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Oxyhaloa duesta observations and questions


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I've had my new red-headed roach colony for about three weeks. From what I read about them, I noted 'they like to climb', so I decided to give them plenty of vertical space and set up a ~4 litre cereal container for them, with long pieces of beech bark and twigs to rest on.

Boy do they like to climb. I usually see a lot perched up at the ends of the twigs. I think I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've seen them within half an inch of the substrate. Only once on the substrate because there was a piece of food down there. Is this because they're a bit more arboreal than even I thought, or because there's something wrong with the substrate? I used Bugznbits 'millipede and snail' substrate, looks to be forest soil and fragmented rotten wood. I mixed it about 1.5 parts to 1 part play sand. It's maybe a bit damper than it needs to be, but I'm letting it dry out a bit. The guy I bought them from seems to keep them terrestrially with no problems, according to one of his youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XofK_BsRMKg Why the apparent change in habits?

It's been a bit of a chore finding something that these roaches like to eat. Strangely similar problems with my other two newish colonies: Eublaberus posticus and Archimandrita tesselata. For the O. duesta, along with a liking for climbing, I spotted 'diurnal' and assumed that, even with a generalised diet, they might like a focus on frugivory or even palynivory. Nope! Beetle/gecko jelly is uninteresting to them. Fruit - banana, orange, apple, pear, nectarine - seems to be grudgingly nibbled around the edges or ignored. (They're crazy, those nectarines are delicious) Carrot and green pepper gets a few more bites. The one fruit or veg they seem to actually like is sweetcorn. (Plain corn over in the US, I think) Ditto for those posticus and tesselata. I thought this was unusual considering what bits and pieces I've read concerning their ease of keeping and feeding.

Dry food, they seem to turn their rosy noses up at commercial roach chow. They love fish flakes, the only thing I can fill a (small) dish with and expect it to be gone by the morning. Koi pellets are also gnawed on, I expect they'd vanish quicker too if I broke them up.

The first food I actually saw them eat was the dead oak leaves I stuffed in the container as extra micro-hides. They've skeletonised a couple already. Surprising, but pleasantly so. If that's what they like I've got a free and inexhaustible (and safe) supply. I've also seen them gnawing the papery bark off their climbing twig. Now is that a bad sign, that they're desperate because I haven't been delivering the right goodies; or have I been barking up the wrong tree (haw haw) and they're more detrivorous than I imagined? Would they actually prefer a nice chunk of rotten wood as opposed to all those choice groceries?

The thing that's puzzling me most - I got a mix of sizes in the initial delivery. I can't remember seeing any of the smallest nymphs after a few days. Did they burrow into the substrate? Did they die? Were they cannibalised? Or have I really underestimated how fast they grow? I regularly see teneral individuals and I have noticed more bigger specimens hanging out. They're growing well so I might be doing something right. But there's the same concern: I started with some adults and currently have some adults, but I still haven't seen any small nymphs since soon after I got them. Do they burrow? Are they being cannibalised? Am I overestimating how quickly they breed? (The orange heads were producing nymphs a week or two after settling in) Is there something I described above that is preventing them from reproducing? Heat? One side of the container is up against heat mats and is about 26 - 29°C, 79 - 84°F. The roaches prefer to hang out on that side. Ventilation? I have four Spider Shop vents in the container, small 30mm (1 3/16") diameter vents, two down near the substrate and two in the lid. Any newborns might be swarming through those vents but I doubt it, they're designed to keep out fungus gnats. I also haven't seen any tiny roaches scuttling about the place. Anyway, I could stand to put another one or two in the lid. Maybe also provide photos for closer scrutiny.

If you've made it this far: what am I doing wrong? For the sake of the wee roachies, be brutal.

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They hide under things but they really don't burrow. Three weeks is a pretty short time for reproduction unless it's a pretty massive culture. Even if you find the right food they don't seem to eat very much (though this reference is a small colony, maybe 50, and room temp).

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They seem to have taken better to the koi pellets, and I've started leaving food in a couple of places in the container, not just the dish. It's disappearing faster now.

Still moulting like clockwork, too. I saw a couple shed and mature in one day, both large adults, almost swarmed by the small adults before they were fully out. Shoot, that's how little I really know about them. I assume the smaller adults are the males?

So have a bunch of adults, some large nymphs, and one or two medium nymphs. So I guess I still have to wait a little longer for small nymphs, unless they're a lot shyer at that size.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another female matured, another scene like a Benny Hill sketch. Also, first newborns spotted! I know I'm one of those 'never kept these so everything's a crisis' cases, but I was starting to doubt anything would happen. But achievement #2 has been unlocked.

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6 hours ago, WarrenB said:

Another female matured, another scene like a Benny Hill sketch. Also, first newborns spotted! I know I'm one of those 'never kept these so everything's a crisis' cases, but I was starting to doubt anything would happen. But achievement #2 has been unlocked.

Congrats on the babies, glad to hear it! :D

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