Phasmotaenia spinosa

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• • a new species, of which I got the first eggs in Spring 2006, directly from Malaita. from a highland rainforest in Central Kwara'ae Province, Malaita Island (Solomon Islands) as well as other localities on Malaita Island. It seems to be quite a common species on Malaita. The current culture is from a mountainous area in Central Kwara'ae Province, Malaita. Species ID by Oskar Conle

• Males are coloured in different shades of brown, sometimes with a faint greenish hue. Some dark brown spots all over the body. Their body lenght is about 9 cm. Hind wings are fully developed, reaching to the end of the 5 th adominal segment. Membranous part of the hind wings is almost colourless and translucent. They are able to fly and do sometimes quite unexpectedly. Forewings are very short (about 3-4mm). Feelers are about 4 cm long. Males tend to react a bit less excited than the females when being handled. On the mesonotum (espcially on its middle section), as well as on the side of the metanotum and the mid and hind legs femur, there are some distinct, yet small spines. Those on the mesonotum are darker coloured.

• Females are very variable in colour – mainly different shades of brown, giving them a bark like appearance. Occacionally there are green patches or even females of a predominatley green colour. Their lenght ranges between 13-15 cm, but I also had females which were only 10 cm long. They have rudimentary wings. Membranous area of the hind wings (aleae) can be displayed when they feel disturbed, thus showing their very beautifully colours - a bright red with a thick outer black band. They do flash the hind wings when feeling disturbed, frequently when being handled. Forewings about 5-7 mm, hind wings about 9-11 mm. They have a well developed subgenital plate, which is about 1 cm longer than the anal segment. The subgenital plate is being use to fling eggs away. There are distinct spines on the mesonotum, as well as on the lateral side of the metanotum and the femur of the middle and hind legs. The spines on the mesonotum are darker coloured. Antenneae are about 4 cm long, about 1 cm longer than the fore legs femur. They have long legs with lobous expansion on the distal part of the middle and hind leg's femur. An interesting characteristic of the females is that their thorax gets a very swollen appearance when they have just eaten. During the day the thorax then shrinks again. It seems that they are storing their food first in the area of the thorax.

• • • see detailed pics on dimensions: approximately 3,7 x 2,2 mm The nymphs hatch readily after about 3-4 months. Eggs of this species tend to go mouldy very easily. To my surprise it seems that this did not affect the hatching ratio negatively. Hatching ratio can be as high as 70 - 90%. Eggs get significantly less mouldy if kept only on damp sand, together with a culture of spring tails. Further notes on this further down.

• • • • The first generation was very difficult to upraise, as most nymphs would not start to feed. Only very few individuals got adult on bramble, oak and raspberry. The nymphs of the second generation took easily to bramble. They grew up without further problem in an fairly airy cage. I sprayed their cage only once or twice a week with water, but there is a wet tissue on the bottom of the cage. Nymphs have particularly long legs already on hatching, so enough space for them is needed to avoid them getting crippled (especially when several nymphs hatch during the same night). Hatching takes place during the night. Apart from bramble, they will accept raspberry very easily and to a lesser degress also oak. Others reported that they

feed also on hypericum. • with some experience sexing of nymphs is easily possible by the second instar. By the the second instar one will see a noticable difference between the abdominal ending of males and females. This differentiation becomes easier with each subsequent moult. This is usually be done by checking the ventral side (= „belly side“) of the abdomen tip. Males will have a small and distinct bump (called technically Poculum), which the females do not have. Further by the 3rd instar many females will have more black/dark dots on their abdomen and prothorax and the females do develop a prolonged supraanal plate. The reached adulthood with about 4 (males) to 5 months (females). As usual, males (having one moult less) mature earlier than the females. Espcially females can react very disturbed when being touched. So they need to be handled carefully females tend to get stressed when there are too many males in the same cage. They might even stop feeding and die. Therefore I keep the adult males in a seperate cage. Males are only being put in the cage with the females for a few days every two weeks or so. And I make shure that there are always less males as there are females in the same cage. After about 2 - 3 weeks females start to lay eggs – approximately 2-3 eggs a day

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good luck with this species and distribute them I would be happy to hear from you about your experiences Bruno Kneubühler (Switzerland)

Some general notes on how I breed phasmids:
• eggs are incubated in boxes with 2-3 cm of washed sand. Using only sand as incubation substrate has some advantages: - contrary to paper, sand can much easier be moistened again when dried up accidentally - mould does not grow on sand, but it grows on paper. This is especially an advantage when incubating eggs of species which take a long time to hatch - can be washed and reused many times - eggs tend to be more resistant to mould when incubated on sand tap water might be chlorinated and thus harmful to insects (as it is for humans). In case you do not know about the preservatives used in your drinking water, ask your local authorities. To be on the safe side, boil water without a lid for some 10 minutes or buy bottled mineral water (in case you suspect that your water is chlorinated) boxes used for incubating eggs should be appropriate to the size of the hatching nymphs. If too small, then nymphs will be crippled or have bent legs or even a crippled body neither keep phasmid eggs on soaking wet substrate, nor let them dry up for a prolonged time. Though some species (e.g. those from rainforests) are more vulnerable to dryness than others (e.g. those from more arid locations) here you can see a pic of one of my phasmid egg incubation boxes: The sand serves as a reservoir for humidity. Thus you do not have to check the humidity so often. keep nymphs in smaller cages than the adults, thus you will have a better overview about their well-being. Transfer them to bigger cages of appropriate size as they grow up cut / trim leave margins with scissors, this often makes it easier for nymphs to start feeding keep your phasmids in cages which are well ventilated. For species which need a higher humidity and for nymphs, keep up humidity by spraying them regularly with water and wet paper tissue or soil (like peat or similar) on the cage floor and reduce the ventilation areas. But even for high humidity loving species it is not advisable to keep them in cages without any proper ventilation (e.g. closed aquariums). phasmids in overcrowded cages tend to be much more stressed (which does not come as a surprise to the caring phasmid breeder). These are some results when keeping phasmids in an overcrowded cage: 1) moulting problems will be much more common, thus more individuals will be crippled, deformed and loose legs 2) they tend to chew on each others body parts

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3) they tend to be smaller than specimens which grow up in a non-overcrowded cage Use your own sensitiveness to find out whether a cage is overcrowded or not – being sensitive to the needs of a living entity is a strength in our hobby too • • • • • • regularly clean cages, egg incubation boxes and flasks used for food plants (even pigs to not like to live in their own stool - although some two-legged pigs make them live that way) there is a wet paper tissue on the bottom of my cages. During spring until autumn I spray the cages only 1-2 times a week. In winter, due to low humidity in my phasmid room, cages are being sprayed more often if possible, feed your sticks with more than one food plant - they will just be healthier be not shy trying to find new food plants for your sticks - and let the world know about your discoveries if you live in a country where phasmids might survive winter, be especially careful that they do not escape. Species which do not belong to the native fauna in your area, may cause great havoc to the whole ecosystem spingtails (Collembola) are used to control fungus / mould growth in the incubation containers – this is highly recommended. Collect them in the wild, check the flower pots in your appartement or get them from poison dart frog breeders or pet shops in your area. No - I am not selling or shipping these little helpers, you have to get them yourself. These insects are found all over the planet How to breed springtails: Breeding springtails is very easy - use a plastic box, cut a hole in the lid, cover the hole with a fine tissue (e.g. stockings), put some moist moss, straw or chipped bark in it, add quite a bit of phasmid dung and of course some springtails. Do not let this dry up, as spring tails are very vulnerable to dryness and dye very quickly ! Put some phasmid dung in the container where you are incubating your phasmid eggs and ad some spring tails. This dung serves as food for the springtails and thus they will multiply numerously. Springtails are no threat for phasmid eggs and hatching nymphs. As mentionend above, if you keep springtails in your incubation boxes, then do not let the box dry up

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