Roach Articles by Takeshi Yamada, Brooklyn, NY


“Mite” is a common name for about 30,000 species of extremely small arachnids, usually with oval/round-bodies. Mites resemble ticks in having the head, thorax, and abdomen fused into one unsegmented body. (Ticks are blood feeding external parasites but they are usually much bigger.) Mites often have three pairs of legs in the larval stage and four pairs of legs in the nymph and adult stages. The mouthparts are adapted for piercing. Like most arachnids, mites breathe by means of tracheae (small tubes opening on the surface of the body).

In reality, it is almost impossible to find a place where no mites live on this planet whether it is a sublime high mountaintop, skin burning desert lands, at the deep ocean floors or on/in every single one of our faces. Among them, only a handful species of mites “bug” us. Incidentally, out of over 3000 species of cockroaches, only less than 1% of them live inside of human houses, and considered as “bad roaches”. In this world, almost always the small number of bad ones give bad names to entire communities of their own.

The house dust mites are one of the most notorious one that linked to asthma. As the name suggest, this terrible creature’s permanent residency is house dusts. Their size is about 0.25 – 0.3 mm long and thus, it is virtually invisible to the naked eye. The fecal pellets (feces) which this devil produces and accumulate in home fabrics are allergenic. In short, they are the source of a dust-borne respiratory allergy - asthma. (Fortunately they do not live on Hissers. Hissers have dedicated good “Hisser Mites” on them. See my another article on the subject for details.)

For this article, I am writing about BAD MITES that might come with your tropical pet insects, substrates or even their foods. I call them BAD MITES because they contribute nothing good to your pet insects, visually disturbing, and quite possibly produce outbreak in short period of the time in your tank and ran over your pet insects --- and possibly “bug” you physically. They are not good at all.

Following information of three mites are taken from several Japanese websites on the subject. I am still looking for American common names (or nicknames) for them in American websites and dictionaries.

Mites are called DANI in Japan. There are many KONADANI (It literally means powder mite in Japanese) Following two are the most common ones.

*KENAGAKONADANI (Tyrophagus putrescentidae) (It literary means powdery mite with long hairs in Japanese)

*ASHIBUTOKONADANI (It literally means powdery mite with fat legs in Japanese)

The adult Kenagakonadani is 0.3 mm – 0.7 mm. They are milky white and look like powders. Their eggs become nymphs in two to three days. The nymphs become adult in seven days. Based on the condition of temperature, moisture, food, and water, their growing speed varies. They like high temperature and humidity. They breed with humidity over 70% and/or substrate with over 15% moisture. They can not breed less than 60% humidity. They eat almost anything organic such as vegetables, fruits, grains (rice, beans, oats), any meat from land/water (ham, dried fish), processed food (cheese), chocolate, dog food, etc. They actually do not bite human, although they look quite disturbing. NEVERTHELESS, Tsumedani that eats Kenagakonadani bites human. Therefore not taking care of these mite population invites the breeding of really bad and nasty ones sooner or later. In short, it is better to get rid of them ASAP.

*FUTO TSUMEDANI (Cheyletus malaccesis) (It literally means fat mite with nails in Japanese)
This common mite eats other small mites. They bite human but do not suck blood. The spot bitten by them become red and itchy in a few hours to a few days. This is truly a bad mite in any definitions.

I personally experienced the outbreak of Ashibutokonadani in the tanks of Discoidales roaches, Pepper roaches, Orange head roaches, and Orange spotted roaches. I believe they just came with them. I have been cleaning their tanks periodically when I see the number of mites increase significantly. To prevent the outbreak of mites, I am breeding these tropical pet roaches in tanks with no substrate or very little dry leaf litter now. (I place dry leaf litters only for species with very small nymphs to hide after molt so that they are not to be eaten by bigger nymphs and/or adults.)

So far, I did not experience the outbreak of mites in the tanks of Hissers, Giganteus roaches and lobster roaches. (I have over 300 Hissers in 10-gallon fish tank now. I see only a very small number of Ashibutokonadani under the Hissers apartments but their populations are under control.)

Good luck to you and your pet insects!
(c) Takeshi Yamada 2002


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