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Dermestid Mite Help Needed!

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Weaslet, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. Weaslet

    Weaslet New Member

    I bought a couple of hundred dermestids to start colony about two months ago. All seemed to be going well, and they were breeding, then in the last week I have noticed a drop in activity. Some of the larvae seemed a bit sluggish, but when I checked them with a hand lens I couldn't see any mites.

    They are housed indoors, in a large tub with a mesh top so they have good ventilation. The substrate is paper towels (kept dry), and they have egg box and styrofoam to hide and pupate in. I feed them every couple of days on defrosted chunks of pheasant.

    Today I noticed some orange colour on the edge of the tape that I put around the mesh on the lid. The hand lens came out again, and to my horror the orange is actually lots of little round things, presumably mites. Then I found an adult beetle with some mites on its underside. I've not found any on the larvae yet (but maybe they're just too small to see, even with the lens?).

    Is there anything I can do to save my colony? I have heard of people usingCheckmite, but it's not available in the UK :(. Does anyone in the UK have any experience with using any mite treatment strips that they could recommend?

    Would removing and destroying the bedding make any difference? I've even thought about checking all the beetles and separating the ones with mites. Luckily it's not a large colony, so it would potentially be possible (though time-consuming), but I'm not sure it would be effective anyway as surely there are mite eggs/larvae everywhere.

    If anyone has had any success please let me know!
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Pretty much, you will probably have to start over. Checkmite is used in the states for bee hives. Ask around and see if you can locate someone with bee hives. Ask them directly what they use for Varoa mites in their hives. You can try spraying the sides where you see the clusters of them with straight isopropyl alcohol. It will kill them and won't really hurt the beetles or larva unless you spray them too. It will reduce the numbers but it isn't a cure. Mites are usually drawn by too high a humidity or feeding dry dog or cat food. When you thaw out your food, let it sit in front of a fan to dry out more like jerky. You can even leave slices of it unwrapped in the freezer until the moisture is mostly gone. Even if you remove and destroy the bedding, the mites will be on the beetles (undersides, leg joints and under the wing covers) and larva and you will just transfer them to the new container.
    joeym likes this.

  3. Gatorhog94

    Gatorhog94 New Member

    Hey Sea Wolf, do gnats pose any danger to the beetles? Had a few get in my setup somehow. I checked for mites but don’t see any right now.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    If they really are gnats, not really. But they fly and get all over your shop. One benefit of freezing heads for a while. To kill off hitchhikers. Some gnats also bite. You could try hanging some strips of flypaper in the tank. Just up off the bottom so the beetles can't crawl up on it.
  5. Gatorhog94

    Gatorhog94 New Member

  6. HuntersUnion

    HuntersUnion Member

    I have had mites off and on, I just use a fan to dry out the colony and don't feed them for a day or two. Get the humidity right down and then be careful to feed them only slightly dried meat. The mites seem to go away or reduce in numbers enough to not be a problem. I also never use cardboard as I find it holds moisture, paper towel or styrofoam are the only things I use in my colony.
  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    The mites are probably just hiding within the bedding layers. They will still be killing off your larva and affecting how they feed.