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Princisia vanwaerbeki "Big"


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Received 5 mixed nymphs from a friend whose colony I'm about 99% sure is pure, so fingers crossed I'm right about that, only time will tell! :D

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Still got a lot of growing to do, looking forward to seeing the adults! :)

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  • 1 month later...

As a general rule of thumb, using the coloration of nymphs that are not yet subadults or larger is an inconsistent way of determining purity... I believe you mentioned something similar in your book "For the Love of Cockroaches", about telling younger Gromphadorhina oblongonata nymphs apart from other Gromphadorhina species, or telling if they're pure. 

11 hours ago, Allpet Roaches said:

Sorry but a solid black specimen doesn't seem at all right unless these are the so called "black princisia".

They're still nymphs in that picture, that same solid black one (though it actually had small white spots on the thorax, hard to see with the flash), has now molted to the subadult stage:

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1 hour ago, Hisserdude said:

As a general rule of thumb, using the coloration of nymphs that are not yet subadults or larger is an inconsistent way of determining purity... I believe you mentioned something similar in your book "For the Love of Cockroaches", about telling younger Gromphadorhina oblongonata nymphs apart from other Gromphadorhina species, or telling if they're pure. 

They're still nymphs in that picture, that same solid black one (though it actually had small white spots on the thorax, hard to see with the flash), has now molted to the subadult stage:

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The black specimen did not look like a small nymph in that photo. I'm surprised it's the same one here. One thing to consider when you say pure princisia (standard especially) is there were at least 4 different stocks of very different looking "princisia" around 2000 including a smaller solid black and portentosa colored lines. These were all collected from different locales and were all pure at the time. The standard was the one that looked like portentosa except for the pronotum scoop. From your second pictures and comments I'm guessing you're talking about the line called "princisia big"? That is what it was traded as twenty years ago.

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1 hour ago, Allpet Roaches said:

The black specimen did not look like a small nymph in that photo. I'm surprised it's the same one here. One thing to consider when you say pure princisia (standard especially) is there were at least 4 different stocks of very different looking "princisia" around 2000 including a smaller solid black and portentosa colored lines. These were all collected from different locales and were all pure at the time. The standard was the one that looked like portentosa except for the pronotum scoop. From your second pictures and comments I'm guessing you're talking about the line called "princisia big"? That is what it was traded as twenty years ago.

Yeah, weird camera angle I guess, molted twice since then and is now (I think) a subadult. :)

According to my lineage tracing, these are (supposedly) untainted descendants from DoubleD's Princisia, which were apparently NOT labeled as "Big" at the time, (he may or may not have been selling stock labeled "Big" at the same time, but these supposedly did not come from that culture). So I've just been calling them "Standard", though they're probably the same as what pure "Big" used to be, (and according to @Nicolas Rousseaux, the whole "Big" labeling was for marketing and to get more people to buy them, the size and percentage of large adults is the same between stocks labeled "Big" and "Normal/Standard").

Interesting to hear about the "portentosa" looking and black vanwaerbeki strains, seems both have been lost from culture for a while, (at least in their pure forms). 

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21 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Yeah, weird camera angle I guess, molted twice since then and is now (I think) a subadult. :)

According to my lineage tracing, these are (supposedly) untainted descendants from DoubleD's Princisia, which were apparently NOT labeled as "Big" at the time, (he may or may not have been selling stock labeled "Big" at the same time, but these supposedly did not come from that culture). So I've just been calling them "Standard", though they're probably the same as what pure "Big" used to be, (and according to @Nicolas Rousseaux, the whole "Big" labeling was for marketing and to get more people to buy them, the size and percentage of large adults is the same between stocks labeled "Big" and "Normal/Standard").

Interesting to hear about the "portentosa" looking and black vanwaerbeki strains, seems both have been lost from culture for a while, (at least in their pure forms). 

Big was the name of the stock a decade before DoubleD acquired some of them. It was used on some European sites to differentiate them from the other "princisia" lines and I don't think it was a marketing ploy because they all showed up on EU lists around 2000. I still had the black and portentosa look princisia until about five years ago when I finally fed them to some assassins. They were never a fraction as big as a big big was. I lost the big maybe 2006 since they were finicky.

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3 hours ago, Allpet Roaches said:

Big was the name of the stock a decade before DoubleD acquired some of them. It was used on some European sites to differentiate them from the other "princisia" lines and I don't think it was a marketing ploy because they all showed up on EU lists around 2000. I still had the black and portentosa look princisia until about five years ago when I finally fed them to some assassins. They were never a fraction as big as a big big was. I lost the big maybe 2006 since they were finicky.

OK, that's good to know, I think nowadays in Europe some people must label the "Big" stock as just P.vanwaerbeki with no strain name at all, which probably accounts for Nicolas's experience with the lack of differences between them. 

Color wise, and considering the fact that this particular stock is very finicky compared to other hissers in terms of productivity and young nymph survival rates, what I have should be pure "Big" stock then, (though for some reason they've not been marketed as being from the "Big" strain). Your old "Big" stock was almost certainly pure too if they were finicky as well, that seems to be one of the dead giveaways that Princisia are pure, (even the recently imported "Androhamana" Princisia are similarly difficult), too bad yours fizzled out, most people in the US had the same happen to their pure cultures. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/19/2020 at 5:30 PM, Hisserdude said:

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She's matured, looking pretty pure to me, fingers crossed her siblings come out looking much the same! 😁

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Currently all of my stock do look like that but the big tell is the male's horns and scoop (dent in front portion of pronotoum) shapes can look like "princisia", portentos/oblongonota and anything in between. That was not like that on the pure stock. 

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15 hours ago, Allpet Roaches said:

Currently all of my stock do look like that but the big tell is the male's horns and scoop (dent in front portion of pronotoum) shapes can look like "princisia", portentos/oblongonota and anything in between. That was not like that on the pure stock. 

Good to know, I'll be keeping an eye out for this feature... I only have one male in this starter group, so even if he looks good, probably won't be able to see if the scoop shape is consistent in this bloodline until the next generation. 

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  • 11 months later...

Oh weird, never posted here when my original five bred early this year... Weird. Well this was the one adult male in my group of five, good pronotum structure, large size, and very thin but noticeable yellow abdominal margins:

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And here are a couple of the females:

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And here are some of the first instars that were born back in March:

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Most of which have now matured. I will say that while getting females to give birth can be a pain, the survival rates for my nymphs has been super high, so not as finicky as I thought. HOWEVER I am doubtful of their purity, since while most of the adults have a good amount of abdominal markings or at least very faint ones, there are a decent amount of adults popping up that are completely black, even without the red spots on the thoracic pads. So that has me sincerely doubting the purity of this strain, I mean coloration in hissers can be variable, and it's possible whoever owned this stock just never culled out darker adults and maybe even accidentally bred FOR it, but that's kind of a stretch for sure. However, the one sliver of hope I have in this stock being pure is that ALL the males that have popped up have Princisia pronotum structure, with the anterior notch being quite dramatic in larger males, and shallow but still noticeable in the minor males, (a lot of them ended up being minors too, and even the large ones came out rather small as a result of pretty severe crowding, an issue I have now corrected thankfully).

Here's a look at some of the males and their pronotum structure, interested in your thoughts especially @Allpet Roaches, curious if the group I sent you has matured yet, and what you think about their purity.

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As you can see, even on the minor males the pronotum notch definitely present, just shallow and similar to those of the "Tiger" hissers (which are likely another form of vanwaerebeki themselves, but I digress). The fifth male pictured here is one of the most extreme examples of a super shallow anterior notch I've seen in my culture. So I'm thinking the morphology seems pretty pure, but the coloration, not so much... Not sure which is most important, but yeah definitely doubting these are 100% pure sadly. Would love to hear the thoughts of others though.

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On 8/13/2021 at 3:14 AM, Hisserdude said:

Oh weird, never posted here when my original five bred early this year... Weird. Well this was the one adult male in my group of five, good pronotum structure, large size, and very thin but noticeable yellow abdominal margins:

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252332.JPG

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252334.JPG

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252336.JPG

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252344.jpg

And here are a couple of the females:

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252339.JPG

Princisiavanwaerbeki%252341.JPG

Princisiavanwaerebeki%252352.JPG

Princisiavanwaerebeki%252357.JPG

And here are some of the first instars that were born back in March:

Princisiavanwaerebeki%252347.JPG

Most of which have now matured. I will say that while getting females to give birth can be a pain, the survival rates for my nymphs has been super high, so not as finicky as I thought. HOWEVER I am doubtful of their purity, since while most of the adults have a good amount of abdominal markings or at least very faint ones, there are a decent amount of adults popping up that are completely black, even without the red spots on the thoracic pads. So that has me sincerely doubting the purity of this strain, I mean coloration in hissers can be variable, and it's possible whoever owned this stock just never culled out darker adults and maybe even accidentally bred FOR it, but that's kind of a stretch for sure. However, the one sliver of hope I have in this stock being pure is that ALL the males that have popped up have Princisia pronotum structure, with the anterior notch being quite dramatic in larger males, and shallow but still noticeable in the minor males, (a lot of them ended up being minors too, and even the large ones came out rather small as a result of pretty severe crowding, an issue I have now corrected thankfully).

Here's a look at some of the males and their pronotum structure, interested in your thoughts especially @Allpet Roaches, curious if the group I sent you has matured yet, and what you think about their purity.

As you can see, even on the minor males the pronotum notch definitely present, just shallow and similar to those of the "Tiger" hissers (which are likely another form of vanwaerebeki themselves, but I digress). The fifth male pictured here is one of the most extreme examples of a super shallow anterior notch I've seen in my culture. So I'm thinking the morphology seems pretty pure, but the coloration, not so much... Not sure which is most important, but yeah definitely doubting these are 100% pure sadly. Would love to hear the thoughts of others though.

Mine are a molt or two away.

 From your newest pics they seem more pure than the common stock but the colors and pronotums are off a little from the "big" I once had. Admittedly I didn't think to take pictures of various specimens back then.

I don't think the tiger hissers are really from an invalid species within an invalid genus. Throwing out male genitalia as an identifier allowed taxonomists to create a mess that may never be cleaned up but it does make one species with some variability seem much more interesting to the casual researcher.

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10 minutes ago, Allpet Roaches said:

Mine are a molt or two away.

 From your newest pics they seem more pure than the common stock but the colors and pronotums are off a little from the "big" I once had. Admittedly I didn't think to take pictures of various specimens back then.

Cool, update us once they mature! :) 

That's good to hear, and the differences in pronotum shape might just be due to none of my males from this generation being that large, their pronotum structure would almost certainly be more like my first male's if I'd have given them more space and food from the get go. The coloration is pretty off though, the melanistic ones especially.

10 minutes ago, Allpet Roaches said:

I don't think the tiger hissers are really from an invalid species within an invalid genus. Throwing out male genitalia as an identifier allowed taxonomists to create a mess that may never be cleaned up but it does make one species with some variability seem much more interesting to the casual researcher.

Well I personally agree with Princisia not being a valid genus, but the species vanwaerebeki seems just as valid as any of the other hisser species... Granted the fact that they can all seemingly hybridize with each other makes the taxonomy an absolute headache, for example if Aeluropoda and the "Tigers" can make fertile offspring, should they really be considered different genera? We definitely need a proper revision of the Gromphadorhini with close analysis of both morphological features and genetics, there is clearly a LOT going on here, and a lot of changes that need to be made with the current genera/species treatments of this tribe IMO.

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1 hour ago, Hisserdude said:

Cool, update us once they mature! :) 

That's good to hear, and the differences in pronotum shape might just be due to none of my males from this generation being that large, their pronotum structure would almost certainly be more like my first male's if I'd have given them more space and food from the get go. The coloration is pretty off though, the melanistic ones especially.

Well I personally agree with Princisia not being a valid genus, but the species vanwaerebeki seems just as valid as any of the other hisser species... Granted the fact that they can all seemingly hybridize with each other makes the taxonomy an absolute headache, for example if Aeluropoda and the "Tigers" can make fertile offspring, should they really be considered different genera? We definitely need a proper revision of the Gromphadorhini with close analysis of both morphological features and genetics, there is clearly a LOT going on here, and a lot of changes that need to be made with the current genera/species treatments of this tribe IMO.

The original description in French relies mostly on the genus description. Admittedly I haven't read it in decades but if the genus is bad the species description was worse.

It is sort of like Eudicella with all the crazy species and subspecies that probably aren't anything more than geographic varieties.

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16 hours ago, Allpet Roaches said:

The original description in French relies mostly on the genus description. Admittedly I haven't read it in decades but if the genus is bad the species description was worse.

It is sort of like Eudicella with all the crazy species and subspecies that probably aren't anything more than geographic varieties.

Yeah, but I mean just looking at them physically, their morphology and coloration, plus their disjunct range from the other species of Gromphadorhina makes vanwaerebeki as valid a species as say, portentosa or oblongonota in my opinion, I see no difference in the validity. But the erection of Princisia was likely erroneous IMO, and I honestly think a lot of the various hissers all belong in the same genus at least, if not just treated as different subspecies or geographic varieties, (the latter being more practical IMO, the concept of subspecies is a flimsy one IMO and subspecies of invertebrates are often just revised as being geographic varieties of the same species or raised up to their own species level depending on the circumstance).

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6 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Yeah, but I mean just looking at them physically, their morphology and coloration, plus their disjunct range from the other species of Gromphadorhina makes vanwaerebeki as valid a species as say, portentosa or oblongonota in my opinion, I see no difference in the validity. But the erection of Princisia was likely erroneous IMO, and I honestly think a lot of the various hissers all belong in the same genus at least, if not just treated as different subspecies or geographic varieties, (the latter being more practical IMO, the concept of subspecies is a flimsy one IMO and subspecies of invertebrates are often just revised as being geographic varieties of the same species or raised up to their own species level depending on the circumstance).

There have been at least five different "princisia" stocks brought in that are far more different looking from each other in morphology and coloration than oblongonota and portentosa. Nobody has documented the geographic populations so saying disjunct doesn't mean anything. We simply assume they come from different valleys or mountains because they are different from each other and wild populations are known to vary from one area to the other in Madagascar. If a taxonomist creates a new genus based on an unstable character (say the hisser notch or the height of a human) and the species is not identifiable from it, nobody can use the description to identify a specimen.

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On 8/15/2021 at 6:30 AM, Allpet Roaches said:

There have been at least five different "princisia" stocks brought in that are far more different looking from each other in morphology and coloration than oblongonota and portentosa. Nobody has documented the geographic populations so saying disjunct doesn't mean anything. We simply assume they come from different valleys or mountains because they are different from each other and wild populations are known to vary from one area to the other in Madagascar. If a taxonomist creates a new genus based on an unstable character (say the hisser notch or the height of a human) and the species is not identifiable from it, nobody can use the description to identify a specimen.

Yeah that's one confusing part, seems there were quite a few different "Princisia" strains that originally entered the hobby that probably weren't more closely related to each other than the Gromphadorhina species are to each other. I wish more of them had persisted in culture or had at least been better documented at the time so we could compare them better nowadays.

True, their geographic ranges are terribly understudied, though from what we know, "proper" Princisia (as in the holotypes and hobby strains that closely resemble them in terms of morphology and coloration) have historically been collected on the southeast coast of Madagascar, whereas most of the Gromphadorhina species are usually found and collected from west Madagascar, with portentosa also ranging into central and northeast Madagascar as well according to INaturalist sightings. Of course we still need more proper mapping of their ranges, but both the scientific literature and various fauna sighting websites seem to confirm for the most part what has long been suspected about their rages. However this is all subject to dramatic change, due especially to the fact that now that humans are making roads through Madagascar and transporting wood and such that hissers may hide in, species are likely being introduced into new areas by humans where they would never have made it to in the wild... Which also means that wild hybridization is probably occurring as well. 😕 Interested to see if any "new" species of hissers described in the future will turn out to just be hybrids now.

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To be honest, it's the sheer uncertainty that puts me off owning any kind of hissers at this point. Hats off to you guys willing to sift through the strains and hybrids. (And nice photos! Impressive close-ups.)

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6 hours ago, WarrenB said:

To be honest, it's the sheer uncertainty that puts me off owning any kind of hissers at this point. Hats off to you guys willing to sift through the strains and hybrids. (And nice photos! Impressive close-ups.)

Yeah it's a maze lol, and I'm still learning a lot. It's a very complicated group for sure, but they are some of my favorite roach groups so I find the confusion worth it. XD

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