what woods are safe for my millies?

kjgalaxy

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New millipede person here. I see mention of hardwoods for them to eat. Is reptile cypress and aspen from the pet store okay to mix in for them? Will they eat it/be safe eating it? I have lots of pecan squirrel-planted seedlings around my yard and wondered if pecan wood, once I cook it (how long should I cook it/what oven temps?) would be safe. Pecan leaves?

I have a big sycamore in my yard too and tons of branches fall often. Opinions on its safety?

I also have Apache pine trees. They're very sap rich so I'm reluctant to include those, though pine cone seeds might be a treat?

Holly trees or bushes?

I see some folks mention cork--reptile cork is safe? I wasn't sure so have thus far avoided them.

And maybe I should ask--what should I definitely avoid (Obviously, nothing treated) in the way of wood?

Okay, what about dying orchid blossoms? I'd think they'd be safe but I figure asking the wise ones here will save me heartache down the road. I'm still trying to get caught up on reading the forums and articles I've found so I apologize if these are stupid questions!
 

Staehilomyces

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What you would want to avoid are particularly aromatic wood types, which often contain various oils and such that can't be healthy for a millipede. Hardwood is usually the way to go, just make sure it is well-decayed to begin with (i.e. don't use a log cut straight off a tree).

Good luck!
 

Cavedweller

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Cork bark is safe, but decays so slowly that it's not really useful as pede food.
Don't use aromatic softwoods like pine or cedar. Sycamore should be alright. Holy is probably okay as well. You can always check the leaf litter under a particular tree and see if there's wild pedes and pillbugs under it.
 

ErinM31

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New millipede person here. I see mention of hardwoods for them to eat. Is reptile cypress and aspen from the pet store okay to mix in for them? Will they eat it/be safe eating it? I have lots of pecan squirrel-planted seedlings around my yard and wondered if pecan wood, once I cook it (how long should I cook it/what oven temps?) would be safe. Pecan leaves?

I have a big sycamore in my yard too and tons of branches fall often. Opinions on its safety?

I also have Apache pine trees. They're very sap rich so I'm reluctant to include those, though pine cone seeds might be a treat?

Holly trees or bushes?

I see some folks mention cork--reptile cork is safe? I wasn't sure so have thus far avoided them.

And maybe I should ask--what should I definitely avoid (Obviously, nothing treated) in the way of wood?

Okay, what about dying orchid blossoms? I'd think they'd be safe but I figure asking the wise ones here will save me heartache down the road. I'm still trying to get caught up on reading the forums and articles I've found so I apologize if these are stupid questions!
Wood, leaves and seeds from conifers/evergreens should be avoided; i.e., no cedar, cypress, pine, juniper, fir, yew, etc. (In advanced states of decay, small amounts, or for certain species some may be safe, but as a general rule, you are safest avoiding these entirely.)

I would avoid anything from holly trees/bushes as well as these plants contain quite a few compounds which I expect would not be healthy for millipedes. (See the Wikipedia article)

Aspen, pecan and sycamore are all hardwoods and should be safe; however, I would avoid seedlings and fresh wood is not edible to millipedes. So you would need to find wood not freshly fallen, but which has been on the ground for many months so that fungi and insects can have begun the breakdown process. I bought shredded aspen, boiled some (thinking this might start the breakdown process) and then baked it dry. Many pieces fell apart into smaller shreds, but it has proven to still be inedible to any of my millipedes. It is harmless, but I am going to need to ferment it before it can serve as a food source (see @Hisserdude's blog on how to make rotten wood). Other trees that are safe include oak, elm, mesquite, beech and really, any decayed wood that you find with fungi growing on it and full of inverts is good (once you bake it!). When I collect such wood, I usually put it in a Ziploc bag in the freezer (which will kill off some but not all things) until I have time to bake it. I bake the wood at 225F until it is thoroughly dry (opening the oven every so often to let out steam), which can take an hour or more, depending how thick and wet the wood was to start with. Once in the terrarium and wet again, the wood may sprout mold or fungi but this is fine and is itself a source of food for the millipedes.

Here is a good summary of what you are looking for in wood, from Orin McMonigle's Millipeds in Captivity (highly recommended!):
No matter what species of tree is chosen, the wood must be soft enough to be easily scraped with a fingernail, otherwise milliped mouthparts won't be able to touch it. The best wood is decomposed enough to be easily broken and crushed with bare hands. In nature, various invertebrates including julids, terrestrial isopods, and beetle grubs normally feed on rotten wood. If no invertebrates appear to be eating any part of a piece of wood, that piece should be avoided like the plague.

If you are not able to find this or need something to tide you over while you make your own rotten wood, you can buy millipede substrate or fermented oak sawdust (sold as hardwood 100 beetle substrate) from BugsInCyberspace. The first option is probably the one you want to go with unless you are keeping Polydesmid millipedes (I wouldn't recommend most of these if you're new to keeping millipedes), which need all-wood substrate, or you are looking for decayed wood to add nutrition to an already established set-up.

Besides wood, decaying leaves (again from hardwood trees such as oak, sycamore, etc.) is a necessary staple of the diet of most millipedes. Other foods you may have seen referenced -- produce and petfood -- should only be offered on occasion and are not eaten by all millipedes and should be removed, if uneaten, before they attract pests. I honestly have no idea about flowers as potential food. If they are from a plant that has been growing in your yard, they may be safe once dead and no longer fragrant and baked, but I would only put in one in a corner of the millipede enclosure and see if they eat it and even if so, would not make it a regular food item. If the flowers are from a recently bought houseplant or, worse, a bouquet, then I would definitely avoid completely as they have no doubt been treated with chemicals.

I hope that helps! Feel free to ask any questions you may have! :)
 

kjgalaxy

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Thank you! I'm going to print this out and tack it up to read and reference. Unfortunately because of the vast flea infestation in Houston due to the lack of freezing weather, my yard has been recently treated and thus can't trust what is in my yard. We also have weekly mosquito spraying and I don't know what that might do to my millies. I have so many evergreens (Apache pine predominantly) that bits of it would assuredly end up in with decaying leaves. Being obsessively enthusiastic, I've picked up a couple Polydesmid so I will simply have to keep my fingers crossed I can keep them alive. I'll order some items from Peter tomorrow then. I've purchased the book on millies but it's been misplaced in my clutter so I need to find it and obviously I need to start fermenting some wood. You ever come over to Houston, ping me. I'm on the south, south-east side. I may have more questions for you later this week. Again, thanks for the detailed and lengthy, informative response!
 

ErinM31

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Thank you! I'm going to print this out and tack it up to read and reference. Unfortunately because of the vast flea infestation in Houston due to the lack of freezing weather, my yard has been recently treated and thus can't trust what is in my yard. We also have weekly mosquito spraying and I don't know what that might do to my millies. I have so many evergreens (Apache pine predominantly) that bits of it would assuredly end up in with decaying leaves. Being obsessively enthusiastic, I've picked up a couple Polydesmid so I will simply have to keep my fingers crossed I can keep them alive. I'll order some items from Peter tomorrow then. I've purchased the book on millies but it's been misplaced in my clutter so I need to find it and obviously I need to start fermenting some wood. You ever come over to Houston, ping me. I'm on the south, south-east side. I may have more questions for you later this week. Again, thanks for the detailed and lengthy, informative response!
Yikes! Small bits of pine are less a concern than those pesticides! It sounds like it would be a good idea to order that fermented oak and then start fermenting some shredded aspen or other untreated hardwood chips to eventually give them some variety (although if they are to only eat one wood, oak is the best one!).

I live in San Antonio, far west-side, and likewise the abundant rain has led to ample mosquitoes and chiggers and no doubt helped to start my battle with fungus gnats -- but I will win with my sticky yellow papers! :rage: Pesticides are used all around the buildings here too, but fortunately, I still have some uncontaminated nature close by where I've been able to collect wood and millipedes and cockroaches and other delights. :D

I appreciate your enthusiasm! :playful: What kind of Polydesmids do you have? I have Auturus evides, Euryurus leachii and Pseudopolydesmus pinetorum and all of these do well with all wood (love the fermented oak!) with some coir mixed in at the bottom (not necessary, but an inexpensive base material that helps with monitoring moisture). They do well, even at the rather high room temperature that varies between 75 and 82F and all have produced offspring. :happy: Xystodesmids such as Apheloria tigana are more sensitive. I keep these and my Pleuroloma flavipes and Sigmoria cf. australis similarly to those above, only with the addition of leaves for them to hide under and munch on and -- also being an obsessive enthusiast ;) -- keep them at 65F in a wine cooler (only $115 on Amazon). I think that is cooler than necessary, but that is no inexpensive option for keeping them at 70F and they seem to do quite well in there and are plenty active, only I haven't seen offspring yet, although there has been plenty of mating.

I am glad that my long reply was helpful and not a confusing ramble! :embarrassed:
 

kjgalaxy

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I have ordered the substrates you recommended. I have never heard of fungus gnats. I'm not sure if it will work for them, but for the small annoying fruit flies, a small bowl of apple cider vinegar knocks them out in about a week. Might work on the gnats. I live in surburbia but there are a few parks by the waters where I might find some things. And I can't say I've ever considered cockroaches "delights" *shudder* Thankfully my cats take care of roaches that find their way into my house. I even have the occasional dirt snake that manages to get inside. Usually the cats find them before I do. I used to have tons of geckos but the droughts have reduced their numbers to the point they are a very rare sight. I have lots of anoles with the return of the rains and the very rare skink.

I'm still learning the names of everything. I have 3 african giants, 2 sonarans, 2 bumblebee, 2 florida ivories, 3 feathers, 2 eury leachiis, 2 scarlets, 2 aphelori tiganas, 5 NA giants (3 are regular darks and 2 are kind of rainbow looking), 2 flamelegs. I have my giants in a 10 gallon but I want to get a male soon to try to start breeding them and I may need to put them in a bigger tank. My 5 NA are together, my sonarans are getting an upgrade to a 5.5 tank as soon as I get the new substrate. The ivories are in with the tiganas for the moment and I think I have my bumblebees in with them too. All the rest, being little gals, are in together in another container. I had a tan giant, but it took a fall and died the next day (*sniffles*). I have 1 very active african who is out all the time, and of the sonorans, 1 is out most times and the other is 50-50. My ivories I see 1 quite often and the other about 1/3 or the time. I see 1 tigana quite often. 1 of the scarlets is usually out, too. 1 NA giant is out quite often as well. The others are usually in the substrate.

I have a wine cooler--but I use it for wine. Lol. The house temp ranges between 74 - 77 degreesI'm not sure I have any males in the bunch. One of the tiganas might be a male but I'm undecided on that. 2 of my NAs and one of my africans love cucumbers. Many of them adore mushrooms. A couple of them really like carrots. There's been minor interest in radish and tomatoes. The slices of peaches I put in was popular with a few. The ivories were fans of the fish food. I put in some wet turtle food for the africans but they seem uninterested. I've put in some lichen covered branches and those are popular to crawl on and maybe some of the lichen is getting eaten.

I'm trying to resist ordering more millies, but I fear it is a losing battle. :) I'm going to wait until I get the new substrate and get millies redistributed.

So question--to ferment the wood--stick it in water in a sealed container and put it in the sun?
 

Hisserdude

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Basically any hardwood tree wood will do, except for trees like eucalyptus that are full of natural toxins that act as a pesticide. Turning wood grill pellets into rotten sawdust is relatively easy and is a great way of getting rotten wood if you live in a barren wasteland like me. :D

And I can't say I've ever considered cockroaches "delights" *shudder*
Well I'll have to change that! Roaches make great, easy to care for pets, and out of the 4,600 described species only half a dozen of them are pest species, the majority of them would quickly perish in a human home due to dehydration and starvation.
Plus, many of them are great looking, take these Therea olegrandjeani for example, or this white species of Panchlora. And you can't say that this Eucorydia aenea isn't beautiful! Sorry for hijacking this thread lol!
 

kjgalaxy

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Basically any hardwood tree wood will do, except for trees like eucalyptus that are full of natural toxins that act as a pesticide. Turning wood grill pellets into rotten sawdust is relatively easy and is a great way of getting rotten wood if you live in a barren wasteland like me. :D



Well I'll have to change that! Roaches make great, easy to care for pets, and out of the 4,600 described species only half a dozen of them are pest species, the majority of them would quickly perish in a human home due to dehydration and starvation.
Plus, many of them are great looking, take these Therea olegrandjeani for example, or this white species of Panchlora. And you can't say that this Eucorydia aenea isn't beautiful! Sorry for hijacking this thread lol!
When I lived in Ohio, I just saw the german cockroaches and that was only if you were in a place that was nasty. Now I live in Texas and palmetto bugs are huge, hard to keep out of the house, freaking *fly* like some huge monster, leave brown streaks of poop in impossible places to reach on the ceiling, or worse, on the kitchen cabinets and counters or even dishes and my books! Nope. Before Texas, I might have been able to welcome pretty cockroach pets into my home, but because I have to deal with palmetto bugs that are freaking everywhere--I just can't invite them in. A thousand bad apples in the form of palmetto bugs have ruined it for the pretty ones. And I try really hard not to think about the night I had to evacuate from hurricane Rita and because my cats were fighting, I had to sleep outside of the car with one cat on a leash, laying down on blacktop at a Dollar general store, close to a street light. There were hundreds of texas cockroaches flying around and running all around the pavement, including over top of me. *shudders* So I respect your appreciation of them, and will happily look at pretty pictures of them, but they aren't getting an antenna inside my home. If my home was overrun by millipedes, I probably wouldn't be keeping them as pets, either.... :p
 

Hisserdude

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When I lived in Ohio, I just saw the german cockroaches and that was only if you were in a place that was nasty. Now I live in Texas and palmetto bugs are huge, hard to keep out of the house, freaking *fly* like some huge monster, leave brown streaks of poop in impossible places to reach on the ceiling, or worse, on the kitchen cabinets and counters or even dishes and my books! Nope. Before Texas, I might have been able to welcome pretty cockroach pets into my home, but because I have to deal with palmetto bugs that are freaking everywhere--I just can't invite them in. A thousand bad apples in the form of palmetto bugs have ruined it for the pretty ones. And I try really hard not to think about the night I had to evacuate from hurricane Rita and because my cats were fighting, I had to sleep outside of the car with one cat on a leash, laying down on blacktop at a Dollar general store, close to a street light. There were hundreds of texas cockroaches flying around and running all around the pavement, including over top of me. *shudders* So I respect your appreciation of them, and will happily look at pretty pictures of them, but they aren't getting an antenna inside my home. If my home was overrun by millipedes, I probably wouldn't be keeping them as pets, either.... :p
Ah well, I tried. Sorry to hear about all that, I suppose all those bad experiences with roaches would make it hard to look at even the pretty ones differently. If it's any consolation, at least the "Palmetto bugs", Periplaneta americana, can't breed indoors like the German roaches.
 

ErinM31

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I have ordered the substrates you recommended. I have never heard of fungus gnats. I'm not sure if it will work for them, but for the small annoying fruit flies, a small bowl of apple cider vinegar knocks them out in about a week. Might work on the gnats. I live in surburbia but there are a few parks by the waters where I might find some things. And I can't say I've ever considered cockroaches "delights" *shudder* Thankfully my cats take care of roaches that find their way into my house. I even have the occasional dirt snake that manages to get inside. Usually the cats find them before I do. I used to have tons of geckos but the droughts have reduced their numbers to the point they are a very rare sight. I have lots of anoles with the return of the rains and the very rare skink.
That's a good idea; I bet apple cider vinegar would attract and kill these annoying fungus gnats too! :)

Oh, I am certainly not talking about the pest cockroaches that can infest your house or that that you see in some urban areas! My favorite are the round roaches; they have such a unique appearance and instead of running, will freeze and then burrow quickly into the earth as if they'd found a secret elevator! :happy: The sand roach, Arenivaga bolliana is one such delight that I am able collect nearby. :)

adult male

adult female (bottom) and nymphs

Back to millipedes...

I'm still learning the names of everything. I have 3 african giants, 2 sonarans, 2 bumblebee, 2 florida ivories, 3 feathers, 2 eury leachiis, 2 scarlets, 2 aphelori tiganas, 5 NA giants (3 are regular darks and 2 are kind of rainbow looking), 2 flamelegs. I have my giants in a 10 gallon but I want to get a male soon to try to start breeding them and I may need to put them in a bigger tank. My 5 NA are together, my sonarans are getting an upgrade to a 5.5 tank as soon as I get the new substrate. The ivories are in with the tiganas for the moment and I think I have my bumblebees in with them too. All the rest, being little gals, are in together in another container. I had a tan giant, but it took a fall and died the next day (*sniffles*). I have 1 very active african who is out all the time, and of the sonorans, 1 is out most times and the other is 50-50. My ivories I see 1 quite often and the other about 1/3 or the time. I see 1 tigana quite often. 1 of the scarlets is usually out, too. 1 NA giant is out quite often as well. The others are usually in the substrate.

I have a wine cooler--but I use it for wine. Lol. The house temp ranges between 74 - 77 degreesI'm not sure I have any males in the bunch. One of the tiganas might be a male but I'm undecided on that. 2 of my NAs and one of my africans love cucumbers. Many of them adore mushrooms. A couple of them really like carrots. There's been minor interest in radish and tomatoes. The slices of peaches I put in was popular with a few. The ivories were fans of the fish food. I put in some wet turtle food for the africans but they seem uninterested. I've put in some lichen covered branches and those are popular to crawl on and maybe some of the lichen is getting eaten.
Wow, that's quite a collection! :D I'm glad to hear that most are doing well although sorry to hear about the one you lost! :( They are sensitive to falls (although mine have been fine after short <1ft falls to carpet or substrate) and even more so to molting injuries. That temperature range actually sounds ideal to me for the species you're keeping (and most millipedes in general, so far as I am aware). Your Sonoran (an Orthoporus ornatus) will probably require more ventilation and less moisture than the other millipedes -- I keep mine on substrate that is half coir, one quarter BIC millipede substrate and one quarter sand (as recommended to be by @Mastigoproctus, who has been keeping these millipedes for some time) and they seem to do well. :)

I'm trying to resist ordering more millies, but I fear it is a losing battle. :) I'm going to wait until I get the new substrate and get millies redistributed.

So question--to ferment the wood--stick it in water in a sealed container and put it in the sun?
Sounds like a good plan! ;) I'm hoping to order more millies next month too! :D

As for the fermented wood, perhaps @Hisserdude can help with that? I've had his blog bookmarked for some time now to-do-eventually but I've been so busy with other things, :bag: I just order substrate from BIC as I need it and supplement with baking decaying wood I find.
 

Hisserdude

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So question--to ferment the wood--stick it in water in a sealed container and put it in the sun?
Oh no, there's quite a bit more to it than that. You'll need to take the pellets, soak them in hot water until the pop and expand into sawdust, dry the sawdust out completely, then mix in the appropriate amount of flour and active dry yeast, (I used 1 cup of flour and a whole packet of active dry yeast for 10 cups of sawdust). Then you put the mixture into a well ventilated container, stir daily, and wait about a month or two until it turns dark brown and smells "earthy" It should get pretty warm after a few days, that's a good sign that the wood is fermenting.
Hope this helps! :)
 

kjgalaxy

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Oh no, there's quite a bit more to it than that. You'll need to take the pellets, soak them in hot water until the pop and expand into sawdust, dry the sawdust out completely, then mix in the appropriate amount of flour and active dry yeast, (I used 1 cup of flour and a whole packet of active dry yeast for 10 cups of sawdust). Then you put the mixture into a well ventilated container, stir daily, and wait about a month or two until it turns dark brown and smells "earthy" It should get pretty warm after a few days, that's a good sign that the wood is fermenting.
Hope this helps! :)
Yes, most definitely. Hadn't even considered yeast. Are the traeger pellets oak?
I notice that you don't have any palmetto bugs in your collection. I get the occasional baby one in my bathroom (okay I get an occasional baby roach in my bathroom, and I assume it's a palmetto bug.) Should I try to acquire a few for you? I could potentially catch a couple adults, too. Any other beetles or bugs around the Houston area that you might be interested in? Seems like I only see truly strange bugs a couple times a year but you never know.
 

Hisserdude

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Yes, most definitely. Hadn't even considered yeast. Are the traeger pellets oak?
I notice that you don't have any palmetto bugs in your collection. I get the occasional baby one in my bathroom (okay I get an occasional baby roach in my bathroom, and I assume it's a palmetto bug.) Should I try to acquire a few for you? I could potentially catch a couple adults, too. Any other beetles or bugs around the Houston area that you might be interested in? Seems like I only see truly strange bugs a couple times a year but you never know.
The Traeger pellets usually contain a mix of aspen and oak, on the east coast more oak is used than aspen, and on the west coast it's the opposite. Both are fine for millipedes.

While I would love some, I haven't gotten my mom on board with keeping any of the Periplaneta yet, even though they can't infest houses and don't seem to be able to survive here in Idaho even in the city. She too has had some bad experiences with them, living in Florida made her hate them, since they wander indoors all the time. She'll let me keep pretty much any other roach, just not Periplaneta, (or the other obvious house pests like Blattella germanica or Supella longipalpa), so I'm not gonna push it. :p Thanks for the offer though, I really appreciate it! :)
 

kjgalaxy

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The Traeger pellets usually contain a mix of aspen and oak, on the east coast more oak is used than aspen, and on the west coast it's the opposite. Both are fine for millipedes.

While I would love some, I haven't gotten my mom on board with keeping any of the Periplaneta yet, even though they can't infest houses and don't seem to be able to survive here in Idaho even in the city. She too has had some bad experiences with them, living in Florida made her hate them, since they wander indoors all the time. She'll let me keep pretty much any other roach, just not Periplaneta, (or the other obvious house pests like Blattella germanica or Supella longipalpa), so I'm not gonna push it. :p Thanks for the offer though, I really appreciate it! :)

Lol. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. :D
 

mickiem

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@Hisserdude - what is the role of the flour in your concoction? I am going to try this. I am using oak pellets but was thinking of throwing some aspen bedding in for good measure. What do you think? What would yoghurt do?
 

Hisserdude

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@Hisserdude - what is the role of the flour in your concoction? I am going to try this. I am using oak pellets but was thinking of throwing some aspen bedding in for good measure. What do you think? What would yoghurt do?
The flour adds the nutrients that normal rotten wood has, and probably helps with the fermenting too. Adding the aspen wood should be fine. :)

Don't think adding yoghurt is a good idea, it would probably get rancid in the fermenting process and I'm not sure what spoiled dairy products would do to the wood. Better to just use the flour and yeast.
 

mickiem

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The flour adds the nutrients that normal rotten wood has, and probably helps with the fermenting too. Adding the aspen wood should be fine. :)

Don't think adding yoghurt is a good idea, it would probably get rancid in the fermenting process and I'm not sure what spoiled dairy products would do to the wood. Better to just use the flour and yeast.
Thanks. I was thinking of the yoghurt because it encourages moss to grow. But you are right. I'll make it two separate projects. Why do you let the Traeger dry before you add the flour and yeast? Also, how much Traeger do you soak? (to get to the 10 cups?)
 

Hisserdude

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Thanks. I was thinking of the yoghurt because it encourages moss to grow. But you are right. I'll make it two separate projects. Why do you let the Traeger dry before you add the flour and yeast? Also, how much Traeger do you soak? (to get to the 10 cups?)
You are supposed to dry out the sawdust before adding flour because if the sawdust is even slightly wet the flour will clump while being mixed into the sawdust and prevents you from mixing them together properly.

TBH I have no idea lol, I just took a bunch of the pellets and added water, I didn't really measure them beforehand, I should have though. :rolleyes: If you end up with extra sawdust you can always mix it into your millipedes cages without fermenting it, it'll get colonized by fungi that the millipedes enjoy eating, (or at least that's what I've heard).
 

mickiem

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You are supposed to dry out the sawdust before adding flour because if the sawdust is even slightly wet the flour will clump while being mixed into the sawdust and prevents you from mixing them together properly.

TBH I have no idea lol, I just took a bunch of the pellets and added water, I didn't really measure them beforehand, I should have though. :rolleyes: If you end up with extra sawdust you can always mix it into your millipedes cages without fermenting it, it'll get colonized by fungi that the millipedes enjoy eating, (or at least that's what I've heard).
Wanted to let you know - I soaked 12 cups of OAK Traeger pellets and it expanded to 36 cups; so 300% expansion. I'll try some different types of wood and see if they expand the same. Thank you again for your quick answers. Means a lot to have help out there! (PS - I guess I'm going to need more millipedes with all this wood....)
 
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