"Sanitizing" Deadwood

houston

Arachnopeon
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Hey, I'm looking to create environments for Scarab and Dynastes beetles. I've collected some decaying oak from my yard and stuck it in the freezer to kill any nasties. My question is, is there any threat to these genus that would be in deadwood? I'm not worried about the microbes and spore and whatever, but rather any inverts that may already be there. Has anyone had any problems, or would freeze/ thaw/ freezing the leaves and bits of deadwood be enough to kill anything that'd threaten my insects? Thanks!
 

Ranitomeya

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Freezing is insufficient if you're collecting wood from an area that has freezing temperatures at some part of the year. Many organisms can also survive being frozen for several hours, thaw, and return to normal activity as though nothing has happened--there are plenty of true horror stories about amateur entomologists freezing insects, pinning insects, and having some of their collections revive shortly after pinning.
 

Hisserdude

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Freezing doesn't always kill mites, which can be harmful to your beetles, and it doesn't kill many fungi either, and there are some nasty entomophagus fungi out there that can infect and devour your beetle larvae.

Heat treating is better, whether you do it in the microwave or the oven. Just make sure the wood is quite moist so it doesn't catch on fire lol! :D
 

Hisserdude

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Freezing is insufficient if you're collecting wood from an area that has freezing temperatures at some part of the year. Many organisms can also survive being frozen for several hours, thaw, and return to normal activity as though nothing has happened--there are plenty of true horror stories about amateur entomologists freezing insects, pinning insects, and having some of their collections revive shortly after pinning.
Beat me to it by seconds lol! :p
 

Ranitomeya

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If you do not want to deal with the smell of baking or microwaved rotten wood, you can also soak it in boiling water.

I usually take a big bucket, fill it with boiling-hot water, and submerge the pieces of wood in until the water is cool. If it floats, you can weigh it down to submerge it. If it's too large of a piece and you can't or don't feel like cutting it, you can soak it once, boil some more water, and flip it over and soak it again. I usually soak very thick pieces multiple times to ensure that it's been adequately heated.
 

The Snark

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How to prevent detritus from becoming detritus?
 

shutout2000

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I don't ever freeze anything. If I am concerned about mites or something similar then I soak it. It works great.
 

mickiem

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I soak my wood overnight and then cook it in a pressure cooker. I can do enough for thousands of millipedes monthly food allowance in one pan at one time. I found nematodes once and would rather be safe than have them or something worse again.
 

EulersK

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I've read elsewhere that baking wood destroys the nutrients that some insects and millipedes would eat. Is this true? It seems like the vast majority of people suggest baking. I personally love the pressure cooker idea that @mickiem brought up - almost like an autoclave... well, no, exactly like an autoclave.
 

Hisserdude

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I've read elsewhere that baking wood destroys the nutrients that some insects and millipedes would eat. Is this true? It seems like the vast majority of people suggest baking. I personally love the pressure cooker idea that @mickiem brought up - almost like an autoclave... well, no, exactly like an autoclave.
Apparently it's not true, since most professional beetle/millipede breeders here in the US cook their materials before giving it to their inverts, and they seem to eat it and grow just fine. :)

I mean you are supposed to cook it at a low temperature, like 250 F, if you cook it too much you probably can make it inedible...
 

Ranitomeya

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Beetle larvae and millipedes usually feed on materials that are not readily destroyed or broken down by the exposure to heat and water. They're feeding on rotting wood and leaves because the more easily accessible nutrients have already been removed and what's left is more stable and takes longer to decompose--it wouldn't decompose at all without the aid of enzymes released by microbes or digestion. Baking should not affect the nutritional value unless you're turning the wood and leaves into charcoal with high temperatures. Soaking should also not cause release of much of the nutrients--anything left should be bound within cellulose and lignin since the long-term exposure to rain and moisture required to break them down to the point where you would be using them would have already leeched away most, if not all of the nutrients that were not bound.
 

The Snark

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Well, checking the bio-med procs for 100% kill, it is going to depend a lot on the material. Thickness, density and permeability. If we are talking about a couple of inches thick sound hardwood like oak, OP, you have a little problem.
The closest I can come up with is disposing of fecal material which requires ~220F degrees saturated steam for 24 hours to kill 100% all animals, organisms and their eggs and spores. That isn't really helpful. The alternative is yucky nasty penetrating poisons or sustained immersion in liquid nitrogen.

I'd say @mickiem suggestion would be the best move. Depends on how well the material can be saturated with moisture. If soaked pretty thoroughly, wrapping the material in several layers of cotton cloth that is saturated in water then giving the microwave 5 minutes to chew on it would also do.

Your biocide rule of thumb: saturated steam is nobodies friend. It can force it's way into any permeable material given enough time and nothing that hugs it survives.
 
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houston

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Would using a crockpot be acceptable, you guys think? I have one that's already dedicated to nonfoodstuffs, and the long, high temperatures would kill anything from this climate I think-- I'm from Ohio, so anything that can survive 120F+ is pmuch nonexistant. The crockpot's temperature would be around 220-250F, and since it's not a microwave or oven that dries out the wood, I shouldn't have to worry about it catching fire.
 

mickiem

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Would using a crockpot be acceptable, you guys think? I have one that's already dedicated to nonfoodstuffs, and the long, high temperatures would kill anything from this climate I think-- I'm from Ohio, so anything that can survive 120F+ is pmuch nonexistant. The crockpot's temperature would be around 220-250F, and since it's not a microwave or oven that dries out the wood, I shouldn't have to worry about it catching fire.
Hi, Houston. Good to meet a fellow Buckeye. I'm from the Cincy area.

So, I don't know exactly what happens in a crock pot versus a pressure cooker; but if you put a roast in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes, it will be thoroughly cooked. The same time in a crock pot would yield raw meat. I suppose it is all about the pressure. Even though both use steam to a degree - I think the 15 PSI (pressure) is a more effective heating method. The temperature of both will reach 250F; so it has to be the pressure!

Is anyone else hungry for pot roast all of a sudden?
 

The Snark

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Here is a pretty good explanation of why steam is the biocide of choice. https://tuttnauer.com/blog/steam

To simplify. Dry heat exists in nature to such a degree that organisms have been able to evolve and adapt to it. To be able to withstand it for extended periods of time extending to months and even years.
There is no similar circumstance when it comes to steam. It penetrates and kills before adaptation can occur.

Or the more primitive explanation. Dry heat uses convection. Transference through a medium, usually air. Steam uses conduction, direct transference. Boiling water is a medium limited to 212 F and where water can penetrate.
Steam is able to force it's way into materials that are waterproof. As a typical example, cell walls or the encasement of eggs.

For example. In surgical applications the instruments are wrapped in multiple layers of cloth. If placed in boiling water it can take an extended period of time to penetrate the layers, then since some orgasms have adapted, another period of time to penetrate the cell walls.
Now take a 'flasher'. An autoclave that produced saturated steam. Saturated = no room for anything but the water vapor. The steam is heated to 272 F. Under ordinary circumstances, this steam can penetrate several inches of cloth wrapping and transfer the heat to all surfaces in a few seconds. 3 minutes in a flasher is all it takes for a 100% kill.
 
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