I’ve been mulling the problem of conservation lately, at least more than usual as it is a issue I routinely consider. It really is a pertinent topic in today’s world, where the marvellous life forms we care so much about are being overhunted, overfished, overcollected, threatened by habitat destruction and the rampant chemical usage in everything from farming to manufacturing, not to mention things like pesticides…it reminds me of that Bible verses that say “For the creation waits with eager longing…for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay.”
And we see this bondage to decay everywhere by it being subject to the will of humans, as I have already mentioned. It stirs within me the passions of the ultraconservationists, risking life and limb to preserve the beauty and wonder of the natural world. But even at the same time, reality tends to return with thoughts of the dirt-poor the world over who use and abuse the environment not because they want to, but because not doing so would result in ruin. I think of the subsistence farmers of Madagascar with their slash-and-burn farming that has destroyed so much forest, or I think of those in the Amazon cutting down balsa trees that will be made into wind-turbine propellers, surviving from paycheck to paycheck.
Now, that doesn’t mean destructive actions against the environment are completely justified. But so often those of us who call ourselves conservationists, who all too often come from the rich West, forget that behind so much exploitation of the natural world lies people who are hurting and suffering, struggling to make it through to the next paycheck or even meal so often; I think of the bushmeat trade in Africa. Now, on the other side of that coin are large corporations who seek profit above all, and who turn a blind eye to where their materials are sourced from (such as what is happening with the balsa trees in the Amazon). It angers me to think of how so often areas that have been overfished in the ocean were done so by large fishing companies who treat their sailors and fishermen like trash; even those that don’t still treat the ocean like trash. But anyways, my point is that there is a human element to conversation that so often goes ignored. You can’t just tell subsistence farmers to stop slashing and burning; if they do, they starve. You can’t just tell poor miners working in the insanely destructive strip mines found the world over to stop working for the good of biodiversity; again, if they do, they starve.
And herein lies conservation’s great paradox: to protect the environment from the depredation that us humans are so willing to inflict, yet also protect against the economic depredation that people the world over face. So often the emphasis goes to the former, while the latter goes ignored. There are bright spots, as ecotourism has shown, but this is not enough considering the absolutely incredible biodiversity of our world; Australia, Borneo, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (consider the unknown diversity of this war-stricken region!), Ecuador, we could keep going down the list of ABCs and virtually everywhere has amazing species, habitats, and natural wonders. There simply aren’t enough tourists to support all these areas that need protection.
All that’s to say, I don’t have a solution. I could throw one up, but each case of conservation is different and requires a unique approach. I would be the last to say that I am familiar with all these situations, where so many variables influence, of which probably the most important is the local community. But I honestly think we need to balance our approach to conservation; our common firebrand approach, at least here in the West, to the problem of conservation currently does not consider the down-to-earth realities of what it means to be impoverished or taken advantage of, as so often those who damage the environment are. Am I generalizing here, and ignoring the great damage done to the environment by large companies with well-paid workers, or that done by rich nations pursuing raw materials for their technological advances? Of course. And that’s a topic for another post.
But I keep coming back to this, this great paradox. We cannot just ameliorate human suffering without doing the same for the natural world; that is unsustainable. And we cannot just guard the natural world without seeking to help the people who survive by its providence; that is callous.
We will never protect the environment adequately by not protecting the people who live the closest to it.
Hello all, today I am happy to announce an interview with (quite literally) Arachnid Addicted! Aside from posting marvelous photos on his Instagram page and on Arachnoboards, his collection remains the envy of all other arachnid enthusiasts, junkies, and fellow addicts. If it has eight legs and is predatory, he has it. Let’s get right into it!
Arthroverts: “When did you first become seriously interested in arachnids?”
Arachnid Addicted: “Seriously, I think it was back in 1999, or before. I always liked them though. I actually don’t have any memory of me being afraid of arachnids.”
A: “What is it about arachnids and invertebrates in general that grabs you?“
AA: “To be honest, I like any Arthropod that is a predator. I like the way they hunt, the way they grow, the whole process of ecdysis always caught my attention. Not to mention, there are some that make real strategies to hunt (Portia spp., I’m looking at you 😂) which is even more incredible.”
A: “How many species/specimens do you have in your collection? Do you see that number growing further in the future?“
AA: “I have a list, but I’ve never summed them up. Considering only Theraphosidae, I had 157 different species in the first semester of this year. I believe this number have already grown, ha ha.”
A: “Do you have a favorite species/genus?“
AA: “It’s hard to choose only one so I’ll say 5 NWs and 5 OWs.
In no particular order: New World – Grammostola, Vitalius, Iridopelma, Pamphobeteus and Psalmopoeus. Old World – Poecilotheria, Chilobrachys, Heteroscodra, Pterinochilus and Hysterocrates.
It was really hard to make this list and it will probably change tomorrow, please, don’t make me choose a favorite species 🤣 .”
A: “On the forums you regularly post about taxonomic changes and updates; is there a taxonomic issue (a “favorite” so to speak) related to arachnids/invertebrates that you hope is resolved soon?“
AA: “We have to be really careful when it comes to “taxonomic solutions” these changes will always happen and we can’t be biased ourselves on them to be honest. There are taxonomical changes that won’t affect the pet trade in any way. Lasiodora spp., for example, is so messy right now that even when the revision comes up, what we have in the hobby as L. parahybana or L. klugii will remain that way; that’s what happened with Tliltocatl. Hobby individuals will continue to be chaotic.
About any revision that will be released soon, I don’t know, there are so many taxonomists working in the field right now, I’m only updated by looking at the World Spider Catalogue.”
A: “Are there any problems related to classification within the hobby that you think a greater awareness is needed of? An example would be the whole Grammostola pulchra/quirogai mess.“
AA: “Yes, there are a lot. But honestly, most hobbyists won’t care about them. Using Grammostola as an example, G. porteri is a really odd species to science, its type is still known as Lasiodora porteri and no one knows if it is still “useful”. In the hobby, though, this doesn’t matter, they were named as G. rosea before but hey, nowadays, if you explain all of it, some keepers won’t believe or will get offended (which honestly, is lame 😂. ). So, I’m still trying to explain these mistakes on the forum or on my Instagram account. If one decides to research it further or not, that, unfortunately, is not my problem.”
A: “How is the hobby doing in terms of conservation in your opinion?“
AA: “Man, this is controversial. What I honestly think is that sellers use this whole “conservation debate” as an excuse, what are they doing for conservation, really? Breeding spider to make a profit out of them? Sorry, but that means nothing.
Conservation issues are not about that in my opinion, one has to think about how to preserve X species in situ, if there’s no way to do it for whatever reasons, one has to make projects (serious ones) to keep them in captivity.
Believing that because there is one person breeding and selling Pokies it is enough to conserve the species is naïve. How many individuals will die in the care of the keeper? How many individuals will actually make it to the sling stage? How long will one keep working with the species?
I think these are some question we really have to make (me included). Mexico is making a good job towards it, maybe other countries should try things based off them.”
A: “Your macro photos of arachnids, some of which I have shared in this post, are just flat out incredible; do you have any wisdom for those who want to take better photos of their collection and are just starting out?“
AA: “Nowadays, there are lots of equipment available for any style you want to learn. As to our hobby, I believe the key word is research. If you want to work in photography, then probably equipment will matter, especially for printed images. In case you want to take some photos as a hobby, then semi-professional equipment would probably be fine.
In my opinion, important thing is to learn how the light works, how to compose an image and, especially, to know how your equipment works out of the auto shots. Nowadays there are also a large variety of techniques, and it’s important to learn your style; that will come in time. It is important to talk to other photographers, whether they are more experienced or not, I still learn a lot from them.
As for myself, my specialty is macro photography, that’s what I like the most and I still have a lot to learn; I don’t know how to stack yet, for example. I like to take pictures of other animals, other perspectives like landscapes, and I also like to make some panning style photos. But what I’m really into is to improve and get better with macro shots.
You can know a lil’ bit about everything, but as time passes by, you’ll focus in on one, or maybe two, styles you like more, and that’s when the magic happens (cliché, 🤣).”
A: “Lastly, any advice for those who also want to become arachnid-addicted?“
AA: “As I always say, study, don’t be afraid to ask around, don’t ever think your questions are dumb, and doubt anyone who tells you they are. Debate, discuss, speak for yourself and share your experiences. If you think something is wrong, say it. If you think you are wrong, listen. This is an awesome hobby, but it is also a place of egos, envy and disagreement, so know how to filter information. And of course, more importantly, take good care of your animals ;).”
I’d like to say thank you to Arachnid Addicted for sharing some of his insights and photos with us, and for continuing to contribute to the advancement of the hobby. Make sure to check out his Instagram page and catch him on Arachnoboards!
Hello all, been a tad longer been a lot longer than I would have liked to have waited since the last post, my site has been having serious technical issue that prevented me from posting and uploading images. This post is kinda messy since I’m still figuring out what went wrong where, but here it is…
Some of you may remember that I haven’t posted about my Eublaberus sp. “Ivory” in a long time, not since this post back in the September of 2019. Since that time they were at first continuing to do “O.K”; with prolific roaches you hardly ever want them to just be “O.K”, and I was worried because adults were molting out but never producing any nymphs. This may have been because they were molting out staggered (I never had more than a few adults at one time), and the temperatures were low compared with what these like for breeding, but still I hoped to get some offspring out of them before the year was out. I switched them around my racks repeatedly to find the warmest spot, but they continued to molt out, hang around for a few months, then die. I was honestly very worried I was going to lose this species from my collection, as there were only so many juveniles and subadults left.
The new year rolled around, and all through the end of winter and then the spring the pattern repeated itself. I had several major (like nothing I’ve ever experienced) fly outbreaks during this time; first fungus gnats, then what looked like fruit flies (they weren’t), then a wave of another small fly I can’t figure out. It got so bad any drink left out would invariably end up with flies floating around within an hour, and if left overnight a mug with a tea bag inside could end up with 20+ flies at the bottom, trapped by honey residues or having suffocated, trapped beneath the tea bag and the mug wall. The second wave of flies quickly established themselves in with the E. sp. “Ivory”, and I began to notice dead adults infested with flies and fly pupa. I wondered whether these were the dreaded phorids, but it soon became apparent they were merely feeding off the already-dead adult roaches (still not a good situation). As soon as we hit summer though the flies started to dissipate (thank God!), and I noticed more adult Ivories were hatching out. My mind was elsewhere however as I dealt with a variety of other issues…
Until now. I checked the Ivories just a few days ago and was surprised to see small dots running around…small, brand new nymphs! I am absolutely floored that these have finally reproduced, ensuring their continued existence in my collection. In retrospect my earlier fears of losing them could have been ameliorated by providing the specimens with more heat and food during the winter/spring, but nonetheless it was a good lesson for me to learn, and in the end it turned out happily. I collected and counted out fourteen first instar nymphs before releasing them back in with the subadults/adults, but I am positive there are more that I missed (the enclosure is a medium Sterilite bin with about 3-4 inches or 7-10 centimeters of substrate), and a few of the adult specimens looked noticeably swollen, so…
The new nymphs are basically miniatures of older ones, and just as active. Pictures were difficult to attain due to this behavior and a proclivity to instantly dive into the substrate if given the opportunity.
Now, in the intervening time when I wrote the above and was trying to figure out what in the world was messing with my site, I gave my roaches, including the E. sp. “Ivory”, some dry cat food. Nothing wrong with that right? Well, turns out this cat food contains DL-methionine, an “organic” pesticide that is harmful towards insects with alkaline guts, i.e mosquitos and, you guessed it, roaches. I found this out less than hour after feeding almost all my roaches the cat food. So, back to the bins I went, pulling out the food and throwing in carrots to dilute whatever had already been consumed. I’m hoping there will be no long-lasting affects, as the pesticide doesn’t often kill all specimens immediately but rather weakens and then kills them over time, but that remains to be seen.
Hello all! Today we once again have post that is a bit different from the usual collection update. Instead, I present to you an interview with Declan Hegge AKA RezonantVoid from Arachnoboards!
For those of you who don’t know, RezonantVoid is one of the premier Australian invertebrate enthusiasts. Besides maintaining a collection containing many of the native Australian species of tarantulas across all four known Australian genera (Phlogius, Selenocosmia, Selenotholus, and Selenotypus), he also keeps a wide array of non-tarantula mygalomorphs, scorpions, centipedes, and various other invertebrates, to go with a few species of reptiles. He is mainly active on Arachnoboards, where he teases shares his knowledge and photos with us foreign enthusiasts, while also dialoguing with and helping the many other Australian enthusiasts to be found on the forums.
I reached out to RezonantVoid during the Australian bushfires catastrophe, which we discuss a little in the interview, and he granted me permission to ask him a few questions. So without further ado, here is my conversation with him.
Arthroverts: “How did you originally get into the hobby?“
RezonantVoid: “Okay so I guess to kick off, inverts have always for whatever reason held a special place in my heart since I was literally 4 years old. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been flipping rocks and logs, seeing what I could find underneath. But what really got me started on becoming a dedicated hobbyist was discovering “The Dark Den” on Youtube in late 2017. I’d been casually keeping a handful of scorpions since 2008 but never as a serious hobby, yet watching his video just fanned the spark of enthusiasm I had into a blazing inferno.
I can’t remember the exact dates, but I’m pretty sure by mid or late January 2018 I had my first 3 T slings (I’d unsuccessfully kept a few slings in the past but this time I was determined to get it right), and before I knew it I had like 11 T’s across all 4 described native genera. My first time dealing with trapdoors was rescuing a bunch from a job site before a [concrete] slab got poured, and I fell in love with them so much that I primarily shifted to keeping our non-tarantula primitive species, going on eventually to mouse spiders and Atracids.”
Euoplos turrificus. Simple coloration does not always make for an unhandsome specimen, as exhibited by this specimen.
A: “What is it about invertebrates that so interests you?“
RZ: “I can’t really say there’s any one specific thing that makes me feel drawn to them. I will say though, that a truly massive part of my interest in wildlife as whole came from Steve Irwin. As a kid we had almost every one of his films on DVD or even video tape (far out, times have changed!), I swear I must have watched those things almost daily. He taught me and no doubt many others that our wildlife is not all dangerous, just grossly misunderstood. That’s a lesson I’ve taken with me ever since and almost certainly a big part of why I ventured into inverts despite most people’s reactions. You can gaze at them for hours and learn something new just about every time. And of course, nothing can surpass the elation of opening a burrow to find hundreds of tiny spiderlings inside and realizing that pairing 6 months back was indeed successful.”
A: “Do you think that being an enthusiast in Australia, decidedly limited in the exotic species available, ha ha, has either helped or hindered you in your hobby journey? Does the plethora of native Australian species make up for it you think?“
RZ: “Lack of exotics was a roadblock I hit very early on and admittedly I did get very down about it. Next day I read an article about our unnamed floodplain tarantulas in the northern territory that spend months underwater. I was asking for stuff out of reach when I had insane critters right under my nose that I had no clue even existed. I really went all out researching at that point, pretty sure around March-July 2018 almost constantly studying our described native Mygalomorphae, and let me tell you, its crazy how many we have. Between Nemesiidae, Atracidae, Idiopidae, Barychelidae, Migidae, Theraphosidae and probably 20 others I forget, the number of species offsets the lack of exotics 10 fold. in fact, I would go as far as to say living here is the hobbyist dream. Name one other place where you can go to just about every untouched piece of bush and find multiple species of primitives that most likely aren’t even described! If I could have bought things like Brachypelma and Poecilotheria, I can guarantee I would never have had the variety I have now.”
Aname sp. “Gold”
A: “Even so, is there a foreign species that you wish you were able to keep?“
RZ: “That question is quickly summed up with Linothele megatheloides.”
A: “What is your favorite species you’ve kept? Is there still a “Holy Grail” species you’re searching for?“
RZ: “Its a very tough choice but I’d have to narrow it down to either Hadronyche formidabilis or Idiommata sp. “Silverback/Electric Blue”. Both are my top 2 rarest species and have me checking their containers first up every night.
Right there’s a holy grail species, Xamiatus magnificus. The world’s largest known wishbone spider. It is so rare that no photos of it exist online, but there are a few of Xamiatus rubifrons, a very similar looking smaller species. I actually know where the latter are found but haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet. I’m honestly not sure if I will ever find it, but I’ll absolutely keep looking.
Hadronyche formidabilis. The deep black is strangely attractive. Much more so than anything Grammostola pulchra can offer anyway.
A: “How large is your collection? Do you see it growing further in the future?“
RZ: “My collection is actually way smaller than I originally thought, unfortunately I lost a few species recently. Probably at around the 60 or so permanent members mark. I’ll definitely be trying to grab a few more things soon though, in particular from the Nemesiidae.”
Namea salantiri. Gorgeous coloration on this specimen.
A: “We’ve all heard about the Australian bushfires, but how has it affected you and the Australian front of the hobby?“
RZ: “I know others including at least one other Arachnoboards member who have been directly impacted, but if I’m honest I personally have been largely unaffected to this point. I live outside the fire grounds, but not 2 hours south of me the Coffs Harbor area got really badly scorched. Unfortunately this area is home to a massive diversity of araneofauna including some species that are almost never seen by members of the public, such as the genera Xamiatus and Ixamatus. I know one private property in that area (luckily I think the fires missed it) with the following species just in their front and back yard: *Aname/Namea sp. *Australothele nambucca *Australothele jamersoni *Missulena bradleyi *Hadronyche macquariensis *Ixamatus webbae *Arbanitis sp. “Coramba” 1 & 2 *Xamiatus ilara
So there are places quite close to me that have suffered significant loss, especially amid wandering male season, but not me. Worst we’ve had is extensive smoke blanketing our town but my inverts don’t seem ‘badly’ affected yet by it.
However, the absurdly high temperatures also call for massive shipping delays with inverts, and I even got my first thermally insulated box with a cold pack the other week haha. Breeding efforts in captivity will surely have slowed down too, prices go up as does demand, and more species get impulse collected from the wild by panicking collectors. I would say that increase in collecting most definitely affects all major invertebrate groups, but since spiders are considerably easier to locate and capture than scorpions and centipedes I would have to guess they are being hit the worst.
A picture of the havoc taken near Declan’s abode. The white marks on the ground are where a tree was literally reduced to nothing but ash.
A: “Are captive breeding efforts the only remaining hope for some species who have had their native locales destroyed?“
RZ: “I think this is quite an accurate statement. From my perspective, I’ve already seen a handful of colonies obliterated, with the greatest effect being on lidless trapdoors like Arbanitis. I’m sure a regular low intensity bushfire would normally be quite survivable, but we are talking drought fueled megafires over 30m (90ft) tall that vaporize just about everything. One locale about 40 minutes away was reduced to nothing more than charred burrows with a few exoskeletons inside.
Let’s say a fire goes through a 10,000 strong colony spread over 1 square kilometer, and wipes out half of them. 5,000 is still a lot, but that number may take decades to replace the original numbers. Ants are the quickest insects to bounce back from a fire, which aren’t the most nutritious food for growing slings. Many slings may even get eaten while trying to catch them, due to a lack of other available prey.
So what happens to colonies reduced to mere hundreds or less? Depending on how spread out the survivors are, the 3 day average lifespan of male traps in the wild is hardly enough time to pair with a female. In such a case, captive breeding is almost 100% the most effective way of repopulating, being able to guarantee the survival and growth of every individual sling from an egg sac. Saddest of all though, while the fires have indeed stopped, is for many species this has come too late. National parks are a great way to keep wild populations safe, but in my opinion there is no point in doing so if you don’t have backup populations in captivity. I hate to think of the hundreds of species lost this summer in such areas because nobody was allowed to secure a handful of individuals prior to the fires”
Burnt-out Arbanitis sp. burrow.
A: “Do you think the Australian government will change the regulations in regards to this at all?“
RZ: “I have to say I strongly doubt it. The vast majority of attention has been given to protecting Koalas and other mammals which while are definitely important to conserve, are not the baseline of the ecosystem. Very little regard is given to invertebrates down here other than by hobbyists and scientists. I was actually really impressed to see there was one single news article that did mention how we need to shift a lot of attention to protecting invertebrate fauna, but it was very brief. With their attention fixed on “bigger” issues, I can’t see politicians making any adjustments to current national park laws allowing more people to establish captive populations. You can apply for Scientific Collection Licenses but the aim is more for studying specimens and less about conserving them. I also believe you need prior qualifications to obtain one but I hope I’m wrong. In any case, I think some of even the more commonly available species in the hobby here have become a heck of a lot more important to keep established and hybrid free in case there is a need for wild release in the future.”
Scorched forest areas. These photos were taken a few weeks after the fires went out, hence the new green growths on the trees (gumtrees have specially designed, fire-resistant branches, allowing them to kickstart the process of regrowth in regions ravaged by fire).
A: “How can we foreigners help? Is sending money and raising awareness enough?“
RZ: “It’s difficult to say exactly what effect overseas funding would really have, because there aren’t a lot of organizations that could use it efficiently for its intended purpose. Nearly all hobby species here come from regular civilian enthusiasts going out collecting, and the majority of hobby expenses come from the exact same things as anywhere else (such as buying feeders, enclosure supplies and whatnot). It’s not like a ton of hobbyists can just throw up their bank details online and expect heaps of people to donate them money “for the conservation of critters affected by the fires”. I’m sure there are many other groups here that care for general animals hurt by the fires (like koalas, possums, native birds, and the like), and for the time being any willing donations are probably best spent on them until an organization arrives that pays veteran collectors to gather endangered inverts for captive breeding.
From my perspective, the best thing everyone can do to help our inverts, is simply spread the word about their importance and share our love for this wonderful hobby. Only by raising more awareness of how essential they truly are to everyday life, regardless of how scary they may appear, can we squash the stigma people have about inverts, and not inverts themselves.
While I would never wish this dreadful virus on anyone, I think its actually going to be interesting to see how quarantine has benefited various insect populations worldwide. With less traffic on our roads, late blooming mature males and flying insects are less likely to get hit by cars, meaning more of them successfully make it to a female. Maybe this short breather after the fires here is just what they need to get back on track to repopulating lost habitats. All we can do is hope.”
A: “Hope is indeed something we could all use right now, whether it be for humans or animals.“
Arbanitis sp. “Coramba”
I’d like to thank RezonantVoid for agreeing to do this with me. If you’d like to help but don’t know how, remember what he said; “Only by raising more awareness of how essential they truly are to everyday life, regardless of how scary they may appear, can we squash the stigma people have about inverts, and not the inverts themselves.“
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or RezonantVoid. Only together can we work towards conserving species, in Australia, the US, or wherever you are.
“For we know that the whole of creation groans and travails together until now.”
“When unable to come up with an applicable name for your post, one option is to take a commonly-known phrase and redirect it to apply to your material. Puns, play-on-words, and other such linguistic ploys only help in this situation.”
Blogmaster Handbook, p. 293.
Now obviously, I just made that up, but it does seem very applicable for the title of this post.
Anyway, welcome once again! Short post today, but I shall reveal my much-speculated (not really) blatticomposting project.
What is blatticomposting? In a nutshell, it is basically composting with cockroaches. Not only is it faster than traditional composting methods, it is also exceedingly more efficient and hygienic than the similar vermicomposting, or composting with worms, as blatticomposting bins do not acquire a strong odor and will rapidly turn large amounts of leftovers into soil (quite unlike most worms which will take weeks to eat any large amounts of food). It is usually carried out with members of the genus Eublaberus, most often sp. “Ivory”, though for this project I decided to experiment with Eublaberus serranus, because A) I already have E. sp. “Ivory”, and B) The E. serranus were a lot cheaper. Those of you who know me well enough will realize option B had a disproportionate effect on my decision.
Anyway, after months of attempting to get this off the ground, I finally worked it out. The 119-something (ordered 100) specimens I received from The Invert Shop all arrived safe and sound, and they went straight into their enclosure upon arrival. For this project I decided to go with a bucket cage, which is exactly what it sounds like: a 5 gallon gasket-seal bucket. I did not drill ventilation holes, mainly because I was simply too busy to deal with it at the time, so the lid isn’t fully screwed on at any time; thankfully this species is incapable of climbing smooth surfaces and isn’t arboreally-inclined as it is. Two heat pads were taped to the sides of the bucket to provide heat, as I got these back in the frigid winter months, though I have since removed them as the temperatures in the room the roaches are kept in has climbed a full 10 degrees Fahrenheit to the 77-78F range. I originally was using a substrate made up of coco fiber, filled up to about 4-5 inches from the bottom, with a medium-sized branch sticking up out of it as the adults need space to escape the ever busy juveniles. However, I learned the hard way that a full piece of melon can turn a gallon of substrate into a perfect, anaerobic swamp. As I don’t keep swamp invertebrates (yet) I pulled the roaches out, which had collected in the upper regions of the enclosure, and threw the substrate out. I also discovered that in this process the lower portion of the branch had rotted (helped along by the gnawing of the juvenile roaches) from the excess moisture, and broken off.
After removing the offending substrate, I replaced it with a mix of coco fiber, aspen shavings, and some rotting leaves; a month or so into this and the shavings and the leaves have rotted/been eaten, which is what I had anticipated. The branch, though significantly smaller, went back in, and has fared better than its other half insofar.
Food has consisted of vegetable and fruit table scraps, as well as more typical fare, like dog food, and some more unusual items, such as scrambled eggs and old oatmeal, which though eaten completely, were not received with as much gusto as I thought they would be. I taped a piece of paper to the side of the bucket to help keep track of what food went in, how many individuals were left, etc., but my record keeping has completely failed on this front.
The summer warmth has meant though that quite a few specimens have molted out to adulthood, though they are less colorful as adults than I originally anticipated. Not the best pictures below, these fellows can be a pain to photograph as they try to get back down into the substrate. Any movement of the bin inevitably sends them scurrying back into their dens as well, so pictures of them in the enclosure need to either be done rapidly or gotten by leaving the lid off and throwing food in.
Adult specimen. The adults will walk-run frantically around your hand in a bid to escape.
Large nymph/sub-adult. These can be a pain to photograph in another way; literally! The formidable spikes that Eublaberus sp. come equipped with, while perfectly made for digging, do not make handling a comfortable experience.
Photo of the masses feeding on oatmeal. Lowering ones hand into the bin without disturbing them makes for a fine trick.
Video of the emergence…surprisingly not as riotous as I thought it would be. Then again, oatmeal isn’t a particularly exciting food for any of the roach species I’ve kept (just like some people in that regard I guess!).
And that’ll do it for now! I’ll catch y’all next time. I have a very special post coming up, so stay tuned!
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. Periplanetaspp. 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, Bantuasp. “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!
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…
To give one an idea of finding Apomastus, find this, which is less than 1/3 of an inch (0.84 cm) across…
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.
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!
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!
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.
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”.
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…
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!
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…
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!