There is that awful moment for those of us who keep our feeders (meal worms, crickets, superworms, etc.) in gutload grain bedding when we realize that the bedding has been infested with grain mites (Acarus siro). Although the grain mites themselves aren’t particularly harmful to feeders, geckos or humans beyond possibly causing a mild, itchy, allergic reaction, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of without discarding the bedding and, inevitably, the feeders it houses. You’ll notice that I titled this article “How I Got Rid of Grain Mites” rather than “How to Get Rid of Grain Mites”. This is because I’m no grain mite expert, but have successfully de-bugged my collection and saved most of my feeders in the process. Success is not guaranteed, but give it a try.
What are they?
Grain mites are tiny (0.013 to 0.026 inch long) arthropods that infest grain or other food, usually in humid, warm conditions. They are difficult to see individually without magnification, but, due to their high reproduction rate, manifest themselves as a brownish or grayish dust on some surfaces, and with a wavelike motion in the grain they have infested. If you ever see your gutload heaving and wiggling, believe me, you don’t have a population explosion of baby mealworms, as I thought the first time I saw this; you have grain mites. Grain mites generally have a life-cycle of about 2 weeks (longer at temperatures below the high 70’s). Females are estimated to lay about 800 eggs during their lifespans. If grain mites become too crowded for the food source they’re infesting, they will spill over in search of other nutrition. This is likely the reason that some reptile keepers have reported infestations that have gone beyond their gutload and appear on their shelves and other furniture.
Preventing Grain Mite Infestation
Grain mites may arrive via contaminated food items. Presumably, they could also be airborne from more remote contaminations, since all my grain mite infestations have occurred with no corresponding infestation of either my gutload or any food in my house. Since grain mites thrive in warm and humid conditions, it’s important to keep gutload and bedding cool and dry. This can obviously be difficult in hot and humid areas where there’s no air conditioning. In this case, gutload and feeders could be stored in a basement or other cool place. Many people keep their reptile rooms at relatively high temperatures year-round. If this is the case, feeders may need to be stored in a different location.
To further prevent grain mite infestation: keep an eye on the food in the house meant for human consumption to insure that it’s not infested. There’s a greater likelihood that food purchased from bulk containers, as opposed to pre-packaged food, may have grain mites. Grain bought in bulk could be temporarily stored in the freezer or refrigerator to kill the mites. Gutload bought in bulk should be similarly treated.
Despite all the precautions taken to avoid grain mite infestation, sometimes it happens anyway. I have an “early warning system” which I hope will keep my infestation from getting to the “heaving grain” phase: I keep nearly all my feeders in covered containers, as opposed to open plastic drawers. I inspect the inside of the covers regularly for little white dots. If I see them, I check with a magnifying glass and, if they are grain mites (as opposed to wheat bran chaff, for instance), they’ll be moving around. That’s when I spring into action.
If the feeders are on the larger side, like adult crickets or superworms, I move them individually to a new container with new grain. For smaller feeders and breeding colonies, like mealworms and mealworm beetles, (or for the larger ones as well) I isolate the affected container and continue to feed them off until they’re gone. All containers that have been emptied and all lids, whether or not they’ll be re-used immediately, are washed with very hot water which will kill the grain mites. When the weather is cool enough, I place the washed containers outdoors for awhile to kill of any mites which have miraculously survived. The containers could also be placed in a cool basement or in a refrigerator or freezer. As mentioned above, it’s important to move the feeders to a cooler area if they’re sharing a warm room with the reptiles.
Once I’ve isolated the “problem” containers and washed the containers and lids, I monitor all containers daily by inspecting the inside of the lids to check for grain mite return. If I find mites inside the lids, I repeat the steps of isolating, switching containers and washing the lids in hot water. As long as I can keep the grain mite population under control through frequent washing, cool temperatures and isolation of affected containers, the “plague” will eventually disappear as the feeders are used.
Fortunately, I’ve had grain mite infestations only every few years, usually in the hot and humid New England summers. My most recent grain mite infestation was in late October and early November and affected my crickets, mealworms, mealworm beetles and superworms. The only feeders I lost was one container of mealworm beetles when I unthinkingly stored them temporarily in my heated rack. One day later, the entire surface was heaving and into the trash (outside garbage cans, of course) they went. Other than that, I remain mite free at the moment and didn’t have to replace any of my feeders.
Note: information about grain mites was gathered from the following websites: http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef629.asp
84 CommentsLeave a Reply
Your article on grain mite infestation was very helpful, as well as the routine you follow to get rid of grain mite infestation. Thank you.
If you freeze the gain 48 hours + before hand you should not get them in the first place (unless they are already in your home). Packaged grains are more likely to have them over bulk containers because they are less likely to hold the humidity needed for egg incubation and because it does not sit in a warehouse as long. 🙂
What does it mean to “feed them off” until they’re gone?
It means to feed them to the geckos until they’re gone.
My infestation is in my tank. JUST cleaned tank 4 hours ago…mites are back crawling across the glass. :S
If I feed the mite infested mealworms to my bearded dragons will the mites harm my beardies??? Right now the infestation is only in the container with the beetles so can I move the beetles to a new home without moving the mites with them?
The mites won’t infest the bearded dragon’s body to the best of my knowledge. The worst that could happen is that the mites will find the cage suitable for them and they’ll infest the cage (but hot water should eliminate them). You can try moving the beetles to a new home but there’s no guarantee. Before you do that (unless it’s below freezing where you are), take the beetles out, put them in a transitional container and put them outside for a few hours. I think that temperatures in the 50’s or so should be fine for the beetles but would kill the grain mites.
Thank you very much!!!!
I think I have these in my critter house. I have a 5 gallon tank where I house a number of kinds of animals and insects as a small echosystem including a mediterrarean house gecko, an entire colony of breeding crickets, millipedes, rolly pollies, and other such critters.
Unfortunately, there has recently been an explosion of tiny, white bugs, probably thousands. They are all over the substrate, especially the food items for my crickets, and on the sides and the top of the tank. They even crawl on the crickets and on the little anole who I had to remove tonight. My gecko is too shy to be seen most of the time so I don’t know if they are on him as well but I suspect they probably are.
These tiny things are too small to identify with the naked eye but viewed under 25x they appear to be round in shape and translucent or white.
Also, I have 2 katydid nurseries with only substrate, (crushed cocoanut hull), katydid eggs still on their sticks, and sprouted bird seed for a little color and food for the katys once they hatch. These tiny white bugs have infested my little echosystem sitting right by the katydid nurseries but seem to have no interest in the nurseries. Hmmm.
Does anyone here know what these tiny things could be or if they are harmful to my other little critters? Any ideas about how to get rid of them without harming my echosystem? Or are they maybe helping to keep it clean? From what I have read online so far it sounds like they could be grain mites but I don’t really know.
I am concerned for my little critters, as the crickets and anole seem irriteted by them, my rolly pollies and millipedes have mostly stayed underground lately, and my gecko has been hiding even more than usual for him. If anyone has any idea what these are the help would be very much appreciated!
Thanks so much for reading and pondering!
As far as I know, grain mites don’t hurt the critters but they reproduce to the point where they overwhelm everything else. That in itself will probably wreck your ecosystem. My best suggestion (which I think I made in the article) is to wash the cover (if you have one) and as far as you can safely down the tank with hot water and then keep doing it. Hopefully you can get the population down over time. To be sure, google image “grain mites” and compare to what you see under magnification. I don’t think they infest animals like other mites do. If there’s any way to separate your critters from the food source (i.e. grain) and replace it, that will help too. If your critters can handle the cold, you may be able to kill the mites that way.
Grain mites have infested a farm store that I work in. The store is located in the Caribbean. They are oozing from the animal feeds especially the pig feeds, I sweep out at least half of a pound of mites every morning. They on the windows, furniture, doors, etc. How do I control them?
Your only hope for getting rid of them is either extreme heat or cold. Either bake (or microwave) your grain or freeze it. Remove all the grain bags from the affected area and wash the area down with hot water. You may have to do this periodically since you live in exactly the kind of climate that encourages grain mite infestation.
Ok. Thank you for the info:-)
There is a substance called diatomaceous earth that would get rid of your grain mites and not hurt the animals that you are giving the feed to. Just mix it into the feed and sprinkle it around the area and the mites with die very quickly. Actually, it is very good for mamals to consume as it will rid them of any intestinal parasites. It will kill within minutes anything with an exoskeleton that it comes in contact with but is completely safe for anything without an exoskeleton.
I used it, (diatomaceous earth), to kill mites outside of my terrarium and it was extremely effective. I don’t recommend it for anyone else with a terrarium as it will also kill the terrarium critters such as spiders or crickets. It was, however very effective at killing the mites. I highly recommend it for anyone wishing to kill mites who does not have other insects that they wish to keep alive.
I order my diatomaceous earth online.
I might have grain mites (assuming we have them in the UK). Roughly how long in the fridge will be required to kill the mites? I’m hoping to put all my containers in the fridge – mealworms and all, so hoping it is shorter than mealworms can survive.
Thanks very much
I don’t know, but I’d recommend doing it for at least 24 hours and then taking them out to see if it worked. Be sure to wash the area where the enclosures were with hot water to kill the grain mites that may be close by waiting to infest again.
Thanks very much – I sieved them first, then popped them in the fridge for 2 days – seems successful for now.
I’ve had these guys, they’re really annoying and multiply like no-one business!
I used to get them hatching in my mealie colonies and transferring to any furniture nearby.
I found to get rid of them off house furniture it was good to spray them with tea tree oil and to wipe away any I could see with a wet wipe. After a few days, they were all gone. Just had to wipe down the shelves with a wipe to remove any last dead ones and they were as good as new.
If you do try this just take note..tea tree oil smells very strong. Make sure windows are open and animals are out before spraying. And close the main door afterwards so it won’t come out the door 🙂
Works a treat!
I found these grain mites on a garbage bag in my kitchen last night. They were all over the bag, my sink, my dish drain. I sprayed them with raid and then I sanitized my dish drain and my counters and sink. My question is..will raid kill them or will I go home tonight to find them all over again?
I’m not an extermination expert but I imagine that if there are some left alive that stay out of the Raid area, they will reproduce and return. Are you sure they were grain mites? If so, hot water kills them in a much less poisonous way. I would recommend making sure they are really grain mites, and if you see any more continuing to wash the area with hot water. I have successfully gotten rid of grain mite infestation this way.
I have recently moved into my home last oct and every since ive been here we,ve been bit by something we could not see. I was thinking the place had bed bugs because they act like them feeding on us at night mostly and all. ive had 4 pest controls come in but found know signs of bed bugs. but the last pest control that ame let me sticky boards to see what we could catch. still nothing was found until one day I was being bit and all I seen was a black dot with silver (glittery like) around it. I had to look with a magnafyn glass to see it. I never thought to look for a grain mite because our house isn’t a farm but I did research the back ground of this house to and out that back in the late 80s early90s this place was shut down do to they were raiseing pigs goats and chickens in the basement. so I googled what I found and idenifyed it as a grain mite.
my landlord will not help me with this issue I feel like my back is against the wall here. wewake up bit up every day. im lost on what to do. can you help? or do you have any kind of advice?
I honestly don’t think grain mites bite, but I’m not a bug expert. If they are grain mites, hot water should kill them. If you’re getting bitten, I think it may be something else (just because you caught something it doesn’t mean that’s what’s biting you).
I don’t know what kind of insects you have in your home that are biting you. But I do know of something that will kill any insect yet is completely safe for humans and animals. It is called diatomaceous earth. It is actually beneficial when taken internally by us yet kills those with an exoskeleton. Just don’t get it in your eyes or lungs or it will irritate them. I take it daily myself internally for health benefits and have used it around my home and even on my pets to kill mites etc and have found it to be very effective. I popurchase mine in bulk online.
I hope this helps.
HELP!!! I breed mealworms, superworms and crickets in my garage. We’re in South Florida so the garage is pretty hot during the daytime. I can control (but not eliminate) the mites on my crickets by using a heat lamp, cleaning the cages of dead crickets and changing out all food and water gels every few days. But I am having a heck of a time with the mealworms and superworms. I experimented with pyrethrum (pyrethrins) + piperonyl butoxide (PESTICIDE) on the outside of some of the containers. I also tested an organic pst control product based with rosemary and peppermint oil. I treated it like a science experiment to determine which formula worked best. Even at 100% (undiluted) the mites are completely unaffected. I have been breeding for a few months. I currently have my worms and adults separated. But I have never sifted to remove the frass or whatever its called. Any ideas??? I could try putting the colonies in the fridge for a few hours. But with mites (unaffected by pesticides) all over my rack I dont feel this is a long term solution. Anyone tried heat lamps on the mealworms??
Haven’t tried heat lamps with mealworms, but it may make sense to do another science experiment and try the heat lamp with a small number of mealworms to see what happens. At the least it will accelerate their development.
With the rack, could you refrigerate the bins and then apply boiling water to the frame of the rack? It will undoubtedly take several repetitions of this, but it may ultimately control them. Good luck.
Can you mix diatomaceous earth in with the worm farms you already have set up, ie the substrate that would already have eggs, beetles or worms in? You are saying that it is ok to feed this product to the animals, but I just need clarification that it is fine to mix in with the wormfarms themselves.
These mites seemingly eat mealworm eggs, as my stock has been pretty much non existent since they came on the scene….
I don’t know. The problem could be if the diatomaceous earth plugs up the worms’ respiratory organs. This happened to me once with gut load that was too oily. I recommend you do a trial with a small number of worms and see if it affects them in any way.
Diatomaceous earth will kill anything with an exoskeleton, including your mealworms and crickets. I believe it would kill the mealworms in their “worm” stage too, as they also have an exoskeleton. DE works great on any surrounding area to kill mites. Just be very, very careful not to get it on anything that the critters you want alive will come in contact with.
I found that my crickets could withstand a much drier environment than the mites could. I have never raised mealworms but I wonder if maybe they could too. It might be worth a try.
I should add that diatomaceous earth is perfectly safe for animals like mammals, birds, and reptiles – internally or externally. But it is deadly to anything with an exoskeleton, such as insects. It basically scuffs up the outer slell of the insects causing them to die. Those of us with no outer shell are perfectly fine. For example, I put DE all over my cats to kill flees. The cats are completely unharmed, but the flees die quickly. And I give it internally for intestinal parasites. Same thing – the parasites are scuffed up and die, but we and our mammal, reptile, or bird friends are completely unharmed.
I hope this clears up some confusion.
Thankyou Anya, I have found DE is available in an aerosol form here in Australia, and will give this a go with the surrounding areas of my worm tubs. Sounds like an amazing product from what you tell me and from research online. I am sure it will also be ideal for wildlife rehabilitation to treat lice on birds, and internal parasites too!
You are most welcome. You might want to be a little careful with the aerosol as diatomaceous earth can be a bit irritating to the eyes and lungs. Not like a chemical spray or anything, just gritty. As long as you keep that in mind, though, and are able to keep it out of your insect enclosures, I think you will really like it. And, yes, it would be wonderful for wildlife rehab. My newly flee free DE coated kitties would agree! 🙂
Ok, one more thought regarding diatomaceous earth. Make sure you are using food grade if any animals will come in contact with it, especially internally. I buy mine in bulk from bulkherbstore.com or morethanalive.com but there are many other sources to buy food grade DE from. Happy deparasiting! 🙂
will grain mites hurt a chameleon if they are on the super worm i feed him? i hand feed him the worms so they aren’t in his cage but will it cause him harm?
I don’t think grain mites cause any harm to reptiles. They are just a pain in the neck for us.
My mealworms recently became infested with grain mites. I seem to be allergic to them!!! Everytime I get near my mealworms to feed or clean out their box I itch and break out in a Rash. Is that common and can that cause any severe health problems?
It’s more likely that you’re allergic to the mealworm droppings, as I am, rather than the grain mites. There’s no cure for the allergy. However, if you wear gloves and even a mask when you’re doing heavy mealworm duty, you can avoid most of the worst symptoms.
I am so pleased that I found this site as I have been going mad with these tiny white crawly things. I have been breeding mealworms for my chickens and it was OK for about 12 months, then I found them! I freeze the bran for 4 weeks now, but the mites contaminate every container on the shelves. I tried spraying all the shelves with surface spray, vacuuming the brown fluffy stuff it turns into and washing hands between containers, but nothing stops them..I am going to wind down my breeding programme and leave for a year before I start again. They make the bran wet and smelly.
I have a small colony(these are for my garden birds), started 4 years ago, (three 10″x10″x 3″ plastic boxes). The mix is bran, baby rice, rolled oats(the oats helps to keep the substrate dry). The bran, I do freeze now(having discovered grain mites come in bran from a farm shop). I also feed my colony, vegetables which I remove after a day or two, as I don’t want the bran mixture to go mouldy or make the mixture damp, which can encourage mite infestation. I do check them regularly, but despite my measures, occasionally I get an infestation. Yuk, and my heart sinks! Especially, when I have a successful number of baby mealworms. Do I destroy the colony? I have kept in the past to allow the mealworms to get bigger…. but…
I pick out the beetles, and place them in my fresh bran mix. I say “bye- bye” to the baby mealworms sadly(too difficult to pick out). I pour hot water over everything, killing all and let the container cool, then pour the contents into the flowerbed, where the birds happily pick out ‘blanched’ mealworms!
NB. Whilst transferring the beetles, I place the container in a tin of water 1cm deep, with a few drops of bleach. They’ll drown if they try to swim!).
I guess, if you have several containers, and one has become infested and you don’t want to destroy the colony, then isolate the container with the above method. Remove any vegetable you have in the container,(don’t give anymore for several days) and frequently move the substrate around with a utensil to air it..(don’t forget to run the utensil under hot water). If you place container in a cold area then the mealworms will take longer to grow, but the mites may be curbed.
I’m still trying methods to be free from mites.
I’ve had some luck washing the covers of the infested containers with very hot water, replacing them and then continuing the washing process every so often. Eventually the number of mites does seem to go down.
I have colonies of crickets, meal worms and super worms. I have NOT been able to eradicate the grain mites. Here’s what I’ve learned
Removing waste and dead crickets/worms/etc reduces mites
Adding a heat lamp reduces mites
Higher room temps reduce mites
Carrots and moist foods attract mites
Cedar oil has NO impact on mites
Moth balls have NO impact on mites
Pyrethrines and permetherines have NO impact on mites (and might mill your insects)
There’s less mites in the summer when its hotter
Washing your containers, LIDS, etc will kill the mites you can get to but it doesn’t SOLVE the mite problem. Just reduced the numbers, for a limited time.
After six months since my last post, I can report a very good success rate using Diatomaceous Earth, both in powder and spray form. Totally cleaning each container with boiling water does destroy them, then when dry spray the outside, inside your hot box if you have one, and all around the area where you are storing everything. Then I also sprinkle the DE powder everywhere on the ground, surrounding boxes, inside my hot box. It has been an expensive and time consuming process, but I have significantly reduced the problem where it isnt killing off my stock/eggs. DE powder is also really good for treating mites, clearing ants and any insect with an exo skeleton, and it doesnt affect birds. (Use Food Grade DE powder)
Oh and obviously it does involve changing out your bedding for your worms regularly (ie sifting) to reduce the infestation and start afresh 🙂
I am so happy that the diatomaceous earth has worked for you! Congratulations on your success! 🙂
I am going to buy the DE and hope for the best. I still have mites in the mealworms and this morning I found them in the chicken’s feed pellets.
The DE should help you a ton. Be careful to get it near the mealworms but not in their enclosure. Just like Carolyn did. You can DE the heck out of the chickens’ feed and enclosure, though. I hope it works well for you, too! 🙂
Hi, I am a breeder of superworms, mealworms and crickets. Would like to know whether anyone can advise why my superworms’ beatles cannot survive after 2 to 3 weeks. Understood that they usually live for about 5 months. I kept them in a container of 24″x16″x4″ height with 800pcs of them in each container. Is it too congested? Thanks.
I think “too congested” is a good bet.
Ok. Will reduce the numbers of beatles and see how it goes. Thanks Aliza 😀
I fed them every two days with 1 & half piece of potatoes for the moisture. In a containers of 800pcs. Is the moist enough? I did not use water jelly because they make a mess of the bedding. I use fish pellet for the bedding. Is it ok? Because wheat and oat is too expensive in our country.
The fish pellets should be fine. When you say “800pcs” do you mean that there are 800 beetles in there? I use vegetable parings for moisture including cauliflower leaves, pea pods, eggplant (aubergine) peels, etc. You may want to pulverize (powder) the fish pellets if they are very hard.
I have bred King Worms for several years now. Hopefully you realise that they need a constant warm environment, which a humid as well? Mine are bred in a Hot Box with heat lamps then water under the lamps to provide this environment. I provide the egg half of an egg carton for them to lay their eggs on. My base food is mainly Pollard plus Chickstarter, with a few Rolled Oats thrown in. I think Potato would be far too wet and would go rotten very quickly?!! Carrots,Broccoli or Cauliflower stems cut in half lengthways are great for the moisture as are the suggestions made by Aliza. 800 beetles is a massive quantity unless you are planning to make a business out of it! I end up with 1000’s of worms with around 50. Happy chooks!!
Ok. Noted with great thanks Carolyn.
Ok. Noted with great thanks too Aliza.
I breed mealworm for my garden birds.
My mealworm colonies are fed on mostly wheat bran which I buy loose from the farm shop, BUT, I immediately rebag it into Ziplock bags and place in the freezer for a few days to kill any possible mites and other nuisances, having discovered that the loose bran is the culprit.
I add a little jumbo oats which we use as the base for our own museli mix.
Every two or three days, I feed the colonies (alternating) a variety of pieces of veg and fruit, which I remove after 12 hours. No chance of mould forming. I don’t have lids on them, so they are well aired. However, when I placed one container in the garage, I ended up with micro moths laying their eggs. So I had a mixed colony of mealworms and micro moth larvae!!
The birds had those too! Now, if I need to put them in the garage, I have fine mesh lids.
Carolyn, I wondered about chicken feeds. Are vitamins and minerals added? I don’t think growth hormones are. I think they were banned some years ago. I haven’t heard of Pollard plus Chickstarter. What’s the ingredients?
Well i have a problem. I successfully bed my worms which are no bigger thsn a stand of hair and just discovered mites in they’re bait box. Bait box is made up of steel cut oats and cornmeal. What do i do??
Here are several ideas:
You’ll probably see the grain mites on the cover of the bait box (if it has one) or on the sides toward the top. Wash the cover in hot water and dry well. Take a cloth, dip in hot water and squeeze it out. Wipe the top of the bait box with the cloth. You won’t be eliminating the grain mites in the grain, but eventually, you should be able to reduce the number.
Another idea would be to put the bait box in the fridge for the night. The mealworms should be OK and it will probably kill the grain mites.
I have tried to breed meal worms for my bluebirds and always had problems with mites, because I live in the deep south. It just so happens there is a major mealworm breeding place very close so I did some investigating has to how they get keep grain mites from hatching. They are already in your grain and I use only food grade grain form the grocery store such as oatmeal and bran. The trick is to put the grain in a sub zero kind of freezer for at least 3 days. This is not the kind of freezer you buy at the appliance store but an expensive industrial kind. I have tried to but the grain straight from the store into my regular freezer for weeks and it does not work.
It’s very likely that in your situation you won’t be able to eliminate the grain mites. However, I think that if you regularly remove the lid from the mealworm enclosure and wash it in hot water, you will at least be able to control the amount of grain mites and reduce the chance that they infest the house. I’d also recommend storing any mealworm gut load you have that you’re not actually using for the mealworms in the freezer. Even though it won’t kill the grain mites, it should keep that gut load from becoming infested before you’ve even used it.
Is “gut load” the bottle of mealworm/cricket food you get from the pet store? I have never heard the term. I am “new” to owning a reptile. I have a bearded dragon that is about 4 months old. He is doing well, except his left front foot swelled up and especially his toes. He has now lost two toes on that foot, he seems to be happier without them. It seemed to be trauma (maybe from my kids) so I left him alone as he was eating really well and drinking and shedding at an excellent rate. I hope he is OK. No skin irritations have appeared.
Also…. I had a problem with Grain Mites recently and found out I should jot have had a kid n my mealworms container, the humidity gave way to an influx of nearly white mites!! I heard if you microwave your bran or oats, let them cool, then add your mealworms that should kill them. Is this accurate? (I already disinfected my container and out them outside in the cold all night, it seemed to kill them alI could see.)
Help with questions. 😉
It appears that heat or cold should kill the grain mites. Hopefully your beardie’s foot isn’t swollen anymore. If it is, I’d recommend a vet visit. If the mealworm/cricket food you’re talking about looks like powdered grain, yes, that’s “gutload”, meaning it’s good nutritional food for the bugs and worms so that they, in turn, are nutritional for your reptiles. If you mean the colored jelly cubes, those are really just water in a polymer with dye, so it is hydration but not gutload. I hope that makes sense the way I’ve explained it.
It does. Thank you! What is the fine grain left over at the bottom of the mealworm container called that people use for compost? I thought that was all as very cool! I just hatched 3 beetles and have two more pupue (sp?) Already! Such an easy set up once I got the hang of it. I never should have kept a lid on the mealworm tank…. OMG the smell… Ewwws! Thanks for the help!
Hello , I have been trying to grow mealworms for 13 months now . I have been living in separate drawers as I have done a lot of research on the subject . I have my pupate in one drawer and my general population in one drawer and of course my beetles are in their own drawer and they live on a screen so that their eggs can drop through into a drawer beneath them . I have had all this time little mounds of tiny moving critters everywhere in my cornmeal and oat meal bedding. I have thought that these were hatched mealworms babies that were tiny and would grow. It seems now these mounds are not Mily worms and from all the research I have done it seems to be they are might from the grains. I did not cook the cornmeal or oatmeal before starting my mealworms farm over a year ago . It doesn’t seem that the mealworms are affected by these so-called mites but I have thought all this time that those were mealworm babies altogether. In all this time of 13 months I don’t have any baby mealworms and I have a 12 drawer system so at least nine of those drawers have so-called eggs that are hatching and should be growing mealworms yet I don’t have any mealworm babies . Also it seems that in several drawers I have something growing up the sides that is tan as well in color. After further researching I believe these are mites and I cannot identify them under the magnifying glass, but I can see that they are all moving . After all this time I still don’t have any baby mealworms yet I have several hundred beetles in one drawer living on top of a screen so the eggs can fall through . I have multiple potato chunks in every drawer as well as two small 2 x 2″ sponges inside of a miniature baggy for jewelry on either side of every drawer and then covered with newspaper for the darkness . I can’t understand first of all why I think I have mites so bad . I think they are mites but I am not sure and I do know I don’t have any baby mealworms after all this time . I did not cook my cornmeal or oats when I created my farm 13 months ago . Do I need to just dump everything sterilize and start over? And if the mites don’t harm the mealworms, then why do I not have any babies growing up ? Please advise, any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated as I have spent numerous hours four times a week for over a year now trying to get this accomplished… IE having baby mealworms . Thank you for your time and appreciate your response. Suz
How frustrating! If things are working out, you should really have visible mealworms within 2-4 weeks of setting up the beetles. If you have a bad enough grain mite infestation, I suppose they could be eating the eggs, but I don’t know for sure. Here’s my advice: Move the beetles to a new container with new grain. Check the container every few days. If you see more grain mites, remove the lid (if you have one) and run hot water over it to kill the mites. If there are mites up the side, swab the sides with a paper towel wet with hot water. If you just can’t control the mite infestation in this new location you’ll have to ditch the whole thing and start over. If your mealworms and pupae are full of grain mites, it may be better to just get rid of them and start again. In that case, wash everything in hot water. Just as an experiment, when you get things set up again, try keeping the beetles in the grain and letting them lay their eggs right there. After about 4 weeks, sift out the beetles and move the leftover grain into a new container. I’m suggesting this because possibly the screen situation is somehow inhibiting egg hatching. I raised mealworms for years without trying to have the eggs drop through to a screen. If you ever notice a small grain mite infestation, try washing the lids and sides with hot water to see if you can contain it. Good luck.
My mealworm breeding was very successful..using Pollard as the bedding. If you can source this easily (is a wheat based product often used by fishermen but I can buy from a stock feed store here in Australia).
Forget the layering for the eggs to drop through, obviously not working. Instead layer several sheets of paper towel on top of your pollard for the beetles to lay eggs on, then you need moisture using Cauliflower stems, Broccoli Stems (things that wont go manky when they rot). After two or more weeks, move the beetles to a new tray of pollard and paper towels. Do not remove anything from the original tray, as the eggs are laid throughout the pollard and paper towels. Even the dried out stems, keep them in until you can see the worms are large enough and still not using them for food. You will also need to add fresh stems at least once per week to keep up the moisture.
They need constant WARMTH as well as darkness. This is important! No warmth, nothing will hatch. If you cannot provide constant warmth using a hot box or incubator, find a warm spot in the house like the top of the fridge for example. Ideally you want about 28deg. But best to avoid doing so if you have a mite infestation for obvious reasons! (Previous posts can give you some good advice about these pesky critters!).
They can be taken from the warm environment once they are a good size, (say 1/2inch) but the growth rate is relative to the conditions…if it is cold it will slow them down, if warm they will grow quickly.
Once you can see some baby worms , half an apple with the cut side facing upwards does provide good moisture for them to grow, but apples do tend to go mushy pretty quicky so you need to keep an eye on it and be ready to discard within a couple of days. The movement of baby worms is nothing like the “rolling” movement of a mite infestation, hope you get to see baby worm activity soon, good luck!
Carolyn, I saw someone mentioned that you had success using DE to get rid of mites in superworms. I couldn’t find your comment. Could you elaborate?
I didnt have a major problem with mites with the Superworms, they didnt seem to be affected as much but mites were present and are a nuisance! Basically DE powder sprinkled everywhere outside the containers (I used a flour shaker to distribute evenly). Then using DE spray I would cover the outside of the containers, inside the storage bins for the pollard/chickstarter. This is after thoroughly cleaning the original containers with hot soapy water. The DE spray stays effective for a very long time if not as long as you can see it there, so dont wash it off. The DE spray tends to be expensive but if you wanted to spray it over your shelving and anywhere else in close proximity this is also more effective than sprinkling the powder,
Sifting you mealworm bedding regularly is the other strategy, ultimately you will reduce the infestation of the mites this way, probably never really eliminate, but at least keep it to a minimum.
Hi there! I’ve been raising superworms for a few months now but it’s twice now that I’ve had a run in with grain mites, both times I’ve completely removed everything and started fresh, which was sad to do since I loved my little beetles/worms.
I always nuked the grains before getting them, had brand new containers set up and always took out any carrots before they rotted.
I’ve been hearing a lot of things about diatomaceous earth and will be trying it but I wanted to try out something new also.
I heard that ladybugs enjoy eating aphids, and wanted to try testing them with my worms. I was wondering if anyone has ever tried or had success with this method or something similar.
Hopefully someone that has had experience with this will respond. I’ve done well with my hot water washing method.
Hi I have had my second round with mites now and found a great solution so this little mites don’t spread out of the box. I use a 10,3×10,9×16,3 high storage box for my superworms. I do microwave the oat for 3 minutes and make sure it’s all cooled down. The lid has a fine mesh screen for ventilation and to keep the mothers out. About 2 inches from the rim. I smear layer of wicks vapor rup around for 2 inches wide. On the outside of the box is a 2 inch double sided tape. I know sounds like overkill but there is no way this little booger’s will escape at least they are contained Every 2 -3 month I clean out the super worms wash them thru a sive and clean the box. If there is any other substrate that would work better please let me know.
Hi I think I am having a grain mite problem but they are all over my pangea cgd. Could the bag I bought be contaminated??
I guess it’s possible. Hard to tell if the bag arrived that way (unless you saw them when you first opened the bag). If they were there when you first opened the bag, contact the store where you got it, or, if you got it from Pangea, contact them, to let them know. I think if you put the bag in the freezer for awhile you may solve your problem.
Hello. Recently I received a container of superworms for my bearded dragon that had many grain mites in it. Overnight they spilled out and crawled to adjacent shelves and my water turtle’s tank. This area is right by the kitchen and living room, as I live in a small apartment. I got rid of as many things as I could and cleaned off the rest. I then got a dehumidifier and have been keeping everything at or below 40% humidity. Of course there are still mites around. I’m sure some will enter their resting phase, too. The problem for me is that the mites are hanging out in the turtle tank, as it’s the last place that is relatively warm and somewhat humid given the water heater and water itself. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? I’m at my wits’ end and just want to get rid of these things. I thought about getting a new tank and cleaning everything well again but I imagine some mites would remain only to reinvest the tank. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
The only thing I can suggest is to daily get a cloth really hot (hot water, microwave . . . ) and to scrub whatever part of the surface of the turtle tank you can get to. You won’t be able to do anything about the substrate, but if you can swab up the walls, you may be able to gradually reduce the population.
Hi guys … I have a wheat mite infestation and the main problem seems to be that I’m not getting any baby mealworms … and no aliens (but having read a lot of the comments it may be the beetles are eating them for the moisture, although I do leave bits of potato, carrot, sweet corn, cabbage in with the beetles and worms for moisture and food.
I’ve noticed Diatomaceous Earth mentioned (Fullers Earth ???)
I think there are different grades of DE for use in Chicken feed and for natural worming for horses and dogs etc.
Apparently the DE is ‘sharp’ and when worms eat it, it literally cuts them up inside.
So I’m worried that if I added DE to the any of the trays of worms, beetles, aliens … it would kill everything
So … why do the mites mean the whole colony suffers ? … aside from the fact they’re horrible and some have mentioned them causing asthma … to us ???
I’m also a bit confused by the beetles eggs. When I’ve had a successful colony, I’ve never been able to see the eggs or the beetles laying them. So when I do a cleaning and sifting … I don’t know if I’m throwing away eggs with the poo dust.
I’ve only got one very healthy large fat tailed Leo now, but I also enjoy breeding the worms … I find it fascinating and I have developed quite a passion for the breeding with the worms; and getting the Locusts as babies so I get them really healthy and well fed for Roo. If they reach final instar and obviously too big for Roo to eat … I keep them as pets, and I love the intricate engineering of their creation which is simply amazing.
Some escape when they’re tiny … and I know they’re around because they eat my plants … But I can’t help loving finding them by chance … like I’ll open a kitchen cupboard door and there one will be … Looking at me as if to say … ‘Oh no … I’m caught !’ I always say happily “Well hello you … you little tinker” … then catch him/her and put in The Death Row Hotel
Does anyone know why they are sometimes very bright green, or pink or very black … and the usual natural colour. I don’t feed them coloured food !
And … How are locusts sexed ?
Thanks for reading my blah blah
As you know from my article, I’ve been able to get the grain mites under control by frequent washing the top and covers of the enclosure with hot water. I have no idea what else is going on with your colony. How long are you giving it? If I recall correctly the first batch takes forever (like a month or more) to be visible and then since it’s a rolling development, it goes much more quickly. I found an article with pictures of different kinds of grain mites and they’re different colors: https://extension.sdstate.edu/which-mite-it-identifying-mites-wheat-fields. If you’re just not getting anything at all, you may want to consider removing all the beetles to a fresh location after 2 weeks to let the tiny worms grow without anything trying to eat them.
I’m not sure about sexing locusts, but sexing mature crickets is easy because the females have an extra antenna looking thing sticking out of their back ends (obviously it’s not an antenna, it’s an ovipositor).
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