Friday, 14 November 2014

Dares philippinensis

Hi guys

I am surprised by the amount of views my little, informal blog is getting, but I am still waiting for the comments ;)

Here are a few of my first instar Dares philippinensis nymphs. These are robust little buggers and tough as nails.

I love the primitive look of them, but this becomes enough more pronounced as they mature.

I am keeping them quite humid with wet peat as substrate (best substrate in my opinion) and feeding them on guava and mango and they are doing well.

The above one looks like a male and I am sure one can sex them from first instar stage, but I havent really bothered because I have quite a big group so there is  bound to be both sexes. 

Hope you enjoyed this awesome species. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Peruphasma schultei

Hi All

Been a while since my last post. Just thought I would do another short species profile.

This is Peruphasma schultei, probably one of the more common stick insects in the hobby, but also most certainly one of the most beautiful!

Despite being so common in the hobby, their natural habitat is limited to an area approximately the size of only 10 rugby/soccer fields. That may sound big, but that is minuscule compared to other species.

My culture consists of both the normal red-winged variety as well as the rarer pink wing morph, which is a recessive gene and acts just like the albino gene would in other animals. So if a pink winged animal would mate with a red winged animals, the resulting ova would all be red winged (heterozygous for the pink wing morph). And if a pink wing is bred to a pink wing, all resulting nymphs would be pink winged (simpler than it sounds).

I am currently keeping both varieties together, but I will separate them as they mature.

I am currently feeding them on Olive leaves. Strangely enough, their native foodplants of pepper trees of the genus Schinus. I supplied two different species of Schinus as well as the Olive leaves to the first instar nymphs and they did not even touch the papper leaves. Weird!

These phasmids actually prefer the enclosure slightly drier than other species, so although I spray them on the same regime as the other, I just spray a lot less. 

Hope you enjoyed this short summary of Peruphasma schultei!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Phasmid Ova/Egg Incubation

Okay, today's snippet is about the method (or one of the methods) of incubating phasmid ova.

Phasmid ova require a very specific set of conditions to hatch and these conditions are a bit tricky to achieve in captivity; they need high humidity and good ventilation. If you have good ventilation but low humidity, your eggs will dry out and if you have low ventilation with high humidity, your eggs will start going mouldy/funky.

I have managed to achieve these conditions by using a home made incubator aka plastic tub with a few holes.

I places my ova within small plastic containers which has a bit of mesh on the lid. These small containers serve to keep the ova/nymphs separate as well as to offer the nymphs a secure spot to "inflate" after hatching. They often prefer hanging upside down while doing this, hence the mesh lid.

But these small containers on their own have excellent ventilation, but dont hold humidity. To solve this, I place all the smaller containers into a larger plastic tub, which has a few holes drilled in the lid and sides. I add about 20mm of water at the bottom of the larger tub. As the water evaporates, it keeps the humidity high in the large tub.

I have tried a few substrates before finding one which I find suitable which included toilet paper, kitchen toweling, vermiculite etc, but I find that none work better than good old sand. The sand I use is sand sold for swimming pool filters. For ova that require particularly high humidity, I place a layer of wet vermiculite under the sand.

Here is one of the smaller tubs, filled with the sandy substrate. Note the label on the front on the tub.

And here is the larger tub containing all the small tubs. Note the mesh top to the smaller tubs.

For me this method works like a charm! 

Depending on how many species you are incubating and how much space you have available, it is possible to place ova from two different species together into a smaller tub, but make sure the nymphs and ova of the two species are distinct. I have seen too many people mix up ova and nymphs and after a while have no idea what species they are working with. 

Here is a tub with Haaniella dehaani (right) and Adropromachus scutatus "Tam Dao" (left) ova together. Note the MASSIVE difference in the appearance of the ova and nymphs are also very distinct. 

Thanx for reading! 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Xenophasmina simile "Chiang Mai"

Hi Guys. So this is one of my favourite species and the same one that is on the banner of the website. The species is called Xenophasmina simile "Chiang Mai" native to Thailand. 

They probably have THE BEST camouflage of any phasmid species, but unlike other species they dont mimic sticks/twigs, but rather mimic the bark by flattening themselves on plants. 

Awesome awesome awesome. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My Culture List

Hi Guys

Have a look on the gadgets to the left of the page, I have displayed my current culture list. I will update as my collection progresses.

If any readers have question you would like answered, please feel free to give me a shout. I am happy to help.


1st Instar Andropromachus scutatus "Tam Dao" probably one of the smaller phasmid nymphs around. I would guess this one is 3mm total length.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Nymph Size Relative to Ovum Size

Okay, went to check my little incubator box and found some nymphs busy hatching and just hatched. I took a few pics to show the few readers how much the nymphs must be compressed to fit inside the ovum.

First here is probably the most beautiful phasmids species (Google it if you dont trust me ;)) which is in the process of hatching, Parectatosoma cf. hystrix "Moramanga" which occurs naturally in Madagascar. This little nymph is almost done hatching.

When they get stuck in the position, they can often lose their legs or even die, so I often help them by simply restraining the ovum with my fingers a bit, allowing them to pull out. 

And here is a freshly hatched Haaniella dehaani, which had not even had time to straighten out its antennae. This species has one of the largest ova of all phasmids, roughly pea-sized.  This one's exoskeleton has not even had time to harden, so one needs to leave them until this is done. 

Hope you guys enjoyed and learnt something. 

Ramulus artemis

Okay, camera has arrived and so far I am super chuffed.

Here are a few pictures, we will start with probably the most common and easiest to care for species, Ramulus artemis. This is a parthenogenic species which means there are no males in culture today (mean there are no males in captivity). Strangely enough, this is actually the case with quite a few phasmid species.

Here are the ova (eggs). They are quite small, probably 4-5mm long.

That little finged circle at the one side is called the operculum, which is the "egg cap." That is the part that opens up when the nymph emerges. I will post some pictures later of other species showing the size of the newly hatched nymph relative to the size of the egg. You will be amazed!

The adults are fairly typical phasmids, green coloured, about 120mm long (excluding forelegs) and quite smooth.

I feed them mostly on mango leaves, but they are know to take rose, bramble and many other leaves. They are even known to feed on grass and parsley!

If you have any questions regarding this species, or its care, please give me a shout.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Excuse for lack of photos

Okay okay, I realise a blog sucks if there are no photos to look at.

At my defense, I am currently waiting for a new camera, the Olympus TG-3 to arrive From South Africa. The postal services are currently on strike so all deliveries are delayed.

If you didn't know, in Africa the common thing is if you are delivering a public service which you know is a necessity (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.) you simply have a meeting with all you colleagues, stop working and hold the entire country ransom until you monthly wages are and games.

So once I have my camera delivered, I will take some decent photos of all my phasmid species, enclosures, ova etc.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hi and Welcome

Hi All

Little basic introduction from my side. My name is Westley Price. I am a South Africa geologist, currently working and living in Namibia with my wife. No children as of yet. We live in a small toen in northern Namibia which, contrary to what most people think of when imagining Namibia, is quite a nice, sub-tropical place region with the highest rainfall in the entire country.

When I lived in South Africa, I had an extensive collection of snakes, with my main focus being on Asian Colubrids. I just loved the captive husbandry of snakes, but I am also a amateur field herper and try to get into the field as much as possible.

When we moved to Namibia, I was forced to sell my entire collection of snakes due to the different legalities in Namibia, so I decided to focus more on field herping. It went well for a few months, but they I realised I had a hole in my heart; I terribly missed keeping reptiles.

I started investigating alternative exotic pets I could keep, which could fill this gap. I started by narrowing it down to invertebrates (all exotic reptile banned in Namibia, mammals too much effort, fish...same thing). I investigated which invertebrates I could successfully keep and because I am TERRIBLE at breeding feeder insects successfully, I further narrowed my search to herbivorous inverts.

I really struggled to find a group that I found interesting; snails were boring, katydids are okay I guess, but then I came across some Extatosoma tiaratum ova for sale on a website. This single event changed my life since, because it sent my down the wormhole investigating phasmids!

I had no idea there was such a wide variety of species out there, and I was even more surprised to learn that there's an entire global (mostly European) community of people who keep and breed many of these species and simply exchange the ova with other enthusiasts. After being involved in the reptile community, which resolves around buying/selling and large amount of money, for so long it was refreshing to make contact with like-minded people who are simply in the hobby for the fun/satisfaction of it.

So yeah, my next post will outline my first (read unsuccessful) dabblings in the fascinating world of phasmids. I hope by sharing all my experiences/care tips and notes, I will be able to firstly help other who are looking at starting this freaky and fascinating hobby and secondly make contact with others who also share my interest.

Cheers and thanx for reading!