Inducing BDFB to pupate

Dean Rider

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Apr 3, 2014
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I have had a lot of people ask me about getting blue death feigning beetles to adulthood in captivity. I also see a number of conflicting posts here in the forums about the subject. For anybody interested, it IS possible and takes less than a year. This video shows what you can achieve with the right setup. PM me for details if you want to try to rear them yourself.


If you are clever, you can figure out from this video the substrate and temperature used to induce maturing larvae to pupate and eclose. Consult my other posts for food etc. used. It takes between 5-12 months to get from egg to adult.
 
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Bugs In Cyberspace

Arachnodemon
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Dean's bringin' the science again! I'm going to link to this video every time somebody asks me if bdfb's reproduce in captivity. Somebody out there needs to get some giant pill millipedes (pillipedes) into this guy's hands!
 

Hisserdude

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Very nice! I believe Orin was able to rear a few to adulthood, but in small numbers. I any case it is quite an achievement!

PS: I see you have them at 88 degrees, can they be pupated at room temperature? And what exactly are you doing to induce egg laying?
 
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pannaking22

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Awesome! It'd be nice to start captive breeding this species. I'm curious about the egg laying as well.
 

Dean Rider

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Awesome! It'd be nice to start captive breeding this species. I'm curious about the egg laying as well.
I allow a mixed population of adults to randomly breed at 72-76 F in a 10 gallon tank or relatively large container with lots of surface area and play sand that is 3-4 inches deep. Provide plenty of fresh organic carrots and dried crickets to adults. Sift sand on a weekly basis to obtain eggs of similar age (#16 or #20 size standard work for the sieve). Maintain eggs on a thin layer of sand at 72-76 F and 75-80 percent RH. Larvae will hatch from viable eggs in about two to three weeks (eggs four weeks old and older should be discarded).
 

Hisserdude

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It's a bit like Emmett Brown's DeLorean
Lol!

I allow a mixed population of adults to randomly breed at 72-76 F in a 10 gallon tank or relatively large container with lots of surface area and play sand that is 3-4 inches deep. Provide plenty of fresh organic carrots and dried crickets to adults. Sift sand on a weekly basis to obtain eggs of similar age (#16 or #20 size standard work for the sieve). Maintain eggs on a thin layer of sand at 72-76 F and 75-80 percent RH. Larvae will hatch from viable eggs in about two to three weeks (eggs four weeks old and older should be discarded).
Thanks for the info! Are dead crickets in specific necessary, or could an alternative source of protein be used, dog food for example? And is sifting for the eggs really needed for casual rearing? Or will the adults eat the eggs or something?

In any case, this post has made me interested in obtaining some BDFBs! :D
 

Dean Rider

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The cricket/carrot/coir meal plan works, but you can find lots of diet successes in these forums. For me, it was more important to have something that I could standardize, is trustworthy, and simple. The down side is that crickets (dried) are terribly expensive and even though you can get grasshoppers or mealworms in bulk for much lower prices, my beetles just didn't go for them. It may be a peculiar aspect of my colony. I don't feel too confident in dog chow for these guys, but that's what I use for Zophobas.

I enjoy sifting for eggs and watching these guys grow and develop. Some adults will eat the eggs, but if the eggs are actually laid sub-surface, they are safe. Dry sand is not good for larvae. While it is possible to create an environment that works for all life stages, I currently find it more effective to separate them and tailor the environments to the stage I am working with.

MrCrackerpants, Gnat, zonbonzovi, and beetlefox all share ideas on successful set-ups for casual rearing of larvae here.

The major drawback I have seen in my mixed age group tests is that larger larvae will eat smaller larvae. This can also happen in a crowded communal tank and is the main reason why I stage them.
 
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Tenevanica

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I've kept BDFBs for a long time now and no matter what I try I have never seen a single egg. I still stand by my claims that they don't breed in captivity, as the average keeper would likely never see a single larva.
 

Tenevanica

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The cricket/carrot/coir meal plan works, but you can find lots of diet successes in these forums. For me, it was more important to have something that I could standardize, is trustworthy, and simple. The down side is that crickets (dried) are terribly expensive and even though you can get grasshoppers or mealworms in bulk for much lower prices, my beetles just didn't go for them. It may be a peculiar aspect of my colony. I don't feel too confident in dog chow for these guys, but that's what I use for Zophobas.

I enjoy sifting for eggs and watching these guys grow and develop. Some adults will eat the eggs, but if the eggs are actually laid sub-surface, they are safe. Dry sand is not good for larvae. While it is possible to create an environment that works for all life stages, I currently find it more effective to separate them and tailor the environments to the stage I am working with.

MrCrackerpants, Gnat, zonbonzovi, and beetlefox all share ideas on successful set-ups for casual rearing of larvae here.

The major drawback I have seen in my mixed age group tests is that larger larvae will eat smaller larvae. This can also happen in a crowded communal tank and is the main reason why I stage them.
Mine eat dog food all the time. They seem to prefer it over vegetables!
 

Hisserdude

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The cricket/carrot/coir meal plan works, but you can find lots of diet successes in these forums. For me, it was more important to have something that I could standardize, is trustworthy, and simple. The down side is that crickets (dried) are terribly expensive and even though you can get grasshoppers or mealworms in bulk for much lower prices, my beetles just didn't go for them. It may be a peculiar aspect of my colony. I don't feel too confident in dog chow for these guys, but that's what I use for Zophobas.

I enjoy sifting for eggs and watching these guys grow and develop. Some adults will eat the eggs, but if the eggs are actually laid sub-surface, they are safe. Dry sand is not good for larvae. While it is possible to create an environment that works for all life stages, I currently find it more effective to separate them and tailor the environments to the stage I am working with.

MrCrackerpants, Gnat, zonbonzovi, and beetlefox all share ideas on successful set-ups for casual rearing of larvae here.

The major drawback I have seen in my mixed age group tests is that larger larvae will eat smaller larvae. This can also happen in a crowded communal tank and is the main reason why I stage them.
I see, I personally would just feed them the dog food, I have bred many darklings and they all seemed to love the stuff, (Even supposed leaf eating comb-clawed beetles!) I would cut down on costs as well! ;)

Ok, I figured it would be safe to leave the eggs in with them. The drawback of keeping other darkling beetle larva separately is the sheer amount of cages you would need, seeing as most darkling beetles lay dozens to hundreds of eggs. I assume these guys don't lay nearly as many.

Thanks for the link, there are some cool ideas there!

Yes, larva can cannibalize each other sometimes, certain species more than others. My Tenebrio molitor will eat every single pupa in their cage if not fed regularly.

Thank you for all the info you have shared so far, I just have two more questions. What is the optimal moisture level for pupation? And can they be pupated at room temperature?
 

Hisserdude

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I've kept BDFBs for a long time now and no matter what I try I have never seen a single egg. I still stand by my claims that they don't breed in captivity, as the average keeper would likely never see a single larva.
Just wondering, why do you stand by your claim? Dean here has clearly bred them successfully in captivity.
 

Tenevanica

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Just wondering, why do you stand by your claim? Dean here has clearly bred them successfully in captivity.
When a new keeper asks if they breed in captivity the want to know "will I get offspring?" The answer to that is most likely no, so it is still best to advise the average keeper (Dean is far from average) that they will not breed in captivity.
 

Hisserdude

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When a new keeper asks if they breed in captivity the want to know "will I get offspring?" The answer to that is most likely no, so it is still best to advise the average keeper (Dean is far from average) that they will not breed in captivity.
Oh, I see. Sorry for the misunderstanding!
 

Dean Rider

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I see, I personally would just feed them the dog food, I have bred many darklings and they all seemed to love the stuff, (Even supposed leaf eating comb-clawed beetles!) I would cut down on costs as well! ;)
Yes, my goal is to find more efficient and cost effective methods, but at least I have a starting place.

Ok, I figured it would be safe to leave the eggs in with them. The drawback of keeping other darkling beetle larva separately is the sheer amount of cages you would need, seeing as most darkling beetles lay dozens to hundreds of eggs. I assume these guys don't lay nearly as many.
They lay 1-5 eggs per day at most!

Thanks for the link, there are some cool ideas there!
No problem...happy to help.

Yes, larva can cannibalize each other sometimes, certain species more than others. My Tenebrio molitor will eat every single pupa in their cage if not fed regularly.
I think that this could be one place to focus selective breeding efforts...to make BDFB more like Tenebrio for mass rearing (really long term goal).

Thank you for all the info you have shared so far, I just have two more questions. What is the optimal moisture level for pupation? And can they be pupated at room temperature?
Hold at 75% RH but RT does not work...when the incubator hits 88 F, that's when you see some serious pupation!
 

Dean Rider

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I've kept BDFBs for a long time now and no matter what I try I have never seen a single egg. I still stand by my claims that they don't breed in captivity, as the average keeper would likely never see a single larva.
It does take a certain amount of dedication (obsessiveness). I try to make the beetles think it is summer. Try a room/tank temperature in the mid to upper 70s. Try to give the beetles 12 or more hours of daylight/artificial daylight. I use a full spectrum fluorescent bulb on my tank with a timer. Also, it is not common knowledge how to sex them (maybe another post for that). If you don't have both genders, you are not going to get eggs... even if you have Lionel Richie music (wait, thats for Blu birds, not blue beetles). Then, it should start working after a few weeks.
 

Hisserdude

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Yes, my goal is to find more efficient and cost effective methods, but at least I have a starting place.

They lay 1-5 eggs per day at most!

No problem...happy to help.

I think that this could be one place to focus selective breeding efforts...to make BDFB more like Tenebrio for mass rearing (really long term goal).

Hold at 75% RH but RT does not work...when the incubator hits 88 F, that's when you see some serious pupation!
OK, thank you very much all the information! :D Weird that they need those high temps for pupation, it is their inactive period, i find it strange that they would need that much heat. Keep up the great work, you seem to be an expert in your field! :)
 

Tenevanica

Arachnodemon
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It does take a certain amount of dedication (obsessiveness). I try to make the beetles think it is summer. Try a room/tank temperature in the mid to upper 70s. Try to give the beetles 12 or more hours of daylight/artificial daylight. I use a full spectrum fluorescent bulb on my tank with a timer. Also, it is not common knowledge how to sex them (maybe another post for that). If you don't have both genders, you are not going to get eggs... even if you have Lionel Richie music (wait, thats for Blu birds, not blue beetles). Then, it should start working after a few weeks.
I've wanted to know how to sex these for a long time. I've seen people say "I have three males and two females" when referring to their beetles, and I've never figured out how they determined that. I have observed the same thing when it comes to light, in that they are sensitive to it. I also use a full spectrum bulb, and it seems that the beetles base their activity around it. They hide when it's on, and come out when its off. Even when I removed the light completely, they came out at the same time when I would normally turn it off, so I have come to the conclusion that they set, and remember, their schedules based on light. These are the only inverts I keep where I turn the light off and on at the same time every morning and night.
 

Bambu

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So, maybe we'll see some CB BDFBs available in the near future? Pretty awesome if so!
Somebody out there needs to get some giant pill millipedes (pillipedes) into this guy's hands!
One can dream. I'd love to get an emerald one to name Oz.
 
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