It’s been two weeks since my last post, and I’m still waiting for the female locusts to lay eggs (I’ve got one possible egg burrow so far but it’s slow going). I’ve got some ideas on how to encourage further laying, which I’ll outline later in this post. First up I want to go through what I’ve learned in the past week.
First off: bad weather equals lethargic locusts. Auckland had grizzly, damp, lightning-monster weather early last week, and simultaneously the locusts became slow, weak and limp. They weren’t eating as much, and stopped mating behaviour.
When the weather cleared, the locusts came ‘alive’ again – which was a relief, as it looked like they were on death’s door. I’d kept the heat on (via a 100 watt lightbulb/60 watt red bulb at night) but the humidity increased due to the weather – and humidity is a known locust killer. I’ll try a dehumidifier in the room if this happens again – it may pay to get a thermometer and hygrometer to measure temp and humidity more accurately (these cost around the ten dollar mark from the hardware store)
Taking a look at my tank design, it’s time to change it up, and look at ways in which I can encourage egg laying. Although I like the raised floor I currently have, I think the locusts would benefit from extra height in the tank, so I’m going to drop the wooden floor. This will also allow me to make my wooden frames (which provide ‘perches’ through the nymph’s moulting stages) one square higher.
An ice cream container full of sand (damp but not soaking – it needs to be firm enough to stop egg burrows caving in) will replace my current container, and I’m hoping the larger surface area of the ‘sand pit’ will make it easier for the females to find.
I’m going to move the locusts into another tank temporarily (a friend kindly donated a fish tank to this project which will do nicely) so I can proceed with these adjustments. I also might try ‘trapping’ the females on the surface of the sand pit to see if I can get them to lay.
It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between sexually mature female and male locusts – males have more of a blunt tip to their abdomen, whereas females have a jagged, darker tip.
Locusts mate with the male riding around on the female’s back – their abdomens look a little like crossed fingers:
Still slow going, but hopefully we’ll be dining on locusts by month’s end.