Glued Eggs Technique (GET)
A simple, near-natural incubation technique for egg-glueing phasmids.
Some phasmid groups glue their eggs to the vegetation within they live, to twigs, bark, leaves or even grass. Amongst these egg-gluers are such interesting taxon like Marmessoidea, Neoclides, Calvisia, Tagesoidea, Prisopus - and many more. Often breeders have to remove glued eggs from the substratum they are glued to. For example so that the eggs can be incubated in a different location in a different place - or to be given to another breeder.
Nymphs which are hatching from such detached eggs easily get stuck in the egg shell upon hatching. And usually this is fatal and the nymphs die cause they can not free themselves.
A simple technique called GET (Glued-Eggs-Technique) helps us in this situation. Two variations of this technique are presented below:
But to begin with, be very careful when removing glued eggs from their substratum. In some species (e.g. Calvisia, Neoclides) the egg shell breaks away very easy when one tries to forcefully break away glued eggs from the substratum. Luckily the glue of many "glueing species" is water-soluble. So just spray such eggs with a good amount of water, and wait for about 5 - 10 minutes, then spray them again and wait another 5 - 10 minutes. After this treatment it is usually easy to detach the eggs from the substratum, as the glue has softened a lot. Just softly and carefully "roll" the eggs to the side.
But in a few species groups (e.g. Marmessoidea) the glue is not water-soluble. Luckily these eggs have very hard shells, and one can forcefully detach such eggs from their substratum - and they stay intact.
Eggs of egg-glueing phasmid species are very well adapted to this biological behaviour - their egg lid is on the side which is opposite to the side they are glued to. This gives the hatching nymph enough free space for the hatching maneuver, and this also allows that such eggs can be laid in very compact clusters.
GET Xanthan technique
Xanthan gum is a natural polysaccharide, which is commonly used as a food additive ("thickener") in human nutrition. We use Xanthan as a glue, in order to re-glue detached eggs. This allows us to re-glue the eggs with a non-toxic, organic material, which is an advantage. The disadvantage of using an organic material like Xanthan is, that organic stuff tends to get slightly mouldy after a long incubation time.
- Xanthan gum powder (health food shop, food retailers, pharmacy, online trade).
- Some strips of hard, stiff plastic.
- Spring steel tweezers (very soft tweezers).
How to apply the GET Xanthan technique:
- Mix a little bit of Xanthan gum powder with water to a viscous paste.
- Spread this Xanthan gum paste onto a strip of hard plastic.
- The Xanthan gum paste layer shall not be thicker than about half of the egg's thickness.
- Place the detached eggs carefully onto the Xanthan gum paste (use a spring steel tweezers).
- Attention - make sure that the egg lids point away from Xanthan, and preferably place them such that they will be directed "downwards" during incubation.
- The egg lid shall not be covered or smeared with Xanthan gum paste, otherwise hatching nymphs might not be able to push the lid open.
- Optionally, after the eggs have been placed on the Xanthan paste, spread very fine sand over the eggs and the Xanthan past. The sand will cover up all the free space, which helps will minimize mould growth during incubation.
- Allow Xanthan gum paste to dry up thoroughly (about 1 day at room temperature).
- Use a fine brush, to carefully brush off excess sand.
- Do not spray re-glued eggs, otherwise they will break loose.
- Place the eggs in a cup incubation unit, and maintain a moderately high humidity in this unit. About 65 - 75% RH is good enough, as egg-glueing species do not require a very high incubation humidity.
- Avoid condensation in the incubation box, if need be add some additional ventilation (e.g. make more needle pin holes).
GET Adhesive-Tape technique
Here the eggs are re-glued with double-sided adhesive tape. This technique requires less preparation, and the eggs bond firmly with the adhesive tape. But the adhesive tape glue contains a variety of chemical components, of which some are potentially harmful for the eggs - if they can diffuse through the eggs shell.
This method has been invented by Olivier Salord (France).
- Double-sided adhesive tape.
- Several stiff, strong plastic strips.
- Very fine sand (the finer the better, e.g. from pet shops).
- Spring steel tweezers (very soft tweezers).
How to apply the GET Adhesive-Tape technique:
- Stick double-sided adhesive tape to one side of a stiff plastic strip.
- Place the detached eggs on the adhesive tape with a soft tweezers.
- Now basically follow the same procedure as for the GET Xanthan technique.