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Red Mites and Red Worms

16 Jul
Red Mites killing a red worm

Red Mites killing a red worm

Red mites on watermelon rind.

Red mites on watermelon rind.

I’ve encountered these red devils before but not at this level.  Unlike most visitors in your worm bin, these guys are parasites to worms.  (see top picture).  Red mites flourish and can become a problem in a bin that is too moist, has too much food, or too acidic.  Don’t panic if you have a few mites, but a bin that is has been neglected and unkept in these conditions can pose a problem.  My outbreak was caused by overfeeding before we headed out for our July 4th vacation, and was left to fester for more than a week.  Getting rid of a red mite infestation can be a challenge.

I’ve tried several methods and have shown below a little experiment I began today.  I scraped the top of some red mite infected bins and partially filled some small shoebox containers.  From Left to Right in pic below 1. control 2. diatomaceous earth 3. watermelon rind 4. agricultural lime.

1. The control bin will be left open and scraped from time to time to see how long it takes to get rid of the red mites.

2. Diatomaceous Earth has been applied to top of #2.  DE needs to be kept dry in order for it to stick to bugs and make tiny cuts that will dry them out and kill them off.

3. Watermelon rind placed on top to attract red mites and discard.  I will replace with a new one and repeat and see how this does.

4. Ag Lime dusted on top.  Ag lime is alkaline and will hopefully bring the acidic bedding closer to neutral.  The high alkalinity concentrated on the top should burn up the red mites and not harm the worms.

4 methods for getting rid of red mites

These methods have been used before and should all work.  I just kind of wanted to see them head to head.  We’ll see how this turns out.  The good news is most of the red mites have been dismissed without harming too many of my bins and worms.  Additionally, I learned a valuable lesson about overfeeding, and next time I’ll use more composted manure and less of my worm chow mix.  My mistakes were 1. overfeeding 2. too wet 3. too much peat moss and too little composted manure (which made my bedding a little acidic) 4. My infected bins were unattended for a week.  Had I caught them sooner it wouldn’t have been much of an issue.

 

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6 Responses to “Red Mites and Red Worms”

  1. Michael July 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    i don’t have red mites, but i have little tiny white ‘bugs’ in with my worms. I don’t detect and damage to the worms, but wondering what hey might be?

    • Texas Red Worms July 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      They could be white mites. White mites are a common visitor in worm bins, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Most of the time you can simply back off on feeding and/or open up your bin for a little more air circulation that should level things out.

  2. Mike E February 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    So what was the result??

    • Texas Red Worms March 3, 2014 at 1:18 am #

      All of the methods worked, and with a little patience and tossing out mites I was able to get rid of them. Don’t be alarmed if you have a few in your bin, but if you start to see worms getting attacked it’s time to go on the offense.

  3. Karen Black April 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    IS 50% SPAGNUM PEAT MOSS AND 50% OF COW MANURE COMPOST THE SAME AS GARDEN PEAT MOSS?

    • Texas Red Worms April 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      I’m not sure, but believe that would work just fine.

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