Unusual mite infestation advice

ergolargo

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2
Hello folks

I have possibly a bit of an unusual problem.

I keep a few vivarium tanks of the very well-known mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. I do this so that I can pull a few larvae/pupae out every few days to provide live food for the birds in our garden. However, I try to look after all the adult beetles and mealworms as well as I can: they live in a good covering of wheat bran and I feed them organic vegetables; occasionally I introduce new 'breeding stock' by buying a new carton of mealworms, so I now have a breeding population of the beetles, which has persisted for several years.

However, I have one big ongoing issue (and it isn't the lady of the house, who no longer opposes the project as she gets to see lots of happy baby birds getting fed in the garden!). The tanks have a persistent mite infestation problem; the mites regularly swarm up the sides of the tanks and take a hell of a lot of cleaning away, often on a daily basis when things get bad - and I dread to think how many are crawling about in the wheat bran, biting away at my beetles. They are not the typical red spider mites, but extremely small mites that look like specks of dust and can only really be identified under a microscope (which I have done!) Unfortunately every one of my 'beetle vivariums' has periodic and prolonged outbreaks, and my drastic and time consuming solution so far is just to move all the beetles by hand into a clean load of wheatbran after each tank has been thoroughly washed out - probably ridiculous, I know. And some mites always manage to cling on to the beetles and reestablish in the new tanks, it's unavoidable.

I have therefore decided it might be best to temporarily suspend my 'organic' process, and attempt to introduce an acaricide into the tanks, but of course I must deal with the following issues:

1. I can't use a broad spectrum pesticide, as that would poison the beetles too.
2. I can't individually administer a treatment to individual beetles.

Therefore I have to identify a solution that can be sprayed into the wheat bran in which the beetles live, or the vegetables on which they feed.

Does anybody have any advice or experience about the best way forward for sorting out this problem? Is there a narrow spectrum acaricide that is available at not too expensive a price that might be useful for this sort of vivarium infestation?

Thanks very much if you can point me in the right direction for sorting this out.

Regards
 

Salmonsaladsandwich

Arachnobaron
Joined
Jul 28, 2016
Messages
498
Those would be grain mites. The best solution is to lower the moisture. Maybe keep them in a shallower layer of bran and feed less vegetables.
 

ergolargo

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2
Those would be grain mites. The best solution is to lower the moisture. Maybe keep them in a shallower layer of bran and feed less vegetables.
Hello

I can't really do any more in this direction than I already have, that's why I need to try and find an aracicide solution. If anybody has any ideas, that would be great.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
8,303
Can you use, apply, the traditional rice farmer method? The harvested grain is laid out in direct sunlight in a layer only 3 or 4 inches thick. It is turned over every 24 hours. This removes the moisture, typically achieving <15%, while the infra red and UV light plays hell with the mites, especially the youngsters. Depending on the moisture content and how heavy the infestation is - all rice is infested, they may leave it out to get cooked up to two weeks.
This is the traditional method used for hundreds of years to assure the rice can be stored for a year without getting mildew, molds, and chewed to chowder by mites.

Seems to me you could rig up some sort of box where your meal is kept in a layer and either constantly or periodically blasted with the equivalent of sunlight. It must be convenient to turn over, the farmers use wide shallow hoes made of metal or wood, about 3 feet wide, the blade only 2 or 3 inches deep.

It should be kept in mind, the rice cannot normally be treated with any pesticide. No matter how selective the chemical is, you don't want to eat it.

Footnote. It is interesting to me that, even with the modern adjuncts, this is still the method of choice for preparing rice for storage. Intermediary rice buyers have vast open areas, often several acres in extent, they either cover with huge tarps to lay the rice on, or more modern, flat smooth concrete. Twice a year these areas are covered with rice laid out to dry, and give the mites a good dose of what they hate most: UV, IR and low moisture.
The modern method for collecting the dried rice is huge front end loaders with a tire sliced off and bolted to the bottom of the bucket that acts like a squeegee to sweep up the rice without damaging it. Works only on flat smooth concrete of course.
 
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The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
8,303
Even simpler remedy I was just told. Freezing kills mites.
 
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