This collection update will span from the Spring Equinox on March 21st to the Summer Solstice on June 21st.
This year, I finally managed to collect more than a single tiger beetle. In total, I was able to capture 15 individuals comprised of 5 different species. These were not found in my normal hunting areas. Indeed, only 1 of the 5 species came from my state, and that was the bronzed tiger beetle (Cicindela repanda). Another species came from Maryland, and this would be the same one I spent countless hours hunting here: the six-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata). Finally, the remaining three all came from Florida. The first two are the punctured tiger beetle (Cicindela punctulata) and the moustached tiger beetle (Ellipsoptera hirtilabris). The final one was not one I am happy to have collected. Before I put it under the macro lens, it appeared to me to just be a slightly smaller individual of C. punctulata, but I later learned it was an eastern pinebarrens tiger beetle (Cicindela abdominalis), which is a rarer species that I would not have wanted to disturb. Unfortunately, I did not get the closer look until I had left the collection site hours behind and driven to the hotel for the last night of the trip. I will compile a post on my attempts at captive breeding, but in the meantime, here are photos of all of them.
On March 22nd, I found the first babies in my peppered roach (Archimandrita tesselata) bin. I have written about them before, and they are still my favorite cockroach species in my collection. These babies are growing quickly, and as of late-June, several were about an inch long. For those wondering about how this species compares with the giant cave roaches (Blaberus giganteus) and how these stole their spot as the favorites of the roach collection, the peppered roaches do not have a musk. While there can be individual roaches that are the exception to the following, peppered roaches are much slower and more docile than giant cave roaches. Again, this can vary based on the personality of individual roaches in question and handling frequency, but the peppered roaches are usually better suited to handling.
At the time of the Winter Update, I mentioned I was in the process of sending millipedes to Arthroverts. These would be the Thyropygus pachyurus that I received March 21st. I am thankful to report that my leg of the shipment was successful with all of the millipedes surviving transit and arriving on April 14th. Unfortunately, though, the adult male whose photo was featured in the last post died within days of arrival to my place. To try and ensure his success with breeding, I included my largest male of my captive-bred juveniles. That male will be greatly missed, but hopefully, Arthroverts will have success breeding this species nonetheless.
On April 18th, the first of the Brunner’s stick mantises (Brunneria borealis) began hatching. I attempted to use planted deli cups so I could raise the first few instars, and I mentioned this experiment in my care guide. I have since removed the outline of that idea from the care sheet because these tanks failed. Just like every other deli cup setup I have tried for this species, the nymphs died within a week. I went back and am trying to replicate that Styrofoam tank that worked so well for Arwen. So far, the nymphs are falling victim to irritatingly benign-seeming killers: tiny bits of adhesive, surface tension of water droplets, and other things that the nymphs did not have issues with in the past. As of June 21st, I think I have baby-proofed the new foam enclosures, and I am awaiting some more nymphs. I have 13 oothecae that have yet to hatch, so I should be back on track to rear another generation.
In a bit of unfortunate news, my blatticomposting bucket mentioned last spring died off on April 3rd. I overestimated the population and fed them too much, causing mold growth to use up the oxygen in the bucket faster than the ventilation holes in the bucket lid could replenish it. The colony collapsed almost overnight. The food I had tried to feed them was the leftover wheat bran from cleaning the tank with my superworms (Zophobas morio). Apparently, they were not too pleased with it, and ignored it. Since I have maintained a separate colony of orange-head roaches (Eublaberus posticus), I am currently building the population back up in that colony in preparation to split off another group for restocking the blatticomposting bucket. The resulting substrate seems to be a decent compost, although I have yet to use it for any plants.
On April 21st, I found an adorable baby snake that has to be shared here. My justification is that this snake species is insectivorous and beautiful. This is also only the second time I have seen one of these snakes in the wild. The species is Opheodrys aestivus: the rough green snake.
On May 28th, I headed to western Maryland to see the Brood X periodical cicadas (Magicicada septendecim). The trip started off colder, and Gettysburg National Military Park had plenty of them that were too cold to fly. The weather warmed up and then the screaming started. The cicadas would be flying all over in the wooded areas and made incessant noise all day long. I enjoyed holding them and letting them fly off me. The males were particularly entertaining to pick up because they are the sources of the noise and would express their displeasure at being disturbed before flying off.
On June 1st, while still in Maryland with the cicadas and on the same stop as the six-spotted tiger beetles, I found more eastern eyed click beetles (Alaus oculatus) than I have ever seen before. The first one was a male I found right near the start of the trail. After collecting the aforementioned tiger beetle pair, I found an injured female click beetle who had been stepped on while she was sitting on the trail. The female’s abdomen had ruptured and her eggs were visible. I decided to carry her back to the start of the trail where I had seen a suitable decayed log just in case her eggs were able to hatch. This species must have powerful pheromones because a total of three males flew to my hand over the next half-hour. This species is unfortunately USDA-regulated, and likely would require a containment facility based on what I have been told. As I understand it, the rationale is they are closely associated with agriculturally damaging, elaterid wireworms. I have worked with this species from specimens collected in-state, and the larvae are entirely carnivorous. Therefore, the concerns of the USDA are unfounded, and this is another species I would like to see deregulated soon.
I am going to go ahead and end this early as the remaining recap concerns the best bug hunting trip I have ever had. With my incurable verbosity, that will take some time and can constitute a separate post, and I am already impressed if readers made it through this!