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Phasmid fodder

Phasmid fodder by Javier Mª Peña Quirce


Hello friends, first of all I want to excuse me for my bad english level. I hope you can understand what I want to explain, that is how to prepare artificial food for our phasmids.

IMPORTANT: In my opinion the best option is to give to the animal the fresh foodplants and I only developed this method  to feed animals that eat plants that I do not have available during the year , as happened for me with Archrioptera or Diapherodes species.

Method: I will use Diapherodes gigantea´s fodder as example. It has the next stages:

A-Dehydrate the plants: I take the plants I will use to make the fodder that depends on the phasmid specie.  For Diapherodes gigantea I use 50% Eucalyptus globulus and 50% Laurum nobilis. You take about 1 kg of every plant and first of all you crush them in water since you get a thin powder. After that the best option to put out all the water is first to squeeze well the mix and after that introduce the mix in the oven for about 4 hours with a low temperature (40 ºC) in order to destroy the less proteins you can. When the powder is well dehydrate you put it in a hermetic bottle. This bottle will be the pantry we will have to make the fodder for 8-10 times. If you have not got problems to get the food plant you will not need to dehydrate it, the problem comes when you have to take your car for a long time to get the plants so only in this case you use the first method to have a good pantry of the plant.

B- Rehydrate the plant: For Diapherodes gigantea´s fodder I take about 60 g of the powder plants and I put 0,8 l of water in order to boil it. You have to put some agar and the quantity of agar depends on the mark of agar that you use. I always use PANREAC or OMEGA and the bottle´s ticket say how much agar you need to prepare a litter of medium. I normally use about 20% more because we need to get some resistant fodder sheets of 2 mm of thickness. After add the agar the mix must boil 3 minutes and you put it out of the fire after that time. It is important to know that the agar will harden when the temperature arrives to 35-45ºC. When it arrives to 45 you must add some vitamins complex to recover the vitamins you lose when you boil the water. You can add some acetic acid or other substance to anticipate the appearance of mildews.

C- Form the sheets: Now you must be fast because the agar is going to harden soon. You will need a big and clean surface as a table where you will extend the mix. After 10 minutes you will have an elastic sheet of fodder. It must have 2 mm of thickness. Now you can cut it in pieces of the size you need (it depends on the plants and for Diapherodes gigantean I use 12 x 4 cm). You hang the pieces in different parts of the terrarium. “After that your animals can go to the table to eat”.

Results: I have used this method successfully for several species as Archrioptera fallax, Diapherodes gigantean, Haaniella grayii, Eurycnema goliath,.... I have not observed any problem. The fodder lasts approximately 6 days in the terrarium after which it is dehydrated and rusts so you need to change it.

I hope you find interesting this method that needs a little work but perhaps lets you produce rare or difficult species. I insist that it is better to use fresh plants providing that it is possible.

Regards Javier Mª Peña Quirce


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thanks for this interesting idea Javier.......... I will give it a try.

some thoughts and remarks:
1) what happens when you add more than 60 g of the powdered food plants to one litre of? Maybe the sheets of agar become more crumbly?
2) how do you store sheets of agar
3) it might be difficult to find out which vitamins are crutial for phasmids. These vital bioactive substances are different in different vertebrate and invertebrate animal. Do you have infos / references on this subject
4) acetic acid is a very strong and acid, no wonder are ants using it for defence. Beekeepers are also using this acid to kill varroa acarian. So acetic acid can be harmful, even leathal for insects. Maybe another preserving substance could maybe be more suitable for this purpose? Like

For reducing contamination of the "plant-agar" sheets with microbs, it might be good to desinfect the surface first, before pouring the hot agar on it. 75% Ethanol (or more) would do the job.......

freeze-drying would be the most gentle method for drying the plant matter, as this method does not destroy as much of the ingredients as heat-induced drying does. But of course most people do not have the opportunity to use such a facility......


Posted on 10/9/09 8:39 PM.

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What type of vitamin powder are you using?

Posted on 8/1/14 2:31 PM in reply to Bruno Kneubühler.

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