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Guest AlexW

Flight cages

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Guest AlexW

Many insects, including Cotinis fruit scarabs (fortunately, my last pet Cotinis is absolutely flightless for some reason), fly to the nearest window or lightbulb when indoors and bang their heads against it until they are quite woozy. I've heard vague mentions of butterflies (but saturniids just beat themselves up) and fruit/flower beetles successfully flying around in big cages from Orin McMonigle's books, but I'm not sure how they work. How do butterfly zoos avoid such a problem, and why does it seem to me that nearly every keeper I've met always keeps their flying roaches and beetles(many winged darklings and ground beetles wouldn't really count as "flyers", because they only tend to fly when dispersing and/or stressed) in flight-restricting small cages?

Also, this is a topic for brainstorming some ideas on how to make or improve a flight cage. I know that people have said certain insects, like adult dragonflies, are almost impossible to keep captive, but the insect hobby runs on breakthroughs and discoveries. Having a "freerange" swarm of Cotinis in your living room would be absolutely wonderful if I could make it possible.

 

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Guest AlexW

Also, @Allpet Roaches, I would like to request a new forum section for "general" invert discussions, as I'm feeling a bit annoyed at having to cram all my topics that cover both "other invertebrates" and roaches/beetles into rather awkward sections.

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To make a late flight cage. Larger than they normally are for butterflies. I would probably use window screen and 2by2s to build a large cage and make a plywood bottom for the soil, I would like to build a cage like that to attempt to breed horse flies, but for some reason I can't get anyone to collect them for me :wacko:

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Guest AlexW

But Cotinis bangs straight into window screen! They're attracted to natural sunlight.

You should probably catch horseflies yourself if you want them, because they bite like mosquitoes and few people wish to keep pet mosquitoes. Maybe they will feed from an artificial blood-filled membrane like mosquitoes too.

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On 8/28/2017 at 1:30 PM, Guest AlexW said:

why does it seem to me that nearly every keeper I've met always keeps their flying roaches and beetles(many winged darklings and ground beetles wouldn't really count as "flyers", because they only tend to fly when dispersing and/or stressed) in flight-restricting small cages?

Because all of the roaches in the hobby only ever fly when they are dispersing or stressed, or looking for mates, so in a normal captive setting, they don't really need to fly. The roaches I've seen fly only do so when disturbed, like when I lift hides when doing maintenance to see how everything is doing, they almost never try flying out of the enclosure when calm. Whereas insects like butterflies will tear their wings to shreds trying to get out of an enclosure, because flying is almost all they do. 

One exception is Megaloblatta, @wizentrop reports that the Megaloblatta blaberoides he kept always tried to fly in their enclosure at night, and would tear their wings apart doing so. Thus, they need VERY roomy caging. Other keepers I've contacted who kept Megaloblatta before never had that problem though, so I think some Megaloblatta species may be canopy dwellers that fly regularly and flight is a necessary part of their biology, and others may live closer to the ground and are OK not flying in captivity. Just a theory of mine, I could be way off.

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The topic is about beetles, and it is a very important discussion. Most cultured beetles species do not require flight display as a prerequisite for mating (there are insects out there that have a courtship flight display, butterflies are a good example, but also flies, dragonflies, and even some beetles like fireflies). More specifically, Cetoniinae are excellent fliers, but they will do just fine even in a closed space. And they breed willingly. However, if your intention is to build an educational display to showcase the beetles' flight abilities (an idea I played with a lot), then yes you would definitely need a small netted room for them to perform their maneuvers. Butterfly farms, by the way, do not avoid the problem of adults beating themselves up against the mesh walls. I take it you haven't been to a lot of butterfly houses then. There is always a subset of adults (those that are not busy courting/mating/feeding) that fly to the corners of the netted cage and exhaust themselves by trying to get out, sometimes to death. It is a calculated risk for the butterfly farm, and they produce so many adults that no one pays attention to a few beaten ones. 

By the way, many roaches are flighty in the wild, not just Megaloblatta. You might be surprised to hear, but male Polyphaga aegyptiaca for example are frequent fliers in their natural habitat, entering homes and surprising people while taking a shower.

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Guest AlexW
41 minutes ago, Hisserdude said:

Because all of the roaches in the hobby only ever fly when they are dispersing or stressed, or looking for mates, so in a normal captive setting, they don't really need to fly. The roaches I've seen fly only do so when disturbed, like when I lift hides when doing maintenance to see how everything is doing, they almost never try flying out of the enclosure when calm. Whereas insects like butterflies will tear their wings to shreds trying to get out of an enclosure, because flying is almost all they do. 

One exception is Megaloblatta, @wizentrop reports that the Megaloblatta blaberoides he kept always tried to fly in their enclosure at night, and would tear their wings apart doing so. Thus, they need VERY roomy caging. Other keepers I've contacted who kept Megaloblatta before never had that problem though, so I think some Megaloblatta species may be canopy dwellers that fly regularly and flight is a necessary part of their biology, and others may live closer to the ground and are OK not flying in captivity. Just a theory of mine, I could be way off.

I've read that megaloblatta thread too. Hopefully wizentrop will tell us how he makes his

My personal experience with both wild and captive Cotinis mutabilis: their legs and wings become nearly paralyzed when they lick fruit, and they can lick from morning till night (often nearly falling asleep on the dining table for long periods). They do get restless and attempt flight/running when conditions are wrong, though, even if it is 11:00 at night. I'm not familiar enough with them to know if they want to fly when all their needs are met AND they simply cannot lick any more fruit. Any flower scarab-ophiles wish to share their experiences? Species doesn't matter, but Cotinis and Gymnetis advice is appreciated the most.

But wait, aren't Panchlora and Gyna treedwellers that fly about wildly at night? And what about Pseudomops, which spends its short adult life slurping flowers?

 

Even more significantly, some insects wish to disperse even if they don't need to. Orin says that Dynastes and Lucanus will buzz around at sunset, but there are probably many more examples.

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Guest AlexW
29 minutes ago, wizentrop said:

The topic is about beetles, and it is a very important discussion. Most cultured beetles species do not require flight display as a prerequisite for mating (there are insects out there that have a courtship flight display, butterflies are a good example, but also flies, dragonflies, and even some beetles like fireflies). More specifically, Cetoniinae are excellent fliers, but they will do just fine even in a closed space. And they breed willingly. However, if your intention is to build an educational display to showcase the beetles' flight abilities (an idea I played with a lot), then yes you would definitely need a small netted room for them to perform their maneuvers. Butterfly farms, by the way, do not avoid the problem of adults beating themselves up against the mesh walls. I take it you haven't been to a lot of butterfly houses then. There is always a subset of adults (those that are not busy courting/mating/feeding) that fly to the corners of the netted cage and exhaust themselves by trying to get out, sometimes to death. It is a calculated risk for the butterfly farm, and they produce so many adults that no one pays attention to a few beaten ones. 

I know they breed willingly. Cotinis males mate with each other (!), with my finger(!!), and so on, but most insects are quite horny anyways. Read my post above - IF Cotinis only flies because it needs to, we should keep them in small cages because starving a beetle to induce flight is wrong. IF it flies out of both necessity and instinctual desire (I'm not sure if this is true), then we ought to keep them in big cages so they both look wonderful and are not stressed by the inability to fly (might not reduce their lifespan from 5 months to 1 day, but it could reduce their lifespan to 4 months and 10 days). I've said this already, but if I could get a flower beetle swarm in the living room without violent window collisions it would be great.

To be continued right after I post this one

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Guest AlexW

Wizentrop, some of the adult butterflies beat themselves to death. But what about the specimens that feed and mate? I don't want to create an exhibit full of half-dead beetles, but I'm curious how the rest of the butterflies do manage to fly correctly. Houseflies are capable of flight in a house, even though sometimes they get stuck near windows, but Cotinis and many insects head straight for the windows and cannot free themselves at all.

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Also, this topic is not strictly about beetles. I can't fit it into Other Inverts because there are beetles and roaches, but I don't think putting it into Enclosures/Barriers would be good because there are other inverts.

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Guest AlexW

And one final thing...

Orin's book mentions that flower beetles have indeed been flown in cages (I don't know how), but it seems that any cage except a tall house would be too small for Cotinis and species with similar flight patterns as Cotinis. Although the insect might be capable of flight in such a cage, it cannot perform the same beautiful, magnificent treetop circling and perching that wild specimens can. I'm not sure if it instinctively "wants" so much space, but it's better to err on the side of caution. Also, the things just look pretty in loud overhead swarms, and would be more impressive to visitors if displayed that way.

 

 

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4 hours ago, wizentrop said:

Butterfly farms, by the way, do not avoid the problem of adults beating themselves up against the mesh walls. I take it you haven't been to a lot of butterfly houses then. There is always a subset of adults (those that are not busy courting/mating/feeding) that fly to the corners of the netted cage and exhaust themselves by trying to get out, sometimes to death. It is a calculated risk for the butterfly farm, and they produce so many adults that no one pays attention to a few beaten ones. 

By the way, many roaches are flighty in the wild, not just Megaloblatta. You might be surprised to hear, but male Polyphaga aegyptiaca for example are frequent fliers in their natural habitat, entering homes and surprising people while taking a shower.

Yeah, I went to "Butterfly World" in FL once, while there were many lively healthy specimens fluttering about in the large greenhouse-type areas for them, there were always several specimens on the floor with really beat up wings, and even a few that were accidentally trampled on by the tourists. :(

Corydiids like Polyphaga and Arenivaga are good examples of species with males that fly around in search of mates in the wild, but in captivity are rarely, if ever seen trying to take flight. Probably because they usually have mates available and all their moisture and dietary needs are basically handed to them on a silver platter. 

4 hours ago, Guest AlexW said:

But wait, aren't Panchlora and Gyna treedwellers that fly about wildly at night? And what about Pseudomops, which spends its short adult life slurping flowers?

Yes, and my Gyna do try flying at night, though it seems that they just try to get to the highest point in their enclosure to claim dominance over the other males, who end up trying to do the same thing. They don't tear their wings up over it though. My Panchlora on the other hand, only seem to try and fly when I disturb them, to get away from me. And I've never seen my Pseudomops even try to fly before, if they want to get out of their cage, they just climb out and run.

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Guest AlexW

Hisserdude: It appears that your roaches are "smart" like my Cotinis and only fly when it's a good idea. I still wonder if the Gyna would appreciate extra flight room. Butterfly World is certainly not getting a single pinch of my money now.

 @MooreInverts, I invite you to brainstorm with us. Cotinis mutabilis is unbelievably tame and trusting, and its upper surface has an unrealistically soft, velvety feel. This topic is also about enrichment, so I think you might enjoy it. I know I get some of my insect ideas from planetcatfish; why not bring some of your own from other unusual places? Welcome!

 

 

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Oh my! Thank you for mentioning me here! c:
I can only say so much, since my actual experience is limited in time and spectrum of species, so I will not claim to be the expert of anything. Still, I can absolutely mention my thoughts, potential questions, and a neat link or two. I actually ended up writing a LOT and listing out a ton of my thoughts, questions, and so on, but I deleted it. I don't know if it's in my place to say much when I don't have experience, and I'm worried about screwing up or rambling too much.

I can say what I listed before if anyone wants though, but I might not, I just talk way too much. At the very least, I'll at least say I absolutely love seeing people discuss topics like this in detail. This is such a good discussion to have and everyone's adding so many questions, experiences, and knowledge, I just love it, these are the sorts of things that should be encouraged in all hobbies like this. c:

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9 hours ago, Guest AlexW said:

Hisserdude: It appears that your roaches are "smart" like my Cotinis and only fly when it's a good idea. I still wonder if the Gyna would appreciate extra flight room. Butterfly World is certainly not getting a single pinch of my money now.

Indeed, they definitely don't seem to need flight in their lives, like other insects do. The Gyna may appreciate more flight room though, who knows? 

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2 hours ago, MooreInverts said:

 I actually ended up writing a LOT and listing out a ton of my thoughts, questions, and so on, but I deleted it. I don't know if it's in my place to say much when I don't have experience, and I'm worried about screwing up or rambling too much.

Start rambling already, because insect-keeping is such a tiny hobby, and it's causing me to be a bigger chatterbox than you are. Like I said, I know you lack experience, but speculative ideas are always welcome and could be useful for building up on. The roachforumers are nice and won't eat you.

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And yes, I'll admit that sometimes I do suffer from a lack of forum confidence too. I think that part of the reason could be that the lack of visible facial expressions seems to suggest to people that the other party is hostile, and there may be some scientific research floating around on this.

Trust me, Orin (Allpet Roaches, expert/author) does intimidate me a bit, but I'm sure it's just another unintentional illusion.

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(I dislike being stuck with guest account, it can't edit posts)

Hisserdude, how likely is it that your roaches refuse to fly simply because they are confined in a cage too small, and they have accepted defeat? This is probably not the situation with my Cotinis scarab, because it never gives up when it wants to fly, and it usually stops after being fed fruit.

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On 8/30/2017 at 10:02 PM, Guest AlexW said:

(I dislike being stuck with guest account, it can't edit posts)

Hisserdude, how likely is it that your roaches refuse to fly simply because they are confined in a cage too small, and they have accepted defeat? This is probably not the situation with my Cotinis scarab, because it never gives up when it wants to fly, and it usually stops after being fed fruit.

Honestly, I don't know, I would have to do tests with some groups housed in normal, smaller caging, and other groups in very large cages with lots of air space. At the moment though, I have neither the space or the time to conduct such tests, maybe when I move I'll try it out though, we'll see!

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I don't think you would need such complex tests. If this truly is the case, I assume a nonterrified roach with all its needs met would attempt to fly when freeranged for a while.

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8 hours ago, Guest AlexW said:

I don't think you would need such complex tests. If this truly is the case, I assume a nonterrified roach with all its needs met would attempt to fly when freeranged for a while.

But my mom is really against the idea of free ranged roaches... :P

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Guest AlexW

Alright, back to the main topic. I'm getting jealous of that Hormetica apolinari photo thread, it's like a live chat. People get so excited over rare roaches...

Flying insects probably have window problems due to two issues:

  • Moths are not the only insects attracted to lights. Even honeybees will fly to them under the right conditions.
  • They might not realize that transparent or even semi-seethrough objects are walls. I have seen butterflies and Cotinis crash into anti-deer plant netting. In fact, one of my pet Cotinis (that one is now deceased) became so tangled as a wild specimen that I had to rescue it with scissors.

Also, I've heard some research about moths evolving to become less light-attracted, since being attracted disrupts their feeding and mating. I would be interested on how such a change works, so we can understand the principles of attraction and insect "cognition" better.

And an anecdote: At my old house, there were Indianmeal moths regularly showing up, and they took little interest in the house lights, flying quite normally. I don't think evolved resistance is the case here. What makes one insect more resistant than another?

I don't think artificially selecting butterflies to not crash into walls is a very effective idea, but if we understand how light-resistant moths can properly navigate we can apply the ideas to flight cages for attractable insects.

 

 

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Guest AlexW

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/4/20160111

Here is the ermine moth light-avoidance study. Interestingly, authors suggest that reduced light attraction could have consequences, such as reduced dispersal and flying behavior.

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dEEGtAtR1NcC&oi=fnd&pg=PA305&dq=moths+evolved+light+avoidance&ots=84Taf6e9lL&sig=UNQopisZg5S3vPgvi10rKSK2vbc#v=onepage&q&f=false

Book chapter on moth attraction. Many interesting topics, such as mouse moths being rarely attracted, reducing light pollution by use of non-attractive lights, predator responses, etc.

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Guest AlexW

Of course, being knowledgeable is not a prerequisite, random brainstorming is also welcome

(Whoops, forgot to plan ahead again)

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