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Help! My Superworms Are Infested!

Discussion in 'Invertebrates General' started by HollyS, May 16, 2013.

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  1. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    I've been breeding superworms as feeders for a few years now, and my colony has become infested with some sort of very tiny bugs! They are whitish in colour and about the size of fine grains of sand. Figuring at first that they must be some sort of grain pest, I completely changed the grain in all of my superworm bins, scrubbed everything, and bought all fresh stuff. For a while the bugs seemed to completely disappear, but they have come back with a vengeance! There are seriously BILLIONS of them in there, and I don't know what to do!

    My superworms are in plastic bins in a cupboard under my lizard's terrarium. I keep them on a mixture of various grains with a handful of corn cob litter thrown in to control moisture. (The litter was frozen for a week first, to ensure that it's not carrying anything.) I feed them fresh fruits and veggies changed every other day; by the time I remove the leftovers, they look like they're covered in fuzz because they are SWARMING with those little bugs!!

    These bugs don't appear to be affecting my superworms, as they're still reproducing well and growing huge, But they're REALLY grossing me out!! Has anybody ever heard of this happening? What the heck are these things, and how do I get rid of them without killing my entire colony? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Grain mites! I've dealt with them on several occasions in the past. Absolute huge pains in the butt.

    Throw out all the substrate, clean off the worms, scrub out the containers, and start fresh. However, keep in mind that they are notoriously difficult to eradicate, and you never truly will. At best, you can keep them to manageable levels.

    Grain mites thrive in warmth and humidity. Keep your worms in open lid tubs in a warm dry place away from humid enclosures. Remove uneaten food (potatoes, carrots) after a few days, and throw out any damp substrate (i.e. oats).

    When cleaning out the worm tubs/containers, use very hot water, and wash/scrub them several times.

    Once you've cleaned and refilled your worm tubs, move them to a different location for now. This will prevent any mites that were hanging around the old location from blooming again.

    Keep all worm food items (oats, grains, etc.) in a cool, dry place until you need them. Grain mites require certain temperatures to reproduce, so keeping the food cool will prevent this.

    They don't appear to be problematic for reptiles. I've had my water dragon's tank completely infested as well, and she was just fine. But being that her conditions were ideal for their reproduction, I had to make sure to eradicate them from her enclosure as well.

    Oh, and something to note - if you feed worms with grain mites to your reptiles and you happen to get a fecal test done, the mites WILL show up on the exam. Confused the heck out of my one vet, who prescribed a general dewormer to get rid of the "unidentifiable parasite" (this was before I figured out the first time that I was dealing with these in the first place). Again, didn't harm my reptile in any way, this was just a routine fecal, but it did come as a surprise.

    Good luck!
     
  3. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Grain mites!? Ugh, gross!! Thank you so much for the info and advice. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about the sheer numbers of those things breeding in my superworm bins!!

    One question: how do I clean off the superworms themselves? I assume that handing them each a tiny scrub brush and directing them to the shower is out of the question. ;) Should I actually give them a rinse under the tap? Something tells me that this wouldn't be good for them, but I'm not sure how else to clean the bugs off of them. Thanks!
     
  4. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Very creepy for sure. I felt itchy constantly until I was able to get rid of them!

    Haha if only it was as easy as that! ;)

    I placed all my worms in a strainer and rinsed them off. Poured them onto paper towel for a quick dry, and that's it. I just used lukewarm water and was quick about it, and didn't have any deaths as a result. I had to do this for my superworms, kingworms, and mealworms, and while it took a bit of time to do, it was worth it as I haven't had an outbreak since (knock on wood) in any of my worm tubs.
     
  5. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Okay, great! Thanks so much; I can't wait to get these icky little bugs out of my house!!
     
  6. mayhmmaydn

    mayhmmaydn Elite Member

    I rinse off my worms and pat them dry before putting them in the feeder bin. I don't trust what they were grown in. but im not throwing it away anymore either. into a separate container from now on. I found baby superworms in one of mine the other day so I have a nursery going separately from my feeding bin and im starting a breeding colony now too. I hope it doesn't get too big too fast of ill have a lot of happy birds outside this summer. :) May
     
  7. TigerIvy

    TigerIvy Elite Member

    hate to necro a post but I had a question...what if you keep your superworm colony in another container that has water in it. Wait...that might not have made sense...ok lemme try it this way...what if you are using a a 1 gallon ice cream container and put THAT into a square container big enough to hold a couple inches of water? I dont know if grain mites can swim...and my entire idea is sounding more stupid by the second..but better stupid then unasked I guess
     
  8. mayhmmaydn

    mayhmmaydn Elite Member

    If my worm bins were small enough I would sit them in another bin with diatomaceous earth so the little buggers couldt get thru. For now though.. Im just gonna have to loose a few bins of babies and start again. thankfully the beetles are all still super busy making babies. I don't even have to wait 14 days before I see movement in the oats! lol
     
  9. mayhmmaydn

    mayhmmaydn Elite Member

    hmmm diatomaceous earth would probably kill the superworms too im guessing. or else..... hahaha oh well.
     
  10. mayhmmaydn

    mayhmmaydn Elite Member

    simply handled. everything infected was tossed outside. everything inside was sterilized and I never used Oats as a substrate again. 2 yrs later I still haven't had another mite infestation. The mite infested ones were still safe to use as feeders but kept outside. they lasted all summer till it hit 118 for a few days straight and then kinda friend I think. IF you use superworms that have had mites. you will need to tell you vet on your next visit or it mite.. might throw parasite tests off.
     
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