Hi there! I’m not brand new to isopod keeping, but I’m finally expanding my collection and it’s occurred to me that I don’t yet have a safe way to collect my own leaf litter. I do have some pine needles that I’m leaving to dry from this year’s Christmas tree (I know pines are a debated topic in the community - if you have any experience using them, or if there’s a nuance to some evergreens being safe but not others, feel free to let me know, I’m definitely looking to expand my knowledge here because I’ve only really got one reliable source that defends them) but I feel like the more leaves the better, right? Plus, those won’t be ready for a few more weeks most likely.
Unfortunately my backyard (or rather, my parents’ backyard, since I currently live in an apartment complex) doesn’t have a whole lot in the way of trees, and I’m not sure where else would be safe to look as I can’t find any concrete information on pesticide usage in my area. “We only use them when absolutely necessary and we use the least harmful ones to human development as possible” is great and all, but not super helpful for what I’m looking for!
We do have several citrus trees - lime, lemon, and two variants of orange trees (tangerines, and an orange tree that everyone always compliments the oranges of). We also have two plumeria trees, but their leaves are very thick, so even if they are safe I can’t imagine they would be easy for the isopods to munch on. I read off-handedly in a thread that orange bark and of course the fruits aren’t safe for isopods, but I couldn’t find any information on the leaves. Does anyone have any experience using citrus leaves for isopods, or is there any information on how it might be unsafe? Information on how the wood is unsafe (even though I obviously don’t plan on cutting down the trees just to feed my isopods) would be appreciated too, since that probably has a greater effect on the leaves than the acidity of the fruit!
On that note, most of the variations I’m going to be getting, as well as my existing colony, are Armadillidium Vulgare, with one Maculatum culture as well. Vulgare are found in both the area around my apartment (in fact I collected a few from there) and at my parents’ house (I used to play with them all the time as a kid) and my dad told me that he’s actually seen some isopods in his backyard munching on the rotting peels of fallen oranges in the backyard. I did see someone in a hermit crab thread talk about how citrus aren’t necessarily unsafe for crustaceans and they mentioned something about the fruit needing to be allowed to rot before its safe for hermit crabs to eat, I think? Do you guys think there would be any harm in giving the isopods some orange scraps, or would it be better to not risk it? I don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (starving college student, but less through budget and more through being a picky eater and terrible chef) so I don’t have many scraps to give them, so being able to give them orange or lime peels (not lemon, I wouldn’t trust that) would be great since I don’t often have anything like that to give them. But since veggies/fruits aren’t as necessary as leaves, I’m a lot less concerned with doing that than I am being able to collect leaves from my backyard.
I will say that my dad recently treated weeds around the plumerias with weedkiller so I’m a bit hesitant to get anything from there, but the plumerias themselves obviously weren’t treated, and there’s no pesticides or anything. I’ll talk to him about specifics, but as long as its just “where the weedkiller was sprayed” that would be an issue, I think it should be fine. Although it’s already well into winter so I’m not sure if there will be any leaves that are getting ready to fall off yet anyways. Is it harmful to pick off leaves that don’t seem quite ready to come off yet? As in, harmful to the isopods - obviously I’d be careful not to take so many that the tree would suffer!
Thanks for any advice on the topic or even just reading, hope your isopods and other herps are doing well if you’re reading this!