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Old 06-25-2020, 12:33 PM
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Default Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

I have heard of people doing this what’s your thoughts on dusting flies with a FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth when making a new culture to kill any hitch hiking mites.
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Old 06-25-2020, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) kills bugs indiscriminately, including flies. In fact, back when I used gliders instead of apterous flies, I would transfer flies over a large bin of DE to kill any flies that tried to escape. Apterous flies are much easier to contain.

Ed and Pumilo have described a method of decreasing the mite load using regular calcium dust because it helps knock the mites off the flies. I always dust my culture-starting flies and am careful to leave behind the dust (and hopefully most of the mites). NOTE: this is a scaled down and less effective version of Ed’s method, but works fine for standard mite loads and good culture conditions.

You’ll never completely eliminate culture mites. The idea is to minimize them.
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Old 06-25-2020, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Joshs frogs have a products called “bug blade” which can be used to dust flies I went on there website to find out more about this product and it stated that it was made of diatomaceous Earth.
I also read This from a article called

Mites! Now what?
Can’t seem to add the URL
Here’s the quote though
“ Dusting your flies and giving them a few minutes to groom themselves of the dust and mites, can virtually eliminate the mites. Flies can be dusted with food grade diatomaceous earth, will kill the mites but surprisingly does not kill the flies. You can also dust the flies with calcium powder for the same effect”

Last edited by PumsAndThumbs; 06-25-2020 at 02:23 PM. Reason: .
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by PumsAndThumbs View Post
You can also dust the flies with calcium powder for the same effect”
I'd much prefer dusting them with calcium, for the same effect, than dusting with bug blade...Food grade or not.
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by PumsAndThumbs View Post
Joshs frogs have a products called “bug blade” which can be used to dust flies I went on there website to find out more about this product and it stated that it was made of diatomaceous Earth.
I also read This from a article called

Mites! Now what?
Can’t seem to add the URL
Here’s the quote though
“ Dusting your flies and giving them a few minutes to groom themselves of the dust and mites, can virtually eliminate the mites. Flies can be dusted with food grade diatomaceous earth, will kill the mites but surprisingly does not kill the flies. You can also dust the flies with calcium powder for the same effect”
Hmmmm.... It wouldn't be the first bit of bad advice from a big name in the industry. But it doesn't smell right to me.

I guess I'll have to dust some flies with DE and some with Calcium Plus and see what happens... BRB
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Ok. Experiment started.

Using 2 clean bowls, I added 1/8 teaspoon of Calcium Plus to one, and 1/8 teaspoon food grade DE to another.

I added similar amounts of flies to each bowl and swirled per my usual dusting routine. Flies are then carefully poured into secondary bowls to leave behind the majority of leftover dust. Flies are then carefully poured from the secondary bowls into empty clean culture cups to remove even more leftover dust.

As a control, undusted flies were also added to a clean empty culture cup.

All flies were from the same culture, started 6/3, and all three experimental cups are being kept next to each other in the frog room.

I will check on the cups periodically and note any differences in mortality.

*The biggest weakness I see with this experiment is that the quantities of flies were not strictly controlled.


As an aside, I happened to accidentally leave yesterday's leftover feeding flies in their Calcium Plus dust bowl. I would say only 10% appeared to be alive after 24 hours.
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

DE will call all fruit flies. "Bug Blade" is not for dusting flies. From the description on Josh's:

"Simply spread a thin layer of Bug Blade around the base of your vivarium and prevent escapee fruit flies from crawling to freedom! "
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by hypostatic View Post
DE will call all fruit flies. "Bug Blade" is not for dusting flies. From the description on Josh's:

"Simply spread a thin layer of Bug Blade around the base of your vivarium and prevent escapee fruit flies from crawling to freedom! "
Yes however I watched a video on their YouTube a while back about culturing flies in which whilst preparing a FF culture they dusted the flies with bug blade.
(Here’s the link if interested) skip to 1 min 40 sec

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Old 06-25-2020, 03:42 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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DE will call all fruit flies. "Bug Blade" is not for dusting flies. From the description on Josh's:

"Simply spread a thin layer of Bug Blade around the base of your vivarium and prevent escapee fruit flies from crawling to freedom! "
Wait a second. Are you saying I just wasted 1/8 teaspoon of DE and Calcium Plus for NOTHING!?!?!

I guess I have too much invested in this to quit now. The experiment will continue.
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:43 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Wait a second. Are you saying I just wasted 1/8 teaspoon of DE and Calcium Plus for NOTHING!?!?!

I guess I have too much invested in this to quit now. The experiment will continue.
Haha, Im eagerly awaiting the outcome...

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Old 06-25-2020, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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I'd much prefer dusting them with calcium, for the same effect, than dusting with bug blade...Food grade or not.
Yes I guess that’s understandable, I was just thinking about something a little more effective.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Also, DE is an irritant for humans.

Quote:
If breathed in, diatomaceous earth can irritate the nose and nasal passages. If an extremely large amount is inhaled, people may cough and have shortness of breath. On skin, it can cause irritation and dryness
I would NOT recommenced feeding your frogs DE-covered FFs
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:06 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

The idea is not feeding them the FFs whilst they are covered in DE, but dusting them in DE when making a new culture In order to kill off mites.

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Old 06-25-2020, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

The reason why some take measures to mitigate mites is to cut down on competition with the larvae.

Many people do not worry too much, as the mites are harmless to frogs, and are actually walking through the micro-fissures of your cupboard and cereal boxes right now.

Try to be right sized about them. They are harmless, compared to measures against them. imo
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Because of bug phobia, products presented to kill mites, is a sure bet sell.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:31 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Josh's Frogs flat out PISSES ME OFF! Their crappy information has killed more frogs in the hobby. He has people talking about, and believing, this same pile of crap on FaceBook yesterday. I mean seriously! If you are going to repackage and sell a product with your name on it, shouldn't you have some kind of idea how to use it, what it does, and how it kills?

I want to know if Josh is so incredibly irresponsible that he has put it in a shaker bottle, but left off the warnings about the potential to harm to your respiratory system. Does someone have a bottle? Please check that warning out for me.

Bug Blade is DE, or diatomaceous earth. It's nothing more. It's nothing less. It is exactly the same product as gardeners have been using for decades, for bug control. The only thing different about Josh's, is that his is $7 for 5 ounces. I just bought a 4 pound bag at Lowe's for $9. That's almost 13 times as much product for $2 more.

What is it? DE / Bug Blade is nothing more than shattered, fossilized skeletal remains of single celled algae called diatoms. The shattered diatoms have extremely sharp edges. These edges are microscopic. You could eat food grade DE with no ill effects. Your frogs can walk on DE with no ill effects. Your frogs can eat DE with no ill effects. When I say it can be eaten with no ill effects, I am talking about fully moistened DE. Otherwise, as Hypostatic mentioned, breathing in the dust can be harmful.
Can anybody guess what happens when an aphid, a mite, a fly, or, in my particular battle right now, if an earwig, crawls across it?

Imagine yourself in the center of a football field piled high with knives, broken glass, and razor blades. That is the killing action of diatomaceous earth. It is indiscriminate. It simply sits there and shreds bugs that cross it till they dessicate or bleed to death.
If Josh's Frog's Bug Blade does not kill flies, I would submit that it cannot be killing mites.

I believe that someone at Josh's Frogs has confused the use of Bug Blade, with Ed's method, which I have passed on more than a few times, of using calcium or vitamin powder, to dust flies with before making cultures. He's taken 2 sound ideas, and combined them to make culture killing advice. Wait a minute...doesn't he sell fruit fly cultures?

This is Ed's method of dusting flies for mite control.
Your cultures have mites. I don't care if they appear to be mite free. They are not. This simple method will help keep them almost mite free, and productive throughout their useful life.
Pull flies from a fresh culture, from a culture a week or two old, and some from a 3 week old culture. Mixing ages helps prevent accidentally genetically selecting for flies that would boom early, but burn out fast.
Pull 2 to 3 times as many flies as you would normally seed with.
Dust them heavily with calcium powder or vitamin powder. Jostle them around pretty good. This begins knocking the mites off of the flies. As the flies struggle to be the top fly, the mites get sifted down further.
Now you make your cultures using only the top third or so. You are using the cleanest of the clean this way.
The rest you take to your hungry frogs, because you planned ahead, and made your cultures on feeding day.
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Old 06-25-2020, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by Broseph View Post
Ok. Experiment started.
Yours is maybe better than mine, but I did a little test this morning too.

I dusted about 100 mels with DE, and watched. After 5 minutes, I noticed about 5 dead FFs; the rest were grooming much more vigorously than they would with Ca+ dusting. Many were rolling on the bottom of the cup and seemed to be struggling. After an hour, there were maybe 10 dead, and at that point I put a small dish of food (hydrated crested gecko diet) in their cup and went to mow the lawn.

Four hours after initial setup, all DE dusted flies were dead but six. The five or so leftover FFs in the Ca+ cup that I dusted to feed frogs this morning were all live and looked normal.

Also: last time this came up here (a couple months ago) I emailed Josh's and asked if they recommended dusting FFs with DE before setting up cxs, and they said that they indeed do recommend it and pointed out their product by name.
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Old 06-25-2020, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Alright, it's been just under 3 hours now.

The undusted flies are extremely vigorous. I know they are the control group, but they seem extra lively compared to the experimental groups. And there are zero dead flies in the control.

MOST of the Calcium Plus flies are still alive. There are a few dead, and the living flies are much more subdued compared to the undusted group. I don't know if they are suffering desiccation from the powder, or if the weight of the powder is just slowing them down.

Almost all the DE flies are dead. The few remaining are circling the drain.

---------------

It was interesting how long it took for the DE to kill them. I assumed it would have been fairly rapid, and I checked them every 10 minutes for the first hour. A few died within that first hour, but the most dramatic die off appeared between the 2nd and 3rd hour.

We all know calcium dusted flies do just fine after being reintroduced to a humid environment; be it a vivarium or a fresh culture cup. I can't help but wonder if DE dusted flies would be ok if treated similarly. I also wonder if grain mites succumb to DE Death much faster than flies?

I don't have the technology to inspect individual flies for mites, so I can't test how quickly DE kills grain mites. I know I have a ring of dead mites in the DE surrounding my fly cultures... If I could find the locomotion speed of a grain mite and compare it the distance they travel from the cups before dying... nevermind.

But I might try dusting some flies with DE and putting them in a cup with fresh culture media tomorrow.
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Old 06-25-2020, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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If I could find the locomotion speed of a grain mite
An African or European grain mite?
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Old 06-25-2020, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Thank you both for taking the time to try to experiment.

Quote:
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We all know calcium dusted flies do just fine after being reintroduced to a humid environment; be it a vivarium or a fresh culture cup. I can't help but wonder if DE dusted flies would be ok if treated similarly.
This is precisely what I was thinking
I did expect most of the DE coated flies to die but as stated maybe adding them into the cultures after a Few minutes is what keeps them alive

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Old 06-25-2020, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Simply put, the best thing to do for mites is prevention, really. If you start with a mite-free source, you're 90% there. (I don't think I've ever gotten contaminated FFs from NE Herp. Josh's cultures on the other hand, come crawling with mites, even when freshly started).

The second most important thing is to keep good husbandry techniques, to prevent accidentally contaminating your cultures through another means (eg your hands, proximity to tanks, etc)
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:32 PM
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If you start with a mite-free source, you're 90% there. (I don't think I've ever gotten contaminated FFs from NE Herp. Josh's cultures on the other hand, come crawling with mites, even when freshly started).
I think you meant to say that Josh's mite cultures are often contaminated with flies.
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Old 06-26-2020, 01:07 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Ha!

I've gotten cultures from Josh's that weren't badly contaminated initially, but then some time ago I got some cultures that were SO contaminated, they the white plastic was tan on the outside, and the the plastic felt rough to the touch from all the mites. *shudder*
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Old 06-26-2020, 01:15 AM
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Ha!

I've gotten cultures from Josh's that weren't badly contaminated initially, but then some time ago I got some cultures that were SO contaminated, they the white plastic was tan on the outside, and the the plastic felt rough to the touch from all the mites. *shudder*
So I'm going out on a limb here to suggest that maybe, possibly, this Bug Blade dusting protocol doesn't actually reduce mites?

Maybe at almost a buck and a half an ounce, Josh's just can't afford to use the product themselves.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:21 AM
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So I'm going out on a limb here to suggest that maybe, possibly, this Bug Blade dusting protocol doesn't actually reduce mites?
Ed has questioned the effectiveness of DE for something as tiny as mites. I'd love to check that out microscopically, and see if something as small as a baby mite would still be taken out by DE, or could they plausibly maneuver around and between all the sharp edges?

I use mite paper, changed every 3 months. Mite spray doesn't last nearly as long.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:25 AM
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The second most important thing is to keep good husbandry techniques, to prevent accidentally contaminating your cultures through another means (eg your hands, proximity to tanks, etc)
The first frog rack I ever built had two levels of frog racks, and below that, I had built a shelf to keep all of my fly cultures in. Nice design, huh?
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by hypostatic View Post
Also, DE is an irritant for humans.



I would NOT recommenced feeding your frogs DE-covered FFs
I saw a video on using calcium powder but I don't think you would be feeding much de if at all. This is if it did not kill the flies first remember this is to start a new culture. Think about the flies walking around the vivarium a few hours later after dusting. They will shake off all the dust if still alive. WE are talking at least a week with a new culture.

I know when doing a mite count with honey bees powder sugar is used in the mite count process. You scoop up a specific amount bees and shake them in powder sugar. The mites fall off and you count how many you have and depending on how many you find you treat the hive for mites as you will always have some. For this reason I can see calcium powder working.

DE is also used in the treatment of parasites of chickens. You mix in some with chicken feed and it is "supposed" to help and be a natural treatment. Birds have a much more sensitive respiratory system than humans and it doesn't kill them.

DO not mistaken my comments for thinking DE is a good idea. I think the best thing you can go it not let cultures get old and start new ones from cultures 1-2 weeks old. If you keep old cultures around as a backup store them somewhere else. If you have an infestation store the cultures in a tray with DE sprinkled on it to stop cross contamination.

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Old 06-27-2020, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

Aha! This is where some microscopy knowledge and googling helps!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumilo View Post
Ed has questioned the effectiveness of DE for something as tiny as mites. I'd love to check that out microscopically, and see if something as small as a baby mite would still be taken out by DE, or could they plausibly maneuver around and between all the sharp edges?
Wiki says DE particle size is typically 10 to 200 μm. Here's an electromicrograph of some DE:

Some edges look... sharp? Average DE particle looks like 10 to 20 um?

Here's a dust mite, with a grain of salt. They're slightly smaller than "grain mites", I think.


So I took that mite, and drew some diatoms to scale next to it. A blue, 10 um diatom on the left, and a red 30 um diatom to the right:


Like, yeah I GUESS I can imagine some of the sharp edges puncturing the joints and causing trouble?

Quote:
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I use mite paper, changed every 3 months. Mite spray doesn't last nearly as long.
If there's something that I want to keep mite-free, mite paper is also what I use.
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Old 06-27-2020, 12:20 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

I don't know what species we are dealing with here, but for some representative mite species, DE kills 100% of them:

https://academic.oup.com/jee/article.../1/229/2218329\

There are pages more hits on Google Scholar.

And also: that electromicrograph looks like a Chuck-E-Cheese ball pit full of rusty car parts. Cool, and scary.
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Old 06-27-2020, 01:10 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025297/

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DE mode of action for insects control is mechanical. DE sharp edge makes mechanical abrasions on the thin wax covering of insects. This coating cover prevents water loss from the cuticle surface. DE also absorbs the oil easily, so it is effective at absorbing protective waxy covering. Finally death occurs due to rapid water loss and desiccation
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Old 06-27-2020, 05:32 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

I actually use the heck out of DE out in my gardens. I've got DE gun that gives me about a 10 to 20 foot fan of incredibly fine de dust. That's super handy, because DE has so many microscopic edges, that they catch on each other. It feels like powder, but it does not flow like a powder should. It "flows" out in loose clumps. It doesn't spread well without waste.
I'm going through it like crazy right now, because I have to reapply after every rain. This is my third night in a row I'll be out there around 2 am with my respirator and DE gun.

https://www.domyown.com/dustin-mizer...CABEgJaEvD_BwE
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: Dusting flies with diatomaceous earth

My method of getting mite-free cultures (as far as that is a thing) is using self-raising flour for dusting the flies. There was a thread a while back discussing the effectiveness of self-raising flour on killing mites. Apparently after coming into contact with it, the mites become immobile and die after some time unless removed. On top of that, the dusting itself removes a lot of mites as previously mentioned.

So when I make new cultures I take some flies, throw them in a pot with self-raising flour and give them a good shake. Then I leave them be for an hour or two, shake again right before seeving the flies out and dumping them into their new culture pots.

Second part of preventing mites in cultures is to avoid them getting in. I currently use special nylon sheet that has a mesh diameter of 10um to cover and close my cultures. That means that even larger fungal spores can't get through but air still can. It also helps keep the humidity at a good level, which I've found to be beneficial specifically for wingless melanogaster production.
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