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Blaberus craniifer

Matt K

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  • 3 weeks later...
Matt, I gotta say, this is still one of my favorite pics that you have posted... a prime example of a black wing craniifer... beautiful!

Thanks Graham! I REALLY enjoy those....that photo came from a group I got from Orin. That group has the least amount of variation and crisper colors and edges....really clean. I personally think its one of the coolest roaches out there (in my top....10?)(maybe top 5?), and they are one of the easiest to care for roaches I have.

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Now I'm curious.

I've seen pictures of Craniifer labeled "European Strain" and now we're labeling these distinctly as "Black Wing Craniifer"

Which Appear in nature and what's the true Death Head?

Someone said that the Black wings are a morph, then that's not the base stock?

I'm slightly confused, can someone help me out?



Labeled as Craniifer, BSG 3


The Black Wing, BSG 3a (The morph?)


What's the history on 'em?


In Russian, but detailed picture

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No matter what the take on taxonomy, there is certainly only one true Death's head as depicted at the top of this thread.

*The photographs you posted aren't set up to be remotely loaded so try changing them to links (you can only see them because they are in your cache).

If you have the pure black wings you can be 100% certain you have B. craniifer because no other Blaberus has that coloration, otherwise you could have one of numerous species since coloration is variable and similar in many Blaberus. With another coloration the only way to be sure of a correct species designation for any specific stock is to send a male off to a taxonomist for dissection and analysis of the male genitalia. If only for the sake of keeping the true Death's Head coloration and fusca colorations separate it's a poor idea to label everything that's a similar size 'whatever winged' craniifer. Blaberus fusca is the same as what many Europeans call light-winged craniifer. Some taxonomists consider fusca a synonym of craniifer because the male genitalia are similar. The tendency for various things to be labeled B.craniifer is what caused all the hybrids that exist in the hobby today (something labeled 'craniifer' were placed with the definite B. craniifer depicted at the top of this thread). This is a fact, the hybrids all originally came from Roachman --just under ten years ago-- who put European 'craniifer' in with the US black wing/ B.craniifer stock because he thought they were the same thing (they were labeled the same anyway). Hybrids are still hybrids even if it were a cross between different races or subspecies. I know exactly what the original B.craniifer he had were because I know where he got them from. Of course nobody can know if the things from Europe he crossed were in fact an ugly race of B.craniifer or a related species or if the various critters sold in Europe are all B.craniifer or if some are and others are a few different species all labeled B.craniifer.

Someone said that the Black wings are a morph, then that's not the base stock? The terms morph and base stock don't apply. Black wings are a pure, non-variable wild coloration.

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"Black wings are a pure, non-variable wild coloration."

That's what I was looking for..

Glad to hear it..

Taxonomy is a very confused study without knowing exactly what you're working with and where it came from and sometimes even it's genetic code.. ugh..

I find the same problems in Varanids, Monitor lizards..

The Ackies are getting awfully hard to stay apart because the two subspecies are often bred together and then marketed as the more valuable (Reds in this case) often unintentionally..

and only way to know pure stock is to trace it down or for it to show a full vibrant red along it's dorsal side..

Much like the Black Wing Craniifers.. you know it's a pure Death head if it exhibits the colors shown above..

Mind boggling, sometimes I wished I picked an easier hobby, but it's even worse with my carnivorous plants :-/

Cultivars *mumble*

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Okay, editing my previous post because it was apparently too confusing (even to myself).

On the Blattodea Species Files website they state that B. fusca is the same as B. atropos.

On a 38 year old paper by Roth, he breaks Blaberus into 3 higher groups. The Giganteus Group contains B. giganteus and B. craniifer. The Atropos group contains B. atropos, B. discoidalis and others. This article is 38 years old, but makes a case for B. craniifer and B. atropos being different species (i.e. B. craniifer and B. fusca being different species). Roth also clearly describes the different color forms that are unique to B. craniifer, within the Blaberus genus. The following link is a very large pdf file (17mb). I had to save it to my desktop before being able to successfully open it. (click the "Full Text" link on the following page to see the full pdf file, or right click and download it.)


Another study based on DNA sequencing from 1995 concluded that B. atropos, B. discoidalis and B. craniifer were all more similar to one another, though still distinct species. B. giganteus was related less closely. See...


According to everything I can gather, the most recent determination is that B. fusca is the same as B. atropos and these are a species distinct from B. craniifer which occurs in both light and dark forms. Of course, the taxonomy of the moment may be far in advance of this and the taxonomy of tomorrow may be completely different. Sometimes they go back and decide that data from 1969 was actually correct.

And one final problem I'm having with this is the apparent discrepancy on the BCG website. In the species files they list B. fusca as a synonym of B. atropos. But on the culture list they list B. fusca as a variation of B. craniifer.

BCG Number: 006

Culture Status: C

Genus: Blaberus

Species: fusca ??(syn v. )craniifer

I'm sure there is an explanation for this, but it isn't clear to me. Anybody?

As hobbyists, we have access to a lot of information through the internet. Some of it is very old and some of it is complete hogwash. I don't really know anything about Blaberus taxonomy so I'm just throwing some info. out here in the hopes that some of these questions we all have will be answered. If not answered, at least we know what the important questions are, by the time this process is complete.

I'm wondering if the dark form of B. craniifer is limited to a particular geographic location. Anybody?

Atropos- the Greek goddess of fate who cuts the thread of life. Meaning of atropos is "inflexible, non-changing, inevitable". I find it interesting that we're discussing whether the Death's Head Roach (B. craniifer) and the Roach of Death (B. atropos) are the same species, or not. But seriously, we need to decide upon a final common name for B. atropos. PM me your common name candidates and we'll put it to a vote on this forum (unless there is a previously existing common name that I don't know about). Fun stuff, cuz this is what the hobby is all about!


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K, I've been noticing a lot of loopholes in the whole "Craniifer" thing. Is it possible that B. craniifer and B. fusca are one and the same? And apparently, there's a black wing strain and a brown-wing strain on B. craniifer. However, it appears as though the brown wing strain lacks the characteristic Death head. I'm sure as a community we could solve this problem and pinpoint some taxons before we all go insane. x.x

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True Craniifer are all black, if you have any that are brown, and not all black, they would be hybrids.

Craniifer and fusca look quite differant, fusca are larger, or at least longer than Craniifer,

And again true Craniifer are all black with the classic death heads marking on the pronotum.

Fusca does not have this marking, their marking is solid black.

I have seen both true Craniifer and Fusca, they are not the same.

I'm sure Orin will chime in here and set things straight, he has had both.

He is one of the original sources of the true Craniifer.

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