by Ryan Huether
For those that seek information about feeder insects, the Internet is both a gold mine and a minefield. While almost all the knowledge you could want on a particular feeder is out there somewhere, it is often mixed with varying degrees of misinformation, half-truths, and misconceptions. To help you navigate this sea of information, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide this resource to correct and/or clarify some of the more common assertions made about feeders that aren't completely true.
It is often anecdotally reported that crickets that have been fed carrots become poisonous to Mantises. This may be a surprise to some, as many resources online will list carrots as a source of hydration for crickets prior to being fed to Mantises. So which is it? Can carrot consuming crickets become kryptonite for Mantises or are they a useful source of sustenance? First, if crickets fed carrots have a poisonous effect on Mantises, it is probably overrated. This effect has not been scientifically studied or reported on. However, even sources that report something like this happening to their own Mantises can typically be summarized as - the mantis vomits a little, maybe appears sick, but in most cases, recovers.
Nevertheless, some online resources will say that making sure your crickets were not fed carrots is one of the most important things you need to know when feeding them to your mantis. Due to the apparent uncertainty, we understand if people opt to feed their crickets potato instead of carrots before being fed to their mantises, especially if it is a species that is difficult or expensive to obtain. But there are much more important things to consider than whether your crickets have been fed carrots when using them for Mantises.
While carrot fed crickets might be bad, crickets kept in unsanitary conditions almost certainly are. Moreover, after the mantis has eaten a cricket, it is advisable always to remove any limbs and other cricket bits discarded by the mantis to prevent mold or funguses from taking root in the terrarium that might affect the mantis’ health.
Any time you see your mantis ready to molt, make sure to remove any live crickets from its dwelling! Crickets are omnivores and a freshly molted insect, even if it is a mantis, will seem quite an acceptable meal. Moreover, even if they were not interested in eating the mantis, they may, by hopping, knock a molted mantis from its perch which by itself may be fatal.
In summary, crickets probably aren't the ideal feeder for your mantis. They can be used successfully, but if any of these potential problems concern you, it is probably best to feed them using flies: fruit flies for young and blue bottle and house flies for older and adult Mantises. In fact, some exotic mantis species will only pursue flying prey.
It is reported by some that feeding superworms to your reptile pets may lead to their untimely demise. The story goes that the consumed superworm will chew its way out of the animal's digestive system a la the Alien movies. Fortunately, this is not actually the case. While you should always make sure that your feeders are large enough to handle the food you give them, superworms will not actually consume your animal from the inside out. This claim appears to be based on a misattribution of animal deaths to superworms because a loose superworm in a terrarium may begin to chew on the body of an already dead or dying animal.
Some people will buy a colony of fruit flies, bean beetles, etc., and then find themselves taken aback when a month or so later the colony dies out. They then assume that either something was not right with the colony to begin with or that they made some mistake in its care. It seems they believed that the culture should last forever, or at least much longer than it actually does. At Josh's Frogs website (http://www.joshsfrogs.com), the expected lifespan of every culture is included in the product’s description. It is possible, though, to keep your colonies going much longer by splitting them into freshly supplied colonies.
Many people assume that roaches are filthy and disgusting insects that exist only to be killed with fire. However, none of this could be further from the truth. Dubia roaches are nutritious and delicious for many animals. Their colonies are typically significantly cleaner than a comparable cricket colony. In addition, Dubia roaches are much sturdier than crickets and are significantly more likely to survive being shipped through the mail. In fact, Dubias basically only have two drawbacks compared to crickets: 1. They cannot be legally obtained in Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, and California and 2. There is no Dubia roach equivalent to pinhead crickets. While some other roaches have nymphs of comparable size, the smallest Dubia size category is about equivalent to ¼” crickets.
When buying insects to feed your critters, remember always to double check the information you find about them and not to take the first source you find (even this one) at face value. It is not likely that anyone is actively looking to lie to you, but no one has perfect and complete information or understanding on any subject. So do your research as best you can and make as well informed of a decision as you can.
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