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Predatory Mite Question

Discussion in 'Vivariums and Terrariums' started by l4nsky, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. l4nsky

    l4nsky Arachnoknight

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    Hola,

    I have an interesting question that I cant seem to find an answer to. I have a Scolopendra dehaani that I noticed with a mite problem several months ago. Normally, not too terrible of an issue, but she was obviously in discomfort (although it was kind of cute watching her scratch her head like a cat). I pulled her to a dry enclosure and for good measure, I overnight ordered a package of Hypoaspis miles. I kept her in the enclosure with the mites for about 4 weeks. I figured they had run their course by that time, as the bad mites were gone and their was no detritus in the tank for the H. miles to scavenge as they will do when their is no prey. Now, during those four weeks, I deep cleaned her old enclosure and set it up as a planted, bioactive tank complete with a healthy spring tail population. I coaxed her to climb up a wadded papertowel for the transfer so I didnt bring any substrate with her to the new tank. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I noticed two things, a sharp decrease in the spring tail population and a few predatory mites scavenging a piece of a dead roach. Currently, I have no spring tails that I can see and I still have the predatory mites. My question is this: Can the predatory mites do the same job as the spring tails with the same effectiveness? If they cant, is it a better idea to keep adding spring tail cultures to keep both a healthy population of H. miles and spring tails, or should I wait until I'm sure the predatory mites have run their course to reintroduce the springtails? Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    --Matt
     
  2. cold blood

    cold blood Moderator Staff Member

    @boina

    Your never ending battle continues.
     
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  3. boina

    boina Lady of the mites Arachnosupporter

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    Ok, predatory mites come in two varieties: specialized ones, that will only feed on other mites, and such with no specific requirements when it comes to food species. Hypoaspis, of course, is the latter one. Problem is, Hypoaspis eats everything, their eggs are very lightweight and get everywhere and once you have them they are impossible to get rid of. Since Hypoaspis are opportunistic scavengers I absolutely don't understand why you replaced a specialized scavenger with an opportunistic scavenger. Now you simply have a different type of mite that are much harder to control, since they will overpower and eat the springtails that you could otherwise use to keep scavenger mite populations under control. You went from an annoying situation to an even more annoying situation... This widely spread idea to induce opportunistic predator/scavenger mites to control grain mites is as idiotic as it gets.

    Feeding Hypoaspis with springtails is a really, really bad idea since you will just provide optimal conditions for the mites and they will explode in numbers and bother your Scolopendra even more. The Hypoaspis are there to stay anyway - they'll always find something to eat and if they don't they will repopulate from microscopic eggs that hide in the dust in your room. So, provide as little food as possible for the Hypoaspis, let them scavenge and feed on what they can find and otherwise ignore them. They are basically just as harmless as the other scavenger mites you had them kill off... Unfortunately you deprived yourself of the option to use springtails again.
     
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  4. l4nsky

    l4nsky Arachnoknight

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    Hola,

    I believe I've raised your ire on the subject, not my intent. Let me clarify a few points real quick.
    I had an animal with a really bad infestation of mites clustered between the segments who was in visible distress. I considered a nuclear option, one that I had even read about on these boards, instead of just the usual clean/dry out. I wont apologize for that.

    I guess I will have to live with this, but I see it as more of a wash. I can still use isopods for cleanup, and I have a decreased chance of finding spider mites in my palms and on my other plants.

    The H. miles dont seem to bother her. She might have a few crawling over her at any one point in time, but she doesn't react to them like she did to those fixed in great numbers between her segments.

    This is the answer I needed, but only in part. On a scale of 1 to 10 with springtails holding the coveted 10, how effective are H. miles as scavengers?

    I appreciate the answers, even if it feels like I got a scolding in the process. Perhaps this thread will help those down the line more fully weigh the pros and cons of using predatory mites.

    Thanks,
    --Matt
     
  5. boina

    boina Lady of the mites Arachnosupporter

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    I'm sorry I sounded like scolding - it wasn't meant like that. Mites seem to be a favorite topic that pops up over and over again and there's usually a lot of misinformation involved, so I just get generally frustrated - my frustration even seems to be an onging joke around here.

    Hypoaspis aren't really that good as scavengers, but let's start with something else first: if you had that bad of a scavenger mite infestation there's usually something wrong with the enclosure. Mites aren't that competitive, so they usually only take over if there's a lot of organic trash and no competition. If you set up something bioactive you always need to seed it very well with your cleanup crew - my personal preference being some dirt from outside from a wooded area. Wooded areas are usually free of pesticides and provide a wide variety of soil inhabitant. Just make sure there are no ants in there but otherwise there's little chance of getting anything dangerous, contrary to what people always fear.

    So, why would I do that? Especially if you have plants you need a balanced population of different soil animals. If you want to take isopods - well, the Hypoaspis is still likely to eat babies and eggs... it will be hard to establish a good population. Larger isopods pose a threat to your Scolopendra when in molt - not a good idea, either. Varied soil inhabitants usally balance out - there is not one species taking over but a little of everything. You also usually will have something in there feeding on mold - Hypoaspis are really inefficient when it comes to mold. And you don't want the population to get out of hand... I'd give the Hypoaspis a 3, at best.
     
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  6. l4nsky

    l4nsky Arachnoknight

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    No apologies necessary, I've found your previous posts on mites informative and useful. I dont generally see them as pests, more part of a balance in the biosphere. In the past, a dry down and thorough cleaning has been all I do when I notice an uptick in their population, this was the exception.

    Guilty as charged in this instance. The enclosure was sterile, humid, and this specimen had a bad habit of eating the majority of her prey under some heavy rock work, making spot cleaning rather impossible. That's why I switched to bioactive after the fact.

    Correct again, hence my concern at the effectiveness of pure H. miles as a scavenger crew. The isopods will be used in the arboreal tarantula enclosures that share the room.

    Inferring from the rest of your post, would your suggestion be to introduce soil from mature forests without nearby sources of contaminants to balance out the micro fauna, or will anything I introduce past this point be used as kindling for the predatory mite fire?

    Thanks,
    --Matt
     
  7. Vanisher

    Vanisher Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I have used predetory mites 15 years ago when i had a major mite problem. Ordered them from a horticulture company. They worked ptetty well, but i am nowdays not afraid of mites, if they are not exploding in number. I think adding springtails, pillbugs and other organisms is the way to go in moist terrariums. I have mites now and then in some tanks but i dont think its to bad. Mites comes and goes!
     
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  8. boina

    boina Lady of the mites Arachnosupporter

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    My moister enclosures usually all just get a spoonful or two of soil from outside. In the variety of organisms in there should be something that those mites won't eat.
     
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