Showy Moth Fly

Lepiseodina conspicua

Starter culture with enclosure (~30 mixed): $40

Detailed Species Stats -Click-

Adult Size: 4 mm.

Care Level: Easy.

Temperature Requirements: 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air Humidity: Not picky.

Substrate Humidity: Wet.

Favorite Foods: Rotting leaves, fish flakes, dog food.

Locality: Monroe, Michigan, United States.

Read the Collection Story Here! -Click-

September 2020 rolled around. Though it had been a few rough years, my heart yearned for the adventure of a collecting trip. But, this wasn’t the season nor a good time for me to head to the wilds of some far-off, exotic land like Florida or Arizona. Quite a predicament. Fortunately, my close local bug friends had some local schemes brewing.
William Samojeden is an aspiring pseudoscorpion enthusiast who collected the first Arizona boulder pseudoscorpions and has fanned the flames of my tiny invertebrate interest. After discovering that Michigan State University’s pseudoscorpion collection had been lost (a story for another day), he set his eyes on something unbelievably unique that it contained: an endemic pseudoscorpion, right in our home state of Michigan. Its only known location: Monroe, Michigan. Brandon Thomas, mutual friend, naturalist, and interpreter extraordinaire of southeast Michigan, also joined the fray, eager to hone his field work skills. Plans were made, and we set out on a day trip.
With much of the pseudoscorpion’s potential range being disjunct and scattered about public and private land, we tracked down what we suspected was prime habitat: a mixed oak forest amongst vernal pond swales, all within walking distance of public parking. We cut in from the road on foot, wandering through surprisingly intact native habitat. Then, once under a dense canopy and gear at the ready, the hunt began.
Minutes past. Some non-target pseudoscorpions. Lace bugs. Isopods. More lace bugs. Our hunt raged on as we went deeper into the forest, looking through every microhabitat we could spot.
Hours passed. Our exhaustive search was getting exhausting. The sun low, we decided to leave this seemingly perfect spot in hopes of trying another within driving distance before the sun finally set. As we left the forest, something caught my eye: a low stump filled with few gallons of water.
Though there were plenty of stumps and logs throughout the forest, this was the only one with standing water, and after a dry summer it drew my curiosity. I looked in and saw a unique microcosm; a mini Amazon in our relatively blase temperate forest. Primarily, an abundance of roach-like beetle larvae swimming and crawling about, somehow perfectly adapted both for aquatic acrobatics and terrestrial scurrying. An epic find, in my eyes; I scooped up a few dozen and some leaf litter, hurriedly encapsulating my own corner of Michigan’s mini Amazon.
After another unsuccessful pseudoscorpion hunt at the second location, we returned home with the spoils. I set the jumble of saturated leaves in a small bowl, added a touch of tap water to hydrate them further, and tabled the culture for a week. After developing a speculative ideal enclosure for them, I poured the still-writhing glob of leaves and beetle larvae in, added a piece of dog food for good measure, and waited.
A few weeks later, it was clear the larvae were not alone; springtails of various sorts were enumerating, but most curious of all were the gorgeous hitchhikers I was unaware of: showy moth flies. Their gray-black larvae are easy to miss and clearly were abundant in the leaves but went unnoticed until they matured into active, strikingly black and white adults. Will just so happened to be over on the day they emerged and we remarked on their unexpected beauty, perhaps the prettiest member of their subfamily.
As of the time of writing (December 2020), the Michigamazon culture is thriving. The beetle larvae are members of the family Scirtidae; hopefully when some mature we will be able to tentatively ID them. Along with the moth flies and springtails, it’s quite romantic to watch this slice of otherwise unappreciated biodiversity interact in a relatively natural captive habitat. We may not have found the pseudoscorpions we were looking for, but we certainly found something just as special.

This welcome addition to the potentially existent fly hobby is extremely easy to care for and striking to boot! Adults live only a few weeks, but emerge together in pulses. Colonies are easy to maintain on an inch of submerged leaves with occasional pellets of richer food thrown in to encourage a population boom. This species may be the prettiest member of the subfamily Psychodinae!

**Please allow one to two months of preparation time as new colonies are created on an as-needed basis.**