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Pest and Predators

@Jeff has brought up a very important consideration in designing a bug farming operation: pests and predators (like mice).

Rodents, birds, reptiles, spiders, ants, wasps, flies and more can all be attracted to bug habitats, drawn by the warmth, scent, and promise of a meal. As a basic measure we have always kept openings to our insect habitats screened, and kept isolated from access by ants.

Since this is a general issue faced by all bug farmers, dealing with a whole host of different pests and predators, it seems appropriate to open a discussion thread dedicated to these problems and their solutions.

Here are a couple practices in addition to screening habitats:

-using cinnamon or vaseline "moats" to prevent access by ants
-maintaining positive air pressure in the farm unit to keep out small insects like mites and flies
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Comments

  • Hi andrew, how is "positive air pressure" achieved?
  • Hey @kerri, basically you just need to have an air intake blowing air (through a filter preferably) into any enclosed space. You'll feel airflow coming out through cracks around the doors indicating positive air pressure within the space
  • Thanks Andrew
  • edited February 2014
    From @Allan
    anyone knows how to deal with ants in the mealworm farming?
    I have some really small ants inside the larvae box, on the pupae and beettles there is none.
    Once you have some ants in your mealworm bin you can often get most of them out by moving the bin to a new location, shaking it a bit and setting it down away from the original ant paths. The ants inside will usually flee the bin, which might take ~20-30 minutes for them to all get out, but then you'll need to relocate the bin again to avoid a resurgence backtracking the new trails from the exiting ants. See above suggestion to use cinnamon or a band of petroleum jelly around the base or outside of bin or shelving you're using to prevent ants from getting in.
  • image

    Thanks @andrew. I did what you say and did other thing too. I don't know if it will work, but I've put water on small square plastic boxes just on the feet of the dark box containing the mealworms.

    Let's see if this works.
  • Looks good @Allan - I've read it's good to add a couple drops of dish soap when using water moats to prevent other types of bugs from taking up residence, and it changes the surface tension to land bugs and flies are more likely to sink. Your water trays are similar to strategies used to keep ants and other bugs out of people's beds in tropical areas - keeping the legs of the bed in bowls of water.
  • Thanks Allan and Andrew, I'll vasaline my crickets but my meal worms are inside so they should be OK. (ps.) how do I tag you and get the @Allan symbol to come up?)
  • image
    This photo is just to illustrate the interaction between the meal worms and the small ant I was talking about.
    @andrew I will put some drops of dish soap on my water trays. Thanks for the tip!
  • The ants can get really bad, we've lost a whole bin to them. I'm sure many reptile owners in the community also have horror stories - I know many people who have lost pet lizards to ant attacks. it's lucky that some basic precautions can more or less keep them out.
  • I am trying something here. I've put a small piece of plastic with honey inside the bin, wait a little and harvested several ants. I will keep doing that until all ants vanish. I will post the results later on.
  • 1mg of alkaloid Buzonamine from west coast USA pine forest millipede applied to mealworm keeps mound nesting ants from eating mealworm & single millipede secretes up to 4 mg of alkaloid.
    see "Buzonamine, a new alkaloid from the defensive secretion of the millipede, Buzonium crassipes"
    published 2000 in journal Biochemical Systematics and Ecology; Vol 28, Issue 4,pg. 305–312 (free full pdf available from researchgate.net but don't know how to link pdf); pdf details extraction, discusses use of limonene (can be extracted from oranges).
    Other millipedes also release anti-ant secretions. I don't have the time to parse relevant entries scattered throughout http://psyche.entclub.org/70/70-094.html
    Ant repellency from other insects works for mealworms; see 2009 "Structure and function of the urnulae in Balaustium sp. (Parasitengona: erythraeidae) featuring secretion of a defensive allomone and alarm pheromone" (with link to preview try = http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01647950608684438#.UvG1vbRnv0d)
  • Really valuable info @gringojay, with pretty serious product potential. If anyone wants to start farming millipedes it wouldn't be too big a jump to productize the excretion as an ant repellent
  • Great info @gringojay. Maybe other things can be more easily done to prevent ants to invade mealworms' farms. As far as I understood, the extraction of Buzonamine from millipedes, despite of seen easy, requires some equipment.
    On the other hand, the raising of millipedes in large scale to sell the repellent could be an interesting option.
  • Just in case you missed my question before, how do I tag a person and get the "@Allan" symbol (for eg) to come up? 8-}
  • @kerri - you just have to type it out with the "@" in front, and it seems not to work in quotes. so for this tag i just typed "@kerri"
  • Thank you @andrew!!! :-h
  • How did you go with those ants @Allen?
  • @kerri I harvested many of them, but not all. I will try to use the honey technique until they vanish. I am pretty impressed by the efficiency of the honey in attract ants inside the bin.
  • I think the ants vanished from my farm after I isolate the bins with small water trays and use the honey (on a plastic foil) to attract the ones that were already inside the bins. Maybe it might work with other farmers too.
  • @Allan really good technique to keep in mind if the anyone gets ants past their habitat's defenses
  • edited February 2014
    Now that I have started breeding and having to buy bugs, it keeps on striking me as funny that so many people are trying to kill pesky bugs off.. and all we are trying to do is keep them alive!!! (Don't worry, I understand why, it's still kinda weird if you look at the big picture of this human world). Right now on my TV is presenters discussing home owners terror of termites. I say "give the lill' blighters to me, I'll breed and sell them! Or EAT them!! >:)
  • Haha, we feel the same - it's funny to drive past an exterminator van when you're busy trying to grow as many bugs as possible...
  • I see that many are having trouble with ants. I'm having problems with roaches. They are unavoidable in South Georgia. I keep finding them in my egg drawers. I have to have the screens off the tops of the egg drawers to allow the eggs to fall down from the breeder drawers. My husband is going to get some roach motels, but I'm afraid the roaches will poison my herds. I'm not really sure what to do.

  • Ever considered collecting and breeding them? They also make good tucker. (in case that's Aussie slang - "food"!) :P

  • @HeatherSayyah - One solution could be to "moat" your habitats, putting it up on a table with the legs in soapy water, or with platters of petroleum gel around the feet. Some cockroaches are also unable to climb the slick surface of packing tape, so you may be able to keep them out with an encircling line of packing tape. A more drastic solution would be to buy a large mosquito net (like a bed net, inexpensive on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Trademark-Home-Collections-deluxe-Mosquito/dp/B003D4EIZI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1398923268&sr=8-2&keywords=mosquito+nets) and enclose your whole habitat in the mesh. It might make it annoying to access, but it should keep out any bugs!

  • @andrew, Thank you for the ideas. I will think of a way to try moating the colonies. I will also try the packing tape on my next maintenance round. I'm going to be downgrading my bed to upgrade space in my bedroom soon, so maintenence time will be coming soon :P . If nothing else, the mosquito netting will definitely be a consideration, thank you for the link.

    @kerri, My husband will absolutely not allow me to breed roaches, you should see the fight he put up against crickets. He conceded to the mealie farms, but anytime he sees an escaped mealie or beetle, he smushes it on sight.

  • @andrew, I don't know if that was you or not, but I saw the entomophagy spot on NBC that you (or someone who looked exactly like you) did. Very cool. I saw it via a link from World Ento.

  • @HeatherSayyah - I admit, that was me. It's really exciting that venues like NBC are starting to run more mainstream segments about this topic, up from the "OMG can you believe they're saying we should eat bugs" pieces that were coming out a year ago!

  • @Andrew, can you post the NBC link? Would love to see it... congratulations! And @HeatherSayyah, OMG! A mealy murderer husband!!! >:)

  • @kerri, we have a link to it here on our media page: http://www.tiny-farms.com/media.html

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