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dovey

What has hybridized with my dubias?!

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I had a really lovely collection of genetically pure dubias for a long time, but at some point when I have introduced new breeding stock, someone has sold me some hybridized dubias. Suddenly, I have a strain of really beautiful red-gold roaches, which would be fine, except for the fact that they have great difficulty with their final molts and a very high rate of physical deformity, along with the fact that they are wing-eaters, when this behavior was unheard of in my bins before now. > :-(

Just FMI, what species is the likely culprit? This isn't the end of the world since I am primarily breeding feeders, but it just really bothers me that now I have bins full of wing-eating little misfits that just begin to look terrible in short order!

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Blaptica dubia is apparently the only species in its genus kept in the hobby. This signifies that hybridization is very unlikely to occur.

 

Have you looked at this? Notorious wing-eaters.

 

 

 

 

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Nothing hybridized with them, there are no other Blaptica species in culture, so hybridization is impossible. Either you weren't actually sold dubias, or something else came in with them and out-competed them over time. Probably Eublaberus posticus as @Test Account suggested, or E.distanti.

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Yes well, that's the common line; but I know the difference between dubias and orange heads, and these ain't orange heads.

I would put money on not having two species of roaches living together, but I'm going to put some time into figuring this out if I have to separate out every single suspicious character, individual by individual. In fact, I would love to be wrong, to be able to pull out the miscreants and have my awesome normal dubia colony back again!

I can certainly say, however that the nymphs that grow into these bizarre gold red "dubia roaches" are not--emphatically not--orange head nymphs, whatever it is they turn out to be. They look nothing like Eublaberus posticus nymphs. Rather, they look like especially lusterless, dun-colored dubia nymphs with malformed wing buds all out of proportion with the size of the nymph. 

And the males have really tragic problems with their ultimate molt. I get males that come out looking like bats or stealth bombers, their wings are so badly out of alignment. I get crinkly wings and paperie wings and sometimes no wings at all, just a bit of wing cover.

And I also occasionally see this horrible blister looking condition on these odd adult males, sometimes within a wing filament, sometimes within a prosoma: a quarter or half inch blister filled with fluid. Absolutely revolting. This only occasionally happens, and has only occurred since I started noticing these wing variations in my adults indicating that something was wrong. I have truly exceptional husbandry where my dubias are concerned. I put a lot of work into keeping their bins in top condition. Believe me: this is not a result of sub-standard living conditions or humidity parameters outside of those optimal for dubia roaches.

Can you think of a species of roach that resembles a dubia but has these sorts of issues with molting, wing chewing, and conceivably with humidity needs that fall outside the parameters of those appropriate for dubias? Because finding that guilty species is the only thing that is going to convince me that I don't have some sort of hybridization going on here.

After all, taxonomists have been wrong before about genus designation. Lord, have they! I can hardly go a month without having to rewrite a label for one or more of my tarantulas species. Don't even get me started on the whole Avicularia/Caribena issue, and if you really want to see a tarantula keeper go off like a rocket, just ask them if they honestly think that's a pure-bred Grammostola pulchra they just spent so much money on? On second thought, don't. They might actually strike you. I know I'd like to hit somebody when I think about the cuckoo in my pulcra nest!

At any rate, thank you so kindly for your help with this issue! I'm tentatively willing to go with the idea that I have two species, but I've got to find a better candidate than the orange head. I'll make a point of keeping you up-to-date as the saga continues. And if I'm wrong, the Mea Culpas will come raining down like, well, RAIN. :rolleyes:

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Do you have pictures? There really aren't many roach species in the hobby compared to tarantulas, and of those, none seem like they'd be in the same genus as B.dubia, (even if a Taxonomist got the genus designation wrong on some of the species in culture. Trust me, there's some work that needs to be done in cockroach taxonomy, Gromphadorhina and Blaberus are some popular pet genera that are badly in need of a revision, and we have hybrids of both genera in the hobby, but as far as Blaptica goes, there's nothing else that seems like it could be in the same genus being cultured anywhere...).

I'd honestly bet my whole collection, (all 95 species) that hybridization wasn't to blame here, simply because of the commonly kept feeder/pet species in the hobby, and even the rare ones, none of them seem like they'd possibly be able to interbreed with B.dubia. If they could, I'm sure someone would have found out by now, if not in the US, then in Europe.

It's possible that you got a really crappy dubia strain with horrible genetics, as a lot of those deformities do sound like genetic ones, (especially the inflated wings, which are filled with blood BTW, or rather, hemolymph). Where did you get yours? Pictures would really help us get an idea of what the heck is going on here! :)

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Yeah, long story short don't even ask, I put my dog tooth through my phone camera lens cover the other day in a tarantula escape "need both hands and immediately!" emergency. Remember when your dentist said not to use your teeth as a tool? Well it's not very good to try to use them as a hand either, apparently. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow, but they won't be very good.

The majority of my starter strain came from Texas A&M laboratories. I also got a group from a breeder in Michigan, but this was years ago. I think the trouble came from a local breeder here in Phoenix, however. We swapped about 100 males in order to enrich both of our gene pools about a year and a half ago.

Are you telling me my dubias may have a sexually transmitted disease? :D

And yes, the blisters are filled with hemolymph. Gross. As I said, that condition is a rare development, but once is enough!

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18 minutes ago, dovey said:

Yeah, long story short don't even ask, I put my dog tooth through my phone camera lens cover the other day in a tarantula escape "need both hands and immediately!" emergency. Remember when your dentist said not to use your teeth as a tool? Well it's not very good to try to use them as a hand either, apparently. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow, but they won't be very good.

The majority of my starter strain came from Texas A&M laboratories. I also got a group from a breeder in Michigan, but this was years ago. I think the trouble came from a local breeder here in Phoenix, however. We swapped about 100 males in order to enrich both of our gene pools about a year and a half ago.

Are you telling me my dubias may have a sexually transmitted disease? :D

And yes, the blisters are filled with hemolymph. Gross. As I said, that condition is a rare development, but once is enough!

My theory is, you got some weird genes from that Phoenix breeder's dubias, which has led to an abnormal amount of genetic mutations and deformities. I'd just cull all bad looking individuals for a few generations, eventually after a few generations of selectively breeding for the healthiest genes, you shouldn't have any more of those duds pop up, (or at least in such a negligible amount that it won't be a concern). Usually if you have a healthy culture of roaches, there's no reason to add new bloodlines, just cull out the undesirables. (Especially since all Blaptica dubia in culture probably came in from the same import many years ago, and thus are all inbred anyway). 

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Molting errors are not extremely rare, even in wild insects. I've seen coccinellids with small elytral dents, fungus beetles with crooked elytra/flight wings, a leafhopper with a molt so bad it couldn't fly (it looked healthy though), and so on. It doesn't seem to be too common though, I only see a deformed insect once in a long while, and if the deformation is minor the insect will probably experience a normal life even in the dangerous outdoors.

 

This is because they are not exclusively caused by genetics. When a beetle, roach, or other insect molts to adulthood, it must inflate its soft wings and allow them to harden for a while. Now, during this vulnerable period even touching the wings can cause them to bend and change shape, and if such a thing happens they will harden in this shape. This is how small dents (for beetles) and lopsided wings are usually created, and for this reason they are common deformities.

On the other hand, things like "waterballoon wings" and a complete failure to inflate wings at all seem to be problems with the molting process itself. I once produced a Zophobas morio adult which had one normal elytron and one that turned into a small fluid-bag. In my case, poor larval care was likely to blame.

 

 

Thus, I agree with @Hisserdude's conclusion. Since you report that all dubias were cared for meticulously, I would blame it on inherently weak/unhealthy insects that have trouble with the delicate molting process, were so stressed in the past breeder's bin that they now eat wings under any conditions, and so on and so forth. Pictures of them are still appreciated, though.

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I find this topic really interesting. I have looked into the various blaptica spieces and the ones I can find pictures of all look very similar. So it wouldn't surprise me if different spieces were imported under the name dubia without much thought. Like emperor scorpion imported as "dictator" or rose hairs imported as "norte" I have looked at pictures of blaptica colonys from people in other countries and while difference is subtle they certainly are there. One things for sure I'm going to have to drive over to the a&m labs now I'm only in Austin :)

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41 minutes ago, lovebugfarm said:

I find this topic really interesting. I have looked into the various blaptica spieces and the ones I can find pictures of all look very similar. So it wouldn't surprise me if different spieces were imported under the name dubia without much thought. Like emperor scorpion imported as "dictator" or rose hairs imported as "norte" I have looked at pictures of blaptica colonys from people in other countries and while difference is subtle they certainly are there. One things for sure I'm going to have to drive over to the a&m labs now I'm only in Austin :)

Well any other Blaptica species would have had to be imported at the same time as the dubia, as there haven't been multiple roach imports from that region containing Blaptica as far as I'm aware. So if that's the case, then ALL Blaptica in the hobby are probably hybrids anyways, seeing as how frequently people mix individuals from other cultures. So the OPs problem still can't be derived from hybridization, just bad genes in general.

I personally think over half of the described Blaptica species are probably invalid, considering their close appearance and limited, if not nonexistent morphological differences besides exoskeleton pigment. We've proven different dubia color morphs can be isolated through selective breeding, so I think it's just a species with a lot of color variation, which isn't uncommon in the invertebrate world at all.

The whole Blaberidae needs a good thorough revision, there are a lot of invalid species and even genera out there, but people are always in a hurry to name NEW species, rather than clean up the family tree and clump species together. -_-

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2 minutes ago, Hisserdude said:

Well any other Blaptica species would have had to be imported at the same time as the dubia, as there haven't been multiple roach imports from that region containing Blaptica as far as I'm aware. So if that's the case, then ALL Blaptica in the hobby are probably hybrids anyways, seeing as how frequently people mix individuals from other cultures. So the OPs problem still can't be derived from hybridization, just bad genes in general.

I personally think over half of the described Blaptica species are probably invalid, considering their close appearance and limited, if not nonexistent morphological differences besides exoskeleton pigment. I think the whole Blaberidae needs a good thorough revision, there are a lot of invalid species and even genera out there, but people are always in a hurry to name NEW species, rather than clean up the family tree and clump species together. -_-

I agree bad genes are a likely culprit.

How can you find the history of various spieces imports? Is it a open thing the government does or a site? I love the historical elements of the hobby

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15 minutes ago, lovebugfarm said:

I agree bad genes are a likely culprit.

How can you find the history of various spieces imports? Is it a open thing the government does or a site? I love the historical elements of the hobby

Well nowadays, people proudly announce when they bring new bloodlines of roaches into the hobby, and include locality data and such after the name. I've never seen such announcements for dubia roaches, and it's not like they are just so commonly imported that people don't care anymore, (you need pretty specific permits to export roaches and other non-predatory invertebrates, and with how easily they are bred, no one in their right minds would bother exporting more Blaptica to try and turn a profit).

So, I've come to the conclusion they were only ever imported way back before all the worldwide import regulations went into place, and even then I don't think roaches were very commonly imported, people weren't really using them for feeders yet. So, like most of the roaches that were imported back then, I think that all the original B.dubia in the hobby probably only came from one or two imports.

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Interesting topic but without specimens being dissected or genetically checked there is literally no evidence of hybridization. Color morphs and abnormalities are common in captive colonies, especially when new specimens are introduced. Even if they come from the same genetic ancestors from the original import, separation of even a few generations can show great variation within a species of cockroach. I don't know of any evidence of another Blaptica species being imported, even accidentally. So the likelihood of any of our captive bred colonies being hybrids is next to nothing. But please, if I'm wrong I'd love to read about others being imported or of known Blaptica hybridization. 

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