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Re: Spider Mites in Paludarium


I had one of the back seems on my custom 90 gal plexiglas aquarium
completely give way! :-@ (So much for the livingroom carpet!) For weeks
I sadly puzzled over what I should do with the tank. After reading Karen
Randall's article in AFM about paludariums, I decided to further
research paludariums/terrariums to death (in my *exhausitive-exhausting*
When I got my plan together, I drilled 6 small holes in the bottom
center of the tank and placed a 3 gallon black rubbermaid dishpan over
the holes inside the tank. This dishpan was to be the contained water
area. (beneath the holes in the cabinet stand I placed a 10 gallon
bucket to catch drainage from watering the land plants, and from any
accidental spillage from the waterfall). I gathered some beautiful green
rockwork from a good rock quarry for a waterfall and constructed it in
the dishpan. (the weight from the rocks would allow for water seeping
through the soil to gather where the drainage holes were). I built up
the land portion surrounding the dishpan using layers of styrofoam,
pumice, charcoal, spagnum moss and potting soil. I added a pump and
tubing for the waterfall, constructed a lighting system using 4-40 watt
Philips 5000K bulbs, added plants, and it was BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Then...THEY
came!!!! Aphids, fungus gnats, red spider mites, thrips, springtails,
baby slugs...I was devistated. All that work, and now THIS!!!! The
springtail population grew enormously. They loved to gather in hordes on
the water portion like kids at Wildwaves theme park.

These critters must have come in on the plants, the plant soil, and in
the potting soil. Being that the tank was 90 gallons, I used a good many
bags of the stuff. It was unfortunately stored *outside* when I
purchased it, where the bugs easily made a home in it via venting holes
in the bags. Apparently sight inspection of the plants and a brief rinse
wasn't enough to prevent other critters as well.

I didn't want to start from scratch again, so I purchased 2 types of
*preditory* spider mites from National Bio-control Producers Ph (714)
544-8295. These particular spider mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis and
hypoaspis sp.) feed upon other soil insects, including red spider mites.
Since the mites were introduced I have had no problems with red spider
mites or springtails. The fungus gnats are native, seasonal, and come in
from outside. I don't know if the preditory mites have kept them in
check. Time will tell. The slugs I removed manually after a few nightly
hunts. The thrips and aphids I live with, and try to remove manually
whenever I can. Ladybugs didn't like staying in the tank. They would
escape as soon as possible. I'll try lacewings this spring. I hope a few
of them do the trick before the banana tree frog makes a meal out of
them!!! :-)

Jack, the preditory spider mites should do the trick, but I really
believe that more should be done than quaranteening. IMHO *all soil*
should be sterilized via baking on a flat sheet in the oven. From this
point on I will rinse all the soil off the plants I purchase and then
transplant it to a Q-area using sterilized potting soil.

Sorry for the rambling.

Walter B. Klockers
Western Washington State, nippy nights! Burrrrrrr! Stoke up the
fireplace!!!! :-)
klock at olynet_com