Any tips for raising mealworms?

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  • #9422
    Chris
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    I decided to give another try at raising mealworms. I ran out and only local source was Petco, where i bought 500 microscopic worms for $13.99.

    I put them in container with cornmeal, oats, half a potato and carrot. They seem to be growing bigger.

    My last attempt i neglected them and ended up with nothing but darkling beetles. I assume the beetles ate any eggs that were laid.

    I have read different approaches to raising them. One says you only need one container, i assume then that if you pick out the beetles, and change the bedding when dirty they will multiply and grow.

    Another approach said that you need three containers, one for the larvae, pupae and beetles?
    That sounds like alot of work, is it possible to raise them with one container and keep it clean?

    Thanks,
    Chris
    SW Ohio

    #9474
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    The list of posts says that there is a response that I posted for Chris but I do not see it. Is there a response besides this one?

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #9477
    Chris
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    Hi David,

    No, i just see the one response.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    #9491
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    Hi Chris,

    Sorry to be so late with a response. I was at a Handbell Directors Conference in Phoenix last week and just returned to Virginia. Temperatures were terrible out there , 103+ degrees every day.

    I have been raising mealworms for a little more than a year. Here is a link to a post last year about my “farm” http://bluebirdnut.com/forums/topic/mealworm-farm-update/

    I have expanded my “farm” to a 12 drawer system using 4 three drawer plastic storage bins that I bought at Target. I cut the bottom out of the top drawer in one of the sets and put 1/8th inch mesh screen on the bottom, put about 1 1/2″ of oatmeal in the drawer and use that for the beetle drawer. The next drawer collects the eggs. I have about 1/2″ wheat bran in this drawer. I let the beetles lay the eggs for about 2 weeks (I shake the beetle drawer every couple of days to get more of the eggs into the egg drawer). I put another 1/2″ of wheat bran on top of the eggs and move in down a slot and put a new drawer under the mesh drawer for more eggs. I then just keep up this cycle and use the larva when they are about 3/4″ to 1″ to feed my bluebirds.

    It is not recommended to use a single container for everything as the beetles will feast on the new and old larva (mealworms) and eggs and the larva will feed on the young larva and eggs in spite of the amount of food, bran, cornmeal etc. that you have provided them.

    There are a lot of resources available online, on YouTube, and a very good “how to” on the Sialis.org website. If you have any questions PM me here

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #9492
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    One of the downsides to this approach is that the beetles are prolific breeders and if you do not keep the numbers of beetles down they will produce unmanageable numbers of larva. The female will lay between 5-10 eggs per day. So if you have 100 beetles and 50% are females they can lay anywhere from 250 to 500 eggs per day. That times 14 days equals 3500 to 7000 larva every 2 weeks. And they continue on and on!!! (Voice of experience – I have about 5000 larva in the refrigerator and 3000-5000 more in the drawers with more eggs incubating. Since I use only 120 to 150 per day, I have a lot more than I can use.)

    Luckily I was visiting the Wild Birds Unlimited store near me and we were talking about feeding bluebirds and the manager asked me if I could supply her with mealworms. Still have to talk to her as I was getting ready to go to Phoenix and had let my breeding beetles die off. So I need to restart my colony and get the numbers up again.

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #9501
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    deleted – will not format properly

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #9504
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    What I was trying to post before was a diagram of drawer progression. It starts in the left stack and goes down-left- and up. Notice that the #12 drawer is moved to the #4 position to receive new eggs. The 1,2 & 3 drawers do not fit the rest of the slots. I bought this stack before i purchased the other 3 sets. I will be glad to answer any questions here or you can PM me through the Cafe Mailbox.

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #9512
    Chris
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    Thanks very much for posting.

    So, if i have a stack of 3 trays, is the one on the top the only one that has a screen for the bottom? Or is it the top two trays?

    If i could produce enough to be able to feed 150 mealworms a day that would be awesome. My current attempt failed, they turned into their next phase quicker than i expected.

    V/r,
    Chris

    #9515
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    So, if i have a stack of 3 trays, is the one on the top the only one that has a screen for the bottom? Or is it the top two trays?

    The top tray is the only tray with the screen. But before you do that consider the numbers. If you are looking for 150-160 mealworms per day you should shoot for a hatch of about 1250 mealworms every 2 weeks. That would be about 50 beetles (50% female) producing about 7 eggs each per day for 2 weeks. I would not cut the drawer for this few beetles. I would use a set of 2 shoebox sized plastic containers and cut the bottom from one, put the mesh in that container and stack it in the other with about 1/2 inch of wheat bran or other food. After 2 weeks empty the egg container into one of your drawers and start over again.
    It can take6 8 to 10 weeks for the eggs to hatch and grow into small larva. Their rate of growth depends on the temperature of the room where they are kept. The ideal temperature is 76 to 82 degrees and 60% humidity, but most of us do not enjoy those temperatures during the summer. If your room is cooler than 76 you can probably add another week to ten days onto the growth. That is where mine is. That is why I have the additional times for growth to medium size.

    David
    Stafford, VA

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