Mite Infestation Info - Please Read


Old Timer
Aug 7, 2002
Hi all,

Once again Stan Schultz (Author of the Tarantula Keeper's Guide and vice president of the ATS) has helped me out with excellent info and provided me with the best method to rid of a mite infestation. Anyways, I thought I'd share it with all of you, enjoy!



Is your tarantula keeping bad company? Tonight or really early tomorrow
morning (3:00 AM, perhaps) get up and inspect the cage. DON'T TURN ON ANY
OF THE ROOM LIGHTS! They'll disturb your night vision.

Take a flashlight and shine the light along the glass walls. Look at the
soil or substrate near the water dish. Examine closely the surfaces of
everything in the cage, including the tarantula. Look for minute whitish
specks that move slowly. They should glisten like little diamonds. Pay
particular attention to the area around the water dish, around any old
cricket parts and spent "spit balls" that you missed during the last
cleaning, These often attract the older, larger adults that may look like
minute, cream balls or even nearly microscopic spiders.

If there is any indication that the tarantula has mites, clean the cage
ASAP. Move the tarantula into another, smaller, holding cage with
completely new substrate and a sanitized or new water dish.

Empty the old cage and throw everything away. If you must keep anything
from the old cage, don't reuse it. Try to sanitize it as effectively as
possible so it doesn't serve as a focus of future infestations and keep it
in the garage for the next 10 years or so before bringing it around polite
company again.

The old cage should be scrubbed thoroughly with a bleach water solution
(one measure of chlorine laundry bleach mixed with 50 to 100 measures of
lukewarm tap water, add a drop or 2 of dish detergent). After washing, be
sure to rinse it exceedingly well with clear tap water. Thereafter, place
it outside in the sun for at least a day. Then thoroughly sniff it over
for any hint of chlorine. If you can detect any chlorine, wash or rinse it
out again with more clear tap water.

The rationale for this is that the chlorine bleach is toxic to the
tarantula just as it is to the mites. Also, your nose will have become
blunted to the smell of chlorine while you're cleaning the cage and can't
be used as an effective chlorine sensor until it "resets." Placing the
cage outdoors in the sun also helps remove any remaining chlorine. The
sunlight and heat will speed up its evaporation, the fresh air will waft
it away, and the time spent allows your nose to recover.

In the meantime, every day or 2, thoroughly clean out the smaller holding
cage where you're keeping the tarantula, only this time don't use chlorine
bleach. Replace the substrate with fresh stuff out of the bag. After 3 or
4 changes you should be able to put the tarantula back into it's old,
clean quarters.

The rationale for this is that the mites are actually on the tarantula and
probably in every crevice and joint in its exoskeleton, including its
mouth and book lungs. There's no good way to remove the mites from the
tarantula without hurting it. Washing would be completely ineffective
because of the difficulty of handling the tarantula and because you
couldn't get into all the crevices anyway. Trying to pick them off with
cotton tipped swabs and petroleum jelly (as some have suggested) is like
using a fly swatter on a locust plague. Besides, it will get the tarantula
all greasy. Lastly, there's no good mitecide that you could use on the
tarantula (as with flea powder on a dog) without killing the tarantula

The best recourse is to put it in an isolation ward and hope that the
change in habitat will stimulate the mites to migrate. Many of them would
then wander off the tarantula and get lost in the substrate, which you
throw out everyday. After several such changes, one would hope that the
total number of mites on the tarantula would fall to a level where they
would no longer be a hazard.

The surest way to prevent a recurrent mite infestation is to keep the
substrate bone dry from now on. If you have a tarantula that prefers a
higher humidity, use a larger water dish (or two of them) and restrict
ventilation in the cage by covering the open top with plastic food wrap.

Be assured that from now on you must make a regular habit of checking for
mites at least once a month. They are now resident in your home and will
be there in small numbers for the rest of time, ready to infest as soon as
you let your guard down.


Old Timer
Jan 2, 2003
Thanks for the very useful information!

I (my T's) don't have any mites now, but I will print that info anyway, just in case. They may get mites once...



Old Timer
Aug 7, 2002
No Problem Dennis,

I hope everyone takes note of this info because lotsa people have questions about mites and there is no better answer than one from Stan Schultz himself.



Old Timer
Aug 27, 2002
Thank you

Thank you very much for the post. I will start that tonight.



Old Timer
Oct 3, 2002
If I ever et a mite problem in a T enclosure I will try Wade's method of using predatory mites. Put them in, they eat the bad mites... when the bad mites are gone... the predatory mites die off for lack of food supply... Fixes itself... :D