Raising mealworms. Questions!

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Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:39 pm

Does anybody else here raise their own mealworms? I just started this fall. Rhasputin told me how easy it is to do, and it really is. The only hard part, like mouse breeding, is waiting for the baby mealworms to hatch! Rhasputin is raising super worms, which are different, and can't advise me on my mealworms. Besides, she is mightily busy with UMC mouse show and RF stuff, in addition to having just moved! (Go, Rhasputin! You are doing so many good things for us!)

My first worms pupated, turned into beetles, they laid eggs, the eggs hatched, and the worms are now big and pupating, themselves. This is how far I've gotten, and I have questions! Would like info from anyone who has done this.

There are so many pupae forming, I've been sorting out the largest worms every day and putting them in the refrigerator in oatmeal with a spritz of water on cardboard and a ventillated top so my mice can eat them later, between generations. (Don't want to be left with only beetles.) How long will these worms keep?

I also wonder if I will end up with more mealworms than my mice can possibly eat. I used to buy freeze-dried mealworms. Is there a way to roast or dry my excess mealworms for long term storage and/or sharing with others? I tried freezing some and they died.

With this population explosion, I have doubled the amount of oatmeal in my mealworm farm, which is a sweater storage bin, about five inches tall by, oh, 17 x 26", maybe. Could this rate of reproduction mean that they will outgrow this space when the next generation of worms are born? I think I read some people keep their mealworms in plastic trash cans! But that's way more worms than my mice can eat...and think of how many beetles that will turn into! More than I want.

So would a good way of controlling this population explosion be to feed the extra pupae to the mice instead of worms? I know they're safe, and I've done it before and the mice like the pupae just as well.

How many beetles do I need to lay eggs for the next generation without causing overpopulation?

My hope originally was to have several generations overlapping so I'd always have a supply of adult worms to feed my mice. I am wildly over-successful! Need advice on how to control the population of my mealworm far while still maintaining a study supply of adult worms.

Help!

(Yeah, and I want to share my mealworms with others, and it's a darned shame I can't go to RF. I would bring each of you soooo many fat, juicy mealworms for your mice!)

(Mods, if you want to move this to Other Animals, I understand.)

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by candycorn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:21 pm

I have accidently bred my own mealworms (I.E. I let them go too long in their box...ha) so I don't have hints on that persay...but I do have ideas for your extras.
Just sell colonies on craigslist.
I raise Dubia roaches for my lizards and whenever I have too many, I just post an add on Craigslist and sell a group of 100+ all ages as a colony for 20 bucks.
Everytime I advertise like that, I sell out in a day. It's an easy fast buck.
So that is not hugely helpful really...but an idea for your extras anyway!

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Love2read on Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:53 pm

http://justforfuzzies.com/Other_Stuff/other_links/how_to_farm_mealworms.html

I'm on my phone, so my typing is limited, but that's a tutorial I made a while back. It has alot of good tips and details and should answer most of your questions. Wink

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Love2read on Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:00 pm

To stagger them simply refrigerate groups of a couple hundred. Pull em out once a week, give them some food and leave them out 24 hours to eat before putting them back. Take them out and put them onto the farm when your ready. I would stagger them about 2-4the weeks apart.

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:46 pm

Wow! What good advices! How much should I charge for a colony of 100 mealworms?

Love2read, I refrigerate my worms in oatmeal. Your advice is to warm them up to eat. Are refrigerated worms too immobile to eat? Whoops! You mean I'm killing or starving them by refrigerating them? Yow! Oh, but I once had mealworms in the refrigerator, back when I was paying for them, and forgot about them, and when I finally looked in on them, there were just dead beetles in the container.

But that's great advice about staggering them 2-4 weeks that way. I have about 50 pupae right now. I guess I should either refrigerate them or feed them to my mice, eh?

Yes, I asked all these questions before I went to your link. GOING THERE NOW! thank you so much!

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:50 pm

Am reading your link right now. Good stuff! I'd like to share that I use upside down cardboard egg cartons on top of the farm and spray them with water, both sides. They are very absorbent and seem to hold the water much longer than newspaper or paper towels, and the wet parts don't touch the food/bedding. The mealworms even eat the egg cartons! I had a lot of trouble with moldy food/bedding when I started and the egg cartons solved that problem for me. I like your very plain, straight forward life cycle chart at the end!

Question: At first I tried keeping the worms, pupae, beetles, and eggs separate, but then I read that some people keep multiple generations all in one container. This will be my first generation trying it this way. (Just for safety I have put ten pupae aside in another container.) I read that beetles "may" eat eggs and pupae, but if others have done it all in one container, they probably aren't going to eat them all. How risky or inefficient is it to keep multiple generations all in one container?

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Love2read on Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:06 am

When I used to sell mealworms I sold them at $1 per 100. I used to ship them as well and charged a flat rate for shipping(at the time it was $4.95 for priority shipping, I'm sure the rates have gone up since then). I shipped them in bags made of organic muslin and added crumpled up paper and a baby carrot for them to climb on/eat. During colder weather I would sometimes toss in a warmer(for an additional fee) or ship them in some bedding. I never lost any mealworms using that method, even when they got shipped across the country. Wink

They will continue to grow VVVVEEEERRRRYYYY slowly in the fridge and with oatmeal bedding they usually won't die of starvation since they'll eat the bedding, but I've found that they tend to do better if you pull them out to eat every week or so.

I wouldn't recommend using any egg cartons that have had actual eggs in them because then you risk exposing your mealworms(and thus your mice) to salmonella.

Also, if you ever getting mold in your farm you should toss it out. Mold carries the risk of aflatoxins and when the worms eat the mold they carry the aflatoxins with them and can pass it onto your mice, which would then result in mice dropping dead for no apparent reason(that reason, of course, being aflatoxin poisoning). It's incurable. Sad

There have been multiple cases of sugar gliders dying from aflatoxin poisoning both from eating moldy food and from being fed insects that were fed moldy food. That's one of the #1 reasons crickets are a huge no-no in the sugar glider community, because they have a much higher chance of having come in contact with aflatoxins. That's also why I never feed any bugs from the pet store and why I started raising my own mealworms.

As for using separate containers...

If you want to keep your farm staggers I highly suggest using at least 3-4 containers. You should have your "starter" container which contains mealworms. Let those mealworms change into beetles and leave the beetles in the container for about a month. After a month is up, put the beetles into a new container and leave the old container alone. Continue doing this until the beetles have died(3-4 months).

By the time the beetles have died the first container should be loaded with tons of mealworms who are full grown or nearly full grown and starting to morph into pupae to start the whole cycle all over again. Wink

That's the method that I'm using now and have had great success with. The only downside is that it takes a long time and requires you to go about 4 months without any mealies for your critters. :/

You CAN keep all of the cycles together, but you'll get WAAAYYYYY less babies then you would using the above-mentioned method because the beetles and mealworms will eat a large majority of the eggs and pupae. You'll only get about 25% of what you could potentially get, if even that much.

Of course, if you're only wanting to raise the mealworms for yourself then it would work fine.

I used to make a pretty decent profit selling mealworms until I got stupid grain mites in my farm. :/ Gotta love living in the country... I had to burn my entire farm and didn't start a new one until we moved to North Carolina. It really sucked!

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:46 pm

THANKS FOR TELLING ME ABOUT AFLATOXINS! Wow! I knew mold was a bad thing, but not that bad! Yeah, I don't want a whole bunch of worms, so maybe I should go through a generation all in one container and see how the numbers go. If the beetles and mealworms eat eggs and pupae, wouldn't that mean really well-noursihed beetles and mealworms, when end up in much more nutrition being passed onto the mice? (Sounds like the difference between corn-fed beef and free range beef.)

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:43 pm

Oh, a question about removing mold from a mealworm colony. I had some mold growing my my oatmeal bedding at first and removed all the moldy oatmeal I could find, but the meal still smells very faintly of mold. No mice have dropped dead of aflatoxins. Is there a way I can preserve my colony but get rid of the mold? Just toss out all the oatmeal and put in new? I've got a number of pupae. Could I use them to start a new colony in new oatmeal? I want to do this right.

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by bethmccallister on Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:27 pm

This is an awesome thread guys!

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:05 pm

Yeah, I've been learning tons! Found a link for how to roast mealworms:
http://abigalesedibles.com/2010/09/how-to-prepare-mealworms-for-cooking/

Beth, do you raise your own mealworms?

I've decided to put all my beetles in a new, clean, container with new oatmeal and have them lay eggs to start a new colony. I'll let my mice eat up the remaining worms in the colony with the ever-so-slightly mouldy smell, and then shut that down.

I see now the benefit of using different bins for the different life stages, in terms of mold. Mould can't wipe out the entire colony this way, and bedding/food doesn't get passed on from generation to generation; it gets replaced with clean, so mold and stuff can't prosper.

So my last question is about containers to keep mealworms in. I don't have another wide, flat container to put the possibly mouldy colony in so I can put the clean oatmeal with eggs into that container (after I wash it). Is it bad to use a deeper container, more like a bucket?

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by Mrs. Beach on Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:32 pm

New question:

I just saw a web site that talked about how some beetles are born with deformities in their wings. I have beetles like that. The web site said to cull those beetles for some good-sounding reason which I forget. Why are so many beetles born with these deformities? A good third of mine have them.

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Re: Raising mealworms. Questions!

Post by lenjac on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:31 pm

Don't know if I'm writng in the correct section of the forum, but here goes!
Sometimes my mealworms will surface thru the bran in the frig...does this matter?
I sell excess to a produce store and want to have them in the best condition.
thanks, anybody...Jacqui


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