I have decided to trade it to a friend, but it is still stunning to observe while I have it. Large specimens of this species gain bright orange heads that an enthusiast can see from a mile away.

Now for the bad news. I was excited to share that I had been gifted by a friend a teeny-tiny Ctenidae sp. “Mamfe” spiderling, a species I really wanted. It was literally probably half the size of a small pinhead. It was doing well, eating like a champ, and then one day I found it motionless. It then rapidly desiccated into nothing. I didn’t do anything wrong that I can think of, as their care is pretty straight forward. Perhaps it was just one of those specimens that was meant to perish sooner rather than later…

And that will bring us to the end of this messy almost-January post. I have much more to update y’all on, but that’ll have to wait till the February post…

Thanks,

Jessiah

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Blessings on you and your household as we celebrate Christmas, however that may be, and as we move into the new year. May our collections continue to grow into what we want them to be; I know I’m looking forward to a 5th straight year of being in the hobby!

A few photos for y’all…

Tlitocatl albopilosum
Tlitocatl albopilosum. In dark lighting this species may come across as just another brown spider, but with proper lighting the true beauty of this species can be seen…
Phidippus adumbratus with prey.
Scolopendra alternans “Puerto Rican Giant” with prey (freshly molted mealworm).
Scolopendra alternans “Puerto Rican Giant”
Pterinochilus murinus spiderling.
Bumba cabocla spiderling/juvie with prey.
Aphonopelma seemani spiderling with prey.
Mastigoproctus giganteus? Not sure after the revision of the genus. With prey.

He is Alive!

Thanks,

Jessiah

Here we grow again!

Hello fellow enthusiasts! It’s that kind of post again, with some new additions to the lineup. Unfortunately the gain in my collection is not without losses, which I will detail first.

The bad news: I lost my Brachypelma emilia (no, its not Tlitocatl) to what I believe was dehydration. It went too long without a watering during a time when I was exceedingly busy, and when I did overflow the water dish it actively drank quite a bit of water. The next day it was in the signature tarantula death curl :(. I am very frustrated, as I really like this species and to have it die in such a way is very saddening. Another victim of a lack of water was my Pseudoclamoris gigas. This was my third Tappie/Psuedoclamoris, and what I have found with these genera is that the moment the substrate drys out and/or they don’t have access to water, they keel over and die. The moral of the story is: water your slings! Don’t let them ever go without water for long stretches of time. I certainly learned that the hard way and plan on being much more vigilant in my care moving forward.

My brother’s Paravaejovis spinigerus MF finally died after close to three years in captivity. She gave birth to quite a few scorplings while in our care, and was a very hardy member of the collection.

In insect terms, my Blaberus giganteus have been slowly dying off one by one. I think it has something to do with old age, but I’m hoping the last few I have will leave me some babies before they too kick the bucket.

That’s the bad news, and now for some good news!

At the last Invertebrate Club of Southern California meeting, I was able to pick up 6 adult Centruroides exilicauda! Not only are these awesome orangish-tan scorpions, they are also awesome communal scorpions! They came with a ten gallon tank containing cholla wood and a variety of stones for them to dig scrapes under. This species doesn’t burrow per se, so I don’t have to worry about the stones shifting and crushing them as they form tunnels. There are both males and females in here, so I hope to soon see babies!

5 of the clan in the moist area of the tank. This species does appreciate some moisture, as they originally hail from areas where incoming ocean fog leaves everything nice and moist.
Under a black light.

Also at the meeting I snagged my first Old World tarantula bigger than an inch…a, drumroll please…Chilobrachys sp. “Khiri Khan” (suspect female)!

A friend of mine who is new to the hobby received this as a freebie along with another NW he was buying. The enclosure, detailed below, is far from ideal, meaning the rehouse is gonna be a lot of fun, so I took it off his hands for one of my A. chalcodes slings. I also surprised him with my GBB (which was on his list) to get him going. The GBB I had received when I was new hobbyist at a huge mark down from a vendor who helped mentor me and start me down the invertebrate-keeping path. I decided this GBB was to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Here it is! A solid 4″ or so, this is my first OW outside of the five P. murinus slings I have. It came in this little critter keeper with only about an inch of dry coco fiber and a cork hide, with a skinny abdomen to boot. Considering Chilobrachys sp. need deep, moist substrate to burrow, I can’t say I’m impressed with how it was taken care of before my friend got it. The defensiveness of OW fossorials only goes up in cramped quarters, so I can only hope the upcoming rehouse will come off well. Wish me luck!

The last thing I got at the meeting was a variety of terrarium plants (including some awesome Pleurothallis sp. dwarf orchids!), which I will have to discuss further in another post. But just to sate your desire, here are some pictures!

Lastly, I ended up with 6+ or so odonata nymphs when my brother cleaned out his pond filter. I was totally shocked to find these things, as considering how big they are now, they must have floated into the filter as eggs or something, as the filter grille is far too small for them to get in and out of now. They reminded me of very overgrown Jerusalem Crickets when I first saw them, but since then I have been corrected by another friend of mine who is a master invertebrate identifier. Anywho I hope I can raise them to maturity to further reduce our local mosquito population, ha ha! Care tips are appreciated from any of you dragonfly experts!

Apologies for the poor photos, these things are so well camouflaged that it is hard to get a decent shot of them!

A few got damaged during the removal process and sadly did not make it, hence why one in the photo is on its back.
Surprisingly communal, they are…

And that’ll do it for this post. Thanks for reading, I hope to have some really awesome content for a few future posts, so stay tuned. Catch ya next time!

Thanks,

Jessiah

Protecting your collection…

Whoa, a post on the first of the month??? And there was a post in the month before?? Consider yourselves lucky…

This time I will be sharing some info and tips on how to protect your collection from earthquakes, and to a smaller extent wildfires and flash floods. This information was garnered from a brain-storming meeting at one of the Invertebrate Club of Southern California meetings. Since we are in an area that is expecting a “Big One” (we are actually very overdue for a large earthquake), we figured this would be a pertinent topic to discuss. However, since Southern California is not the only place that has earthquakes (I’m thinking of our fellow Indonesian enthusiasts), this info should be of use to all those who live in earthquake zones.

So how do we protect our collections? The first step is making sure your racks, bookcases, shelves, or whatever it is that your enclosures are on, do not fall down. To do this, you must have some form of strap that secures to the wall stud. I use these ones (https://amzn.to/2Zewvgx), although I’m sure similar products work just as well. Another thing that can be done is to place heavy enclosures, such as large glass Exo Terra or Zoo Med cages, down on the lower shelves of a rack. I’m sure we can all imagine what will happen if one of your racks falls down, especially if you have more potent/aggressive invertebrates.

With this done, you then need to make sure your containers do not slide off; this can be achieved by either placing enclosures on top of non-slip rack liners (https://amzn.to/30joqsf), or by using the metal racks with bars that also help prevent sliding. In the event that an enclosure does get flung off, it is very important to make sure you use containers with lids that close tight, otherwise you may end up with a Leiurus quinquestriatus or a Cyriopagopus lividum prowling around. Double containers may also work if you have large numbers of small slings in deli cups with lids that don’t always snap perfectly tight (taping the lids may also work). If you have hard plastic or glass cages (Critter Keepers, Sazon containers, glass terraria), it would best to place them lower down on the racks so that if they do fall off, there is a less chance of the plastic or glass cracking or shattering. It is naturally of utmost importance that you don’t have extra glass on the floor after a large earthquake, or venomous invertebrates running around; while they (the invertebrates) are more likely to run and hide, there is always a chance one may decide to stand its ground and fight. That is pretty much all you can do to prepare for an earthquake.

However, you must also make sure that after an earthquake hits, you have a plan in place to keep your collection alive during the recovery process. After the earthquake, it is possible, if not likely, that you won’t have running water, electricity, gas, etc. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have the necessary means to keep your collection cool/warm, depending on the season. Most shelters will not accept pets outside of dogs, cats, horses, etc., so you cannot rely on them as places to where you can take your animals.
If it is summer, you can keep your collection cool with the use of chemical cool packs, moving enclosures to a cooler room or in a lower area (as heat rises), or if you have regular winds, opening a window may be all that is needed to keep your collection cool. If it is winter, chemical heat packs and moving your enclosures to a warmer area are your best bet.

The problem of not having running water can be remedied by using the number of water filtration units that are available. Bottled water, and water from a pool if you have one can also be used if necessary. You should irregardless have an emergency store of water to supply you, your family, and all your animals in case of situations like this already. Many invertebrates can survive short periods in dry conditions, but if you have moisture dependent animals, it is important to have an emergency store of water to supply them for at least a week as well. Most invertebrates should be able to survive several weeks without food, but if you are worried about it, you can start a small colony of crickets, roaches, or mealworms to supply you in case of emergencies.

Your collection is an investment, especially if you have a large collection and/or expensive animals. While the local invertebrate market will likely be down for a long while after a big earthquake, you may be able to sell some specimens off to those outside of the affected area to help pay with repairs/necessities. It’s not likely, but it is still something that should be kept in mind.

I know that none of us would want to lose our collections, especially if it survived a large quake only to die in the chaos afterwards. Keep that investment alive, and you never know how it may pay itself back in the future.

Finally, other natural disasters; flash floods you usually don’t have to worry about, but if you think you may be in an area prone to flooding, move your invertebrates to a higher area in the house/room. Otherwise, there is not much that can be done in case of a flash flood.

For wildfires, you can only hope and pray that the fire does not take your house, because if it does, there is nothing you can do to save your collection. Most of the time you will have a small time frame to gather up valuables before having to evacuate, but I cannot stress this enough: make sure you and your family are safe first. If you have time, grab any irreplaceable items and vertebrate pets (as unlike most invertebrates, they will feel pain and suffer if left behind), such as picture albums, important documents, cash, the family dog, etc. Then if you have enough time, grab the invertebrates that you care about the most. It would be helpful to make a list of the specimens you wish to grab first beforehand, so that you are not stressing about which creature to take in the confusion of an evacuation. Naturally, if you have enough space and time, you can try and bring everything, but this may not always be an option.

And that is pretty much it! While it’s not suggested for you yo become an invertebrate doomsday prepper, with an underground bunker all ready to defend your valuable T. seladonia from anarchists, looters, and rouge USFWS agents, we do suggest that you at least take some precautions and have a plan in place for when an earthquake or other natural disaster comes. Just remember; you and your family’s and friend’s safety should take precedence over all your animals. There will always be another such-and-such invertebrate to replace one you lose, but human lives are irreplaceable.

Thanks,

Jessiah

Velvet Worms are in the US!

Hello all, I have some very exciting news! I have been able to bring a brand new invertebrate into the hands of private US breeders for the very first time; Epiperipatus barbadensis, or the Barbados Brown Velvet Worm! I am super stoked to have received these. If you are wondering how in the world these made it to the US, let me tell the story…

Back in October of 2018, I was perusing Arachnoboards like I often do, and I came across this awesome thread started by Mackenzie Harrison (or @AbraxasComplex as he is known) on his velvet worm vivarium. I was immediately blown away by the incredible vivarium, but even more so by the creatures that were living inside it; Epiperipatus barbadensis, or Barbados Brown Velvet Worms!

Prior to seeing this thread, I had only known velvet worms existed from a very short bit in which they appeared in a graphic novel (about insects, coincidentally), but I never researched them further. However, as soon as I saw these on Arachnoboards I made sure to claim a spot on the not-yet-formed waiting list for these with a few other enthusiasts. One slight problem however: Mackenzie was in Canada. Seeing this, me and two other enthusiasts, M.S AKA @schmiggle (M.S are his initials, as per his request) and Carter AKA @Cresto on Arachnoboards created an email thread between us and started researching the legality of these incredible creatures. Not long after we we’re delighted to find that Epiperipatus barbadensis is completely legal to import and keep in the US! The USDA, USFWS, and APHIS had no problem with these, so we started talking with Mackenzie about importing and costs. Carter and M.S did most of the footwork in garnering information, and I am incredibly grateful for their support and help. Unfortunately, the original price for velvet worms was much higher than we had been let on to believe, so in February-March of 2019 things kind of dropped off.

However, in April I came across a few more people wondering about the legality of keeping/importing velvet worms in(to) the U.S. I talked with Carter and M.S about sending them the info we had already found. They agreed, and a few months later I started gathering email addresses from those interested in joining the Velvet Worm Club of the USA, which was the semi-official name I gave to the loose assemblage of enthusiasts interested in velvet worms. I started an email thread between all of us, as well as Mackenzie, and soon after we started having some more serious conversations about pricing and importing.

Before this however, in July, I had been talking with Mackenzie about possibly importing some other invertebrates with another friend. That fell through, but in the process I discovered the price on the Epiperipatus barbadensis had dropped considerably. Ecstatic, I sent a message to Carter and M.S about the price drop, and that was when (in August) we started bringing other velvet worm lovers into the club and started working on the finer details of importing.

The only catch was that the easiest way to get the velvet worms from Canada legally was to go through a broker. We didn’t know much about brokers, but Mackenzie suggested we use Reptile Express, which not only takes care of the legal issues at the border, but also has an agreement with FedEx to overnight shipments of live reptiles/invertebrates through them. Mackenzie even offered to be our intermediary between Reptile Express and us since he had worked with them before on an export to Europe, which made our lives much easier. Thanks Mackenzie!

Now, with 8 of us spread across the US in on the import, shipping wasn’t exactly going to be cheap to send the velvet worms to each person individually, at least not with Reptile Express. While brainstorming, we discussed sending the velvet worms to maybe one or two trusted people within the club, who would then ship out to each person via overnight shipping; this would help keep our import costs down. After some more discussion, we decided this would be the best option. However, with 8 people spread so wide across the US, we decided on two shippers, one for the West Coast and another for the East Coast. I was the only person on the West Coast with shipping experience who was available at the time, so I volunteered to have part of the import delivered to me and then send it on to 3 other people.

With the shipping details taken care of and all our payments in, the date the package was to be sent to Reptile Express was set for September 25th. It would then be flown into the US, inspected, rerouted, and delivered to the two intermediary shippers on the 26th. The other shipper and I then shipped out the majority of packages via overnight mail on the 27th, except where bad weather required the packages to be held for a few days. By the 30th, everything had been delivered. All the while the velvet worms did fantastically! They ship very well, and to my knowledge there were no losses. I took great care, with much help from my brother, who is amazing at packing things, to ship them out with the utmost care however. Thank God for styrofoam insulation!

I received my 3 baby velvet worms about 1″ long and got them into their cage on the 26th, because I was one of the intermediate shippers and therefore received them early. Insofar they seem to have done very well, but they are exceedingly secretive; I have only seen them twice since I’ve received them! Food continues to disappear, however, so I’m hoping they are feeding and growing. With good care and a lot of prayer, I will hopefully have a colony of these established in a few years, and then be able to continue to spread these amazing creatures amongst enthusiasts in the US invertebrate hobby. Pictures below!

Two babies when I was unpacking them.
Epiperipatus barbadensis are capable of greatly expanding or shrinking their bodies, similar to millipedes; the above photo shows what they look like when they shrink down; this photo shows how they look when they expand.
And here is the enclosure; a 10″ x 10″ x 5″ Sistema enclosure with a 1 1/2″ hole covered in microscreen in the lid. Despite this, a kind of fly similar to scuttle flies has still managed to get in. *sigh*

The substrate is made up of ABG soil with a New Zealand Sphagnum moss covering portions of the substrate. Two medium pieces of cork bark provide hides. I mist regularly in the evening to keep the humidity up and stimulate evening activity, as Epiperipatus barbadensis seems to be more active in the evening after it rains. I keep the temperature up by placing the enclosure next to my Rosy Boa cage which has a heat mat under it, as these fascinating creatures prefer a temperature in between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, I feed small crickets every two weeks, as well as medium Porcellionides pruinosus “Powder Blue” isopods in between the cricket meals.

And those are my new velvet worms! If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and ask. I have also attached Mackenzie’s care sheet for this species for those who would like to know more.

And last but certainly not least, I want to give a huge shoutout to those who helped make this happen; thank you to Carter and M.S for getting the ball rolling in the early days of our velvet worm fascination; thank you to Mackenzie for being so incredibly helpful all the way through the process (he smoothed out all the problems for us and made sure each velvet worm arrived safely even though it was an international operation!); thank you to those who already had this species and contributed to the pool of husbandry knowledge; and thank you to each and everyone who helped bring these into the US by ordering some; I couldn’t have done this without you guys!

That’ll do it for now; I’ll see ya next time!

Thanks,

Jessiah

A lot of new additions!

Howdy y’all! Ready for another rip-roaring ride through my new additions and collection updates? Be sure to hold onto yer hats! Yeehaw!

5 2i-3i Pterinochilus murinus spiderlings. I bought these as 1st instars, and then they molted in a friend’s care while I was gone on vacation. These have been an absolute pain to get a photo of, as of course they are fast, making it difficult to take the lid off the cups they are in to get a clear shot. Hopefully I can get some photos of them soon.

1 3i Aphonopelma seemani. This is technically my brother’s, but I take care of it for him so…

2 2i Caribena versicolor spiderlings. Unfortunately one did not make it, but the other seems to be doing very well.

Yes, I know the substrate is a little too wet. There is plenty of ventilation on the sides and top, so it should dry out soon.

5 2i Aptostichus icengloi (teensy, but my first non-tarantula mygalomorphs! Yay!)…

I’m trying out different enclosures to see which is best for raising small slings.

1 juvenile Aphonopelma eutylenum (terrible lighting on this picture, I know)…

7 Mixed adults/sub-adults of Eublaberus posticus

These are much prettier and darker than the previous E. posticus I had, so I’m glad I was able to trade for these from a friend! The adults are much smaller than usual, just like my Ivory-Head Roaches (see below), so I hope extra heat and food will get them back to their usual size.

And a bunch of stuff about a saltwater aquarium that is pending…

Unfortunately my Scolopendra heros arizonensis pedeling that y’all didn’t even know I had died, likely from a lack of food. I’ve been super busy as of late, and wasn’t able to feed it enough.

All of my Blaberus giganteus matured, and so I put a heat pad on their enclosure to try and get them to breed; then one of them died and was subsequently cannibalized, and I’m not sure why. Anyway I took off the heat pad and started feeding them more (they seem to have a need for a rotting leaves as well, even as adults), so we’ll see how it goes with them.

Beautiful creatures to be sure.
Current enclosure, but there is more rotting leaves in there now (and the sprouting carrot has now been torn apart by my Eublaberus. sp. “Ivory” roaches).
Freshly molted specimen. Only one came out with slightly wrinkled wings.

The Eublaberus sp. “Ivory” are doing well. The adults are molting out much smaller then when I first got them (about half to a 1/3 of their usual size), despite the temperature’s staying roughly the same. I have added more food and moved them up on the rack, so hopefully they will start growing and molting out larger again.

Enjoying a piece of a fish food block that are made for when you go on vacation; terrible for fish, great for roaches!

I am on my last Therea petiveriana adult. All the rest have matured and died; it took me 15 of them to get 1 female! Anyway I know she laid at least one oothecae, so here’s to hoping she lays a few more and I can raise the next generation!

Last adult female with an ooth. Likely one of my favorite roach species. I only wish the adults lived longer.

And just for fun, a picture of an adult female Bothriocyrtum californicum a friend let me hold! These are a lot smaller than I thought they would be; this specimen had only about a 2″ leg span.

A note on handling: I do not recommend handling spiders in most cases due to the risk of bites/falls and stress to the spider, especially when the novice is doing it. In this case, the spider was already out and being handled by my friend, who is the local expert on all things trapdoor spider, and he offered to let me hold it. This species also has inconsequential venom and prefers to run (very slowly) rather than stand and fight. Considering these are almost never seen outside of their burrows, I accepted the offer. The blue bracelet on my arm is about a 1/2″ thick for reference.

Anyway, that’ll do it for now! Hopefully I’ll be getting in some very special inverts soon, but you’ll jes’ have to wait on that one, ya hear?

Many thanks,

Jessiah

Invertebrate Club of Southern California…

Yes, yes, I know, I didn’t post for July. That month was crazy! Anyway, here is the post that was meant for July. Another for August coming soon(ish)!

Hello invertebrate enthusiasts! In a previous post I talked about how I had gotten my Blaberus giganteus, and mentioned that I would talk a little bit more about that in the next post. Well, that post has arrived!

Back in September/October of 2018, I was perusing through Arachnoboards, and I came across some posts from an old invertebrate club, SCABIES (SCABIES: Southern California Arachnid, Bug, Invertebrate, Entomological Society). As I live in Southern California, I immediately looked into joining the club. However, after some more research, I discovered the club went defunct back around 2010. I was disappointed, but then realized there was still quite a few SoCal invertebrate enthusiasts on Arachnoboards and Roach Forum. After some thought, I decided to launch a new club on the 1st of January 2019. The ICSC (Invertebrate Club of Southern California) was born!

It turns out there was a lot more than a “few” invertebrate enthusiasts in SoCal, and we held the first meeting in February! Since then, we’ve held monthly meetings where we’ve discussed a myriad of topics concerning the invertebrate hobby, gone to reptile shows together, and we are currently gearing up for our second club collecting trip. We also have scored some sweet trades and deals between members! The diversity of interests amongst members is also boggling; everything from whipspiders to tarantulas, scorpions to isopods, true spiders to millipedes, centipedes to primitive spiders, slugs and snails to true bugs, roaches to aquatic invertebrates. And still the list goes on!

Anyway, we are now successfully past the 6 month mark, and looking forward to a bright future! I am working on our website, which I will link to when it is finished. If you are interested in joining, please leave a comment with your email address and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

That’s all for now!

Thanks,

Jessiah