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Thread: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Hello,
    The title says it all! This post will keep up to date with a new storyline focusing on the ecosystem of the woods and forests and how it consists of many parts. This thread is designed to highlight vivarium keeping, bee keeping, gardening, amphibian help (providing breeding ponds and habitat to live.)

    The main focus on this thread will be comprised of many featured creatures. Eastern Gray Tree Frogs, or also known as The Gray Army to many of you who follow them on other threads and YouTube. These frogs are one of the two species I can confirm that I am working with closely. We will observe together their lives through a long battle with parasites, their hopeful brumation, and their move into the new enclosure which will be temporary until the real enclosure in the fall.

    The Gray Army relies on many other organisms for survival and this storyline will show us the balance and the intricate depth of an ecosystem. Why do I emphasize an ecosystem? Let me welcome in the other species native to PA that will have a major impact on the enclosure. One keeping it as clean as possible and also acting as a garbage disposal and waste management: the Giant North American Millipede is a detritivore which eats dead matter. Poop, dead leaves, and fungus which can effect the quality of life for the Gray Army will be taken care of by these millipedes.

    One of my all-time favorite insects it is and it is amazing to me that I get the opportunity to keep them. I would love to allow them to reproduce and release them near the area I'm creating (that we will learn later is significant) to the to this story and the ecosystem. This species of millipede is also found in my woods. I actually collected one of mine from being killed by a neighbor. They apparently crossed the road and one was saved by me. There weren't many that I know of in these woods, but I would like to allow the captive millipedes the opportunity to give back to the ecosystem where they were rescued.

    This next part is very very cool. Imagine growing fruit, and that fruit is fed to the millipedes, and the crickets. So the millipedes get to taste the fruit of the labor and the frogs get a more nutritious meal from the crickets. Accompanying the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes is the Leafcutter Bee.

    This bee will be given the essentials to pollinate plants and crops inside a greenhouse that I'm going to purchase. The Leafcutter Bee I decided on because I wanted to keep the bees safe in a greenhouse from predators near my artificial frog breeding pools. The leafcutter bee tolerates hot conditions and is said to be a good greenhouse bee. They will pollinate blueberries and many other crops that will be fed to my feeders and my millipedes.

    I am also planning to use a handful of male bees as a feeder one time a year for the Gray Army. I will put the bees in and I'll set a timer. Once the timer goes off any bees that survive I will take back outside. Just a cool feeder for the Gray Army, and also it brings together the importance of the bees and how they are also a food source for the frogs.

    I will not just allow the bees to live in the greenhouse, but butterflies, green lacewings, and even grasshoppers that I plan to breed and feed to my toads. I will open the greenhouse when the temperature is right and allow the bees to pollinate outside. I'll have the door open during the day and close it at night. So literally the bees should fly back to the greenhouse at night for protection and shelter. I'm really excited to see this in action.

    Not only do we have an enclosure and a greenhouse, but artificial vernal pools. Both American toads and gray tree frogs breed in these pools of water. The ones we rescue from road patrols will be taken here to breed hopefully, and we have a large pond on the property if they are picky. Also for my toads and tree frogs tadpoles propagated by the members of the PA Woods Community (my toads and tree frogs.) Both amphibians of mine will replenish the woods and area where they came from with giving back life. So the frogs and toads will have a place to live and breed, I will supply feeders and appeal to many insects to come to the area with the pools and greenhouse.

    The bees in the greenhouse will pollinate fruit which will bring wild insects to the area for the neighbor frogs and toads, but also provide fruit and nutrition for my enclosure for the Gray Army, and maybe my millipedes can breed as well as the gray tree frogs and we can continue to put out many creatures into the ecosystem.

    Thank you for reading this thread and I look forward to posting updates as we move forward as well as pictures and links to videos soon.




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    100+ Post Member Animallover3541's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    I'm curious, what plant species specifically do you keep in your native temperate vivariums?

    Sorry if you've mentioned this before on an earlier post, lol. I don't have the best memory...
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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Quote Originally Posted by Animallover3541 View Post
    I'm curious, what plant species specifically do you keep in your native temperate vivariums?

    Sorry if you've mentioned this before on an earlier post, lol. I don't have the best memory...
    I have never mentioned anything about what I want to keep with these frogs so it is a great question!

    So far some natives or naturalized plants that are good

    Korean Rock Fern
    Dragon's Tail Fern
    Autumn Brilliance Fern
    Pachysandra
    Periwinkle
    English Ivy

    I am looking at other possibilities but as for now these are plants in consideration!

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    First major update on the PA Woods and Forests Storyline...

    The Gray Army had their fecal samples tested.......and they were negative!!!!

    The Gray Army WILL hibernate soon and be the first to be given the opportunity! This is very big news because these guys have been in quarantine all of 2019 and a large part of 2018. Now in 2020 they are given the chance to hibernate then breed then live inside of a custom enclosure. I will explain in detail soon of the events that have taken place elsewhere in the PA Woods and Forests Community which is not good news, but this storyline focuses on the Gray Army and they are celebrating right now.

    I am feeding them as much as possible to get them plump bellies so they sleep well. The enclosure I am looking at is a 112 gallon 4x1.5x2.5 (in feet) enclosure. Here the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes will thrive and begin the co-op breeding project to replenish both the gray tree frog and giant millipede populations. What do you guys think about the nickname for the millipedes? What do you think about the nickname for the group as a whole? (The Gray Army and Giant Millipedes)

    I am going to ask my professor about hibernating the millipedes just to see if it is possible and worth it for them. I am very excited to be keeping these two groups in a larger sized enclosure to really see how they behave. I am sure most people don't think a millipede can have arboreal tendencies. This species may sleep under logs in the day, but at night they will climb and explore in search of something to eat. It will be interesting for me to see the relationship between both the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes.

    Here is one aspect I'll have to ask my vet and professor. Millipedes have predatory mites that protect them, so as you all know the battle with parasites is always on the horizon, but could the mites on the millipedes protect them from these parasites trying to hitch a ride on them? If the predatory mites do protect the millipedes then the millipedes are in no danger of carrying parasites from the frogs. Also frog parasites can they even parasitize the millipedes? I'll have more information on this when I find out!

    I am trying to decide on plants for this build because as the Gray Army sleeps this is actually going to be the first build for 2020. I will have this enclosure done first because it was a change of plans for me, as I thought I would be building a 240 gallon first, but now I must hold off on that project for the moment. I am looking at two different ferns and the ivy (Pachysandra) that I have used in previous builds.

    I will be searching for more giant millipedes as the spring approaches. Due to my change of plans for what enclosure I will be building first now I can confirm 100% yes I will be purchasing bees. But not the Mason Bees. I am purchasing a greenhouse and I found the Leafcutter Bee to actually be the best species for this type of setting. They apparently do well in heat and humidity. I will have them this year as long as they don't sell out in the month of February.

    Leafcutter Bees are very cool bees and they are a summertime species, so we will have them around in June and July for some very cool videos hopefully this year. I am very excited to share more on the three stars of this storyline as more continues to unfold!

    I forgot to mention this is a collaboration project including my photographer who will be keeping different species that we will be attempting to breed and replenish into the wild.

    I can say his two stars that may appear time from time are the Chinese Praying Mantis and the Redbelly Snake. This snake doesn't eat frogs and is not threatened in the state so it is safe to keep. I am very excited to see how he does, and just to mention he is the creepy crawly guy. He will keep the mantids, snakes, centipedes, and even house centipedes! He even keeps leeches!

    I am excited to see how our collaborative efforts will impact the native ecosystems around us. His group will pop in time to time so be on the lookout for anything non Gray Army and Giant Millipedes.

    The Woods Vivarium (my American toads) might also make cameo appearances in this storyline as well. They have their own thing, but they are members of the PA Woods so it would make sense to include them from time to time. Their update will be coming soon.

    As for YouTube there is a Dumpy Family (White's Tree Frogs) video coming, introduction to the Giant Millipedes, and another Gray Army video coming soon.

    As of right now the Gray Army is in the #1 spot for the channel due to some circumstances that have happened. More on that in another update, but for 2020 and even for Frog Week the Gray Army will represent the brand. What are your thoughts on the Gray Armies ascension in 2020?

    What are you most excited to see between the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes, Leafcutter Bees, and the guest inhabitants the Mantids and Snakes?

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Good luck with your hibernation, also I'm interested in your White's group.

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Quote Originally Posted by elly View Post
    Good luck with your hibernation, also I'm interested in your White's group.
    Glad to see you are still on the forum! I am preparing to build the whites a new home coming hopefully this winter! They are in quarantine right now.

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    One of the last updates before brumation...

    As you all know of the great news, the Gray Army is parasite free. I am preparing for the opportunity to brumate them in February. That doesn't mean I won't have updates, but it means I won't have as many about new information on them. I felt it was a good time to discuss what's new with the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes while we begin the most important month of their lives.

    Another chance to weigh the Gray Army and it was good. The girls Melania and Meredith continue to gain weight. Both are 28 grams. They both have gained weight and look wonderful. Bane lost less then a gram and I am going to hold him and Dante out of brumation until they gain more weight. Bane I need to get to at least 23 grams (he's so close!) Dante needs to gain weight also, but he's a younger tree frog. He's 14 grams currently and I would like to get him close to 20 grams. With that being said it will be very fun seeing how Bane and Dante handle getting spoiled and offered food in abundance.

    I do have an idea for which Gray Army member will be featured as the star for the 2020 storyline. It's almost unanimous, but I want to wait until after brumation to announce the star for the series.

    As for the giant millipedes these guys are doing great. I'm looking forward to observing them more when they get the opportunity to live in the enclosure with the Gray Army.

    I have been figuring out more details about what enclosure the groups will live in and I've been looking more in detail about the solitary bee keeping. I have made a decision on the enclosure but again I am going to wait to share because the enclosure I have decided on will blow your mind.

    I was able to get more pictures of the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes! Check them out below!



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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Giant Millipedes!!! Very Cool! I come across them from time to time but not as often as I would like to see. This past summer I found one that had fallen into a storage container but it was dead by the time I found it, which was a bummer! I did find a millipede that I had never seen before... a Flat-back Yellow & Black or Polydesmida, I believe??? Actually found a group of them and observed them for about an hour and was surprised with the sweet scent that they were giving off, not like the foul odor emitted from other millipedes. This past year was quite spectacular with my exploration as I was excited to find critters that were new to me. In addition to the millipedes, I came across a Spotted Salamander in early Spring and some babies in early Fall. Some other critters I found were baby mantids, a Giant Leopard Moth and in caterpillar form, a female Carolina Wolf spider carrying babies, Land Planarians (yucky bad guys), a Milk Snake and many more! I also caught a Northern Ringneck, that has been residing in my retaining wall, which I refer to as "The Living Wall", which I estimated to be 8-10yrs old. He is 18" long and I've been watching him for the last 8 years! I had also found an American Toad that was missing a limb but I didn't have a tank set up at that point, or I would've kept him and I hadn't seen him after that one time. So, there's a lot going on in my neck of the woods and I can't wait for Spring to arrive! I am so looking forward to seeing what is still hanging around or wanders in my location! Trying to upload some pics, but my computer isn't cooperating, can't upload the spider with babies and the toad is sideways...

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    Last edited by ToadilyNuts4Nature; February 3rd, 2020 at 05:27 PM. Reason: Added pics...

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    The second update for the Gray Army, and first for the Giant Millipedes...


    This year for the PA Woods and Forests Brand it is the year of the Gray Army. They have been the story of the YouTube channel and most of the updates. We are going to continue in 2020 with the second update of the gray tree frogs, and the first real update on the others featured in this storyline.

    The Gray Army is thriving in what could be the last few weeks of quarantine for them. They are soon to brumate, and while they do, I will be preparing their forever home. The Gray Army has to be weighed one more time because I am trying to get the females to 30 grams and Bane to 25+, and Dante I am hoping to get his weight to at least 20 grams. While they wait and fatten up I am hard at work to get the supplies needed for the brumation.

    While the group rests during their brumation I will be creating their new enclosure. The enclosure will be well established before they enter it come the summer. If I can finish the foundation level of the build which is the bio drain and the soil it will be a major step forward. My goal is to plant the enclosure with the native and naturalized plants and seed the vivarium with springtails, but not isopods.

    The giants are going to control the ecosystem. In place of isopods, Giant North American Millipedes will enter into the enclosure to control the mold, decaying plant matter, poop, and any organic problems. These millipedes are huge! I am looking forward to seeing how they respond to being given such a massive enclosure. For several months the enclosure will be ruled by these thousand legged giants. As you know, we will be hoping to document these critters and hopefully bring some positive camera time to make people less squeamish of these creatures.

    The new Millipede is the star of the show already. The new Millipede who you have seen in many pictures is already the most active above ground millipede that I own compared to all millipedes. The orangish coloration makes it distinguishable, and we believe to have identified this millipede as a female. Regardless of the gender this millipede will be heavily featured in the next episode of the PA Woods and Forests Storyline. Be sure to checkout the new giant millipede and see how it came into my care.

    The artificial vernal pool and greenhouse are here! I was saying how important it was to create a safe place for neighborhood frogs and toads last year, and I hope to build just that this year. I bought a decently large rubber container and it's the size of a modest vernal pool around my area. This hopeful breeding site will be fenced in to keep out birds and mammals, but the holes in the fence will be big enough to let frogs and toads in. I am hopeful the native amphibians will accept my offer and lay their eggs here. We also have a pond down in the yard so we will see what the frogs and toads like more.

    The greenhouse is going to be a Leafcutter Bee safe haven. I am hoping to get the bees soon and hibernate them along with the Gray Army. The bees play an important role and I'm hoping my greenhouse will be the best protection for them protecting them from birds and others. If the frogs eat some bees then no harm done, but I do not want the bees to be eaten by the birds. I am going to open and close the door to the greenhouse so the bees can remain protected from intruders. If they pollinate inside the area fenced in for the frogs then they will be protected themselves.

    I am going to purchase the bees hopefully this week so I will update you all on the status of that later on. Purchasing the Leafcutter Bees and watching them work throughout the summer will be a great experience. We will get to highlight the bees in our work to help save the frogs and toads, and hopefully we can make a difference with these bees as well.

    I can confirm the Gray Army and Giant Millipedes home finally. After giving it much thought I have decided these creatures will inherit the 125 gallon. This tank was originally scheduled for the Skinks, but because I wanted to do research with these animals; I felt it was fair to give them the second largest enclosure I have. I am very excited to see how the Gray Army will maneuver around the enclosure. How will four gray tree frogs and roughly four to six giant millipedes use this space? Will they spread out? Will they live in close proximity? This will be discovered by us this summer!

    I hope that you are all getting excited for a 125 gallon Gray tree frog vivarium and seeing the Giant Millipedes roam the enclosure. I will keep you updated on the builds of the 125 gallon Gray Army and Giant Millipedes vivarium, Artificial vernal pool, Greenhouse, and Leafcutter Bees.

    Keep an eye out for the next video!

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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    This storyline is shaping up to be epic...

    There are many exciting layers to this update. The Gray Army who's the star of this storyline is thriving right now. They still are preparing for brumation, and are continuing to gain weight. I have almost all of the pieces to brumate them I'm waiting on two key components. The most exciting part of their update is still to be explained. The Gray Army's enclosure has come and I'm considering building it and allowing them to live inside of it before they brumate. The Exo Terra XL or 36x18x36 will be their future home.

    I'm about 80% in on building it early or at least some type of version of it. We then would have a chance to see the millipedes interaction with the tree frogs. The only thing that's holding me up is a background. If i build the background they can't go in. If I don't build the background then when the tree frogs brumate, I'll have to take the millipedes out to completely build the enclosure. So neither idea is foolproof. I'm still kicking around the idea so I'll update you when I have a decision.

    The Giant Millipedes are doing great. I still see the Petco specimen and boy is she hungry. I haven't seen a millipede eat like her, and the coolest part of their update is that I can handfeed her. I can hold a fish pellet out and she will grab it. You can hear her munch on it with those large mandibles! I'm really looking forward to giving these two giants a large home as well. There is a new video coming out over the weekend to showcase this female millipede.

    The last part of the update is the more wild one so to speak. I purchased the bees and their accessories! So we will have the Leafcutter Bees for 2020. I have the greenhouse and most of the supplies for that. I have most of what I need for this side of the storyline and I'm looking forward to working with and filming the bees. I'm not sure if we will get to see the Gray Army eat a couple this year, but it's okay because that's not the main reason I purchased them. The bees can help me by pollinating my plants which will help the outside world. I will be sure to make a video of the bees and the storyline as a whole soon as well.

    There is a lot to be excited about with this group of animals. The Gray Army is healthy, the Giant Millipedes are active and eating well, and the Leafcutter Bees are on the way. Be sure to stay up to date with this storyline because things are going to get better and better as time goes on.

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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Checkout the Giant Millipede Video!
    https://youtu.be/X7GFVS9SXnE

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    Default Re: PA Woods and Forests Storyline

    Sorry for the delay...

    Hey guys,
    I know that it's been a while and I apologize for not posting sooner. Life has been crazy lately and everyone can understand that right now. I have some good news to share with you about this storyline.

    The Gray Army is still healthy, and I am very happy to report that Meredith and Melania are of the required weight to begin this month hopefully the brumation protocol. I'm very excited to begin this and allow them time to rest and naturally live out this part of their lives. The Gray Army overall has gained more weight and appears to be thriving. We are just waiting for the two males (Bane and Dante) to gain the weight needed to confirm all of the members are good to go. They have a video in the works I hope to finish very soon for you all.

    The Giant Millipedes are also doing well. The Petco Millipede is doing great and I still see her out every day. She still is a hungry little thing. I'm really excited to share more about her in the upcoming video and to post more about the Millipedes overall just because I find them to be such fascinating creatures. The Giant Millipedes are thriving also.

    The Leafcutter Bees are in! I actually went through with it and got the bees. I'm happy to say they are in the refrigerator and waiting to join the Gray Army in the brumation protocol and enclosure this month potentially. I'm very very excited to see what we can observe from these bees for their short lifespans, but very important and essential lives. They will not appear in this upcoming video, but the following video for the Gray Army they will.

    There is nothing but encouragement for these creatures and I hope to continue the good news soon for everyone.

    Checkout some cool pictures!

    Checkout the new logo below!


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