3 Questions You Can Ask A Customer About Service Animals How to Breed Mealworms, The Easy Way

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How to Breed Mealworms, The Easy Way

You may ask why anyone would want to raise mealworms. There are a few reasons I can think of why some might not be interested in breeding mealworms: They are worms! They are smelly, slippery, sharp, gloomy, worms! They can come out and infest my house! Or those who have little experience with these insects may suggest that they can be easily purchased from a pet store or even cheaper in bulk from the Internet.

First, let me dispel assumptions – they are not smelly, slippery, scratchy, and I don’t think they are uncomfortable. Their climbing abilities are limited to non-glossy objects. They move slowly, so if you drop one, you can easily catch it.

Yes, you can order mealworms from a pet store. The Internet also sells worms for only $12 a thousand! So why would I want to go through the trouble of breeding them when I can buy them so easily and cheaply? Great question.

If you raise small reptiles like I do, or have very small geckos like viper geckos, pictus geckos, or even chameleons, you need to raise your own mealworms! You will find that breeding mealworms offers a great range of sizes perfect for these little reptiles. Young reptiles eat often! You need to have a reliable supply of just the right amount of food for these young animals to allow them to grow at a healthy rate. By growing yours, you will have several sizes available for your pets.

To start raising your own worms, start with about 100-200 adult worms. Again, these can be purchased at a local pet store or even from an online company. A note that common mealworms will metamorphose into a pupa and then into a Darkling beetle.

Prepare used bedding to keep worms healthy by using a generic brand of oats and a dry baby cereal. The cheaper the better. I use oats as the base for the medium. I like to add grains as an additional food source for young mealworms.

Mix the two together – 2/3 oats to about 1/3 cereal. You’ll want to mix enough so that you have about an inch or two at the bottom of your container. This will become the main food of the worms. Other foods such as potatoes, carrots, apples, kale and other greens can be offered to provide moisture for the worms. The container can be a plastic shoe box, sweater box, or another installation that I will discuss later.

Once the oats and cereal are mixed together, add the mealworms. Add an egg carton on top and bottom and you’re good to go. Worms use this egg case to crawl around and down. Although mealworms will not stick to the plastic walls, I place the boxes away from the edges of the box.

Keep the mealworms at a constant high 70’s low 80’s and you will soon start to see the pupa developing. I have found with the medium mixture described above and the other foods provided that the worms will not bother the pupa. Some pupae may turn brown and die, but most should turn into beetles. If you want to maximize production, you can of course separate the pupa from the worms.

After about 2 weeks of pupation, you will begin to see some dark beetles appear under the egg cases. Again, I have not noticed any predation in my groups, even of the mildest pupae by beetles if they are well fed. Beetles are ultimately what you are striving for in a healthy mealworm colony. They lay eggs to create new worms. The eggs are quite small and you will likely never see them as they are sticky and will stick to the bed.

Eventually, the container will be a mix of substrate, egg cases, mealworms of various sizes, maybe some pupae, and of course beetles. From this batch of activity you can selectively harvest the size of mealworm you want.

The above technique works well if you only need to feed a few animals. If you have more than a handful of animals, the best way to set up a mealworm factory without interruption is to use one of those plastic filing systems found at your local grocery store. Stock any bin with a crop and you’ll attract all sizes of mealworms – more than you could ever use.

In this setup, I have 6 drawers of mealworms (the middle bin is used for vermiculite). I don’t use all the worms this unit produces. I let some pods mature to produce pupae, beetles and eventually more mini-worms.

I hope you try this clean way to provide your pets with extra food. Be a little patient as it takes a while to see those first micro worms.

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