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[Dubias] Breeding Colony Large Dieoffs

Discussion in 'Feeders' started by SpidaFly, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. SpidaFly

    SpidaFly Elite Member

    For about half a year, my Dubia colony has been booming. In the last 4 weeks I left my colony under someone else's care because I was on vacation. I've returned to find my colony in apparent distress.

    When I cleaned the colony upon returning home, there were DOZENS of dead. Nymphs of all ages, males, and females. For some reason the frass in the corners of the colony hadn't dried and was a thick ~ absolutely revolting ~ muck. I can't explain this, as I haven't seen this happen before, and I've never observed condensation on the colony walls. Humidity is usually around 50%.

    It has only been a few days since I cleaned the colony, and I checked it tonight. Frass in the corners isn't drying so I cleaned it out. I found a dozen or so more dead - again, nymphs of all ages, males and females. Found several roaches that appeared to be very weak or dieing so I killed and disposed of them.

    I DO have some sort of beetle infestation that I've been battling for a few months, I think it came in on bad dog food though. Tiny red beetles. They don't seem to attach the roaches so I've tried to conquer them but I don't worry too much. They generally confine themselves to the frass.

    I inspected the dead and found very few similarities. Several had been eaten on from the end or head - presumably by nymphs, I've seen that before. A few (but not all) had mangled antennae and small quantities of missing appendages - hard to tell if that occurred pre or post death.They were not "crawling" with anything such as mites, worms, etc. The occasional dead had one or two of those annoying little beetles wandering around on it, but this was not consistent and the beetle had no apparent interest in eating the guts of the roach - probably was just passing by on the frass when I picked it up. A random spot check of apparently healthy adults (especially gravid females) didn't reveal any mites or external parasites.

    I'm finding a lot more dropped ooths than usual, too.

    So - I can't really figure out what's going on, besides the possibility that the poo muck in the corners poisoned a bunch of roaches. Even so, that is gone, and roaches are still dieing in significant numbers.

    Can overpopulation alone cause dieoff? I know the colony is a bit overpopulated, though I don't believe it to be significantly overpopulated. But just in case I have supplies on their way to build a new roach incubator this weekend (new stack of egg cartons, insulation, flexwatt, etc.) Could they be literally trampling/crushing or asphyxiating to death due to population level?

    Thanks for input.
  2. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    When population is high they will attack and kill the weaker ones so that could be part of the problem.
    Mold and bacteria are also another cause of large deaths. Is it just the smaller nymphs and a few adults dieing or are there a significant amount of adults dieing as well?
  3. SpidaFly

    SpidaFly Elite Member

    Significant amount of adults. As many females as males. (When males die, I ignore it, since they are short lived and weak anyway - but when medium, large nymphs and females start dieing I get concerned.)

    Oddly enough, mold actually isn't present... even on those corners that seem to be staying wet. I know, sounds odd doesn't it? But I saw no obvious mold growth at all. Bacteria, of course... due to the overwhelming odor I encountered in those two corners. That's all cleaned up now though, so there must be another issue going on too.

    I'm guessing it has to be overpopulation?

    Supplies on the way to build a new colony, hope enough of them survive to this weekend :)
  4. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Well my guess is overpopulation as well then.
  5. regtuck

    regtuck Member

    As your colony numbers have gone up, have you been able to increase ventilation? Excess humidity is the no 1 killer of Dubias, and from what you have said I would suggest opening the lid or cutting more ventilation holes in it could be the way to go. I breed Dubias here in Scotland and at the moment our temps are minus 10*C, so the heat mats are working at full capacity (I keep the whiskey for myself!).
    I hope this helps, Reg
  6. SpidaFly

    SpidaFly Elite Member

    Good point. I hadn't until relatively recently. I built a sort of adjustable vent to make it easier to keep humidity around 50%. Basically just one large vent with a piece of insulation I can slide back and forth. The person who was caring for my colony wasn't watching the humidity - so upon coming home I opened it up all the way and the humidity came back down to around 50%.

    Humidity management can be rough here - very low natural humidity.

    Thanks for the pointer!

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