I received this message tonight…

I received this message tonight… we have a minor crisis and this girl needs help to save her crabs.

Jinjurale just emailed me. She said she followed all the steps given to her but lost another crab today. Again with bugs. She said one of her crabs was behaving suspiciously, moving in and out of its shell. She pulled the crab from its shell and found maggots and a fly. This was a live crab, previously healthy. The crab is now in a new shell. It is pretty clear to me that these phorids can be a big problem. In Melin’s case, she was not 100% sure it was the same bug, but even if it were, Melin’s bugs may not have yet developed a taste for live crabs. I put the three emails and the two pictures on my web site. The links are as follows:
James Whitfield email
Brian Brown email
Henry Disney email


From the Disney email, you will see that these flies can subsist within living human flesh (myiasis). If they can do that, there is no reason that they cannot subsist on a living crab. They are facultative parasites and that appears to be what is happening in jinjurale’s case.

I am thinking that this is a desperate situation and that the usual hygeinic principles will not suffice. The crab she removed from its shell had worms and flies, which she killed.

I think taking the crab out of their shell like she did may be extreme and dangerous, but safer and more certain to work than that soap treatment. If I were to do that, I would chill the crab in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to make them slow. It is not likely to die from this, but it may. Then take them out of the shell and boil the shell. Carefully remove any worms on the crab. Kill the worms. Worms on the body are larvae of the flies. Do not flush them or dispose of them live in any way. Look for eggs, maybe with a magnifying glass. Any eggs will be on the crabs arranged in a cluster or in the shells. Kill those too, like the worms. Don’t dispose of them live. Make as sure as one can to remove ALL worms and eggs because we don’t want to have to do this again. That is what I might consider doing myself if I were as desperate as her. I realize this is dangerous and unconventional, but I am convinced her crabs will die if she does nothing. I would do it if I were in her shoes.

And I remind you that doing nothing is also unsafe.

Here is her log of what has transpired, this does not include the above information.

How do I get rid of bugs and what are they? Go to www.misterboogrey.com/bug.html to see it.

Below is what has been happening to me or should I say my crabs. Should I try what this guy told me to do? So far I have lost 5 crabs, all had one or more bugs in their shells.

On Tue Mar 08 – One of my crabs, Tango Mango (Indo) started acting weird 4 days ago. At first he kept filling his shell with water so I could see it in there and he was already missing his 2nd left leg when given to me, but he seems to have more trouble moving now.

Today when I got home he was sitting in the deep water dish half way out of his shell. I picked him up and he barely moved and his eyes seem to be hanging down. I put him into ISO by himself. I have been having trouble with temp and humidity fluctuations, but now of the other crabs seem to have any trouble.

On Fri Mar 11 – When I checked on Tango Mango he looked much better today. He is holding up his eyes and pulled back into his shell.

I changed the food and went to eat my dinner. When I looked back in there he was eating. His eyes look like they have white flakes on them. I have had several other crabs molt, but never saw any signs of it so I’m not sure if he is going to molt.

On Sat Mar 12 – Tango Mango was at the food dish eating, later he was in the hideout that I made for him.

On Tue Mar 15 – Tango Mango just sits in the hideout. When I looked at him, he pulled back into his shell.

Wed Mar 16 – Tango Mango and he looks dead, there is no movement or smell. What should I do? Molting? The sand around Tango Mango is getting dry, misted around him.

Thu Mar 17 – Tango Mango died, had him for 6 months. I am pretty sure what is wrong – it’s a bug. Found a bug in the shell, the tail part of Tango Mango looked like it was being chewed on. It took 1/2 hr to get bug out of shell. Took pictures of it.

Kale (Rug) was sitting in the water dish, when I picked her up she seemed weak. Put her in ISO. Took a look at her before bed and she was in the water dish and barely moved. I took her out and set a coco hut over her.

Fri Mar 18 – Asked about bug at pet stores, everyone at 6 different pet stores said that it was nothing that they have seen before and nothing that is fed to pets. Asked about bugs at University and was told that it was a tropical bug and that they would try to find out exactly what kind. Asked a guy (no idea how to spell his name) I knew who is from the Philippians (I think, can’t remember for sure) who sells hermit crabs about it. When I showed him the bug (live in a plastic bag) he looked shocked and then upset. He killed it, he wanted to make sure that it did not get to his 100 or so crabs that he had right there to sell.
He said that it is a very dangerous bug to hermit crabs. This guy (sorry I don’t know his name) explained everything more than once before he wanted to hear why I had the bug and showed it to him, he said he does that because the bug is so bad. The bug is from the tropics so it can’t live here outside of the crab tank in Minnesota because its to cool for them. He didn’t know the English name for the bug and I didn’t understand what he called it.
The bug lives in the crabs shell and lays eggs. The larva hatch and eat the crab. When the crab dies the larva leave to become the adult bug and so on. Most people never see the bug because they have a few crabs and never replace them, they are most often only noticed when the bug population is way up when the crab is given a bath. He said that pet stores like Petco make him angry with the way they take care of crabs and that they don’t disinfect them before selling them.

Now the tank:
The sand, gravel or what ever you use needs to be sanitized. Also sponges.
Wash the inside of the tank with Dial unscented antibacterial soap and rinse well. Do the same for all dishes and decorative items including shells. With the shells be sure to rotate them to get all the air out.

Sat Mar 19 – Kale died, had her for 1 year, her body was a mushy, when I cleaned the shell I found a dead bug. Sterilized the ISO tank.
I was going to start bathing the crabs the way I was told, but my posting about it in the Hermit Crab Association website was removed.

So now I’m not sure if the guy was telling me the truth or what, the HCA WM has not contacted me either about it.
Someone on the HCA site thought it was some kind of fruit fly and suggested I use red wine with a drop of dish soap in it to get the bug,

so I’ll try that. Also trying a piece of over ripe banana and cantaloupe.
Unnamed from Petco (PP) was sitting next to the water and kept moving around in its shell like something was wrong in there. I thought

maybe sand so I bathed the crab, no sand or anything came out. Later when I looked in the crab was sitting in the water dish, took it out

and set at other side of tank. Later it was back in the water and looked week. Put in ISO.

Sun Mar 20 – Last night off and on I kept checking the tank to see if I could see any bugs around the wine and fruit – no signs of any.
Unnamed from Petco about 3 weeks ago (PP) died. It had 3 bugs in its shell.

Tue Mar 22 – During the night it started smelling bad in the room again, this morning 2 more crabs were dead.
Unnamed from Petco, got about 3 weeks ago (Cav) died. It had 4 bugs in its shell all were dead.
Moonflower (not sure type, white crab) died. Had her for 3 years. She was under the sand, had to dig for her, was so bad I didn’t search for any bugs.

The University has not gotten back to me about the bugs yet.


  1. I’ve been though hermit crab deaths ( 3 to be exact.) It’s hard for me because I think another one is going to die. I’m not sure because the crab’s out of it’s shell and it’s not doing anything, its not even drinking any water. I’m also relitivly new to being a land hermit crab owner too. I’ve had two hermit crabs 6 months ago, and they both died. Then I got two more and out of that only one died. I’ve gotten two more to acompany the lonely one. And now I think one out of the two I’ve recently gotten is dying. If you have any help or info PLEASE send me an e-mail at: jahmrg 0305@sbcglobal.net. The info or help to taking good care of hermit crabs would be really helpful to me! Thanks!!!

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