Xenophasmina simile "Chiang Mai"
(by Bruno Kneubuehler)
 

OrderPhasmatodea
 
SuborderVerophasmatodea 
InfraorderAnareolatae 
FamilyPhasmatidaeGray, 1835
SubfamilyXeroderinaeGünther, 1953
TribeXeroderiniGünther, 1953
GenusXenophasminaUvarov, 1940
SpeciesXenophasmina simile(Redtenbacher, 1908)

  
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General Notes

  • Redtenbacher (1908) described this Xenophasma simile
  • Uvarov (1940) designated the new name Xenophasmina for the genus Xenophasma Redtenbacher

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Culture History

  • 2010 - first successful culture by Suttha Ek-amnuay (Thailand)
  • 2011 - first successful culture in Europe by Bruno Kneubuehler
  • 2012 - so far it was not possible to identify this species definitely.
             It could be X. simile (Redtenbacher, 1908). But it might be
             that this species has been described earlier by another
             name (Joachim Bresseel, pers. comm.)
  • 2012 - this species is being distributed as Xenophasmina sp. "Chiang Mai"
  • 2012 - Oskar Conle and Frank Hennemann confirmed that this species is
             actually Xenophasmina simile

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Origin

  • Suttha Ek-amnuay (Thailand) found nymphs of this species in March 2009 in Mae Rim (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

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Females

  • somewhat sturdy looking phasmids
  • about 10.5 - 12 cm
  • different brown shades
  • coloration is variable amongst females
  • body surface is strongly granulated
  • 2 large spines (with green tip) on the Mesothorax (dorsally)
  • many small, green humps on the body (dorsally), especially on the head and thorax
  • unwinged (apterous)
  • cerci are long and broad (typical for this genus)
  • antennae shorter than the fore legs

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Males

  • about 7.5 - 8 cm
  • coloration is variable amongst males, there are light and dark specimens
  • lightly colored specimens are light brown with a brown-red, greenish-blue bordered area on the thorax (dorsally)
  • dunkle Exemplare sind dunkelbraun
  • unwinged (apterous)
  • antennae are a bit longer than the fore legs

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Nymphs

  • dark brown (L1)
  • about 12 mm (L1)
  • very hairy (L1 and older nymphs)
  • older nymphs are very variably colored - different shades of brown, grey and (less frequently) green
  • inner side of the mid and hind legs are red
  • males and females can only be distinguished with the naked eye in later instars

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Eggs

  • about 4 x 3 mm
  • irregular form
  • variable coloration - red-brown, dark brown or green-brown
  • the coloration of the eggs is influenced by the nutrition. If the females feed on new bramble leaves (Rubus sp.) then the eggs are green-brown, if they feed on beech (Fagus sylvaticus) or Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
  • well developed capitulum

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Food Plants

  • bramble (Rubus sp.)
    is well accepted by freshly hatched nymphs, older nymphs and adults
    Attention - new bramble leaves in spring are not well or not at all accepted by adult females (as it happens with other phasmid species too)
  • cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) - a common and evergreen gardenplant
    is well accepted by older nymphs and adults (also the adult females), thus it is a good substitute food plant in spring
  • raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
    is well accepted by adult males and females
  • beech (Fagus sylvaticus)
    is accepted by adult males and females moderatly
  • oak (Quercus sp.)
    is accepted by adult males and females moderatly
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
    freshly hatched nymphs did not accept it, adult males and females did accept it moderatly
     
  • adult females usually stop feeding on the fresh bramble leaves in spring. It is advantageous to offer them cherry laurel in early spring time instead of bramble. And by early summer one can again offer them bramble - together with cherry laurel

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Behaviour

  • nymphs of this species are very prone to the Dwarf-Syndrom. This often happens when there are too many nymphs hatching at the same time in a small incubation container
  • nymphs of this species display the most astounding camouflage I have ever witnessed in any phasmid species
  • here is a short time-lapse video, which show what happens in the cage just after the lights go out. The whole video in real time would be about 70 minutes
  • nymphs (L2 and older) can snuggle to a twig or bark so perfectly, that it is almost impossible to see them (without knowing that they are there - see photos)
  • one should put some twigs into their cage, in order to be able to observe this amazing camouflage
  • nymphs rely almost entierly on their perfect camouflage
  • only when they feel very much threatened, then they try to crawl away - just to freeze up again after a few steps
  • matings occur mainly during the night, males may stay with the same female for a prolonged time period

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Developement

  • incubation time (HH-Inkubation on slightly damp sand at 20 - 23 °C) is about 3 - 4 months
  • eggs of this species are very prone to get mouldy, and it is difficult to avoid this. Yet a thin mould layer does not affect the hatching ratio negatively
  • spread some dry 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 of F1 and F2 generation was high (> 50%)
  • males will be adult after about 5 - 5.5 months (at 20 - 23°C), females after about 5.5 - 6 months
  • females start laying eggs after about 3 - 4 weeks
  • eggs are just dropped to the ground
  • about 15 - 20 eggs per week and female
  • adults live for several months

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Breeding Notes

  • an easy to keep and very interesting species
  • keep the nymphs in a cage with good ventilation, but take care that the humidity does not drop too low
  • a constantly wet paper towel on the floor of the cage helps raising humidity
  • nymphs can be kept in a Faunabox (or similar cages)
  • move nymphs to a bigger cage as they grow bigger
  • I have never sprayed nymphs or adults with water
  • make shure 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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