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CodeWilster

Culturing Luridiblatta trivittata

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After sending some of these out, I wanted to post an article regarding their care since they are a tricky species and are recommended for advanced keepers. Firstly, as you read this, know that quite a bit of it is completely my own experience and observations, speculations, etc and don’t assume it to be pure science by any means. I am posting this simply because, like so many others, we want to figure out how to successfully keep as many cockroach species as possible in captivity. Others had failed with this species including myself, but now I’m happy to announce that I think we’ve cracked the code. I wanted to share that information here and I'll be posting additional updates as I work with these guys more and more. Also, before you get too excited about this species, keep in mind that they are TINY, they can climb anything, and are very sensitive to too much moisture. My container for them was my standard small target tub like in THIS post. Probably bigger than necessary, but it works. The vents are reinforced with no-see-um netting to prevent escapes, and the gasket takes care of this as well. Here are a couple photos of their specific setup. Bedding is a coco, cypress chips, and sand mixture, covered in a layer of dry moss and dry oak leaves. The cork bark seems to be useless as I rarely see them on it. They prefer to hang out in the corners under the leaf litter. One corner has water crystals as you can see.

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A little background: Luridiblatta trivittata, the Three-lined Cockroach is a tiny species of Ectobiid cockroach that has within the past decade or so been introduced into northern California. They originally are from European mediterranean countries including Italy, Israel, etc. and somehow found their way to the west coast of the USA sometime around 2006. They’ve spread throughout the greater bay area and seem to continue their spread throughout the region with reliable reports from Healdsburg south into Palo Alto (I’m sure they are well outside of this range by now too). Though they occasionally wander into homes, they do not appear to be a “pest species” and spend the vast majority of their time beneath leaf litter outdoors. Many people assume them to be german roach nymphs due to their similarities in coloration/pattern to Blattella germanica.

 

My specimens were originally collected as adults from a park in Larkspur, CA. For care, this species needs things BONE DRY. They begin to die off if kept too moist in stuffy air. My bug room is about 30% humidity and this is probably due to all of the other moist roach containers and a couple house plants, since the rest of the house is in the low 20s or even lower (I live in Phoenix, AZ). They also prefer it warm (80+F). I had some do just fine in a container in 100 degree weather outside. I don’t recommend keeping them at room temperature long term though they may be ok in it especially as nymphs. My original specimens were collected in thin leaf litter on hard, dry dirt that was in the direct sun most of the day in Larkspur, CA.

 

Of course, they do need water one way or another and are susceptible to desiccation like anything else. In my opinion, the best way to provide water for them is to use water crystals in one corner of the container. You’ll have to recharge them frequently. Maybe once a week I do a split second, light mist on the container walls and can see them sipping the tiny water droplets. I would imagine that 99% of their moisture in the wild comes from their food, and they do tend to huddle together in small depressions in the ground beneath the leaf litter which is a fairly common roach behavior to help reduce moisture loss.

 

As long as they are kept this way, they grow very fast and soon you’ll have adults running around. My first adult male matured in 70 days, and an adult female popped out just a few days later. As far as food goes, common roach fare is just fine. Mine seemed to enjoy carrot, cucumber, apple, dog food kibble, etc.

The photo at the beginning of this post is of two adult males. Here are some freshly hatched nymphs:

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The trick isn’t just getting the nymphs to adulthood though, I had an excellent success rate of rearing nymphs to adults in the above setup. The next tricky part is getting the oothecae to hatch. Thank God for Kyle Kandilian and his suggested reading to me that discussed how another Ectobiid roach oothecae (Ectobius sp) required sudden moisture to stimulate hatching. Shoot me a message if you'd like to see the paper. Turns out L. trivittata oothecae are the same, and are comparable to plant seeds. They seem to need to be kept very dry, and then cool/dry, and then sudden moisture and warmth in spring stimulates them to absorb water and hatch shortly after. Sounds complicated, but it’s really not. It basically follows the patterns of a Mediterranean climate. My biggest batch of oothecae hatched after just leaving them on the windowsill all winter with a slight misting once a month. Then in early spring they were brought into the warm bug room and I increased the mistings, allowing things to dry out in between. You know when they're about to hatch because they suddenly bloat up and lighten in color (again, kind of like a seed!) Eventually with the dry/wet cycle, you’ll come home to a container full of tiny black Luridiblatta babies like in the photos above. Below is a photo of the oothecae. The left 3 are basically normal oothecae not ready to hatch, and the three on the right swelled up after a recent misting then hatched several days later. The ones on the left eventually did as well with the warm and moist/dry cycles.

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I am currently culturing this species and plan to run some experiments to nail down their care even more accurately. This time around, I’m also trying to see if I can trick the oothecae into hatching much earlier in the year, hopefully to the point where there can be overlapping generations and that way they are not just a “seasonal” roach. Though I have my own group of F1s that are finally dropping ooths, I'm hoping to collect more this September for anyone interested in this species. Late summer is when adults (mostly females with ooths) can be found in the wild. I'll end for now with a couple more photos...

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Very nice, detailed post man, thanks for sharing! :D

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Superb absolutely amazing post. Don't think it let's you off the hook though for slacking on your roach collection videos, especially after that epic dyi enclosure you posted. :P

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11 minutes ago, Tleilaxu said:

Superb absolutely amazing post. Don't think it let's you off the hook though for slacking on your roach collection videos, especially after that epic dyi enclosure you posted. :P

I've got a friend who makes awesome, borderline professional videos. When he gets back from his trip he's going to teach me what he knows and we'll make some sweet videos including a bug room tour. Just waiting on all that ;) 

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41 minutes ago, CodeWilster said:

I've got a friend who makes awesome, borderline professional videos. When he gets back from his trip he's going to teach me what he knows and we'll make some sweet videos including a bug room tour. Just waiting on all that ;) 

Look forward to seeing those videos! :D

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Awesome post man, I don't think I've seen a more detailed one care-wise in my whole time on this forum! :) Really sucks that you actually have to manually find and remove each ootheca from the main enclosure for incubation, other than that though, everything seems pretty simple.

Can't wait to see those videos either!

 

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7 hours ago, All About Insects said:

Awesome post man, I don't think I've seen a more detailed one care-wise in my whole time on this forum! :) Really sucks that you actually have to manually find and remove each ootheca from the main enclosure for incubation, other than that though, everything seems pretty simple.

Can't wait to see those videos either!

 

Thanks! I only did that for experimental purposes. You could likely mist the whole enclosure on and off and get them to hatch. Though I allowed most of mine to cool (since these overwinter as ooths) I honestly do not think temperature is key because I had some hatch that never left the 80F bug room. I think it is 100% moisture and time related, though warmer conditions probably speed the process.

That reminds me, the ooths that died were the ones kept evenly moist all season. I had a moist batch in the fridge, another at room temp, and in the bug room. All constantly moist/wet ooths died whereas the ones kept mostly dry and then moistened occasionally are what hatched.

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Thanks for the detailed husbandry tips and observations!  Very interesting read!!

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Now this is hardcore information. I like this. We are more than just folks throwing bugs in cups.

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On ‎7‎/‎8‎/‎2017 at 8:26 AM, CodeWilster said:

Thanks! I only did that for experimental purposes. You could likely mist the whole enclosure on and off and get them to hatch. Though I allowed most of mine to cool (since these overwinter as ooths) I honestly do not think temperature is key because I had some hatch that never left the 80F bug room. I think it is 100% moisture and time related, though warmer conditions probably speed the process.

That reminds me, the ooths that died were the ones kept evenly moist all season. I had a moist batch in the fridge, another at room temp, and in the bug room. All constantly moist/wet ooths died whereas the ones kept mostly dry and then moistened occasionally are what hatched.

Very interesting, maybe the same could be said for Ectobius too if they live in similar climates! :D 

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I'm DYING to try Ectobius (any species) because I think you're exactly right though I think they may need a very significant cooling in temperature too.

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Thanks for this excellent care description. I can learn from it, certainly as I'm trying to culture Ectobius sylvestris. Perhaps they also need cold/dry ootheca treatment? 

In any case, you gave me some ideas!

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