Emergency Millipede Mite Removal

Ranitomeya

Arachnoknight
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
250
So, I noticed one of my Archispirostreptus gigas behaving strangely last night. It was chewing on itself and twisting around and flailing. A closer inspection showed that it was covered in mites and when I removed pieces of bark and checked on the others, I saw that two of the males and one female was dead and also crawling with mites, leaving me with two females and one male. The other female and the male were curled up on themselves and similarly had an enormous number of mites crawling on them.

I took out all the substrate, sifted through it and took out as many eggs and babies as I could find, and I treated the substrate with boiling water. At this point I learned that the newly hatched babies are kind of hydrophobic and float, and found out that I missed about a dozen of them and killed them with boiling water. I suggest that if you're going to try to remove babies from substrate, get as many out as you can by sifting through the substrate and then use water to try to get any you missed to float so you can save them. I ended up with a few dozen babies and eggs.

After the substrate was removed and turned into a slurry of boiling water and substrate, I cleaned the tank out and set it to dry. At night after the slurry was cool enough to handle, I took some, squeezed out the excess water, and filled up a temporary container and set it aside.

The surviving adults were rinsed off, but most of the mites remained on them and could not be easily removed with water. I set dried them off and set them in a dry, empty container and let the smaller mites dessicate and fall off overnight. I checked on them a couple hours ago and found that the larger mites are more tolerant of dessication and were just hiding around the bottom of the millipedes along the legs, so I had to think of another way to get rid of them since I didn't want to keep the millipedes dry for too long. I decided to use corn starch since a fine powder can impair any organism's ability to grip and the mites should become incapable of clinging onto the millipedes. Corn starch would also be safe to use since it's not abrasive, is chemically inert, and would be easy to rinse off.

Corn starch was dumped into the container of millipedes and then the millipedes were gently coaxed into loosening up and walking around. All surfaces of the millipede were covered in corn starch with careful attention to the underside where all the mites were. Once fully covered in corn starch, I let them walk around a bit and continued adding corn starch as their segments move and corn starch is lost. I then took them outside and gently blew off the corn starch along with the mites. I repeated this process twice before taking them back inside and rinsing the corn starch off. Carefully checking their bodies, I looked for any remaining mites and didn't see any, so they were placed in the mite-free container with substrate that I had treated with boiling water the night before.

I'm sure that the death of the three millipedes contributed to the explosion of mites, but I'm wondering if the buildup of mites initially stressed them out and caused their deaths--resulting in more food for mites and an even greater number of mites. The female that I saw on the surface that was flailing around certainly seemed bothered by their presence.
 

mickiem

Arachnoprince
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
1,542
Wow. Quick thinking on your part. Corn starch = brilliant idea. How long have you had your AGBs? This is scary to think how quickly these mites can populate an enclosure. I look at mine at least 3 times a week; usually every day. I am fairly new and absorbing everything! I am sure when I am more confident in what I am doing I won't look as often. I'm so glad you shared this; I am sure it will help others. I hope your babies and remaining adults make it through. Keep us posted.
 

Ranitomeya

Arachnoknight
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
250
I've had them a little over a year now. They seem to be fine now that the mites have been removed. No more excessive grooming or unusual behavior.
They've accepted food and the male's already doing his thing, so I think my remaining millipedes should recover from the stress of being in an enclosure with a bad mite infestation.
 
Top