Storage & Transport of livestock

Right here it shall be said, that even if one is only searching for specimens he or she wishes to have for the cabinet, should keep the females alive as long until they have laid a few eggs. These are most relieble tools for the identifaction of phasmids !

As long as you are at your collecting site or residence, cylindrical hanging cages made of mosquito-net with heights between 50-100 cm with a zip have proven to be very useful for keeping phasmids alive on vacation. For preventing the humidity to decrease, the cage is covered with a large polythene bag, which is sealed at the top. These net-cages are very lightweight and do not need much space in ones luggage, due to being made of two rigid plastic or metall rings and very thin and flexible mosquito net. While collecting the insect at night, several stems or branches of the plants on which they were found should be cut and placed into the cage. Due to these net-cages hanging free, the phasmids are safe from being attacked ants, which may be the case if plastic boxes are used. Nevertheless, smaller species are better stored in suitable, rigid plastic containers or plastic bottles, which have plenty of air-holes or a piece auf gauze in their lids.
A piece of gauze in the lid of the container, gives the insects another possibility of recline. But as already said, care should be taken of ants which readily attack insects, stored in boxes or bottles, especially in tropical regions. Suitable containers or storing the eggs are e.g. the containers for camera-films.

Due to the large size and long awkward legs of many species which are easily dropped (autonomy), phasmids are quite difficult to transport, especially if one wishes to bring home life insects. Apart from their size there are two major considerations one should take in account when transporting livestock: preventing crushing and preventing overheating or dehydration. The air conditions in modern aircrafts strongly dehydrate the air, which causes the transport boxes with the insects to dry out rapidly. It has proven successful to use almost air-tight containers with only a very few air-holes, as not too much air for beathing is needed for just a few hours. Fresh samples of the foodplant should be wedged in the container so they do not fall on the insects and the bottom of the container should be covered with damp toilet paper. Preventing the insects of being crushed can be solved by using rigid boxes and trying to avoid rough handling of the baggage. Overheating is a much more serious problem and can easily occur when travelling in a vehicle which is not air conditioned or similar. The only thing to do is try to ensure that the insects are kept in the shade and is never directly exposed to the sun. Air travel brings one to the decision wheter to keep the livestock as hand luggage or better have it stored in the holds of the aircraft. The holds of a large, modern aircraft are pressurized and a Boeing 747 for example maintains a hold temperature of 15-18°C which is quite ideal for most phasmids. We have made the expierince that having the livestock stored in the holds is more sufficient and safe, rather than keeping them as hand luggage.

Another possibility to bring the insects home alive, is to send them by air-mail. This does however pretend on the country or region you are, as a good infrastructure and relieable mailing system is neede to ensure the insects to arrive at their destination safely. It is always wise to use a post-office in a large city or nearby an international airport. For an example, parcels that we posted from Malaysia and Borneo arrived in Germany after only five days, and we had only a very few losses. Those we have had have been specimens which were already in poor condition before depature.
Also when posting the livestock, one should use rigid, quite air-tight containers with only a very few air-holes, with plenty of humidity and fresh food. Better give the insects a little less space but more foodplants instead ! The foodplants should be safely wedged in the container to prevent them falling on the insects. The stable freezing-boxes of “Rubbermaid” or Tupperware” have proven very suitable for posting live phasmids.

Predominantly these methods are suitable for more robust phasmids (e.g. Haaniella, Aretaon, Creoxylus) and insects with maximum body lengths of 10 cm. Very large species (e.g. Pharnacia, Acrophylla) are very difficult to transport without being damaged.