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Kulture

Roaches vs Biocontrols

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Hi all!

i breed several types of Blaberidae roaches as feeders (dubia, discoids, orange heads, and pantanal).

I also have an indoor garden. I have have had an increase in insect pests in my garden, particularly whiteflies and scale bugs, and dont typically use chemical pesticides. i have been interested in trying different biocontrol organisms to deal with the pests, but am worried they might attack the roach colonies as well! I have been considering fungi like beauveria or metarhizium, or predatory mites such as amblyseius.

does anyone have any experience of info using these, could i use them in my garden without risk to the roaches, or will these wipe out my roach colonies?? 

any info is appreciated, thanks!

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A spider moved into my pot that had the white flies.  It took a year or so but as the web grew, the more white flies became trapped until there were none.  I've had more problems with spider mites and aphids. 

Ladybugs tend to wander off. 

I tried catching wild predatory mites and releasing them on the plants; was not worried about these guys at all, they are too small.  I don't think I was able to get enough to make a difference, and wasn't confident in the end that it was ever going to work.  Finally, I tried neem oil spray, being careful to not get it on my hands or clothes (but I did anyway) and washing hands and cloths after I sprayed it so I wouldn't get it on roaches.  It doesn't kill the pests directly, it just messes with their hormones.  After just one treatment, the aphids reproduction rate dropped dramatically and they almost disappeared, though in time, they did come back.  Haven't seen any spider mites in a long time.  I think I need to follow this advice to finally be aphid free https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/neem-oil-uses.htm

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hey thanks for the response!

i have spider mites too, but usually can handle them, rub them off or  spray them with water or neem. 

I have been using neem, and it helps with the spider mites, and definitely knocks the whiteflies numbers down, but i cant seem to fully extirpate these things-im spraying twice a week,  shouldnt need that much, 2-3 successive applications should get the job done. so the neem is not really working.

i guess that brings up another question though-

if i feed the roaches leaves and other scraps from my garden, after i have sprayed the leaves with neem, is consuming neem residues toxic to the roaches? i thought neem mostly works by suffocating bugs on leaves, coating them, and coating the leaves with a semi-protective layer...is this correct? i have tossed a few leaves in the roach bins without thinking about it, i havent noticed negative effects, but would hate to find out the hard way!

anyway, so i was thinking a biocontrol fungus could work well, as it should multiply and spread on its own, colonize the flies, make spores and spread to other flies, etc. but then the spores will inevitably be in the air, and on me, and well the roaches are in the closet of the same room. it all depends really on whether these fungi are pathogens to roaches, might even come down to the specific fungal strains used. i tried to look up some science, but cant find any specific info. not sure if i want to be the one, sacrifice these roach colonies in the name of science...

then i stumbled on these predatory mites, and thought they might be easier to manage, no airborne spores, and they might not even attack roaches, but cant find much info either.

hoping maybe some roach experts here have some insight. all the fungi experts i know would just want to experiment haha. cant say i know any mite experts...

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From what I've read, neem can affect the roaches yes, and in high enough amounts, humans as well.  It does break down over time that is typically much shorter than the life span of a roach (and longer than a spider mite), but don't know all the details.  I'm keeping it away from mine.  It can suffocate small insects but the main purpose is to disrupt them hormonaly, so it should work if you soak the soil in neem once in a while too.

ATTENTION!  Calling all mycophiles for advice on answering Kulture's questions!

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I am not sure if I qualify as a mycophile, but I would personally be wary of any insect-killing fungi. Entomophagous fungi can decimate insect colonies. I know some types of fungi are host-specific while others are polyphagous and opportunistic. If nothing else is working, and the fungi is host-specific, then it might be worth the risk. I did a quick search for the Beauveria fungus you mentioned, and I was it was used to kill termites. Since termites are close relatives of cockroaches, the fungus probably kills cockroaches as well. 

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