Food plants for phasmids

1)  General informations
2)  .....when food plants wither too early
3)  Food plants from flower shops
4)  Salal  (Gautheria shallon)

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General informations

  • if possible offer phasmids more than one food plant - they will be healthier. The food plants we are offering them are a mere substitute for their natural food plants. Thus they might not really cover all the nutritional needs. This this might be compensated by offering them a wider range of food plants........of course this will be difficult for many breeders in winter
  • try out new food plants for your phasmids
  • change the food plants once a week - or more often if you have the time to do so
  • the assumption that phasmids will not eat what is not good for them should be taken with a pinch of salt. For example I had Agathemera sp. "Capilla del Monte" feeding very well on Hypericum, but they were all dead after only two days. And the Hypericum was definitly not poisoned
  • why don't they feed on all plants? It seems that phasmids are guided by taste - like we are too. Certain substances in a plant does attract them to feed. And different species have a different taste, easy as that

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 ... when food plants wither too quickly

  • many food plants stay fresh for at least one week, if not much longer
  • suggestions on how to extend the duration food plants stay reasonably fresh
    • clean the container for the food plants regularely, at least every time you add fresh food lants. Plants keep fresh longer in fresh water
    • use tall containers for the food plants, so that a larger part of the stem is submerged in water
    • use an old florist trick - cut the stem of the food plants with a sharp knife diagonally to the direction of growth
  • fresh shoots of bramble (Rubus spp.) in springtime wither often rather quickly, as these new shoots are usually quite delicate. This happens especially to new shoots on old, last-year stems. Better to use stems which come from the forest floor, these are often much hardier
  • nevertheless one might have to add fresh food plants more often than just once a week during spring time
  • if it is very cold outside for a prolonged time in winter (with temperatures constantly below 0°C), then bramble leaves start to wither. This happens cause the water from the leaves is not replaced by from the frozen stems, and we can not to much about this. During such times one can find reasonably fresh bramble leaves under the snow
  • keep your stock of food plants in a bucket with water and cover them with a transparent plastic sac. This way, they will keep fresh for some time

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Food plants from flower shops

  • pesticides are very commonly used when growing plants for nurserys and flower shops
  • therefore it very likely that plants from plant shops have been treated with pesticides, and thus they are poisonous for phasmids
  • furthermore, modern pesticides are often socalled "systemic" poisons. Plants treated with systemic pesticides will absorbed or assimilate the poison via their roots or even leaves and integrated the plant tissue itself. Therefore systemic pesticides are very persistent and thus active for a very long time. If such pestizides have been applied, then washing the leaves or replacing the soil does not help at all. The plant will remain poisonous
  • for example I bought a Pandanus from a flower shop. Then about 1,5 years later I though that the Pandanus must poison-free. So I fed a leaf of it to my new Megacrania phleaus "Kwara'ae" generation - and the next day almost all nymphs laid dead on the cage floor with the typical sign of poisoning
  • fortunately there are also a few exeptions of plants from the flower-shope which are not poisonous
    • Eucalyptus - many breeders use Eucalyptus from the flower shop and have good success
    • Salal (Gaultheria shallon) is being used since many years successfully (see some more notes on Salal below)
    • Pistacia lentiscus - used with success for Agathemera sp. "Capilla del Monte"
  • when you wanna try out a new plant from the flower shop, then first feed it to one taster phasmid only. If that one will survive for some days then the plants should be OK to be used

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Salal  (Gaultheria shallon)

  • Salal has sucessfully been used as a food plant for a number of phasmid species since 2008
  • Salal is used in flower shops as a greenery for flower bouquets
  • Salal, which is used in flower shops, originates from natural forests in Canada. To my knowledge, no case of poisoning with such Salal has been reported
  • in the UK this plant is called "flower dressing leaves" in flower shops
  • but do not use Salal plants with roots from the garden center. These plants are grown in greenhouses and are quite probably poisoned with pestizides. A breeder reported to me that these are poisonous indeed