arthropod posts

Posts of the Week

Howdy, viewers! 

Thank y’all for putting up with the disorganization as I figure out what I’d like the blog to contain. Here’s a skinny of weekly posts I’ll try to do (based on puns): 

Monday: Monarch Mondays through the summer! Pictures of monarch butterflies, caterpillars, and information on one of the most iconic insects in American culture. Will be replaced during the off-season with Microscope Mondays (pictures of insects under the scope). 

Tuesday-Wednesday: Pictures of caterpillars, insects, and other arthropods found in the field. 

Thursday: Throwback Thursdays! Looking back at images of insects, spiders, and other arthropods from past field outings and trips prior to my current position in 2014. 

Friday: Fieldwork Fridays! Images and posts about research projects, restoration sites, and findings I’ve gotten a chance to work on, and the insects these projects have impacted. 

Saturday-Sunday: Science Saturday/Sunday: Reblogs and posts about insects in the news, curious discoveries about insects and kin, and research on insects by colleagues and otherwise cool people. 

If you have any thoughts or ideas of things you’d like to see (or not see) on this blog, let me know! Cheers. 


Here’s a video of my temperate springtail culture! Springtails are non-insect hexapods. They are used in bioactive enclosures to eat mold and detritus, and also as a food source for very small animals.

It’s hard to get a good video of just how many there are, because they flee from the light as soon as I open the container.

Springtails are very easy to culture.

You need:

  • Small bin (or other closed plastic container)
  • Chunk charcoal (such as from horticultural supply – not charcoal briquettes!)
  • Distilled water
  • Springtail food

You do not need to ventilate the container. 

Lay down a couple inches of charcoal substrate.

Pour in about an inch of distilled water to the bottom. 

Add your springtail starter culture!

There are many springtail foods available; I feed mine brewer’s yeast from the grocery store and they are thriving. Feed every 2-4 days by lightly sprinkling over the top of the charcoal.

Add more distilled water as needed.

To harvest some of the culture to start a new culture or add to your bioactive enclosure, you can add extra distilled water, and pour some of the springs off with the water (they float), or you can place some food on only a section of charcoal, or add a tree fern panel with food in it, and remove that charcoal or fern panel into the enclosure after they have swarmed the food.


Baby Zebra Isopods (Armadillidium maculatum) and also some adults who are a bit clumsy.

anonymous asked:

hey! would you have any suggestions for someone who.. really likes inverts but is also a very touchy person with animals? i've heard good things about scarabs, hissers, bess beetles, death feigning beetles, and tarantuas (if you're very careful and gentle)- but i was wondering what you think, because you seem to know a lot?

Most inverts, even those that are good for handling, I wouldn’t recommend holding more than 20 minutes a day, sort of like reptiles. For animals that are extremely handleable I’d definitely go towards domestic birds (like a pigeon) or mammals. 

But if 15 minutes every day or every other day is enough, then there are some bugs that will do well!

I’d definitely suggest some of the big, calm cockroach species, which includes many species of hisser. They’re hardy and do quite well with regular handling. I have found that in many species of roach, females are calmer and easier to handle. Also, adults are more docile than nymphs of most species, so sometimes you have to wait for them to grow up to hold them.

Hissing Cockroach species I would recommend and have handled:

  • Halloween Hisser, Elliptorhina javanica
  • Dwarf Hisser, Elliptorhina chopardi
  • Common/Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa
  • Wide Horn Hisser, Gromphadorhina oblongonota

Note that with repeated handling, they will stop hissing. They may try to headbutt you, though.

Other Roach species:

  • Giant Peppered Roach, Archimandrita tesselata 
  • Dusky/Dwarf Cave Roach, Blaberus fusca nomen nudum
  • Glowspot Roach, Lucihormetica subcincta
  • Warty Glowspot Roach, Lucihormetica verrucosa
  • Dubia Roach, Blaptica dubia

There are other handleable species, but I don’t have experience with them. Many reputable roach sellers will list whether they are good for handling or not. Of all my roaches, my hissers are the absolute slowest and least skittish.

I would recommend staying away from flying species of roach for handling.

I am not a fan of handling tarantulas much, because they are so delicate.

If a roach falls, it’s usually fine. If a tarantula falls, they often die. If you choose to handle a tarantula, do not lift it up, always handle it very low to the ground or substrate of their enclosure. Do not handle them at all if they are overweight. I have seen so many people drop tarantulas in person, and they almost always died.

If you want a tarantula that is docile, I would generally suggest the following species:

  • Curlyhair, Brachypelma albopilosum 
  • Mexican Redknee, Brachypelma smithi
  • Mexican Painted Redleg, Brachypelma  emilia
  • Mexican Fireleg, Brachypelma boehmei
  • Goldknee, Grammostola pulchripes 

Of course, individual temperaments can vary. Keep in mind that though these species may be reluctant to bite, they may kick urticating hairs when defensive. This can cause extreme itching in sensitive individuals. 

Beetles are generally very good for handling. This is a US-centric list of beetles; most non-native beetles are not legal for sale or trade here, so the available species will be different than in other countries.

Death Feigning Beetles are easy to care for and fun and there are a wide variety of species. They are wild caught and are obtained as adults.

Bess Beetles have been the subject of children’s science experiments for decades and can be purchased from both bug dealers and scientific supply companies. 

Native flower scarab beetles are definitely good for moderate handling, and pretty easy to care for once they’re adults. A popular species is the Harlequin Beetles (Gymnetis caseyi). I would not suggest handling the dung beetle scarabs (like the Rainbow Dung Beetle); they’re great pets, but considering they walk through mammal dung, their food source, they can be carrying various nasties. 

Other good beetles for handling include Rhino Beetles (Dynastes grantii) and Hercules Beetles (Dynastes tityusDynastes hercules).  

Most scarabs and the other large beetles are offered as larva, which are more difficult to care for than the adults and shouldn’t be handled too much. Many eat rotting hardwood. Be sure to research the care if you choose to buy one of these larva.

Praying mantids are another bug that is good for handling! Many of the large species are quite hardy and rather outgoing. They’ll jump right onto your hand if it’s higher than their current perch.

Non-native, purposefully introduced species (adventives) like the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) are readily available. These are the species you find in garden stores meant for release into the garden as natural pest control and have been naturalized in the US for hundreds of years. Other species that were purposefully introduced into the US and are sometimes available for sale include the narrow-winged mantis (Tenodera augustipennis), Mediterranean Mantis (Iris oratoria), and European Mantis (Mantis religiosa). Like many other species of insect, these are seasonal, and you will only find the oothecae (egg cases) for sale in the spring. You can also buy young mantids from pet bug sites.

Other species available as captive bred nymphs that are large and good for handling include Giant Mantis (Hierodula sp.), Giant Shield Mantis (Rhombodera megaera), and Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa). 

Smaller species like Spiny Flower/#9 Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii), and Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) are handleable but more delicate.

anonymous asked:

Hey! Do you know if charcoal is harmful to isopods? I want to put a couple of pieces in their enclosure so the springtails in there can reproduce but idk if it will harm them or not. Thanks if you know! If not that's okay I still love your blog!

No, it is not harmful. Most bioactive substrates for high-humidity enclosures actually include horticultural grade charcoal; it’s an ingredient in ABG mix for example! 

However, springtails do not need charcoal to breed. We keep them in their cultures on charcoal because it is less likely to attract pest species like mites and fungus gnats. It’s perfectly valid to breed them in something like coconut coir or a 100% humidity appropriate substrate, as well.