Mite treatment efficacy: Frontline vs. Reptile Spray

My quarantine rack got mites about 2-3 months ago. I happened to have both a BEL and an Ivory in the rack, so it was very easy to see the mite progression and impact of treatment.

Because I use pretty expensive The BioDude substrate seeded with isopods and pothos (which I strongly suspect has benefits for immune health, hence use even in a quarantine rack), I was averse to doing the cleaning regimens often recommended for mites - throwing out substrate, sterilizing tubs, spraying Provent-a-Mite, laying paper towel until the mites were gone, etc. I wanted to see if I could control the infestation without losing my bioactive investment, even though the substrate was conducive to mite growth.

Reptile Spray was worthless. I applied it thoroughly using paper towel on multiple occasions across the first few weeks without seeing a single scaled mite release or die. In addition, applying it to clusters of nymphs that were gathering on one snake’s neckline didn’t even seem to have an effect. The infestation continued to grow and spread across the rack.

To me this wasn’t much of a surprise, given the active ingredient and gymnastics associated with common instructions - it always seemed likely that the thing clearing the mites was more the obsessive cleaning than the surfactant/laxative. I’ve never seen good research on the claim that Docusate kills mites by disrupting the exoskeleton. In addition, research on other animals suggests very low toxicity except in high concentrations over long periods.

Enter Frontline spray. Fipronil is a well understood insecticide - it has high specificity to insects and low dermal absorption. Most toxicity observed in research outside of insects seems associated with ingestion. Because of this, snake collections seem to handle the chemical well.

The stuff proved pretty hard to find…I live in LA and the only pet store carrying it was charging 300% retail for a bottle - literally $150. My reptile store told me to just do the Reptile Spray gymnastics instead (leery eyes and big frown :face_with_monocle:). Amazon had long delivery estimates, so I ordered a bottle from a store in Louisiana.

Most videos and posts I saw recommend two treatments spread across 7 days - first a rub down, and then a lighter follow-up spray. After my first spray, I noticed mites leaving scale spots within a day. After about three days, there were no mites left on my white snakes.

I didn’t even bother with a second treatment - the chemical is a little sticky so I could tell that some residue still remained on the snakes after a few days, and I reasoned that even one week without source food was probably sufficient to collapse the infestation. More than a month later, 0 mites.

This difference in these products is night and day. In one case multiple direct applications had no effect on visible mites…and in the other, I was able to get rid of a growing infestation in a dense bioactive substrate with a single spray on the food source.

Given the absurd efficacy and apparent tolerance in snakes, I’m really surprised that Frontline isn’t the standard stocked product by now.

3 Likes

There is actually a mite that you can get that will eat the snakes mites. And they don’t mess with the snake. I don’t know the name off hand but if you try googling it you could probably find them.

5 Likes

We use a mix of ivermecton and dawn in a spray bottle. Helps so much !

3 Likes

Never heard of the meta mite…will look around. I don’t doubt the efficacy of ivermectin, but my loose understanding is that fipronil has much higher insect specificity and thus relatively lower toxicity to snakes and other animals.

1 Like

They are brutally efficient lol. And when there food source is gone(snake mites) they die never to be seen again! Most natural solution no chemicals at all .

6 Likes

I believe these are what you are referring to…
Taurrus-L

I’m just going to double check with @t_h_wyman and @thebeardedherper whether they will kill your cleanup crew though.

3 Likes

@eaglereptiles yes you are correct! Found out about this long ago when wiping down bangka bloods was leading to too many war wounds lol.

2 Likes

:joy: i can’t see that being the most enjoyable experience. I’ve never held one but Blood Pythons look insanely strong and like they pack a mean punch :face_with_head_bandage:

2 Likes

I assure you thomas they do! Lol

3 Likes

Those branded mites aren’t available state side. They are just a certain species, I found the species available in bulk. Hesitant to try it if needed

1 Like

Trick I learned from Dav Kaufman about 3 yrs back. Sevens Dust works amazing on mites. You can buy it at your local hardware store for about 10$ or so. The powder is completely harmless to snakes, not sure about other reptiles. Cover their tub with a thin layer, take out the water bowl and they will be dead in under a week. Sounds kinda weird but it works wonders.

3 Likes

https://www.reptilecentre.com/blog/2018/08/how-to-eliminate-snake-mites-naturally/#:~:text=Taurrus%20predators%20are%20the%20natural,mites%20and%20also%20their%20eggs.

2 Likes

For the lazy, from @thebeardedherper link above.

“7. Taurrus predators are great for bioactive enclosures
Using chemical treatments will invariably mean stripping an enclosure, cleaning and treating the whole setup and then rebuilding it from scratch. Using Tarrus predators means there’s no need to strip a bioactive enclosure, which may have taken months to mature. And don’t worry, Taurrus predators won’t kill off your clean-up crew custodian bugs either.”

3 Likes

Yeah. I contacted the company and never got a response back. I always wondered what keeps them alive and fed before you get them and they feed on the mites and starve.

2 Likes

I’m pretreating for my rats and water mixed with Diatomaceous Earth is what I have to spray,. I wouldn’t put it where the snakes or Reptile could touch but it says its harmless to them as well but could cause skin irritation.

Do you mean Sevin Dust? I can not find Sevens Dust

Correct, I apologize. I didn’t catch that spell check.

1 Like

Sorry, late to the party, I was traveling and off the grid (even more so than usual LOL)

I do not know about Taurrus mites but I use a mixed species of predatory mites that includes A.cucumeris, N. californicus, P. persimilis. and A. swirskii in my naturalistic cages. I have not needed them for snake mites specifically, I just pre-load the cages as a preventative measure because having to tear down the whole system would be a nightmare when you are dealing with a 76cm x 2.5m space. I have not had an issue with them going after any of my clean-up crew, they generally will eat pollen and plant matter if there are not any prey mites available. They also seem to like fungus gnat larvae.

DE is not toxic per se, but I would be inclined to avoid it when it comes to snakes/reptiles. The ultra fine nature of DE (basically like baby powder) makes it easy to aerosolize and thus it becomes an inhalation hazard for them. Additionally, DE is ungodly abrasive. Once upon a time, DE used to be put in toothpaste because it was great for removing the plaque and stains from teeth… Come to realize that it was good at that because it was actually removing the enamel from the teeth (for those of you that do not remember this trivia tidbit, enamel is the hardest substance in your body). If it can do that to teeth, just imagine what it could do to the scales of a snake as it constantly crawls around on DE or if small amounts of DE accumulate between/under scales… :confounded: :confounded:

5 Likes