11/17/2021: Embaphion contusum making a comeback
Over the years I’ve unfortunately had to take various species off of the site due to losing cultures. Unfortunately not all species can be ironclad and those that are may suffer when “real life” steps in the way. Not everything is as easy to acquire as a species like Armadillidium vulgare, where most people in the United States can find them either in their yard (no matter how lawnified or degraded) or easily from an online vendor (such as Roach Crossing, wink wink). These other species must be painstakingly hunted down and reacquired in their natural habitat, or by complete chance from a fellow enthusiast who may run across them… occasionally… seasonally… at the right time of day… at the right place… when they’re in the right mood. There are many things that can stand in the way of restarting cultures.
Perfectly serendipitously, as Will and I were looking for Arenivaga near Bowlin’s Old West Trading Post in New Mexico, I spied something I had really hoped to find but suspected we wouldn’t: an adult female Embaphion contusum. There she was, a dusty bluish speck at the entrance to a rodent burrow, cast into shadow by the glowing rays of the evening sun. I grabbed her immediately.
Many darkling beetle adults are sexually dimorphic, with males a bit smaller or less robust than females. It had been so long since I’d seen a contusum adult that I felt that I was just guessing at the sex, but figured it couldn’t hurt to put good effort into potentially getting larvae. Upon arriving home I set her up in some fancy digs and crossed my fingers. A few weeks later, I found my first squiggly newborn under a moldy piece of dog food.
Currently I’ve found at least 7 larvae synchronously, so there are probably many more than that hiding in cracks and crevices. The real delight will come in a month or two when I magically go from one adult to several, and then it’ll be a real success.
The re-addition of Embaphion contusum to the site will not only be a happy occasion due to that success, but also because I will be listing a second species of Embaphion, muricatum. TJ Ombrelle introduced these many years back and people here and there have kept colonies going, but unlike the larger (and trickier to propagate) death-feigning beetles, Embaphion haven’t really “caught on”… yet! TJ currently doesn’t have a colony, but another roacher, Chandra Orr, was selling some last spring and I was compelled to atone for my sin of losing both cultures by picking some up.
Here’s to long-lived colonies of both species, and to getting pie dish beetles… back on the plate!