Achrioptera fallax
(von Bruno Kneubühler)
 

OrderPhasmatodea
 
SuborderVerophasmatodea 
InfraorderAnareolatae 
FamilyPhasmatidaeGray, 1835
TribeAchriopteriniGünther, 1953
GenusAchriopteraCoquerel, 1861
SpeciesAchrioptera fallaxCoquerel, 1861

 
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General Notes

  • Etymology
    • fallax from the latin fallāx, which means fallacious, spurious
  • other Achrioptera speices are or have been in culture – see PSG-List

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Culture History

  • 2007 - first successful culture by Frank Glaw (Germany) and Moritz Grubenmann (Switzerland)

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Origin

  • Frank Glaw (Germany) found this culture stock in March 2007 in Orangea (Montagne de Français, Antsiranana, Diana, North Madagascar)

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Females

  • very big and robust phasmids
  • body lenght about 20 – 23 cm
  • many spines on the thorax and legs
  • a variable number of spines on the head (1 – 4), but these can also be absent in some females
  • small red wings
  • light or dark brown – with blue, red and pink areas
  • red spines on the thorax
  • short, wine-red antennae

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Males

  • slim phasmids, compared to the females
  • body length about13 – 14.5 cm
  • no or just a few spines on the head or thorax
  • bright, glossy blue dorsally
  • turquoise blue ventrally
  • wine red antennae, shorter than forelegs
  • outer costal region of hind wings yellow-brown
  • anal region of the hindwings (the membranous part) is bright red
  • legs with many spines
  • femur of mid- and hindlegs with bright yellow and orange-red areas
  • distinct ocelli (simple eyes) on the head

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Nymphs

  • lenght (L1) about 20 mm
  • dark brown
  • very short antennae
  • even in L1 it is quite easy to draw a distinction between ♀♂ (by the naked eye)

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Eggs

  • about 5 – 6 mm long and 2 mm wide
  • different females lay eggs of different sizes
  • smooth surface
  • elongate-oval
  • variable color (which is also influcend by the food plants) – brown, grey-brown, reddish-brown, greenish-brown
  • mircopylar plate is elongate, narrow and light in color

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Food Plants

  • it is very much recommendede to cut away the edges of the leaves for nymphs in L1, as well as to regularly change the plants and the water in which they stand
  • bramble (Rubus spp.)
    is very well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults. In spring, feed leaves from the past year for as long as possible. Sometimes adult females do not like the very fresh new leaves
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
    is very well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults
  • oak (Quercus spp.)
    is very well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults
  • Eucalyptus
    is very well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults
  • raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
    is very well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults

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Behaviour

  • nymphs hatch during daytime (usually early morning or around noon) - therefore eggs should not be incubated in complete darkness, rather to a dimmed day-night rhythm
  • nymphs are great in escaping from their cage – thus make sure that their cage is escape-proof
  • the first days after hatching, nymphs are running around the cage a lot
  • once they have started to feed – they calm down, rest in one place and their color gets lighter
  • nymphs and adults can behave frantically if they feel threatened, then they drop down, wriggle about and freeze again after a few steps
  • especially adult male, but also nymphs and adult females, are active during the day
  • a light breeze animates them to walk about and feed
  • if adult males or females feel threatened, then the open up their small wings with a loud rustling noise and they try to pinch the (potential) predator between their spiny hindlegs
  • males and females can not use their wings for flight
  • matings are frequent, and males can stay with the same female for some days
  • when a male while mating senses another male apporaching, then he makes some jerky movements – most probably an attempt to fight of a rival
  • females fling the eggs away with a sway of their abdomen

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Developement

  • incubation time (HH-incubation on slightly damp sand at 20 - 23 °C) is about 4 – 5 months
  • spread some dried (!) moss over the eggs - this will make it much easier for the nymphs to hatch unscathed and it also reduces mould growth to some extend
  • hatching ratio is very high (> 50%)
  • males will be adult after about 4 – 5 months (at 20 – 23°C), females after 5 – 6 months
  • just after the adult moult, males are glossy olive-green
  • after about 4 – 5 weeks, adult males will have fully developed their typical intense blue color
  • females start laying eggs after about 4 weeks
  • about 40 – 50 eggs per female and week
  • adults can live for several months

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Breeding Notes

  • my general notes on how to breed phasmids are an integral part of this care sheet ...
  • it is easy to breed this wonderful species
  • as the freshly hatched nymphs are already quite big, the incubation container must be big enough
  • for a succesful culture it is highly recommend to keep nymphs seperate from the adults. This makes it much easier to monitor their developement and they are protected from being disturbed or even harmed by the much bigger adults (like during their moults)
  • a humidity level of about 60 - 70 % rH  is enough for adults and nymphs
  • this species needs light, I use HID lamps to provide them with enough light:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal-halide_lamp
  • you can keep their cage in front of a window which is facing east, so that they are exposed to some direct morning sun light. But make sure that the temperatures in the cage can not raise too high, not above 30° C
  • UV-light seems not to be a crucial factor
  • a ventilator, which runs 10 – 15 times a day for 15 minutes, provides some wind
  • keep the nymphs in a cage with good ventilation
  • nymphs can be kept in a Faunabox (or similar cages like Faunarium)
  • move nymphs to a bigger cage as they grow bigger
  • a cage of at least  60 x 40 x 30 cm should be provided for 2 – 3 adult couples
  • for a good culture one needs at least 3 cages of 60 x 40 x 30 (cm), as older nymphs should also be kept seperate from the adults
  • generally I recommend to keep only one species per cage – the culture is much more likely to be successful than in an overcrowed cage
  • when the temperatures are good enough, then put them outside (in a netting cage) and offer them some direct sunlight. Just make sure that they can not overheat
  • it is advantageous to spray nymphs in L1 to L3 with (chlorine-free !) water 1 - 2 times a week. But the water must completely dry up in a rather short time - at least within some hours. Therefore a really airy cage is essential, and a ventilator very advisable
  • no need to spray older nymphs, adults and their cage with water
  • make sure that nymphs, which are about to undergo their adult moult, do not find places in the cage which would not offer them enough space beneath to moult successfully

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References

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

 

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