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Topsoil with perlite particles as substrate for flower beetle larvae?


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I recently started using Michigan Peat Garden Magic Top Soil for my L2 Cotinis mutabilis and Gymnetis thula larvae, would they survive in it? The soil seems to be made up of peat moss, sand, and a bit of perlite, plus some dried and crushed oak leaves I added. I'm not too concerned about the sand, as C. mutabilis are often found in sandy soils, and G. thula live in a similar way, but would the perlite particles kill them? They're pretty small grainy bits, just like the sand. All the other threads seem to have different answers on how it would affect the larvae... Some say it would kill them by blocking their digestive tract or cutting their skin, while others say they've raised larvae in potting soil with perlite just fine.

On a side note, I have a couple questions about their diet. Could the larvae of both species live off of only dried oak leaves? Oak flake soil is pretty expensive... I don't have any white-rotten hardwood near me, and making my own oak flake soil would take too long. My current option for the larvae is to mix some kind of soil or compost with shredded dried leaves, which (according to all the care guides of read) seems to work for most flower beetle species. I could also occasionally give them a slice of apple, which Peter from BIC recommended.

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I’ve used potting soil with perlite for flower beetles before and it worked ok. If it’s super fine though (sand fine) then I’d use a different substrate, as the large pellets can be avoided or removed.

 

From what I know, some easy to rear Cetoniinae beetle grubs can survive on oak leaves or potting soil/compost alone, with the main compromise being adult size, growth speed, and lifespan. In an ideal world, the oak leaves would also be decayed. 

 

I think you should try to find a different soil brand. Aim for organic compost or something similar. This stuff can be purchased for cheap at local landscaping companies if your local chain store doesn’t sell anything else. Mixing the oak leaves (I’m assuming store bought in bags) into the compost will allow them to decompose a bit and be better for the grub.

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On 1/20/2023 at 2:52 PM, jake7917 said:

I’ve used potting soil with perlite for flower beetles before and it worked ok. If it’s super fine though (sand fine) then I’d use a different substrate, as the large pellets can be avoided or removed.

 

From what I know, some easy to rear Cetoniinae beetle grubs can survive on oak leaves or potting soil/compost alone, with the main compromise being adult size, growth speed, and lifespan. In an ideal world, the oak leaves would also be decayed. 

 

I think you should try to find a different soil brand. Aim for organic compost or something similar. This stuff can be purchased for cheap at local landscaping companies if your local chain store doesn’t sell anything else. Mixing the oak leaves (I’m assuming store bought in bags) into the compost will allow them to decompose a bit and be better for the grub.

The perlite is pretty fine. I believe somewhere in my shed I have a bag of pretty much the same thing, but without perlite. Would fine sand be an issue though? 

Tomorrow I'll be on the lookout for already decayed leaves, since they should be in the same spot I normally collect my dried oak leaves at. I just used dried because they're easier for me to get.

I was also wondering if I could mix the soil with dirt from my garden, just to save resources? There's a pile of packed dirt (just dirt, not potting soil or compost or anything) that I often find worms in. Although there's not really any nutritional value, I could still mix it with the potting soil right?

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On 1/20/2023 at 2:05 PM, bmb1bee said:

I recently started using Michigan Peat Garden Magic Top Soil for my L2 Cotinis mutabilis and Gymnetis thula larvae, would they survive in it? The soil seems to be made up of peat moss, sand, and a bit of perlite, plus some dried and crushed oak leaves I added. I'm not too concerned about the sand, as C. mutabilis are often found in sandy soils, and G. thula live in a similar way, but would the perlite particles kill them? They're pretty small grainy bits, just like the sand. All the other threads seem to have different answers on how it would affect the larvae... Some say it would kill them by blocking their digestive tract or cutting their skin, while others say they've raised larvae in potting soil with perlite just fine.

On a side note, I have a couple questions about their diet. Could the larvae of both species live off of only dried oak leaves? Oak flake soil is pretty expensive... I don't have any white-rotten hardwood near me, and making my own oak flake soil would take too long. My current option for the larvae is to mix some kind of soil or compost with shredded dried leaves, which (according to all the care guides of read) seems to work for most flower beetle species. I could also occasionally give them a slice of apple, which Peter from BIC recommended.

Get a bag of compost instead.

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On 1/22/2023 at 7:15 AM, Dynastes said:

Get a bag of compost instead.

We don't really have any good compost around here. The last bag of "compost" I bought was filled with bits of glass and plastic. My only other options are worm castings and manure, which I don't think I'll be using for my grubs.

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On 1/22/2023 at 11:35 AM, bmb1bee said:

We don't really have any good compost around here. The last bag of "compost" I bought was filled with bits of glass and plastic. My only other options are worm castings and manure, which I don't think I'll be using for my grubs.

I find metal wire and plastic bags among the plastic debris in the compost these days, but it really doesn't matter.

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On 1/22/2023 at 11:49 AM, Dynastes said:

I find metal wire and plastic bags among the plastic debris in the compost these days, but it really doesn't matter.

It doesn't harm them?

Earlier I was able to make a mix of shredded oak leaves, white rot oak wood, top soil, and garden soil. This would fine for flower beetles like G. thula and C. mutabilis right?

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On 1/22/2023 at 9:21 PM, bmb1bee said:

It doesn't harm them?

Earlier I was able to make a mix of shredded oak leaves, white rot oak wood, top soil, and garden soil. This would fine for flower beetles like G. thula and C. mutabilis right?

They do not eat the plastic or metal.

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On 1/23/2023 at 7:58 AM, Dynastes said:

They do not eat the plastic or metal.

I'm just worried small bits of plastic and metal could cut them... Regardless, the substrate I mentioned should hopefully be fine to use. I froze the oak leaves and rotten wood overnight before I shredded them, so there shouldn't be pests in there. 

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On 1/23/2023 at 12:17 PM, bmb1bee said:

I'm just worried small bits of plastic and metal could cut them... Regardless, the substrate I mentioned should hopefully be fine to use. I froze the oak leaves and rotten wood overnight before I shredded them, so there shouldn't be pests in there. 

I would suggest using the compost manure in place of the top soil and garden soil. If you really like soil try raised bed since it is half compost manure and potting soil. 

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On 1/23/2023 at 9:49 AM, Dynastes said:

I would suggest using the compost manure in place of the top soil and garden soil. If you really like soil try raised bed since it is half compost manure and potting soil. 

I think the Lowe's by me has some organic raised bed soil, I'll go check it out sometime. Thanks for the tips!

By the way, by compost manure, are you referring to actual manure as in compost made from steer and chicken waste? Just wondering if that would work too.

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On 1/20/2023 at 9:30 PM, bmb1bee said:

The perlite is pretty fine. I believe somewhere in my shed I have a bag of pretty much the same thing, but without perlite. Would fine sand be an issue though? 

Tomorrow I'll be on the lookout for already decayed leaves, since they should be in the same spot I normally collect my dried oak leaves at. I just used dried because they're easier for me to get.

I was also wondering if I could mix the soil with dirt from my garden, just to save resources? There's a pile of packed dirt (just dirt, not potting soil or compost or anything) that I often find worms in. Although there's not really any nutritional value, I could still mix it with the potting soil right?

The top layer of a forest with a mix of leaves and small bits of wood is a great substrate for Cetoniinae as well, since you say you have access to that.

 

If the perlite is too fine, i feel like it could potentially be eaten as it will be stuck to a lot of the organic pieces.

 

There’s no need to add the soil from outside in your yard. I sometimes add compost to leaf/wood mixes to add a bit of extra volume to it, but adding dirt will do nothing. Especially since compost seems to be the best option. The dirt would be pointless as it has already reached a later decomposition stage than decayed wood or leaves that beetle larvae will consume. There isn’t many usable nutrients.

 

Compost manure works fine. It is essentially cow poop that has decayed to a point where it is regular soil. There is no odour from it and anything that will make it unsanitary is no longer present. Much like how your organic bin will eventually turn into a pile of odourless soil after some time. Still wash your hands though lol
 

Regular organic compost has a good amount of nutrition too, and shrimp/crustacean “sea” compost is a good option too. These are all varieties I’ve seen at chain stores. Just stay away from anything with a  fertilizer ratio and you’ll be fine.
 

Really anything that is organic and decayed can be eaten by a lot of the less picky beetle larvae. Wood and leaves just are easier to source a lot of the time, as you just need to go outside. 


Sanitizing isn’t really necessarily either, but this is a whole other debate. These animals come from the wild where many small organisms and pests live anyways. I would only sanitize if you see a lot of worms or macro inverts. Most of the little mites and other microfauna won’t have much effect.

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On 1/23/2023 at 10:12 PM, jake7917 said:

If the perlite is too fine, i feel like it could potentially be eaten as it will be stuck to a lot of the organic pieces.

Would fine sand be an issue? I feel like sand too would run the risk of being eaten, but Cotinis and Gymnetis seem to live in sandy soil from what I've read... That's kind of why I mixed the soil from my garden in, so that there would be more filling and less sand, even if there aren't any nutrients in the soil itself. The leaf litter and wood should compensate for it though.

As for the other things you've mentioned, I have all the leaf litter and wood I need, so my larvae should be good to go. I've heard that steer manure causes leg rot in beetle larvae though, is that true? If that's the case, I'll likely use some other kind of compost (depending on how cheap it is lol).

Sanitizing the substrate wouldn't be much of a problem, but I've relocated all the worms I've found and frozen the wood overnight. There shouldn't be much more than a couple mites in their substrate at this point, which I don't really mind.

Thanks for your help!

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On 1/23/2023 at 11:38 PM, bmb1bee said:

Would fine sand be an issue? I feel like sand too would run the risk of being eaten, but Cotinis and Gymnetis seem to live in sandy soil from what I've read... That's kind of why I mixed the soil from my garden in, so that there would be more filling and less sand, even if there aren't any nutrients in the soil itself. The leaf litter and wood should compensate for it though.

As for the other things you've mentioned, I have all the leaf litter and wood I need, so my larvae should be good to go. I've heard that steer manure causes leg rot in beetle larvae though, is that true? If that's the case, I'll likely use some other kind of compost (depending on how cheap it is lol).

Sanitizing the substrate wouldn't be much of a problem, but I've relocated all the worms I've found and frozen the wood overnight. There shouldn't be much more than a couple mites in their substrate at this point, which I don't really mind.

Thanks for your help!

Fine sand is not an issue, as it is naturally found in the soil. Perlite works by sucking moisture out of things, so whereas sand being eaten would pass through, perlite could potentially cause desiccation.

 

As for the steer manure, I have never heard of it causing leg rot. I would stay away just in case, unless that’s your only option. I purchased a 50lb bag of non manure, standard organic compost locally for $5 from a land scaping company 😛

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On 1/24/2023 at 3:20 PM, jake7917 said:

Fine sand is not an issue, as it is naturally found in the soil. Perlite works by sucking moisture out of things, so whereas sand being eaten would pass through, perlite could potentially cause desiccation.

 

As for the steer manure, I have never heard of it causing leg rot. I would stay away just in case, unless that’s your only option. I purchased a 50lb bag of non manure, standard organic compost locally for $5 from a land scaping company 😛

Sand in the substrate should be fine then. For the C. mutabilis I'll probably add a higher ratio of sand, plus a layer of clay in a couple months when the larvae near pupation, as I've seen in guides for this species.

I got a 40 lb bag of "organic" compost for around $4 at my local Home Depot haha, but it ended up containing bits of glass and plastic debris. I'll be a bit more careful about the types of soil I buy from now on. Hopefully the Compost and Manure mix Dynastes shared above will be useful, if I end up getting it. For now I'll see how my larvae fare in white-rot wood and decayed leaf litter. I might mix some grass clippings or small bits of fruit with the substrate too.

By the way, would flower beetles like these need protein supplements? If so, how could I give it to them? I read that a bit of extra protein could prevent cannibalism and grow larger beetles, but would also attract mites. I thought about mixing protein powder into the substrate, but that would probably be a horrible idea. Adding pellets would be a ideal if the C. mutabilis didn't dig around so much. They always leave the surface of their substrate mixed up all over the place. I'm pretty sure they can grow just fine on decayed wood and leaves though...

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On 1/24/2023 at 9:31 PM, bmb1bee said:

Sand in the substrate should be fine then. For the C. mutabilis I'll probably add a higher ratio of sand, plus a layer of clay in a couple months when the larvae near pupation, as I've seen in guides for this species.

I got a 40 lb bag of "organic" compost for around $4 at my local Home Depot haha, but it ended up containing bits of glass and plastic debris. I'll be a bit more careful about the types of soil I buy from now on. Hopefully the Compost and Manure mix Dynastes shared above will be useful, if I end up getting it. For now I'll see how my larvae fare in white-rot wood and decayed leaf litter. I might mix some grass clippings or small bits of fruit with the substrate too.

By the way, would flower beetles like these need protein supplements? If so, how could I give it to them? I read that a bit of extra protein could prevent cannibalism and grow larger beetles, but would also attract mites. I thought about mixing protein powder into the substrate, but that would probably be a horrible idea. Adding pellets would be an ideal if the C. mutabilis didn't dig around so much. They always leave the surface of their substrate mixed up all over the place. I'm pretty sure they can grow just fine on decayed wood and leaves though...

These species don’t need protein supplements, but feeding them a source of protein would result in bigger adults. I’d say the best supplement is gammarus shrimp, which is often available cheap. You can place a 1-2cm layer of gammarus at the bottom of the substrate. However, you will have to change it out every couple weeks to avoid odour and keep up the nutritional value. I’m not too sure if this is common with the smaller Cetoniinae species, but with big species the gammarus is a great technique for large adults.
 

In regards to the protein powder, since it is a dairy product, I just feel like the odour wouldn’t be worth it lol. Is it also quite expensive.

 

Dog and fish food pellets can be used, but these will need to be replaced every 4 or so days.

 

I think right now, a better thing to do would be worry about giving them a high quality flake soil / leaf mix, because ultimately that will result in the biggest/healthiest imago. Then worry about supplementing to get bigger adults afterwards.

 

 

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On 1/24/2023 at 9:34 PM, jake7917 said:

These species don’t need protein supplements, but feeding them a source of protein would result in bigger adults. I’d say the best supplement is gammarus shrimp, which is often available cheap. You can place a 1-2cm layer of gammarus at the bottom of the substrate. However, you will have to change it out every couple weeks to avoid odour and keep up the nutritional value. I’m not too sure if this is common with the smaller Cetoniinae species, but with big species the gammarus is a great technique for large adults.
 

In regards to the protein powder, since it is a dairy product, I just feel like the odour wouldn’t be worth it lol. Is it also quite expensive.

 

Dog and fish food pellets can be used, but these will need to be replaced every 4 or so days.

 

I think right now, a better thing to do would be worry about giving them a high quality flake soil / leaf mix, because ultimately that will result in the biggest/healthiest imago. Then worry about supplementing to get bigger adults afterwards.

 

 

Gammarus will be pretty easy to get, as my local Petco probably has some available. I'll see if my flower beetle larvae like it. 

As for the wood/leaf mix, I'll keep a stock of it to ensure they have enough to last until pupation. Thanks again for your help!

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