Saturday, December 9, 2017

Gulp, another trip

The blog may stop temporarily in late Dec-Jan for approximately two weeks while I am on a long trip without internet access. Hopefully I can figure out how to feed and water my fruit scarab (Cotinis mutabilis)...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Journal: way too much carabid

A few days ago, I was changing the "garden beetle" jar's wet-paper water dish somewhat carelessly when one of the cf. Tanystoma maculicolle (tule beetles) bolted out of it. Although I finally got it under control, it almost entered the closet. This was rather unnerving, and since I am getting a bit sloppy with maintenance I have plans to get rid of my three carabid ground-beetles. Every time I put food in the cage, it gets awkwardly rattled around, severely terrifying them.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Yes #2

Remember this mantid?

bugguide has identified it as a female Stagmomantis limbata!

I'm tired of using cf (= tentative identification) in my species names, so this is great!

(if I can guarantee that the identical-looking mantids I see will always be limbata, even better!)

(adult females are still alive in my snowless world; I saw one a few days ago.)

More survey results

To test my idea that more carabid beetle species can be seen after a hosing of their garden, I went night hunting while the ground was wet. Two or three cf. Tanystoma maculicolle (most conspicuous species) were seen; one had apparently leaked out its internal organs for some reason. One was found away from wet ground. One cf. Calathus ruficollis (less common species) also seen, but away from wet ground. Past experience suggests that ruficollis is uncommonly seen on concrete at night, w/ only one or two normally seen in every three/four nights of garden hunting. However, I have only recently begun surveying carabids at night in this garden, so perhaps the cf. Calathus are more conspicuous during other seasons.

Conclusion: In at least this instance, floods ineffective. Perhaps greater flooding is needed to see more species?

Juicy carabid research articles found!

JSTOR has many articles which are both high in rare insect-keeping nutrients (including lifecycline and captive-observationine) and found nowhere else for free. All I had to do was log in to my google account and add this article about breeding the notoriously-hard-to-breed carabid beetles to my shelf for free! Unfortunately, it is somewhat stingy with its free articles and only allows three to be shelved at a time.

Reading research articles is extremely important when keeping insects that are poorly-known scientifically. Although they may seem daunting to those unfamiliar with the jargon, most should be understandable after googling a few terms. Unfortunately, many are paywalled (though this can sometimes be circumvented by jumping to a different research site which offers it free).

Edit: I had also come across this completely free (no restrictions at all) pdf merely by searching "Coleoptera rearing", but forgot to include it. In addition to some extremely promising results with carabid breeding, it also includes rearing methods for other interesting beetle families, even though the focus is on Polish species. It may not work on all web browsers, though

Journal: Too much carabid?

Cleaned out the "small garden beetle" jar. The residents were not pleased, so in compensation I gave them an extra-thick layer of paper shred to burrow in.

All three carabid ground beetles (cf. Tanystoma maculicolle x2, unidentified brown carabid x1) experienced a very strange phenomenon when they were placed in a plastic dish (jar soapy). As they ran circles in extreme terror, several of their legs would stick to the dish, gluing them in place while they frantically wriggled. Although this in itself was quite unnerving (I feared they would tear their legs off accidentally), something stranger happened.

The periodic sticking enabled them to climb up the steep walls of the dish. As soon as a beetle managed to unstick its legs awkwardly, it could run a tiny bit before getting stuck again at a higher location. The unidentified brown carabid seemed to be less prone to gluing itself, however, and apparently could scale the wall in one relatively smooth motion. In a previous post, I had mentioned that certain carabids seemed to have a weak plastic-climbing ability. I attributed this to male sexual leg modifications, but this no longer seems accurate to me. My cf. Tanystoma pair seem to be a male/female. One of them is obviously swollen, and I have witnessed two mating attempts. Furthermore, they do not have any unusual-looking structures on their front legs. I suspect that the plastic dish, being "squeaky-clean", was not as slippery as it normally was. This caused locomotory problems for the carabids, but also enabled them to climb plastic.

However, the round darkling beetle (cf. Coniontis) was completely unaffected by any of this. Darkling beetles are not in the same taxonomic family as carabids, so they likely have different leg structure.

I did notice a few good things, though. The carabids were loaded with phoretic mites when first captured, but they had likely all vanished. Some mites can reproduce and become troublesome in cages, but normally I keep semiarid-region insects and mites are not very tolerant of dessication. Also, the brown carabid went for a long sprint on my arm. Since it was nearly dead when first discovered, this suggests it is now quite healthy.

Frightening the garden beetles so severely was quite embarrassing. If kept in the right setup, carabid/darkling cages barely need cleaning. However, water vapor from their food/water dish was being absorbed into the paper substrate, causing their droppings to stink slightly. I would have gotten coconut coir, which is supposed to never rot and is a better replacement for soil than paper towel, but circumstances are preventing it.

Due to their distress at being handled the previous day, I decided to monitor the cage after sundown to observe their behavior. I used a red electric candle to create some dim light, and by positioning it at the right angle only red light (invisible to many insects) could reach them, preventing them from being alarmed.

The cf. Tanystoma ran a few frantic laps around the cage, making periodic wall-climbing attempts. Although their jar was plastic, it was not as "squeaky" (and thus friction-y) as the plastic dish and they could not climb the walls at all. This seemed to be related to stress, because they behaved like this when first captured and calmed down after a few days in the enclosure. After a while, they slightly nudged themselves into crevices near the jar edge and stopped moving for a long time, which appears to be a normal behavior.

The cf. Coniontis seemed not as disturbed by the housecleaning session, and it walked around calmly around, near, and far away from the edges (the cage middle was still avoided), occasionally bumping into and slightly spooking a carabid. It climbed up the food dish's paper ladder two times, but during the second time something in the dish apparently repulsed it and it made a beeline for the exit.  Near the end of my viewing session, it did become slightly more frantic in its movements, but I am rather sure it is at ease.

Unfortunately, due to the carabids' rather panicked behavior, I will have to leave them alone for a few days to prevent stress-related harm.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Found a half-dead cf. Amara (sun carabid)!

It is unusually small (est. 6 mm), but I don’t care. I strongly suspect that the many dying carabids I have seen are caused by hose-related flooding. Will take home