From egg to bee in 60 seconds

This video shows the development of a honeybee from egg to adult bee. This takes 21 days, but the timelaps shows it in just 60 seconds. It’s really amazing to see how it works. Worth the watch!

Hercules beetle lifecycle

You have beetles and you have BEETLES. The Hercules Beetle is definately of the latter kind. The Hercules beetle Dynastes hercules hercules is a species of beetle from is a large native to the rainforests of South America, Central America, and the Lesser Antilles. The species is part of the rhinoceros beetle species. The males grow a huge horn on their head, which is used to fight other males. Females lack their horn, making them appear much smaller. Male Hercules beetles can grown up to 17,5 cm in length including their horn. That makes them definately a BEETLE.

To be able to be this big as an adult beetle, the beetle larva (grub) has to get huge as well. It starts as a tiny egg and hatches into a tiny grub. But then it eats and eats, for one to two years. It lives inside rotting logs and feeds of the rotting wood. The grub can get up to 100 grams in weight. After it is done eating it will mold into a pupa. This life stage hardly moves and stays in the log until the pupa has developed into an adult beetle (imago). It then emerges from the pupa and comes out of the log. It will live for a couple of months. When adult a Hercules beetle eats fruits and in captivity it can also be fed with beetle jelly and other food sublements.

Hercules beetles are being kept as pets by insect ethousiasts. I never had one, but more patient people have reared them succesfully from egg to grub, pupa and finally adult beetle. The following video shows the entire list of stages. I’m especially impressed with the huge grub and the moving pupa!

I’m happy to see that quite a few people are able to breed beetles succesfully. One female can produce around 100 eggs, making one succesful breeder a huge supplier of new grubs and beetles. This allows insect enthousiast to purchase a captive bred larva or beetle, sparing the ones in nature. Rearing beetles can give us fascinating new insights in the life of beetles and will motivate us more to preserve their habitat.

How to get the lichen color morph of the Giant Prickly Stick Insect Extatosoma tiaratum

The Giant Prickly Stick Insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) from Australia is a very popular stick insect as a pet. It is big, pretty and very easy to rear. You will mostly find this species of stick insect in colors of brown. Uniformly light brown or light brown with some darker spots are the most common colors. But did you know you can also raise green or even lichen-like individuals? Especially the lichen variety is very rare and very impressive. They are white to white-green with black spots. Check the pictures out!

Rare lichen color of Giant Prickly Stick Insect. Photo credit: Tim van Molle

Eating female in Lichen color morph. Photo credit: Tim van Molle

Anyone that is keeping Giant Prickly Stick Insects can create some individuals in this color. The difference in color is not due to genetics, but due to environmental circumstances. It is possible that some genetic stock has a greater tendency to turn into lichen morphs, but all Giant Prickly Stick Insects can do it.

Natural Australian lichen

The colors a young Giant Prickly Stick Insect nymph experience around it will determine the colors it will show. Of course it can only show colors that are in its natural capabilities, so a purple Giant Prickly Stick Insect is out of the question. But green and lichen are both color patterns that are possible for this species of stick insect. Lichen is a common part of the natural environment of Giant Prickly Stick Insects in their habitat in Australia. Adopting the lichen color will therefore help the insects blend into their environment.

It’s easy to create lichen-morph Giant Prickly Stick Insect nymphs. You just need to raise Giant Prickly Stick Insect nymphs since birth in an enclosure full of lichen! Some of the nymphs will molt into lichen color morphs, you will notice this at the first molt. Others will molt into the green color morph and some will not react at all and stay light brown or mottled brown. Only female nymphs will show the lichen color morph. When the nymphs are not lichen in their first molt, it is unlikely that they will do so in subsequent molts.

When the insects reach adulthood they will not stay in their lichen colors. The lichen nymphs will end up as green adults. When a lichen nymph molts it will appear a little bit greener, this fades back to white after about one day.

In this terrarium full of lichens (and their food: bramble leaves) these insects can be hard to spot:

Whole bunch of lichen morph psg 9 females. Photo credit: Tim van Molle

Three lichen morphs on bramble leaves. Photo credit: Tim van Molle

Female lichen colored nymph at its dinner. Photo credit: Tim van Molle

The more common color for a Giant Prickly Stick Insect nymph.

The more common color for a Giant Prickly Stick Insect nymph.

A lichen color morph just after molting. Just after molting they appear more green, this will fade into white again.

Can you spot it?

Do you want to know how to raise Giant Prickly Stick Insects (Extatosoma tiaratum)? Check out their page.

How to find leaves for your stick insects in winter

Stick insects eat fresh leaves, so you will have to find a way to provide this for them. It’s generally not for sale at the pet shop! Luckily you can find fresh leaves in most countries all year round. Even in winter you’ll be able to find it.

Firstly: what does your stick insect eat? Not all species will eat the same. The most common stick insect, the Indian Stick Insect, eats ivy leaves. Ivy is evergreen so will keep its fresh leaves all year round. Ivy is also easy to keep indoors, so you could even just have a pot with an ivy plant indoors. So it’s easy to find these leaves.

Most stick insects do not eat ivy, but will eat another evergreen plant: bramble. Bramble will keep its leaves in winter, but not all of them. When the winter will get really though, it will lose most or all leaves. Therefore you will have to look for bramble bushes in areas with some protection against the cold. Like under bridges, in parks or close to buildings. You’ll generally still find some bramble leaves.

bramble leaves

bramble leaves

If you know cannot find any bramble leaves in winter, because you live in a really cold area, you should prepare yourself before winter. You can cut bramble leaves and branches and freeze them in your freezer. When you thaw them they will not be as fresh, but the stick insects will eat them. Alternatevely you could keep cuttings in a jar of water in a cold, non-freezing area like your garage. The leaves will stay fresh for some time.

If you are really having trouble finding leaves in winter, you could buy organic rose bushes at your garden center. These organic bushes are not sprayed with insecticide and thus are safe to eat for your stick insects. If your specie will eat bramble leaves, it will also eat rose leaves. This will get them through the winter months.

When spring arrives you should not feed the fresh new bright green bramble leaves to your stick insects. These fresh leaves contain a poison that could kill your insects. Keep on feeding the old dark green leaves until the new leaves are larger and less brightly colored. Then they should be safe to eat for your critters.

You can read more about the different food plants at our Food Plants page.

Necroscia annulipes (psg 290)

Necroscia annulipes (psg 290)

Readers question: My stick insect stopped eating after molting

I received this readers question in my inbox this week. I thought to share it with you, as I get many questions on the same subject.

Hello Linda,

Not too long ago my girlfriend and I acquired two giant prickly stick insects, and using your information on the web we’ve been watching them grow with keen interest and joy. They have finished their final molt and we’ve been keeping an eye out for eggs, however since their last molt they have not eaten (save once, and very little at that) regardless of the leaves. My question being is this a sign of something wrong or do they recoup for a bit longer before eating after the final molt (usually they get hungry post molt after about a day or two, it is now approaching four days.)?

We haven’t seen any eggs dropped, but they are still little poop machines, not nearly as much before but only slightly less in that department, so I’m unsure what is going on as I can tell from the leaves they are not eating.

Thank you for your time,

Bryon Janich
Oregon, USA

I’m happy to tell that there is no need to worry about the health of these two stick insects. It is normal for stick insects to stop eating just before and just after shedding their skin. Sometimes that takes just one day, sometimes a bit more. It should not take more than around 5 days. A stick insect can live without food for some time, especially if they are older and bigger and thus have more reserves.

As the stick insects of Bryon still poop, they still have some food to digest so it’s even less crucial for them to eat. It’s important to keep the food available and keep the air humidity at high enough level. Spraying some extra water droplets more often will allow them to drink more, as when fasting they are not taking in any moisture from their food.

The eggs will not be produced until around 4 weeks after the final molt. With the giant prickly stick insect the eggs are very easily distinguished from the poop. The eggs cannot be missed. It’s just waiting now for them to be produced!

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Ghost mantis development in pictures

I’m happy to show you some new pictures I received from Jarno Akkersdijk. He made some stunning pictures of his Ghost mantids and shared them at his website http://ghostmantisnl.wixsite.com/home

I got permission to share them with you too. The pictures are great because they show the growth and development of a mantis in a clear way. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Ghost mantis development and growth

Ghost mantis female development and growth

Every time the mantis changed her skin, Jarno photographed her with a one euro coin for scale. At the last picture the mantis is adult and will not grow more.

A ghost mantis with an empty stomach and the same one just after eating a large meal.

A ghost mantis with an empty stomach and the same one just after eating a large meal.

You can clearly see how much food and fat a mantis has in its body. A mantis will store all of this in it abdomen. That is the last part of its body. When the mantis is eating you will see the abdomen becoming bigger and bigger. This picture illustrates that beautifully.

Ghost mantis differences males and females

Ghost mantis differences males and females

Male and female mantises look different. Here Jarno highlighted some differences between male and female ghost mantises.

Adult female ghost mantis

Adult female ghost mantis

Just a nice picture of an adult Ghost mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa) to end with. You can read more about this mantis species at the link.

Some beautiful submitted insects photographs

I got a message from Luc Bouffard from Canada. He is an insect enthousiast and photographer and allowed me to share his pictures with you.

Hi Linda, my name is Luc and I have been visiting your site often to learn more about the insect I photograph. I really enjoy your site, thank you.

Any of my bugs picture you can use for your website if needed.

 

Here are some of his pictures, click to enlarge them. Check out the rest at Luc’s Google+ page.

The species depicted are the following:

Mantis identification in Louisville, Kentucky

I got an email from a woman in Louisville, Kentucky. She wrote me the following:

I had a Praying Mantis land on me. I am sending a picture that was taken of it on me. I was wondering what species it was. I think it was male one time I look at it and a female the next. Can you tell which it is?
Your truly,
Rosemary

1006

With the picture it was easy to identify it. It is a female Carolina Mantis. It’s occurs naturally in Kentucky and other places in the US. Around this time you will be able to see many adult Carolina Mantises around. They are producing eggs that will survive the winter. The adults will die coming fall, when they have reached the end of their life, temperatures have dropped and food has become scarce. In the spring the eggs will hatch new mantis nymphs to continue the cycle.

Thank you Rosemary for allowing me to use the picture.

Meet Zompro’s Stick Insect

I got a new species of stick insect! I never had this one before. Many people like very brightly colored stick insects, but I also love the camouflaged ones. My first species where all plain stick-like looking, so I’ve kept a special place in my heart for them. The new species I have is Zompro’s Stick Insect, latin name Parapachymorpha zomproi. PSG 224.

I’ve made some pictures to share with you here. You can read more about this species at it’s own page Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi

Parapachymorpha-zomproi-adult3

What I like of this species is that the female has two tiny horns on its head. It reminded me of Medauroidea extradentata. I was doubting if I did not just find a different variant of Medauroidea extradentata, but the lobes on the legs and that the horns on the head where so short did not add up. Finally I managed to ID it as Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi.