Darkling Beetle, Lesser mealworm, Litter beetle-let them eat them or DE bomb the houses?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by TheMainException, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. TheMainException

    TheMainException Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I've recently been infested with litter beetles. It's getting kind of out of control because they have ended up in my house...and it's getting annoying. I'm just wondering if anyone else has had to deal with these things and what your take on them was.

    My birds are generally disease free minus the few hiccups now and then and the very infrequent botulism from finding rotting veggies in the garden. So I'm not really worried about the beetles carrying mareks or new castle or anything like that. But what about coccidiosis? Should I clean out the litter more often? Mix in DE? Just let the girls eat the beetles? I'm doing the DLM and would prefer to keep the litter deep for the winter, but I know if I can let the house get below 40 degrees for a while, the beetles will pack up and move out.
     
  2. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    I'm not sure how effective DE would be at controlling them, especially in the moisture of your climate and the deep litter. Generally, relative humidity has to be somewhere south of 65% for it to be effective. Bombing them with some sort of insecticide probably wouldn't be all that effective either, since it would be unlikely to get to the larvae that have burrowed deep into wood to pupate. Yes, lesser mealworms do vector coccidiosis, among a host of other things. The good news is that at 50 degrees or lower, they stop laying eggs and if you reach 40 degrees or lower for about 22 days, you can kill them off. I would do a thorough cleaning to reduce the population and wait for winter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  3. TheMainException

    TheMainException Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your response. I'm also moving this winter, so that might be helpful, right? If they are in the soil too, I can leave them behind. They aren't in the big coop yet, just in the brooder houses, and I'm burning the one at the end of the season because it's a wreck anyway. The other is well built, so I'm going to empty that out and leave it sit and maybe spray it down with some vinegar to reduce mold, mildew, and moisture.
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Common meal worms, lesser meal worms, etc may be separate species but I would need a lab coat & a DNA test to tell the difference between them.

    They are a major pest in commercial poultry houses for three reasons.
    1. As the name 'darkling' beetle suggests they live in total darkness and at the bottom of a pile of wood or wood shavings is the perfect place for them to live.

    2. Waste of spilled chicken feed is a free lunch for both darkling beetles and their larva, that is why the are named 'meal' worms they infest milled grain products if given 1/2 the chance.

    3. The top inch or two of litter in a chicken house insulates and protects both the beetles and their larva stage from both the cold and the 1,000s of hungry beaks just inches above their heads, besides chickens sloppy drinking habits and the poultry man or woman together will spill just enough water to keep the litter just moist enough for the beetles to thrive.

    Another problem is that beetles have wings and each beetle can fly at least 1 mile per night. Each female beetle lays up to 800 eggs, and you never see an egg or a meal worm unless you disturb the litter. A quick hit at the litter with a tiller to turn it over and allow a little light and air in and it will encourage the litter to dry. This will go far in discouraging beetles. Feeding anywhere but on the litter will help, and giving your birds a short fast one day each week broken by an light evening feeding of scratch grain sprinkled in the litter may encourage your chickens to work or turn the litter over for you further disrupting the beetles' life cycle. That is one of the big reasons I like active go-get-her chickens as opposed to the sit-on-their-fat-butt and wait to be fed type.
     
  5. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    That may be true for you, but the average person with experience with the two species could easily tell them apart at all stages. The largest larvae, pupae and beetles of lesser mealworms are only about 1/3rd the length of those stages in common mealworms. In addition to lesser mealworms being relatively tiny, the larvae are a different color and the beetles are also shaped differently.
     
  6. TheMainException

    TheMainException Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yea, I'm actually raising common meal worms currently and their beetle stage is much different than lesser mealworms, and I'm just starting to see the differences in the mealworm stage.

    I'm really only having a problem with them in the broiler brooder house, those guys don't really understand scratching or eating spilled feed off the floor as much as my adult layers do. My 3-8 week old broilers are on pasture and my laying hens spend so little time in the house, don't eat or drink in the house except for some grain I throw in so that they turn the bedding now and again. The brooder house has food and drink and a high concentration of birds and the bedding only gets fully turned every 2 weeks, with new bedding just thrown on top daily. I guess I'll just do a full clean out and scatter it on the ground for a full pest snack fest for the layers and replace all the bedding for the brooder house. That seems to be the best tactic for cutting down on the population for now until winter.

    Thanks for your responses.
     

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