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Guide to bugs you might find in your crabitat 1.0

Discussion in 'General questions about care.' started by jedediah, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. jedediah

    jedediah Guest

    Guide to bugs you might find in your crabitat

    Insects have six legs and three body parts that are usually clearly visible, the head, the thorax (the breast) and the abdomen. Most of them have wings, although those might not be clearly visible, some insects can hide them in a sort of pouch on their back (like earwigs) and some insects have no wings at all. The vast majority of insects that you might find in your crabitat are beneficial, harmless or a nuisance at most. Usually you can get rid of them by doing a deep clean.
    Common insects are:

    Booklice aka Paperlice
    Very often described as walking grains of sand, booklice are tiny and usually white to grey in colour. They are often hard to get rid of, probably because they can live in the rest of the house, too and quickly return to the crabitat where they find ideal conditions. They are harmless and even beneficial because they feed on mold and fungi.
    Interesting fact: there are no male booklice, the females “clone” themselves, they are all more or less genetically identical.

    Springtails are white, brown, green red, yellow or grey and very small, no bigger than 1/8 inch. They can hurl themselves in the air with a forklike tail they hold under their body, but they have no wings. Springtails are often found in flower pots and they need a humid atmosphere to survive, so the crabitat is ideal for them. They are beneficial because they will feed on crab poop, leftover food and other decaying material, they are excellent cleaners.
    Interesting fact: Springtails are among the oldest insect species, they have been around for at least 400 million years.

    Fruit flies or Drosophila
    You probably know them, these are the flies that turn up whenever a piece of fruit is left for too long. The most common species is Drosophila melanogaster, around 2 mm in size, usually red eyes and a brownish colour (other species are a bit bigger or smaller, up to 4 mm). They feed on decaying fruit and breed rapidly (two weeks between generations) and can become a nuisance in the crabitat, although they are not harmful. To get rid of them, place a glass with wine, beer or fruit juice mixed with vinegar and a drop of dish liquid next to the crabitat, the flies will drown in the liquid. It’s best to stop feeding fruit for that time so that the larvae won’t find any food.
    Interesting fact: Fruit flies mutate easily and you can breed really weird flies in a short time (no wings, small wings, white eyes, no eyes ect.)

    Humpbacked Flies or Phorid Flies
    They look very much like fruit lfies, but if you take a closer look, you can see a hump. Apart from that, they can be recognized by the way they run around: very fast, always stopping after a short distance and very reluctant to fly. Humpbacked flies are the only insects that have been found in crabitats that can be harmfull to the crabs, at least I haven’t heard of any other. The adults and larvae can feed on almost anything including flesh, so if a crab has an open wound the larvae are able to get into the wound and eat the crab from the inside out. Some species are able to lay their eggs into healthy animals, but those are parasites of a certain species and as far as I know, no phorid fly preys on land hermit crabs specifically. To get rid of them, do a deep clean, bake or boil everything, bathe the crabs and I recommend keeping the crabs in an ISO tank that’s easy to clean for six weeks to make sure there are no eggs or larvae left. Clean the ISO every week (change substrate and hiding places, boil or bake the hiding places you want to use again) and make sure the food doesn’t spoil.
    Interesting fact: Phorid flies have been known to survive by eating shoe polish – you somehow have to admire a bug that’s so adaptive

    Fungus gnats
    Fungus gnats are small (2,5 mm), black flies. Both the adults and the larvae feed on decaying and living plant matter, the adults eat pollen, too,  and they are harmless to the crabs, but can become a pest when they multiply too much. To get rid of them, you can use yellow sticky traps. Those are sticky on both sides and can be attached to the lid of the crabitat where the crabs cannot reach them.

    Silverfish and Firebrats
    Those are rarely found in crabitats, but I will include them anyway. Silverfish are often found in bathrooms, firebrats need a high temperature to breed and are sometimes found in bakeries and other warm places. Both look similar, 1/3 to ¾ inches long and carrot shaped without wings. Silverfish are silver in colour and really look a bit like fish. Firebrats are hairy and often have dark grey stripes on their body. Both feed on almost anything at all, including cereals, fish food ect. They are harmless and won’t breed in the crabitat because it’s too humid and too cool for the firebrats and probably too hot for the silverfish, so they will disappear eventually. They mostly get into crabitats by chance.
    Interesting fact: Both can survive and even thrive on a steady diet of wallpaper, tissue paper or similar things. Like  springtails, they have been around for a very long time.

    There are more insects that can be found in your crabitat, especially small flies and other tiny insects living in the soil, but those are the species that people have found very often and that were positively identified. If you find something else, try to take a picture of make a drawing so that the bug can be identified.

    Arachnids are such bugs as spiders, scorpions, mites and other bugs related to spiders. They have two body parts, the thorax and the abdomen, no wings or antenna and eight legs.

    There are thousands of species of mites and it’s extremely hard to identify them. They come in all colours (white, grey, black, brown, bright red ect.) and many sizes. Only comparatively few species are harmful for the crabs. The rule of thumb is: if you find them in the food dish or the rest of the crabitat, they are probably harmless. If you find them on the crab, especially on the joints, the abdomen or the mouthparts, they are predatory and harmfull. A deep clean will get rid of the harmless mites, for the predatory ones you will need to bathe the crabs in salt water or you might even need to pick off the mites because they have claws on their legs to hold onto their prey.
    Interesting fact: Some mites feed on pollen and hitch rides with hummingbirds, racing up the beak and then down again into a new flower. Others hitch rides with flying insects to reach new plants and some not only hitch a ride, but also suck the haemolymph (insect blood) on the insect that’s carrying them. Many species change their dietary habits depending on their age.
    Click on the links at the bottom to see pictures of mites hitching rides with insects:
    Other mite pictures:
    http://www.uwex.edu/ces/wihort/Phenology/images/Two-spotted Spider Mite.jpg
    http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/hfrr/TURF/winter grain mite close up.jpg

    Bookscorpion or Pseudoscorpions
    A rare guest in crabitats that sometimes comes with moss or leaf litter is the bookscorpion. They look like tiny  (1-4 mm) scorpions, but have no tail and are absolutely harmless unless you are a springtail or a fruit fly.
    Interesting fact: One species, Chelifer cancroides, does live in books and this species gave the whole order its name.
    They dance with each other during mating and they build a small nest from grains of sand, moss and silk. The females produce a nourishing substance for their babies, so in a sense they nurse their babies.

    Other bugs you might find
    Woodlice, also called pillbugs, sowbugs or rolypolys, are the only crustaceans that live permanently on land without any contact to water. They need a humid atmosphere to breathe, that’s why they are sometimes found in crabitats. Woodlice are harmless and feed on decaying plant matter. They are often used as tank cleaners with reptiles, phasmids and other animals.

    Millipedes and Centipedes
    Both belong to the Subphylum Myrapodia (this means “numerous feet”) of the Phyllum Arthropoda (“joint-legged”), which insects, arachnids and crustaceans belong to, too. Millipedes (“with a thousand feet”) have two legs on either side per body segment, centipedes (“with a hundred feet”) only one. They sometimes turn up in crabitats and come from moss, leaf litter or with live plants. Millipedes are vegetarians that feed on decaying plant matter, centipedes are predators. The centipedes you might find in your crabitat are very small and are no danger to the crabs.
    Interesting fact: Millipede males of some species can breed only after every second molt.

    Bugs that help getting rid of other bugs

    You can purchase predatory mites or insects that will feed on some bugs in your crabitat and then die when they find no more prey. This is a efficient and absolutely crab-safe method to get rid of bugs, without stressing the crabs by doing deep cleans ect.
    Here’s one website that offers such bugs:
  2. Amie91280

    Amie91280 "Preparing For Fourth Molt"

    Dec 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Thanks for posting this here.  I'm really glad we have your expertise!

    I made this a sticky because it's such a great post!
  3. vckums

    vckums Moderator

    Dec 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    :notworthy: Jedediah you rock!! Thanks for the great info!

    HERMEZ Moderator

    Dec 22, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    I second that rockin :icon_thumleft:
  5. oimsofunny

    oimsofunny Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Wonderful Info.. Thanks..
  6. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    That is great! I learned some cool stuff just reading it, and the only "bugs" I have ever had were a load of milipedes, who I beleive killed Gilligan :angry4:
  7. polarrain67

    polarrain67 Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Very nie work dude!! Thankyou for that effort!! :hello2:
  8. CrabbyChris22

    CrabbyChris22 Hi, I'm New Here!

    Dec 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Montgomery Village, MD
    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    That's pretty interesting stuff Jed, great work!
  9. Jedi_sena

    Jedi_sena Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Cool. Did I see ants?
    I had ants once. I microwaved them and put ground cloves (the spice) around the tank (outside around the bottom) and that has kept them from coming back.
    Be careful not to get any cloves anywhere near the hermit crabs though, because it irritates them and is unsafe.
  10. jedediah

    jedediah Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Thanks for adding the ants :icon_smile: If you cannot get rid of them that way, there's a certain posion that gets carried back to the hive and will be fed to their offspring and, most importantly, to the queen, so they will die out. Sorry, I can't remember the name right now, but I will add it when I find it.
  11. Hermies

    Hermies Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    WHOA!!! looks like jasso has compitision. Excellent work!! :hello2:
  12. CrabE

    CrabE Guest

    Re: Guide to bugs in the crabitat

    Nice work!!!  This is VERY helpful! 

  13. Jaden5977

    Jaden5977 Guest


    I completly agree....this is actually what my theisis was based upon.
  14. iluvhermies

    iluvhermies Guest

    May I post this on anoter website?
  15. Crabbybeach

    Crabbybeach Guest

    Nice thread
  16. This is really great, it will be very helpful to me I am sure! Thank you!
  17. green_sars24

    green_sars24 "Preparing For First Molt"

    Mar 3, 2008
    Likes Received:
    There IS a great pet-safe way to get rid of ants BUT IT IS NOT CRAB SAFE (use it anywhere else around the house, its safe for kids, cats, dogs, etc) its called diatomaceous earth. Its an all-natural insecticide, and I've found it at the local hardware store. its basically a powder that you sprinkle around. here's some more info on it:

    BUT REMEMBER - - NOT safe to use IN a crab tank!!! (it kills arthropods)
    just out of curiosity though, is there a crab-safe ant-killer?
  18. emmac350

    emmac350 "Fourth Molt In Progress"

    Oct 29, 2008
    Likes Received:
    SE AL
    Not that I've heard of. A line of vaseline around the outer top edge of the tank will keep them out, but won't do much if they're already in the tank.

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