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What are some common pathogens in mealworm colonies?
I have a medium-sized mealworm operation, but have recently been struggling with some form of pathogen in the colony. I am unsure of whether is it fungal, bacterial or parasitic, or perhaps due to the rearing conditions. It began with the majority of the pupae developing black spots and strange, dark, lumpy growths on their heads, backs and near their legs. Some of them would die and turn black, however, the ones that do complete pupation (~30%), the beetles emerge with wing and leg deformities. The beetle mortality rate is quite low, and the beetle fecundity does not seem to be impacted. More recently, I have noticed that some worms in their later instars have bubble-like growths on their legs - as if the tissue has bubbled up around the leg, as well as black lumpy bits on their 'tails'. I have been feeding my worms apples from an organic orchard, so that could be a potential source of transmission. My growing conditions are pretty consistent: 25-27 degrees celsius, and 65-70% humidity. My rearing density is likely higher than ideal, and pupae in which I first started noticing this issue were from old beetles (~2 months).
Has anyone had similar issues or have any ideas of what this may be, or potential avenues to investigate?