good bugs?

no_way(7)April 24, 2006

Hi there,

If a free aquarium comes to pass IÂll soon be making a terrarium (other than my fishbowl garden). IÂm just wondering if there are any insects/bugs that I can find in the wild that would both do well in a tropical terrarium and be either harmless or beneficial to the plants. IÂm thinking of things like sow bugs, earthworms, millipedes or beetles, etc. Clearly no slugs or anything that can climb glass will work.


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Just remember to be careful as many of these little critters will eat your plants, you mention,"clearly no slugs or anything that can climb glass" do you know that those slugs will, along with snails, gobble up a lot of your plants! Eeeek! also, if you plan on keeping frogs, you know that some insects eat plants, some plants are toxic, frogs eat insects, frogs die! =( Just be very careful and research the bugs well! as long as you do that you and the insects should be fine, unless you get a frog! =)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:31AM
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Scratch the sow bugs off your list as they are a huge pest to plants. They love to infest my orchid pots during the summer and they can cause some serious damage to roots.

Spiders are the first things that come to mind. You could always get a tarantula species but many of them spend most of their time hiding. The Avicularia species (pink toes) are great for planted terrariums. There are also some fairly large native spiders like the garden spiders that are very attractive.

A mantis would be a very interesting terrarium subject if you were going to collect the occupant yourself.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 1:29PM
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back2eight(South MS)

I am unclear as to if you are wanting the bugs for pets, or to help with the natural ecology of the terrarium. If the latter is the case, what most people use is springtails. they are tiny white bugs that are a natural janitor. They eat decaying plant matter, fungus, mold, and animal waste. They also provide a snack for any animal you may keep in your tank. I have springtails in all of my tanks. I do not have to do any cleaning or maintenance in my tanks, other than occasionally pruning plants or changing the water.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 2:03PM
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I was looking for bugs that I could get for free that would at a little interest to a terrarium. Clearly a mantis is a good choice, but they don't grow here :(

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:54PM
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No Mantis in Canada? Thats the first time I ever heard that? Doesnt mean its not true though? Can anyone comfirm this? I will check it out while I wait for an answer on this site, which, by the way, has been very,very,very,very,very slow these days! Its actually gotten a bit boring =( thats sad =(

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 11:32PM
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I think they have them back east. I'm in vancouver. Remember, Canada is a VERY big, big place. I was born and raised here my whole life. I can confirm that there are no mantises in this part of the country.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 6:51PM
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back2eight(South MS)

you could order some, do a google search, or check with labs, some of them have different bugs for various experiments and things.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 8:55AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

There must be mantids of some sort in vancouver, your zone 7 there egg cases can make it through that, there are mantids in the rocky mountains, they are just not common.

However, if you get a large mantid or tarantuala a frog could end up on the menu, Springtails are cheap, under 5 dollars for a culture if you look hard enough, also if there are fishbreeders in your area you may be able to get a few for a buck or two.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 2:22PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

no mantids in a zone 7 region? Hmmm. That surprises me. Seems rather unlikely considering I'm zone 5 [USA]and they can be found here. Though I would have to say they are easy to find ... more of an occasional lucky discovery.

Do keep in mind that before adding any invertebrates you thoroughly research their needs.

Earthworms -- I doubt you'd have much luck. The soil in a terrarium is often far too warm for them.

Tarantulas -- If these are an option, then again you have some serious research to do. Many tarantulas, like Avicularia, are excellant climbers. Since you mentioned no slugs or snails [vile little slimy eating machines] because "Clearly no slugs or anything that can climb glass will work." you will probably want to avoid those. [BTW mantids can climb glass too.] There are terrestrial tarantulas but they are all burrowers. So keep in mind that uprooted plants would be likely.

Some of the large millipedes might be cool but keep in mind that they are largely nocturnal and also will burrow.

Most common arthropods will either nibble on the plants &/or will be able to scale the glass, or will require prey that could possible do either of the above. That being said, if you really want some critters, you may want to give some serious thought to getting a tight-fitting, screened top for the tank. This would allow you to keep larger climbing critters confined.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 1:44PM
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I found this site about mantids in British Columbia. It looks like they are restricted to a specific range and may not be found near the costal regions.

You can buy mantid egg cases online they are sold to be used in your garden as a natural pest control.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ground mantis

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 4:02AM
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Thanks Mike. I've heard of people buying the egg sacks, but never (in almost 30 years)heard of them in the wild or ever seen one. Imagine that, me knowing my own back yard...


    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 1:17PM
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I have lots of milipedes that I've discovered in my green treefrog tank. I suppose they got there when I planted the ivy or the grass. I prefer real plants to the plastic ones.

Anyway, I've noticed the milipedes in the tank for about a month now. My frogs are currently burrowing (natural for winter). I understand that the bugs eat decaying plants. However, does anyone know if the milipedes will harm my frogs?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 1:26AM
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Milipedes eat frogs! They have heat seeking antenae and shoot lazers out of there legs, if they get too close to your frog and the frog doesn't have its forcefield on the milipede will self destruct and they will both die!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 3:08AM
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*shares a link with the milipede-worrying person*

(in short, it looks like milipedes are fine. Centipedes may not be)

Here is a link that might be useful: Dendro board, milipede

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 8:26PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I'm in Portland OR, not that far from Vancouver BC and we have Mantises here. :)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 4:07PM
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I have several terrariums and use sowbugs and springtails in all of them...sowbugs tend to leave all plants alone if there is a good moist soil/ leaf litter...they are the powerhouse of my cleaning crew...

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 10:35AM
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