Arillus cristatus Journal

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Praxibetelix
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:11 pm

I wanted to keep a better photo record of our Wheel Bug. We caught it in late spring (April), and she is still alive.

Here she is as a 4th instar:



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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:12 pm

This is her after just eating a cricket, she is really fat!!

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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:13 pm

Here is the really cool part, when she molted into an adult:







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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:15 pm

This one is of her posing in her fresh new skin, reminds me of a shrimp with that color:



Here she is the same day, once the new exo dried, but not hardened yet:


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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:16 pm

This is when we found out she was female, she laid us some eggs:


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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:17 pm

I actually thought that she would die shortly after laying those eggs, however she is still alive and eating:


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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 1:21 pm

Shortly after taking that cricket, she laid a few more eggs. I do not have a photo of them, it was a smaller clutch than the first. They were laid on the enclosure wall and fell off only to be eaten by either a cricket or an isopod.

The timeline is from April to now, December 2. Last year our Wheel Bug lasted until February, however that one did not lay any eggs. I have hopes that this one might have a similar lifespan as she is still alive over a week after laying dud eggs. No contact with a male, so they are not fertile.
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PostT.C. on 12/2/2016, 3:05 pm

Too bad the eggs aren't fertile. Nice picture, I especially like the molting one.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/2/2016, 4:10 pm

Do you mean the last molting one? It is my favorite. With the flash on it caught the bronchial tubes, her eye is so dark, like she is looking at the camera! Not too bad for an iPhone 4 lol.
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PostT.C. on 12/3/2016, 1:23 pm

Yes, the last molting one. Real nice species.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/8/2016, 4:15 pm

She has become rather clumsy with her hunting. I have watched her miss on several occasions. One of these misses resulted in her grabbing a piece of substrate and attempting to envenom it, while humorous, it was also concerning. I eventually intervened and got her to let go of the substrate. We purchased smaller feeder crickets, in case the size of the food was the problem. I can tell she is hungry for she is actively hunting, almost around the clock. Normally she hunts in the evening or night hours.

Hopefully this does not mean the beginning of the end. While we would understand if her time is up, we would still be saddened by it.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/8/2016, 4:16 pm

I will take photos to post soon, I just realized I have no current pictures of her in my phone.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/8/2016, 6:48 pm

She knew I was typing about her! As I typed and posted my last entry, she caught the large cricket and made a meal of it. It takes several hours for her to process one, and she is still working on it.

Here are some photos:





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PostPraxibetelix on 12/8/2016, 6:51 pm

You can tell it was a fresh catch, the crickets eyes are still black. As she eats from it, the eyes turn pale. You can see in the fourth photo that she adjusted her proboscis placement. When she does that, it is kind of cute, she will nod her head while probing along the food for another point of entry. Looks like she is saying, "yes, yes, more." lol
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PostT.C. on 12/8/2016, 10:47 pm

Really awesome! Ever thought of breeding them?
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Postnatureguy on 12/11/2016, 2:52 pm

haha, super awesome! Love the pictures.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/13/2016, 9:49 pm

We have only ever had one at a time. Summer of '15 was our first, and this summer was our second. Not sure the family is ready for a brood of baby cristatus lol. Enzo was our first nymph! The summer before, we caught the wheel bug as an adult.

Personally, the thought of the work involved with a brood of potentially cannibalistic insects is overwhelming. Needing to contain them, separate them, and feed them. I suppose we could just let them eat each other, survival of the fittest, but I think that would upset the children. As I am the primary bug caretaker, I think I will keep my work load to a minimum for now lol.
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/28/2016, 9:01 am

Yesterday she laid another clutch of eggs. Each clutch is only 10 or 15 eggs. The first clutch was laid organized and she "stood guard" for two days over it. The second and now third clutches were more chaotic and she did not stand over them.

This seems to be different or unrecorded behavior? I have not found anything about this when doing my amateur looking around online. I sent an email to Mr. Blake Newton of the University of Kentucky Entomology Dept. in regards to the egg laying. Hoping to hear back. He helped me earlier in the year with some questions regarding A. cristatus.
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PostT.C. on 12/28/2016, 1:24 pm

Praxibetelix wrote:Yesterday she laid another clutch of eggs. Each clutch is only 10 or 15 eggs. The first clutch was laid organized and she "stood guard" for two days over it. The second and now third clutches were more chaotic and she did not stand over them.

This seems to be different or unrecorded behavior? I have not found anything about this when doing my amateur looking around online. I sent an email to Mr. Blake Newton of the University of Kentucky Entomology Dept. in regards to the egg laying. Hoping to hear back. He helped me earlier in the year with some questions regarding A. cristatus.

Yeah, that is kind of wierd? I have had unfertile insects of mine lay infertile eggs once, but if this is the third time, wow. Is she eating them by any chance?
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PostPraxibetelix on 12/28/2016, 2:54 pm

"Hi again,

I am amazed that she is still alive this late in the year! But yes, lots of insects and spiders will lay eggs even if they have never mated. So although I don't have any experience with assassin bugs laying infertile eggs, it does not surprise me! I don't know why insects and spiders create infertile eggs, but it is probably similar to why birds do this, as you said."- This was the reply from the email I sent.

I believe they are falling off the side of the enclosure. Where they are eaten by either a cricket or an isopod.
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Postmothman27 on 1/3/2017, 7:35 pm

A very cool bug indeed!

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PostCanadian anter on 1/6/2017, 10:09 am

Oh man, That's awesome especially the molting photo. The bright red coloration looked so cool! I wish this species was in Canada
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PostPraxibetelix on 1/11/2017, 11:11 am

This morning she is not looking good. Legs curled under a little bit, sluggish. Gave water and put her upright on a leaf. Will post pictures later.
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PostPraxibetelix on 1/11/2017, 12:11 pm

She died on the leaf where I put her this morning. She gave me one last defensive posture before she died.

I will clean out the enclosure and see just how many Isopods we have!

Took photos of her and of her in comparison to the dead male we found. Will post them later.
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PostPraxibetelix on 1/11/2017, 1:33 pm

Here of the photos of her feeling unwell.


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