Theses and Dissertations


Xue Zhang

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Schilling, M. Wes

Committee Member

Wu, Tung-Lung

Committee Member

Cheng, Wen-Hsing

Committee Member

Goddard, Jerome

Committee Member

Kim, Taejo

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Phillips, Thomas W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Food Science and Technology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion


Tyrophagus putrescentiae (Schrank) (Sarcoptiformes: Acaridae), also known as the ham mite, may infest dry cured hams during the aging process. The fumigant methyl bromide is currently used to control mite infestations, but eventually will not be available for use since it contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. The use of ham nets treated with xanthan gum, carrageenan, propylene glycol alginate, propylene glycol (PG), and lard were evaluated for their impact on mite orientation to or oviposition on treated or untreated ham cubes, mite reproduction and population growth over a 10-week period. When nets were infused with gum and PG, behavioral tests indicated that greater than 95% of the mites oriented to the ham cubes that were wrapped in untreated nets when compared to treated nets and no eggs were laid on the latter. The reproduction assays indicated that there were fewer (P < 0.05) T. putrescentiae produced over a two-week period on ham cubes covered with both gum and PG treated nets when compared to the untreated or gum-only treated nets over the 10-week storage period of the experiment. Medium and high concentrations of PG treatments had the lowest mite reproduction rates. No more than four mites could be found on each of these treatments in comparison to 200-300 mites that were on the untreated ham cubes. When nets were infused with gum, PG, and lard, behavioral tests indicated that fewer mites oriented to the ham cubes that were wrapped with gum, lard, and medium PG than those with untreated nets. The oviposition assays revealed that on average less than three eggs were laid on the ham cubes with treated nets in comparison to 69-165 eggs on the untreated ham cubes. Reproduction assays demonstrated that fewer T. putrescentiae (P < 0.05) were on ham cubes with treated nets containing PG when compared to the number of mites on ham cubes with untreated nets over 10 weeks of storage. Lard infused nets without PG did not decrease the mite population (P > 0.05). The net without coating slowed the growth and reproduction of T. putrescentiae since net controls had fewer mites (P < 0.05) than controls without nets. With a few exceptions, fungi were not present on ham cubes that were treated with PG-containing nets over 10 weeks of storage. This research demonstrated the efficacy of using nets treated with food-grade ingredients during ham aging to control mite infestations on a laboratory scale. Further research will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of the same treated nets on whole hams in commercial aging rooms.