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Red spider mites

Posted by kendrab 6a PA (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 20, 06 at 14:31

Hi, I'm new to the forum. I purchased a worm bin in March, along with Mary Appelhof's book "Worms eat my Garbage." This has been my "bible" over the last few months. However, red mites have become a real nusience in my bin.
I've read in the book that they can be collected by placing a piece of bread on the top of the bin and, once the mites have collected there, remove the bread, thus removing the mites. However, I am questioning this as it just seems I have more now than ever.
One thing that scares me is that Mary seemed to think that the worms would stop eating if there were too many mites. I am not finding that they are affected, in their consuming, by the mites, but I'm wondering if the mites do bother the worms? Do they sting? I have never found mites ON any worm, but I have found millipedes and other little critters being swarmed by the mites.
What do the mites actually eat?
I've read here, just today, that the red mites will damage plants if added to the soil. So I've already decided to freeze my castings before adding to the soil.
Another thing; I'm keeping my bin outside on the screened in porch this summer. We've had some very hot weather, but the bin is not in the sun. I tell you, the worms are THRIVING! For example, I had an 18" rotting zuchini which I cut in half and added to my bin just 10 days ago. It is gone; poof; dissapeared!
Oh so many more questions and glad to find you'all. My dh and dd think I should get rid of them, but I'm, as someone here stated, "addicted!"
Thanks for the answers/advise on the mites,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Red spider mites

The statement belwo was posted by Kelly Slocum, many consider her the top female in vermicomposting. I would guess though that two many spiders would not do you any good even if it did no harm.
* Posted by Kelly_Slocum sw WA state (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 17:24
No, spiders are not in the least a problem for worms. In fact, chances are the spider you saw entering your bin is joining a few friends and cousins already in residence.

Spiders are good, and we like having them in the bin!

RE: Red spider mites

I think you are mistaking spiders from spider MITES. Spider mites are tiny, red mites that multiply rapidly.
I'd love to have more advise on this as it's still a problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spider mites

RE: Red spider mites

I did some more research and found another Kelly S. input on spider mites:Mites (Acarina)
These tiny cousins of spiders can be among the most numerous of the visible decomposers in a healthy worm bin. There are more than a dozen species of mites potentially present in a healthy system, all with four pairs of legs, large bodies and tiny heads, and in colors ranging from white to shades of reddish brown. Some mites are predators of other insects in the system, some feed on fungi and molds, and some on the organic matter itself.
It is possible, though uncommon, for mite populations to suddenly explode to the point that they begin to stress the worms. Such mite blooms are often associated with the addition of large quantities of soft fruits and melon and can frequently be controlled by reducing the volume of these materials. Exposing the bedding surface to sunlight and drying conditions can also control excessive mite blooms, as can passing a small butane torch over the bedding surface.

RE: Red spider mites

Thank you! I feel much better about them now!

Here is a link that might be useful: My website

RE: Red spider mites

I've been gone awhile, but was "thumbing thru" some posts here and couldn't help joining this discussion.

Red spider mites are not a good thing for your worms. They sometimes can be found attached to worms that look to be in pretty bad shape. Dying, in fact.

Excessive moisture in the bin is the best way to attract mites. To get rid of them, the bread bait works pretty well, but the bin needs to be dehydrated quite a bit. Leave the top off it a day or so.

Actually, almost all probs with a bin are caused by excess: water, food, temps. I know you probably already know all that, but I just spit it out most of the time out of habit.

Now, about freezing that vermicompost and castings.....WHY????


RE: Red spider mites

Red spider mites as I understand are parasites which suck the blood and body fluids from the worms and capsules. I found they were usually attracted when the bed was too acidic, too moist, or an excess of food (which needs to be removed), especially if wet and fleshy like fruit and tomatoes for instance. The mites usually live for 3/4 weeks, so you could be 'baiting' for that period. To reduce the acidity of the bed I used either dolomite or pulverised egg shells.

RE: Red spider mites

I have the Book "The ABC's of the worm business, an old book copyrighted in 1969. It says the red mites are harmful and can be coaxed off by putting watermelon skins on the top of the bedding. When the mites gather on the watermelon skin, you throw it away. It sounds as if this is the same as the aforementioned bread solution. It does say that it takes a while to get rid of the mites.

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