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Discussion Starter #1
Well, after 2.5 years, I finally got a respectable mite problem. I got a culture from a "questionable" source, and the problem started soon thereafter...my own fault for not being diligent in isolating that culture for a few weeks.

Anyhow, this sucks because we're having 100+ degree days, so shipping brand new cultures can be problematic.

My cultures are producing fine, and I'm curious about making a go at so-called "serial culturing" to try and control the issue for now. I've had only minimal exposure to this technique, mostly from a few comments that Ed made in a thread several months ago.

So I'm curious if anyone else has tried this with any success. Can anyone give me feedback on the best "dusting" medium to use on the adult flies? I currently have some Herptivite calcium powder, but was also considering powdered sugar, or perhaps cornstarch to try to separate the mites from the flies.

And also, what is the best way to separate the adult flies from the mites/powder mixture? I was considering using a mesh kitchen strainer, and shaking it vigorously. Outside, of course.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you could provide. Ultimately, I'll probably order a new starter culture, but I'm currently in need of a pet project to occupy some time. :)

Thank you, in advance,
Greg
 

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Hi Greg,

if you are getting mites in your newer cultures in large numbers then the best first step you can take is to seperate the newer cultures from the older cultures or use new mite paper under your cultures.

You should also make sure that the mites aren't coming in with either any of the culture materials or are migrating to the fly cultures from other feeders (if you have any) such as flour beetles, mealworms, crickets and so forth or from other stored materials.

The method you are referencing has been around for a long time and has been posted in the frognet archives and if I remember correctly in the ADG newsletter.

If you can keep the flies dry you can use use ultrafine sugar but if there is moisture the whole mess can clump together. Ultrafine calcium has always been the dusting of choice but if you serially culture you have to also be able to prevent the mites from migrating to the newer cultures.

Basically you are going to set up a new culture every day for five to seven days. Day one is set up a new culture and use dusted flies to start the culture, this is repeated for each of the sequential days until you get to day 5 (6 or 7) which is the culture you allow to develop and seed future cultures.

The downside to this is that it doesn't do anything to prevent mites that are either migrating to the new cultures or are coming in with the media or other culture supplies.

The reason it isn't used as frequently anymore is because most people don't hold cultures past 30 days (reproductive cycle for the mites).

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ah, thank you Ed. I had some anti-mite paper, but It could have probably used a change. I have a roll that has been opened, and is about a year old. Do you think I can pull a new sheet out of that, or is it too old by now? I've been careful only open those rolls at the end, so I can use the original plastic as a sleeve. Currently, my cultures are sitting in trays of water, and I've been spraying the surface of the cups/shelf with pyrethrin to keep them from migrating.

I'm seeing mite activity in new cultures after about 18 days, and assuming it's a new population.

I'm curious now, gonna check out the frognet archives, old school...
 

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Hi Greg,

You are aware that depending on the pyrethin used, they can break down very quickly when exposed to light and/or air? If the one you are using decomposes quickly then there isn't anything to prevent the mites from traveling from one culture to another. Mites don't break the surface tension of the water so water isn't really a barrier to them despite many thoughts to the opposite. I would replace the roll of mite paper. The plastic sleeve isn't air tight so there is going to be a loss of effectiveness over time.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, I'm aware of that. I purposely got one that doesn't have much residual value, because my ankle-biter has to touch everything all the time. This particular spray is sold for use as an anti-mite spray for birds.

As for the water, I figured as much. My goal was just to slow them down for the time being. I've been making new cultures with vigorously "dusted" adult flies, so I figured that between that, the pyrethrins, and the water, I could outrun them for a little while.

I'll replace the mite paper...
 

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I hear that using detergent is a good way of breaking the surface tension in the water to keep mites from traveling. Is this accurate?
 

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It does decrease the surface tension so it should trap the mites but that doesn't mean that they can't still walk across the bottom and up and out of the tray. It probably drowns most if not all of them but if they are able to hold onto the smallest airbubble, it is probably enough to sustain them until they walk out.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ahhhh, brings back old memories of my college days as a lab assistant in a biomedical research facility.

I was always tasked with making reagents, which inevitably included SDS...man, that stuff is harsh. Awesome stuff, but such a fine powder, and only slightly less irritating than pepper spray.

Good times, good times.
 
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