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Everything posted by varnon

  1. varnon

    Observations from an Entomologist.

    There is a study with, I think American cockroaches in new york city, showing that they evolved an aversion / lack of interest in certian sweet flavors that were commonly used in pesticides. Natural selection doesn't mess around.
  2. I did a roach research project with a student, and later her mother did the name a roach thing for us, and got us roach mugs and beanie hats. It sort of surprised me, especially because I already had plenty of roaches I could name, but it was a nice gesture. I would be all for more merch, and yes, especially non-American cockroach things. People just have the idea that American cockroaches are what everything are. More varied merch could help dispel that.
  3. varnon

    What would you find?

    I found lots of wood roaches growing up. A few years ago, I found pale bordered field roach in my yard. I was not able to contain it or find another.
  4. I feel like I need a beardie just to help me with my population control. Also they are adorable.
  5. varnon

    Cockroach live drawings

    I have done a few cockroach learning/behavior studies, but nothing published yet, so nothing I can share at the moment. A fair bit of my published work is with bees, you can see here: http://cavarnon.com/publications If it has a link, its open access, if not, then it is something I'm not actually allowed to share freely. Bees are a little higher maintenance, and I don't like getting stung in the face, so I'm really shifting my work toward cockroaches this year. It'll probably be at least a year before I have something sharable, but of course I'll share everything with the group here. In the mean time, here is one of my colleagues's web page: https://www.roachlab.org/
  6. varnon

    Cockroach live drawings

    Shon, These are excellent. I could actually see something like this being used for scientific illustration (I have commissioned such illustrations before). One of my friends had to do similar sketches for a graduate entomology class and really enjoyed it, those were less holistic and more close ups of parts though. Keep it up. Hisserdude, yours are actually pretty good too. They mostly just lack shading. And I totally get the point about not being able to get the legs to look natural. I can get it if I copy an image closely, but free hand, I think I just don't 100% understand the legs and joints. They are so alien its hard to make sense of it sometimes.
  7. I think I've read the paper you are discussing, and I've also done some similar work, both in formal experiments, and as classroom demonstrations. Essentially, the disturbance his is a reaction to alarming stimuli. It clearly occurs in response to touch, but I think they also respond to movement and visual stimuli. Once alarmed, most individuals usually only his a few times, if any. A few will hiss dozens of times after startled. I've also noticed they are more likely to hiss when they have an opportunity to run back to their colony. I'm not sure if the function is to startle potential predators, or if they are alerting their fellow hissers. The reduction in hissing you are describing is likely habituation. Even very simple animals can learn to reduce their responses with repeated stimulation. Animals much simpler than cockroaches are capable of this. As long as the alarming stimulus is not too intense, most hissers will habituate to these stimuli over time. You may also notice that hissers that are not handled frequently will quickly run and willingly drop of your hand, while a hisser that is more accustomed to handling will calmly walk around even on the underside of your hand. I think the dropping response is another deliberate anti-predation strategy. When they are calm, they cling to whatever surface they are on. In terms of bonding, I don't beleive you are seeing what would be considered a traditional bond. Instead of bonding with you, your hisser is learning not to be alarmed by your presence. Since he is not alarmed, he is not hissing or running away. He can now act more calmly and naturally when you are with him. If he is hungry, you could likely feed him. Any of his natural behavior may occur now. I've also known some very territorial male hissers that, once they are not alarmed by humans, will actually fight with humans. If your hands get too close to their spot, they will give your finger a good shove! They are fun little animals, and there is definitely "more going on in there" than most people would think.
  8. Dr. Darby Proctor, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology has recently started using cockroaches to teach principles of psychology and neuroscience. Article and video below: https://adastra.fit.edu/blog/research/florida-tech-discovery-magazine-spring-2019-buggin-out/ I met Darby at a conference last week, were we were both presenting some of our cockroach research. The conference was near her school, so she actually was able to bring some of her discoid cockroaches! It was my first time seeing discoids in person. I now have "other roach envy." I know a number of labs that are investigating using hissing cockroaches for similar work, but generally I find them too lethargic. I have made some good progress with my research as well, and just received a grant to continue the work, though I do not yet have any fun videos to show yet.
  9. varnon

    Best hygrometers?

    I have found most hygrometers to be very unreliable. I think you will see this trend in reviews. I use a cigar box hygrometer. I think I have three of them now between home and work. https://www.amazon.com/Cigar-Oasis-Caliber-Digital-Hygromter/dp/B00JXOKQVW/ This hygrometer works great. It also can be calibrated, but at least so far, new hygrometers have not needed calibration. They are accurate and consistent. I highly recommend them if humidity is important.
  10. They are absolutely capable of noticing differences, changing their behavior, learning, and maybe even having basic moods or emotions, but I do think what is going on with them is not quite as complicated as what causes behavior for you or I. We are sort of designed to explain things in terms that we understand, so its very normal to assume another animal (or even another person) thinks the way we do, but it is rarely the case. I imagine he simply has less reason to do things now that there are no mature females around. He will likely perk up if other adult females are around, or when the nymphs get bigger. He might even be more active if there was another male for him to have territorial disputes with, although they may also fight too much. Right now he is likely just chilling, waiting for something that actually requires behavior. I don't think he is depressed, but they are somewhat social species, so I think they probably do the best when they live in groups.
  11. Well, I generally don't think my sense of smell is great, but it could be individual differences between us, or differences in our roaches and/or their environment. I do find the musty mothball approach to be interesting though. I can imagine that, and maybe some of the substrate has that kind of smell, but I just can't imagine that as a hisser smell. I'm going to have to do some bug sniffing later today and think about that.
  12. Hissers have a smell to me. If there is a dead hisser in the colony, it will also have a distinct smell. Hissers smells remind me of vinegar. My orange heads have a bit of a smell if you mess with them too much. Otherwise they seem to smell mostly like the substrate. I don't notice a specific orange head smell, unless they are disturbed.
  13. Hmm, the synchronized movement is interesting, but I do like my bugs to be a bit more active. Your wife should be happy the females get a chance to wait. So many females of various species never get a male-free moment. Waiting and longing is romantic! I imagine the poor lonely roaches singing Disney-style songs while waiting for their knight in chitin armor. And then she finally meets the one!
  14. Wait, is this species parthenogenetic too? I might have to get some.
  15. Very cool. I'm sure it is not coincidence. I wonder what is the minimum number of individuals it takes to get that response. Will they do it in pairs? I'm assuming it is somehow a defensive behavior. I wonder what causes it. You can almost see waves of movement a few times. It has to be a single roach that starts the wave, but the few bold individuals that are moving more do not seem to be triggering the group response.
  16. I think it depends on the species, but it seems reasonable to assume different causes for dead and live cannibalism. Perhaps the later should be called predation. I have noticed my orange heads will occasionally eat a live individual that is freshly molted (still white). It is a little disturbing to see a half-eaten, still living roach that just started adulthood. I believe this happens more as a result of male/male aggression than actual nutritional need, as the orange heads do not wait until until the exoskeleton of an adult is hardened before mating or being aggressive. But overcrowding is likely an impact on both nutritional and territorial drives. My hissers on the other hand, almost never engage in any form of cannibalism. It is interesting you find yours go for different body regions. I'm sure there is some thing to that.
  17. varnon

    Panchlora sp. "White"!

    Hope he is okay and not focused on bugs because he is focused on other fun things.
  18. That is an interesting observation. My guess would be that they are just doing what male hissers do: feeding, fighting and, mating (the three Fs of animal behavior). They may not have a suitable target for their reproductive behavior, but they still have the drive. I would only talk about sexual orientation in the case that courting both males and females was an option. Here, we cannot say they are homosexual because a lack of females means we can't observe a preference for mating with males vs females. In Xenoblatta's colonies however, it would be interesting to record the mating preferences of roaches. Maybe there are some that have no preference (bisexual) or prefer other male roaches (homosexual). On the other hand, maybe they would exclusively prefer female roaches if there was no competition. Also, I'm sure you have all observed that the females are often not in the mood. Very interesting topic. Maybe there is a research project here on sexual preferences in cockroaches.
  19. varnon

    roach racks

    Hi bug friends. I recently finished my phd in animal behavior, accepted an assistant professor position, and I'm starting up my new animal behavior lab. And guess what that means? More bugs! I will be looking into getting some bumblebees later, but for now I want a better setup for my cockroaches. I would like to set up a roach rack. I am considering something like this snake rack: The rack is a standard metal wire shelving unit with heat cable woven in between the wire shelf grid. Has anyone done anything like this? One concern I have is that the metal would simply act as a radiator and dissipate all the heat. I will use something like tubs with gasket vents as seen here: I'm not sure what size things I want yet. The rack will need to fit in a nook in my lab space (currently being renovated), and then I will get bins to fit the rack. I will have hissing cockroaches, orange head cockroaches, and I'm hoping to get some glowspot roaches breeding. The hissers and orange heads will be for behavioral research, so I will have a few bins for them. The glowspots will be my cute, beginner-friendly roaches, to help people become accustomed to insects. I am not intending to keep banana roaches anymore, but I also still have some of those, apparently. Does anyone have any other thoughts about setting up a nice semi-professional rack? I do have some money I can spend. Thanks for your thoughts!
  20. varnon

    Bees and roaches

    I have bumble bees now. They are very messy. I would love to have some roaches clean up after them, but I don't have a setup that will allow that. I do have a hive that is on its last few weeks (bumble bee hives only last a season). I think I will give it to my orange heads when the last bees expire. They can clean it out for me.
  21. I love it. I'll have to show this to some of my students. I'm dying to get into computer vision with roaches, but I still haven't had the chance.
  22. varnon

    roach racks

    I don't have anything published with the roaches yet, but I will be happy to share stuff when I have some papers out. I have a handful of other papers linked on my website: http://cavarnon.com/publications/ I'm working on an orange head cockroach learning project right now. I think they are my favorite bug. The bumble bees are being difficult and end up being so much more work than the cockroaches. They are also much messier too. I am still finishing up the shelf unit. I added top vents without any anti-fruit fly netting. It was just much easier to drill in the lids than the side. I measured and drilled pilot holes for one bin, then used that as a guide for all the other bins. Everything came out perfectly. I highly recommend it. Surprisingly it is the bumble bee hive (the waste) that attracts fruit flies. It is very hard to clean up after them (they don't like it when you mess with their stuff). I haven't installed any heating for the roach rack yet. The room temperature in the lab was routinely in the high 70s without any heat source from me, so I have been hesitant to add more heat. I think some of the buildings temperature regulation is resolved now, but I'll still wait to see how warm it gets when I have the turtle lights on. The hissers and orange heads still breed fine at room temperature. I have actually lost a few orange heads from over heating, so I think they are fine. The hissers just grow very slowly without heat.
  23. varnon

    American cockroaches as predators?

    I fed banana roaches to my orange heads once. It was very interesting. The attack does seem to be very predatory in nature. They do actually pounce and chase a little. Any banana roaches escape the initial attack seem to be "safe." I think after a point they smell like other orange head roaches.
  24. I saw this on another site. I am pretty skeptical about what the AI actually does. For example, I wouldn't call turning the temperature down when it gets hot AI. I would call that a thermostat. I really can't think of what an AI would do in this context. It seems like very simple programs could handle everything.
  25. varnon

    Roach Etymology - Help Please!

    I don't have any suggestions, sorry. But I wanted to say, can we keep this thread going? It is very interesting!