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davehuth

Advice? Phellopsis obcordata - Eastern Ironclad Beetle

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One of the most productive location for finding new beetles this year has been a bracket mushroom covered hemlock tree about a half mile hike from my house. I'm blown away by the diverse ecosystem of creatures assembled around fungal colonies.

One of the biggest thrills has been discovering Eastern Ironclad Beetles there after dark (Phellopsis obcordata) https://bugguide.net/node/view/46042 . These things are bonkers little tough guys that look like smaller, browner, rougher textured versions of the Nosoderma (Diabolical Ironclad Beetles) out west. 

I've collected a small group of them and am hoping someone else might have tried keeping and breeding them. I have them in a high ventilation enclosure featuring a large bracket mushroom resting on a thin layer of crushed wood and leaves. 

I'm especially concerned about getting moisture levels right. I lost a group of Bolitotherus because they dried out, but keeping the Phellopsis too damp is making the bracket moldy.

I'm also wondering if anyone is aware if there are supplemental foods I should offer them? 

Their behaviors are interesting so far, they spend the daytime among the crushed wood and leaves, and then move to the bracket each night to chew on it. Such interesting little beasts

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I don’t know much about care, but keeping some bark behind the fungus might help them? Planning to sell any of these guys any time soon? Also, it might be good to isolate the fungus in a cage for a while, just until the mold takes its toll and dies off

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On 6/18/2019 at 9:00 PM, AlexW said:

They will likely eat at least some normal darkling foods

OK I will try this! I presume you mean dog kibble/carrot/fish pellets/apple ? Let me know if you've found other reliably standard darkling foods. Thanks!

On 6/17/2019 at 12:29 PM, Bugboy3092 said:

 Planning to sell any of these guys any time soon?

Part of my motivation in working with local species is to try to bring more diversity of North American inverts to the hobby, so I would love to share these with other keepers if I have any success :-) 

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5 hours ago, davehuth said:

OK I will try this! I presume you mean dog kibble/carrot/fish pellets/apple ? Let me know if you've found other reliably standard darkling foods. Thanks!

Yes, fruits/vegs/vertebratefood.

Petals of non-poisonous plants are highly attractive for tenebs, isopods, and other omnivorous grazers; for drought-tolerant spp. they can be dried and left in the cage for long periods (unsweetened cereals and sometimes lettuce can also be used this way).

 

Do note that grain moths/beetles like Plodia will breed in dried petal piles of sufficiently large size.

 

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Just a brief update--

For whatever reason, I've stopped finding these in the wild the last couple weeks (though they're very cryptic as you can see in the photo below, which contains 3 individuals...)

I've divided the enclosure into 2 halves. 1. a slightly damp side of leaf litter, bark, decomposing wood, and broken chunks of a variety of fungus. 2. And a more dry side of just a single large bracket mushroom.

I've tried supplemental foods: they aren't interested in carrot or dog kibble, but they give some attention to apple. I'll try grains next.

They'll gnaw on multiple kinds of fungal growth. 

Their behavior is puzzling. They disappear for days at a time in the leaves and wood, and then return to the bracket mushroom to feed in the open. In the past week they've started energetically burrowing into the bracket for the first time, rather than scraping along the outer surface. I haven't observed mating (there are 7 unsexed individuals in my group) or anything resembling egg laying. But it's not easy to track what they're doing when they disappear into the various crevices and crannies of the enclosure.

So, they remain alive, active, and mysterious. 

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