Graeffea leveri "Russell"
(by Bruno Kneubuehler)

 

OrderPhasmatodea
 
SuborderVerophasmatodea 
InfraorderAnareolatae 
FamilyPhasmatidae Gray, 1835
SubfamilyPlatycraninae Brunner v. Wattenwil, 1893
TribePlatycanini Brunner v. Wattenwil, 1893
GenusGraeffea Brunner v. Wattenwil, 1868
SpeciesGraeffea leveriGünther, 1937

 
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General Informations

  • 2007 - first successful cultivation of this species by Bruno Kneubühler
  • 2007 - distributed to other breeders as Graeffea sp. "Russell island"
  • 2008 - Joachim Bresseel identified this species as Graeffea leveri
  • Günther described this species originally as Ophicrania leveri - but they belong to the genus Graeffea (J. Bresseel, pers. comm.)
  • thanks a lot to the following breeders for their addtional notes:  Rainer Galunder

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Origin

  • this species originates from Russell Islands (Solomon Islands). This is a small archipelago just north-west of Guadalcanal, the main island of the Solomon Islands (see map in the gallery)

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Females

  • more sturdy than the males, about 9 – 10 cm long
  • after their final moult they are usually greenish with some darker dots. Within the next few weeks they change colour to different shades of brown
  • they do not become as dark in colour as the males
  • forewings and the costal region of the hind wings are mottled with dark and light brown blots
  • hindwings reach as far as the distal end of the 4th abdominal segment
  • forewings about 7 mm long, hindwings about 25 mm
  • the anal region of the hind wings is bright pink
  • they open up their wings only rarely when handled and to not fly
  • cerci are long

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Males

  • slim, fully winged creatures, about 6,5 – 7 cm long
  • just after the final moult they are light brown or greenish-brown in colour. Over time (within about 2-3 weeks) the colour darkens considerably
  • older males have a dark-brown to almost black colour, especially the ventral side is almost black in the area of the thorax and legs
  • forewings and costal region of the hind wings are dark brown with more or less light orange blots
  • hindwings reach as far as the distal end of the 6th abdomial segment
  • forewings are about 5 mm long, hindwings about 35 mm
  • the anal region of the hind wings is bright pink
  • they open their wings quite often when handled and they fly well even for a longer distance

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Eggs

  • elongated, about 4,5 mm long (without capitulum) and 2,5 mm wide
  • capitulum is pointed, oblique and 1 mm long
  • colour is dark brown to light brown
  • surface is matt and lightly granulated

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Food Plants

  • nymphs took easily to different palm trees - like Phoenix canariensis, Livinstona australis, Howeia forsteriana, Trachycarpus fortunei and Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (the latter is a common plant in garden shops)
  • an alternative food plant is bamboo (Phyllostachyus aurea)
  • bamboo is not a hardy plant once you cut it. It needs a high humidity, otherwise the leaves will wither quickly. But luckily it is an evergreen plant even in the cold winters of Switzerland
  • cultures raised on bamboo will switch readily back to palm leaves, which is certainly their prefered food plant

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Breeding Notes

  • eggs take 3-4 months to hatch at room temperatures (about 18 – 24°C).  During incubation, keep the eggs on a moderat moist ground, I do recommend sand with springtails
  • females bury their eggs in the ground, thus provide them with some soil (like peat)
  • both males and females are capable of spraying a defensive liquide from glands on the dorsal side of their prothorax
  • this defensive spray reminded me of lemons and it shall be examined chemically in the near future. I assume that this spray could cause irritation to the human eye, as defensive sprays of other phasmid species do. So therefore a cautious handling of this species is advisable
  • when bamboo leaves dry up they will roll up and may entrap a nymph which is sitting on it ! This happend some times in my culture. Therefore check the leaves when changing bamboo
  • they grew up in quite a airy cage with wet paper towel on the bottom
  • their cage is being sprayed regularly, about 3-4 times a week - otherwise the bamboo will wither quickly
  • as the origin of this species is a relatively small island, I guess it is important to provide them with a good air supply. Thus an airy cage and a ventilator in the same room might be advantageous
  • they reached adulthood after about 4-5 months
  • about 3 weeks after maturing females start to lay eggs, about 5 – 8 eggs a week

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References

  • Phasmida Species Files  (www.phasmida.orthoptera.org)

 

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