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My cactus is full of grubs

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by CritterKeeper21, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. CritterKeeper21

    CritterKeeper21 Arachnosquire

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    So I have two cactuses in my C. Sculpturatus tank. One dried up and died about a month ago and the other turned a light green color and started drooping. It now jiggles when I touch it. After it got dark I saw little wormy grub things crawling on and sticking out of it. I'm not really sure what to do about this situation or what led to eggs aparently being layed in it, but I felt like sharing. My current plan is to redo the tank with new cactuses (short spined ones only) and maybe set up another tank for whatever comes out of the cactus. DSC_0623.JPG The green one was standing vertical a week ago and the dead one was eaten by crickets.
     
  2. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I'm hoping someone knowledgeable will chime in here. Sounds like your cacti became habitat to it's detriment. Whether natural or opportunistic I have no idea.
    When making artificial environments these situations are almost inevitable. Very hard to take all eventualities into account.
     
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  3. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Some questions:
    • How much light are you providing?
    • Can water drain out the tank?
    • What's the substrate?
    • How often do you water?
    • When you water, how much is it and how is it supplied?
    • Do you know what kinds of cactus?
    It looks to me like these rotted and the grubs only came later. It was probably root rot. Sadly, this can occur from both over- and under-watering, along with a lack of light.

    In a lot of critter tanks, it's best to leave live plants out, since in the wild, even though they co-occur, they look for different microhabitats.
    Opportunistic. I like it :cool:
     
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  4. CritterKeeper21

    CritterKeeper21 Arachnosquire

    I've got a 40 watt halogen bulb on for most daylight hours. Water can not drain out, but I don't water often enough for water to pool and I can look through the bottom to check for pooling water. The substrate is cactus potting soil from home depot with pool filter sand covering it. I don't water very often, maybe a light mist every month or so with heavier waterings every 2-3 months. I tend to direct the water down the cactuses. No idea what kind of cactuses they were. I just got them from home depot.
     
  5. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I have no sense of halogen bulb brightness. Do you have any idea of the lumens/foot candles from that?
    In the long run this leads to salt buildup in the soil.
    This is probably not enough water. Most cactuses get relatively heavy seasonal rains, often during the summer.

    It sounds to me like you probably got root rot from the roots being dried out. Salts would have built up which would eventually lead to water being sucked from the roots, plus your soil was extremely dry to begin with. I would suggest putting in some kind of drainage and watering more often (maybe a thorough dowsing every two weeks between April and October, though I'll have to check to see if that's the right amount because my instinct is that it's not quite enough.)

    I kept a cactus outside for the summer last year in Massachusetts. It got over 12" of rain in three months, along with high humidity. But the soil drained reasonably well and it was sitting in full sun, so it was quite happy. Cacti quite like water, they just hate wet feet. You can't over-water, of course, but there's no reason to be overly sparing.
     
  6. CritterKeeper21

    CritterKeeper21 Arachnosquire

    I tend to do the heavier waterings when it is raining here since I live in the desert and I figured that was a good way to go considering I am literally surrounded by cactuses, though I realize now I may have made an error in assuming that the climate it was from is that similar to the one I live in. With how much substrate there is compared to how often I saturate the entirety of the soil with water (never, I just water directly at the cactuses and let the water drain to the rest of the soil) I'm not too worried about drainage, especially to the point of drilling holes in a glass tank. If I did water to the point of needing drainage, I would be worried about how that would effect the humidy of the tank. When I first started the colony, I watered like that, it was in a tub with drainage, I thought it would be fine, but the substrate grew moss against the plastic and one of my scorpions (my first) got micosis. I would rather the cactus be watered sparingly than risk that again. Looking back at recent pictures I've taken with the cactus looking healthy, I can see that it was a bit dry, but if you are trying to tell me that it is a normal part of the death of a cactus for the entire thing to turn to jello, I disagree. Regarding the light, I misremembered, it is actually 50 watt but I can't find any info on it beyond that. https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/zilla-mini-halogen-white-day-bulb that's what I got if you want to check it out.
     
  7. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I don't know what to tell you man. Cactus turning to jello is a classic sign of root root. The roots start to die, the top weakens and develops a fungal infection, and the whole thing falls apart.
    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/scgen/cactus-going-soft.htm
    It's most commonly caused by over-watering, but I've seen it for dehydrated cacti as well. It's possible you just up and developed a fungal infection, but more often than not it's caused by unhappy roots. With salinity, before you reach a plant's threshold tolerance it will look healthy and happy, but once the salinity crosses over to more than it can handle it quickly deteriorates. In addition, with root rot it might have been deteriorating for months without you seeing anything.

    Watering as often as you did makes more sense now and might not be too bad an idea, particularly if you got moss before (I wasn't considering the humidity in a terrarium, which means that the cacti are getting more of the water you put in and losing less in the long run). But you gotta have drainage, no matter how little you water, because water has salts in it that need to be flushed out. You probably had about enough light, since you would have seen more etiolation (when a plant stretches out because it doesn't have enough light) otherwise. You could, of course, always afford to go for more, but I would guess that wasn't your problem.

    The way to avoid excessive humidity is to have a tray or something that you only put in when you water to catch the drainage; since you then remove it, you won't have water just sitting underneath the tank. Alternatively, you could pot the cacti and take them out whenever you water. But you can't just let the water sit.
     
  8. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    Do you have pics of the grubs/maggots(?) Are you sure they're not phorid fly maggots? That dead cricket next to the cactus, they may have crawled off that cricket and crawled onto your cactus. Do you know for sure they are inside your cactus?
     
  9. CritterKeeper21

    CritterKeeper21 Arachnosquire

    Okay so they were in the cactus but they are also in all of the soil I guess. I refreshed the tank and they were under stones and behind the wood. They are really small so I can try to get a pic but it wouldn't be a good one.
    Edit: I checked what the phorid fly maggots look like and that's not it. The ones I have are long, thin, and brownish. They look like they are a little hard bodied but I'm not sure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  10. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    When you say "in" the cactus, do you mean you know they are inside the cactus or you just see them crawling "on" the cactus?
     
  11. CritterKeeper21

    CritterKeeper21 Arachnosquire

    They were on the cactus and crawled in it when disturbed, but now I don't think they were really living in it I don't know
     
  12. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    When those phorid flies pupate, they turn brown and have a harder "shell" than when they are crawling around. I was wondering if those were the brown things you were seeing.
     
  13. Dry Desert

    Dry Desert Arachnobaron Active Member

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    I see you live in Arizona and you have mentioned Mycosis previously, maybe it's not a water related problem but is heat related. The thermometer shown in your enclosure is just 26 c surface temperature and the 50 watt halogen is not giving enough heat especially if you have ac and the temperature drops even further. For desert species and I should imagine cacti you need to be 30+ c.
     
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  14. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Hmmm, didn't think of that, and the end result is the same as over-watering. However, it still doesn't explain why it took the cacti a year to die
     
  15. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Highly tolerant of environment vs slowly accumulating adverse conditions. Cacti often take an entire season to show a response.

    It's a common fallacy in cooler, more temperate climes to expect immediate responses to the environment. This has been made quite a bit worse with the factory farming mentality and chemical adjuncts for growth enhancement. I highly recommend all serious cacti enthusiasts to pay a visit to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, https://www.rsabg.org/ and Huntington Gardens cacti corner https://www.huntington.org/verso/2018/08/embrace-cactus where they often think in years and even decades in caring for the plants.

    Recalling a visit the RSABG and seeing a pile of dead cacti left lying off to one side. Very dead and withered. I was told they were waiting for the plants to seed which usually occurred some months after the sap stopped flowing. Growing cacti from seeds is up there with generations old bonsai gardens.
    (I was there partly for the entertainment. They were seeding out Knobcone pine cones in a custom made kiln. RSABG is/was the primary source for erosion control /seeds/plants/replanting for the So Cal/Cal/Southwest natural areas.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019