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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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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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  • 2 years later...

I hear and see about this all the time.....first off thank you to guys like Hisserdude who correctly point out that there has been no imports of Dubia for years, and there is only one "modern" species in the Blaptica dubia genus....apparently others were noted in a writing made I think it was the 1800s but lord knows what they actually were given that there was no photos and we have advanced by leaps and bounds our understanding of cockroach species since then.

I first seen "golden" dubia about 9 years ago.....I purchased from a small breeder a large colony of Dubia wherein all the males had light goldish colored wings, and all the nymphs were much lighter than normal. Do you want "golden" dubia too ????  Feed them Cheerios...that's right.....these different coloration "strains" are 100% due to diet...change the diet....you'll change the visual coloration traits. This guy had fed them nothing but Cheerios for years....there is no "strain" that can be weeded out of its genetics...as noted Dubia don't hybridize. Outside of diet, every single Dubia roach is genetically the same as all the others....carbon copies if you will. Adding "bloodlines" offers no benefit and actually can cause more harm. I mean is anyone quarantining their new arrivals for 30 days before adding them to their colony ? The only diversity is what I call "Dietetic Diversification"...you want higher reproduction rates and less premature death....change their diet.  (and it make take several generations to accomplish)

Thank you to the comments which talked about the causes of bad molts....it has nothing to do with humidity and every thing to do with damage inflicted to the wings immediately after emerging. The number one cause of deformed wings is overcrowding wherein newly molted males are run over by the crowd, followed by intentional attacks by other males. Also, large wing species tend to have more problems with wing deformities which I attribute to the time it takes for the large wings to harden. Humidity will play a role in say my Giant Peppered cockroach colony.....but they are completely different from Dubia...its like comparing apples to oranges

Blisters...thank you to Hisserdude who noted these blisters are filled with hemolymph...i.e..blood...that doesn't come from any molting issue.....usually you'll find them on females which really don't have wing issues. Here's the deal....poor genetics, or should I say altered genetics are the cause of these blisters. And where does this altered genetics come from....diet....more specifically...poultry feed used in roach chow. How does it work...through a man-made synthetic chemical put into all the poultry feeds found in the USA...DL Methionine.....its a synthetic amino acid put in poultry feed, and other feeds purposely and/or by happenstance, which creates meatier birds quicker...and problems for insects with an alkaline gut physiology. Specifically mosquitos, termites, and cockroaches. (many larvae and other pests found in grain storage facilities)

By problems, I'm talking about DL Methionine having been researched and patented as a Pesticide by the University of Florida. A read of that patent and associated research found elsewhere on the 'net notes at concentrations of .06% can achieve 30% mortality rates in 1st and 2nd instar nymphs. It also makes for smaller females with smaller brood counts, slow growth of nymphs, and the aforementioned premature death of 1st n 2nd instar nymphs. I have personal experience with all of it via the purchase of 25,000 Dubia females which were fed nothing but poultry feed their entire lives by the previous breeder. The vast majority were no bigger then the size of a quarter, died within 6-8 months, and never reproduced at a rate higher than the single digits in 500 count breeder colonies. The kicker...this "green" pesticide affects the genetics of Dubia offspring for 3 generations. Its an awesome pesticide for orange growers not affecting the plant or the fruit.

Annnnd, natural Methionine is known as a limiting protein....if you have a wooden bucket made from slats, natural Methionine would be the shortest slat in the bucket hence it is "limiting" the amount of water that can go in it. Make the methionine slat longer, and the bucket can hold more water. BUT, in the process of making the methionine slat longer, it has a growing effect on related amino acid proteins like Histidine. What does Histidine do...it creates "histamine" as a reaction to inflammation. What happens when you get too much Histamine in your system...you can go into anaphylactic shock and die....that's why we have "anti-histamines". I believe the blisters are caused by raised levels of Histidine brought upon by raised levels of Methionine brought upon by the addition of a synthetic chemical called DL Methionine which is a known patented pesticide. Also, Methionine and Histidine along with one other whose name escapes me are sulphur based proteins...Sulphur is one of, if not the oldest pesticide known to man.

DLM has been sprayed on stored grain for decades to control pests in that environment. This is why I call the noting of it in ingredient lists for say Guinea Pig food, Tortoise feed, dog food, etc....as happenstance. If I make dog food and buy "fodder" from a grain mill that has sprayed DLM on stored grain, I have to include their ingredient list with my product. If a 30% mortality rate amongst 1st and 2nd instar nymphs is acceptable to you, then by all means keep putting poultry feed into your Dubia roach chow. If not, then realize there is a better way, a natural way using grains/cereals fit for human consumption. Along with a varied diet of fresh fruit and vegetables offered throughout the week. I can also link interested parties to a study noting adult roaches no longer need protein, they are processing stored uric acid into proteins. They need carbohydrates.....specifically in a 1 to 8 P:C ratio. (protein to carbs) This ratio the study notes is optimal for the highest brood counts and results in higher levels of three different pheromones put off by males which drive the ladies crazy.

Ignorance is not bliss.....the bedrock of all knowledge is based in a 3 letter word....WHY?

 

https://patents.google.com/patent/US7181884

 

dubia blister.jpg

dubia small female.jpg

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43 minutes ago, whowadat said:

.these different coloration "strains" are 100% due to diet...

I actually disagree somewhat on this... While diet probably does change the coloration of dubia (when fed to them as nymphs of course, final adult coloration can not be changed after their last molt), there definitely appear to be strains that have been line bred for lighter and lighter coloration, have you seen this thread here? Follow it all the way to the end, it took him years but the results have been awesome! 

Line breeding for coloration is definitely a thing, but people seldom do it with roaches because of the time and effort involved, whereas in the isopod hobby people like to isolate every tiny little color variation possible. 😂 That being said we have line bred roach morphs like the Periplaneta americana "White eye", "Black" and the mix of those two "Venom", @JohnFrost's Yellow/Golden dubia, blue Pseudoglomeris magnifica, true breeding yellow Gyna lurida and Panchlora sp. "Costa Rica", etc., all of which don't appear to be diet related in the slightest.

 

 

Also... I've been using unmedicated Purina brand organic chick/poultry feed as the staple diet for my roaches for years now, have only had that weird blistering thing pop up in ONE of my roach species in a single generation, and culling those individuals out has stopped that deformation from popping up completely in subsequent generations, which makes me believe it was a genetic deformity and not a diet related one. Don't know if it's the same with dubia, but figured I'd let you know. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, poultry feed....every variety....non-medicated, organic, non-gmo....all have DL Methionine in it. (many have Diatomaceous Earth too...another known pesticide) Poultry feed producers put it in there purposely because it makes for meatier poultry, and the birds grow faster. A read of the patent by the University of Florida clearly shows its effects on insects/larvae with an alkaline gut physiology.....this includes the cockroach. 

With all due respect, noting your extensive experience, line breeding for the Blaptica dubia cockroach is an urban myth. If there was any genetic diversity within the Blaptica dubia species...Mother Nature would of revealed it herself by now. I've seen with my own eyes what years of feeding nothing but Cheerios can do to the coloration of all the Dubia instars including adults. I purchased two large colonies of approximately 3000 breeding females which were fed nothing but Cheerios....when I started to feed them cat food (this was about 8-9 years ago when cat food was the go to chow ingredient) the very first generation of offspring which eventually molted into adults all became dark and glossy just like the thousands of others I had. I've also seen with my own eyes what feeding nothing but poultry feed does.....I purchased 25,000 females with the vast majority all being the size of a quarter....notice the coin in my pic for reference. Many hundreds had the blisters. The blistered roaches don't live long at all, and are predominately seen on the females.

There is something I coined "white wing" disease...I used to barter supplies for other people's Dubia..."used to" being the key phrase. I seen perfectly formed wings that were white/translucent, or the perimeter of the wing if not the edge of the entire body was translucent. I attributed it to molting issues possibly due to a lack of humidity. But the nymphs never grew really, they were flat and sickly looking. The adults seem to perish prematurely also, although that was harder to determine because I wasn't getting into the breeding bins daily or cleaning them out but once every 60 days during a harvest. It got to be such a concern of mine, weeding out sickly looking roaches before selling them, that I began to quarantine all roaches' I acquired in trade. Primarily there was three people I bartered with, and one in particular really had a lot of these white wing issues. I asked her what she was feeding and she proudly proclaimed poultry feed. The other two also had some poultry feed in their chow, one also served a lot of veggies and fruits, but this woman fed nothing but poultry feed right out of the bag. 

The thing about DLM noted in the patent and elsewhere is that it stays in the genetics for 3 generations..one spraying and it keeps on working for 3 generations. Its really an amazing pesticide that doesn't affect the plant/fruit...it only targets the pest hence the "green" moniker. The roaches I got from this lady continued to have these issues while I bred them...and fed them poultry feed. Understand, I didn't know anything about DL Methionine at the time...I actually started to feed my own in house bred roaches poultry feed. I thought my husbandry was the issue. (even though I had been breeding for 7-8 years before acquiring these roaches) Once I became aware of the problems with poultry feed, through this large Dubia female purchase but also through this need to "manage" an inventory as my business grew...I stopped feeding poultry feed and began experimenting with other products....and the experimental ingredient list is long. In 2019 I stopped feeding poultry feed and today, finally, I don't see any blistering on my bugs...I still see some deformed wings....the key word being "deformed" which is caused by a bad molt. I attribute this to the 3 generation effect caused by DLM which has finally run its course through my colonies. 

I no longer accept anyone else's bugs in trade. I have actually bought bugs from other known sellers, and have seen blistering and white wing issues as they grew...which I attribute to them using poultry feed in their chow. I know it sounds crazy but I believe I can tell you who is feeding poultry feed and who is not just by looking at their roaches.....

Folks tend to look for big red flags...but you would have to understand how DL Methionine works...this "green" pesticide doesn't reveal itself through a massive die off.....it primarily affects reproduction and growth rates. Breeding Blaptica dubia is my livelihood, and over the last 10 years I have done some serious experimenting. I humbly submit...until you have to manage an inventory supplying stores, breeders, reptile shows, and the internet...you really have no clue what is going on in a colony. The ol' look ma...that's a heckuva lot of bugs in there "eye ball" test doesn't reveal much. If you don't believe me take the 5k challenge....take 5,000 baby Dubia nymphs and put them in a 10 gallon sterilite...(we use 7.5)...feed them your Purina poultry feed. (if I recall one of their products is outrageously high in unnecessary protein and calcium too - their bag labeling/design is terrible you can't be sure which product you are getting) Take another 5K into a similarly sized container and feed them fresh fruits and veggies...or a dry chow like ours which contains Oat Groats, Wheat Germ, and Barley...all fit for human consumption. 30 days later count them and share your results....

Please...I sincerely want to know....what benefit do you think your roaches are receiving by feeding them poultry feed ?

I'm hard pressed to think that anyone would want their critters to be fed a bug that has in essence been gut loaded with a pesticide.....

There is a better way.....a healthier way.

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6 hours ago, whowadat said:

With all due respect, noting your extensive experience, line breeding for the Blaptica dubia cockroach is an urban myth. If there was any genetic diversity within the Blaptica dubia species...Mother Nature would of revealed it herself by now. I've seen with my own eyes what years of feeding nothing but Cheerios can do to the coloration of all the Dubia instars including adults. I purchased two large colonies of approximately 3000 breeding females which were fed nothing but Cheerios....when I started to feed them cat food (this was about 8-9 years ago when cat food was the go to chow ingredient) the very first generation of offspring which eventually molted into adults all became dark and glossy just like the thousands of others I had.

But then... How do you explain @JohnFrost's yellow dubia? And the fact that, over years and years of isolating only the brightest individuals, he was able to get them THAT light colored, compared to what they had used to be? I assume he fed them the same as his normal dubias... It's simple genetics, and has been done in many other species, I don't see how anyone could say it's impossible to do with dubias, isolate a true color morph without it being linked to diet. 

6 hours ago, whowadat said:

Please...I sincerely want to know....what benefit do you think your roaches are receiving by feeding them poultry feed ?

I'm hard pressed to think that anyone would want their critters to be fed a bug that has in essence been gut loaded with a pesticide.....

I've just never noticed any difference between feeding dog food, cat food and unmedicated chick feed, whatsoever, to this day... So I switched to chick feed because it didn't have meat in it. Perhaps dubias are just more susceptible to it than others, but you'd think if it really were affecting my roaches, I'd have had more issues by now with my multi generational colonies. 

6 hours ago, whowadat said:

If you don't believe me take the 5k challenge....take 5,000 baby Dubia nymphs and put them in a 10 gallon sterilite...(we use 7.5)...feed them your Purina poultry feed. (if I recall one of their products is outrageously high in unnecessary protein and calcium too - their bag labeling/design is terrible you can't be sure which product you are getting) Take another 5K into a similarly sized container and feed them fresh fruits and veggies...or a dry chow like ours which contains Oat Groats, Wheat Germ, and Barley...all fit for human consumption. 30 days later count them and share your results....

Does it have to be quite that many? Or would a smaller number like 1000 VS 1000 work? Because I'd be happy to test this actually, when I've got more time and space for that sort of experiment... Though the thing is, I always use a combination of protein and fruits for Blaberids, they breed best with fruits in their diet IME, and so I'd want to use chick feed and fruits for the test group, and then fruits and oats or something for the control group. 

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