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 Post subject: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:07 pm 
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Hey folks, this is my first time posting on the forum, cheers for letting me in!

My area of interest is really mantids and Phasmids, but my local reptile shop was selling some xylotrupes gideon larvae, and I bought one, along with a box of pachnoda grubs (being sold as livefood, which I've never seen before in the UK) as a first foray into beetles, which I was very excited about.

I went away to a festival for a few days and four of the pachnoda exuviated while I wasn't home. All have since died, their wingcases looked dented and their wings didn't fold inside. Is this a humidity problem? My first question is, how do I give them the right conditions to effectively emerge from their pupa? Do they need to be buried in the substrate? I followed all the advice given by the shop and did a fair amount of my own research, but I have obviously not done something correctly.

Question number two is the rhino larva has since shrivelled up and become much smaller. It looks dehydrated, but it has been provided with damp soil, warm conditions (on top of beardie viv) and food. It is still alive but hardly moving, and I assume it won't last much longer. It lives in that specifically tailored beetle substrate I bought from the shop, with some white rotten willow wood added in. I gave it a couple of pieces of dog kibble soaked in warm water, but not too much, as advised. A couple of days ago I spotted a few tiny white mites on the dog food. I removed it, but the mites multiplied and now there are a large number of them. I put the grub in some dry white rotten wood for a day to dessicate the mites on it, which worked, but I fear the poor guy is too far gone to save. I'll post some pics if anyone things it'll be helpful, but any advice would be brilliant. I am planning to get into beetles, but this knocked my confidence a bit. Hopefully I can rectify whatever I did wrong, or at least learn from this. Thanks guys!


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:07 am 
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Hi there and welcome to BN!

These two species, mainly pachnodas, are specially recommended for beginners, because they are very easy to rear, so probably we are missing something from your detailed report. In my experience you can almost forget them in the rearing containers and they success to do the whole cycle without problem. Could you post these pictures you mention? They might be helpful to determine any possible thing missing :)

What's the size of the rearing containers? Can you show us your beetle substrate? With which frequency do you usually remove the frass/ refresh the substrate? Normally larvae won't need anything else to feed on than the substrate they live in, which in some species should include a good percentage of rotten white wood, as you mentionned (better made it sawdust than in a whole log for most of species). I am not sure if willow works fine, but I can tell you that oak and beech do the job very well. Any other food supplements might be helpful to make larvae grow larger before pupation, but they are not necessary at all for the most common beetle species.

Cheers,
Isaac


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:57 pm 
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Cheers for the reply mate

Y'see that's why I bought them, I thought that was the case too, maybe I should be sticking to sticks lol. I've worked out both answers I think, the bright spark who sold me the pachnodas has removed them from their cases, I reckon it's something to do with not being able to form their wing case shape properly when they don't have their little pod, as another exuviated this morning and its wing cases are almost normal looking, but the wings still stick out from underneathI don't think there's much I can do, but I have a couple of larvae, so I'll make sure those two stay in their little pods when they make em.

The substrate for both is very fine leaf litter mixed with soil and white rotten wood for the X. Gideon, plus a grape cut in half for the pachnoda grubs. I found some rotten oak today, but I don't think the Gideon is going to survive. His problem was definitely mites, they were all clustered around his little mouthparts, inside, in fact, and some on his body. I checked on him every day but I thought him getting wrinklier was getting ready to shed. Idk what these mites are but I've done him some more substrate and had him in some bone dry white rotten wood for a couple of days, they're all gone from him but were still alive in the old substrate, which I boiled, didn't want to infect any wild beetles on the offchance they weren't species specific. He's wiggling a lot more now, but not moving his mouthparts at all, and very tiny and shrivelled. I think it's too late for the poor guy. Any tips on how to resurrect him/get him to eat?


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:39 am 
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Hi Mr. King,

I am going to be quite honest to you (and this has nothing to do with you personally, absolutely not, so please I hope you do not take it like that, but I think it might help you when you try the breeding of beetles again and this time with the all the CORRECT information that you should've received from the seller).

Nearly everything you mentioned in your previous messages was actually the wrong way to handle your larvae/pupae.

To answer your questions/remarks:

"I went away to a festival for a few days and four of the pachnoda exuviated while I wasn't home." You mean that these hatched from the pupa?

"All have since died, their wingcases looked dented and their wings didn't fold inside. Is this a humidity problem?" Most probably yes, but the first question would be: how were the cocoons kept? Were the pupae actually still in cocoons? In what dimensions did you keep the larvae anyway? We would indeed need photos.

"My first question is, how do I give them the right conditions to effectively emerge from their pupa? Do they need to be buried in the substrate? I followed all the advice given by the shop and did a fair amount of my own research, but I have obviously not done something correctly." Pachnoda larvae would normally (at least standard) need a plastic box filled with a mixture of around 70:30 leaf humus:decayed wood (but even only leaf humus alone would do the trick here) + enough space for them to build their cocoons/pupal cells: standard would be around 15 cm substrate depth and maximum 10 L3 larvae per 5 L. of substrate. About the reptile shop, no offence to them, but 99% of them do not know how to breed beetles and will give you poor information. The larvae they sell are either sold of live food (you said it yourself), kept in poor conditions or are rarely offered to them as extras (like the Xylotrupes sp. here) from their local wild collectors (their main focus are reptiles which is the most lucrative business as well).

"Question number two is the rhino larva has since shrivelled up and become much smaller. It looks dehydrated, but it has been provided with damp soil, warm conditions (on top of beardie viv) and food." This is not good at all. Most beetle larvae have an optimal temperature of around 18-25°C. Basically, the heat from the beardie viv heated the substrate up to 40+°C, so yes most probably this larva is dying/lost... Rearing containers with larvae do not need any extra heating except only the room temperature; moreover, because of placing these near (or on top of) a heating source the humidity in the container rapidly decreases and becomes bone dry as you mentioned. The substrate should be moderately humidified (similar to fresh potting soil out of the bag).

"It is still alive but hardly moving, and I assume it won't last much longer. It lives in that specifically tailored beetle substrate I bought from the shop, with some white rotten willow wood added in. I gave it a couple of pieces of dog kibble soaked in warm water, but not too much, as advised. A couple of days ago I spotted a few tiny white mites on the dog food. I removed it, but the mites multiplied and now there are a large number of them. I put the grub in some dry white rotten wood for a day to dessicate the mites on it, which worked, but I fear the poor guy is too far gone to save." Xylotrupes sp. larvae or any other Dynastid species do not need any additives at all to become big and healthy; they just need a good decayed wood/leaf humus substrate and plenty of space in the box for them to build their pupal cell. For 1 L3 larva of Xylotrupes you would need at least 1 to 2 L. of substrate. Decayed wood of willow is ok, but I would rather go for beech or oak if available. What type of special substrate did the reptile shop sell you? Do you have the composition of it?

"The substrate for both is very fine leaf litter mixed with soil and white rotten wood for the X. Gideon, plus a grape cut in half for the pachnoda grubs. I found some rotten oak today, but I don't think the Gideon is going to survive. His problem was definitely mites, they were all clustered around his little mouthparts, inside, in fact, and some on his body. I checked on him every day but I thought him getting wrinklier was getting ready to shed. Idk what these mites are but I've done him some more substrate and had him in some bone dry white rotten wood for a couple of days, they're all gone from him but were still alive in the old substrate, which I boiled, didn't want to infect any wild beetles on the offchance they weren't species specific. He's wiggling a lot more now, but not moving his mouthparts at all, and very tiny and shrivelled. I think it's too late for the poor guy. Any tips on how to resurrect him/get him to eat?" The substrate sounds OK for the X. gideon (but still, oak would be better). The mites are there because of the dog pellet you gave which was probably never touched; I would definitely not do this again during the next trial; just simple and nice decayed wood of oak/beech and finely shredded leaf litter from the same trees (also, do not boil/freeze or "disinfect" any of the substrate collected; this is absolutely not necessary and will only contribute even more to the mite explosion (you kill off any of the naturally present organisms in the substrate leading to a re-population with the fastest growing of them all - yes indeed: mites. That's also why you felt obliged to put him for a while on bone dry substrate and check on him every day (but once again, this is worse for the larva, both the bone dry substrate and the daily check - larvae should not be checked/touched for at least 3 weeks up to a month, given the correct breeding conditions/dimensions and mites would never be present without the additive). Resurrecting this larva will most probably not happen, but you can still try to give it the best conditions.

Here's a useful caresheet: http://bahamutbeetlesbreeding.skynetblogs.be/caresheet/

I hope all of this helps you for your next trial; definitely do not be discouraged because of what happened with your larvae. You were just badly informed.

Best of luck.
Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:45 am 
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I have EXTREMELY limited knowledge of beetles and my attempts have all ended in failure (so far ;)), but I reckon the mites are grain mites.

I previously couldnt determine where on earth these bloody mites came from until from basic experiments I realised they come from additives, whether fish flakes, dog food or any other protein or starch rich additives. The are likely present in the bags of dog food, but in such small concentrations that one doesnt see them. And then once they are given the correct conditions (warm, humid) the population simply explodes.

So as the others have mentioned, next time rather give it a go on a "purer" substrate. I currently have a small group of MTU grubs in a pure leaf litter substrate doing well and a very small number of mites (probably spill-over from my mealworms).

Cheers

_________________
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:23 pm 
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Despite what a lot of caresheets or beetle rearing blogs say, there is very little need to add additional protein to the substrate of most fruit beetles. The ideas to do this come from breeders in Japan, who measure their horned beetles and stag beetles down to the last millimeter in the hope of producing a "record" beetle a couple of mm larger than anyone else. Protein is an important consideration when trying to rear major males of species with lots of ornamentation, but it needs to be done carefully and with restraint. Add too much and the extra food is not eaten by the beetle larvae, but provides a welcome food source for grain mites which will multiply explosively as you have found out.

All of the smaller fruit beetles like Pachnoda and Smaragdethes will happily produce good sized adults without the addition of dog food or other additional protein as long as they have a good quality substrate. They seem to do best in quite humid conditions, so keep the ventilation of the tank to a minimal level to prevent the substrate from drying out.

Good luck with your next attempt.


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:18 am 
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Thanks to all of you for the correct advice that I should have received when I was sold the larvae, I couldn't ask for something more comprehensive. Cheers for being understanding too, it's easy to blow up at a rookie who doesn't know what he's doing. I agree, I am honestly dumbfounded that essentially every part of the information I was given was so far from the truth. That'll teach me to expect people to know what they're talking about, I should have collected my own methods.

I shall do my best with the Xylotrupes, and rear the rest of the pachnoda in the necessary conditions. I'll try with some more larger grubs at some point too, I think I shall find someone who really cares about beetles who I can purchase them from, and ask for an explanation of their methods of rearing too. I really love these insects, and the pet shop who I purchased the original ones from has two chalcosoma atlas adults who are just lying on their backs in minuscule containers about twice the size of the beetles. I dearly want to buy them to remove them from the situation, but they're probably asking ungodly prices for them and I'll be funding their awful insect keeping practises... thank hell for bug forums.


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:37 am 
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Hi CockatielKing,

It's our pleasure of course. :)
Actually, it's not your fault at all; the reason I "slightly" blew up was actually against the reptile shop you bought your larvae from.

Now that you've mentioned the 2 Chalcosoma atlas beetles in the shop, I am 100% sure about it and I recognize the situation completely. When I was younger (also "rookie" at that time :)), I experienced exactly the same scenario here in Belgium at a PetCo store; funnily in my case, I bought one of those Chalcosoma atlas beetles (at, indeed, a very high price). Right outside the shop, I could finally inspect the beetle thoroughly and realized it was at the end of its life (felt very light upon lifting). I came right back in to tell the co-workers in the shop and they just lifted up their shoulders in total uninterest while saying "ah, it's just a beetle".

As said, these are definitely extras from imports of reptiles/amphibians and, as sad as it sounds, they are being very poorly kept.

I think it would be more interesting for you to find the beetles/larvae here on the forum (or other specialized fora on the web; please notice, there is at least one "international" forum about beetles for each neighbouring European country :wink: ).

We do often offer or sell beetles/larvae on this forum; you can always check the classifieds and feedback ads: viewforum.php?f=463

In any case, feel free to ask any additional questions, always welcome.

All the best,
Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Shrivelled grub
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:07 am 
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Hi there,

I am really sorry for the delay (pretty busy days lately here around). I cannot do other thing that joining all the previous comments and explanations, and encouraging you to continue giving a try with the pachnodas and maybe other beetle larvae which you may be able to find from very nice and dedicated people in the forum. Nobody is born an expert, but I am pretty sure you will get the hang of it very soon! :D

Cheers


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