How to Breed Mealworms
OK here it is people: the BIG book on mealworms. I made it myself with all my photos. This is everything you need to know! my name is Heather and I have been breeding feeders for a few years including waxworms, superworms, silkworms,crickets and more! Meal worms however seem to be the biggest breeding group I have :D.
Many people use them for reptiles and even other animals. Mealworms are fantastic feeders and there are many reasons why you might want to breed your own, since sometimes it’s hard to find mealworms at a local pet shop and when you do the prices are very high. After getting them you will be uncertain of how well they have been kept along with what they have been fed. Breeding your own mealworms can save you money and give you healthier, happier animals. First you need a place to store your mealworms. Plastic bin multi-drawer units work very well for storing mealworms. There are many types of these plastic bins and they are just the thing for breeding mealworms. Now since you have your container we can talk about Mealworms!
5000 adult mealworms per drawer is a good number. However I do 10,000 because am running out of room! When choosing to breed mealworms you need to start with a hefty number of them so you can breed enough to feed your animals. 5,000 should be okay for someone with a rather small collection of animals. Remember breeding them takes a LONG time and months of work! It’s better to have extra mealworms to start with! Once you have your worms you need to store them in bedding. This will act as much of their diet and something for them to crawl around in. you can use wheat bran or rolled oats, along with many other forms of wheat and some cereals. There are also beddings made just for mealworms. I find that wheat bran is the best to use. It’s cheap and easy to find at local feed stores or even your own food store. Wheat bran is also tiny enough for your worms to eat and much easier to clean. Pour enough so there is an inch of wheat bran in your bin. 10,000 mealworms will eat just about a cup a day of wheat bran, so I usually begin with 3 cups and then replace it with new wheat bran every 5 days or so.
Your mealworm bins will need little cleaning. Bins should never ever be damp, grow mold, or have a moldy smell to them. Every so often you might need to replace bedding. Do this by taking the bin and 2 other empty bins to a table. Using a kitchen sifter,(this can be found in the kitchen supplies section at your local household store) place a small amount of worms and bedding at a time into the sifter and place it over one of the empty bins. Then shake and vibrate the sifter and you will notice the bedding falling in to the bin and keeping the worms in the sifter. Once cleared of all bedding, toss worms that remain in the sifter into the other empty bin. Repeat this step until all worms are in the other bin. Once you are done you can throw out the material you shook into the empty bin, which is actually poop left over by the worms. This is a good time to take the bin of worms and Hand pick out any food left behind, dead mealworms or pupa. Once the worms are cleaned, fill their other bin back up with New wheat bran then pour them back into their re-stocked bin.
Cleaning the worms Right: The bin I use to clean and handpick stuff out before placing them back into the main bin Middle:the main mealworm bin Left: i use this to sift out the old bedding, or even baby worms.
They love their veggies
Many people try to give the best to their feeders since it will pay off when they give the worms to their animals, and that couldn’t be more true. You should use veggies that are fresh. The number one thing to use and one of my preferred choices are raw potatoes and apples. Many people use other veggies but I find these work best. Raw cut-up potatoes are cheap and easy to find. Just cut them up and share among bins. Keep in mind that if your bins ever seem moist you may have added too much vegetable material. The food can be replaced as often as you feel it is necessary. The least nutritional “food” you can give your mealworms are water crystals: they are great for giving water but do not compare the high amounts of vitamins and such that veggies already have in them.
You can really use a variety of different things, even some carrots or greens. However keep away from peppers, onions, garlic or anything else with a strong flavor.
My mealworms are changing!
After a few months of doing this you will begin to see pupae. No don’t worry. Your mealworms are fine. This is a good thing really because it’s the first step towards breeding. See, when you start to see this it would be wise to store about a month’s worth of mealworms in the fridge if you will need some of these mealworms to feed your animals. This will keep them from turning into pupae and you will use this stock while you’re waiting for the next generation. Do not stick them in the freezer! Pick out the pupae when you clean the bins as noted before and place them in another clean bin with no worms. They do not need and food or water However, I place mine on wheat bran because in a week or so they will hatch out into beetles.
The evil scary (darkling) beetle
First off, NO they can’t hurt you. They almost never fly, only when they are starving will they try to fly out of the bin. And you love your beetles right? So let’s feed them. Anyway, the pupa will turn in to beetles. In about a week from there on that bin will be their new home. keep placing new pupae in the bin as the mealworms change over.. These beetles are harmless and even easier to care for. Just feed every so often, the same thing you feed the mealworms. Around week 5 or 6 you should see your first very small babies. If not, wait longer. This can take months. Once you do start seeing very small babies it’s time to clean the bedding like you do with the worms but this time don’t throw anything away. Keep the babies in a new bin and replace the beetles’ bedding with new wheat bran. You can clean their bins again in another 5 weeks. (You can choose to clean more often or even less; this is all up to you). Keep cleaning and feeding your mealworms, beetles, and baby mealworms. Remember, the smaller the better. So what if you can’t see the mealworms very well? They should be super small. This lets them drop through the sifter when you sort out the beetles. Any bigger and it will not work. After you’ve separated the beetles out and you only have baby mealworm in the bin, feed them like all the rest, but remember babies can take months to grow up. The more you feed them the better they will grow.. However it will still make you want to pull out your hair!
Yes that’s a lot of beetles and trust me I have lots more bins to clean….
To separate or to not separate that is the question
Between mealworms, pupae, and beetles things can become a bit harder when you do not separate them. Every life stage will pick the other and even kill no matter how much food you give them. You will have a high death rate on all sides! They will eat one another. Maybe not all… but enough for you to go “Oh my gosh what happened”. It’s better to hand-pick the stages away from other groups. Bedding will stay much cleaner and there will be less of a death rate for pupae. When bins seem too full of whatever it may be or high death rates of beetles it’s a good thing to cull off some or pick out a few good ones. This way you can throw out the dead ones but still have some alive left over. Take a large bin and have a few handfulls at a time on one side then just pick up the live beetles that crawl to the other side. It goes faster if you have a light over them, but not too close or you can kill them.
Be your inner squirrel
The whole life cycle of a mealworm is very long. Even after you have beetles it can take months more to even be able to use the babies. This is why it’s always handy to start off with a lot of mealworms when breeding and to store some mealworms in the fridge. They will go into a dormant state and not turn into pupae, and when you’re all out of mealworms then you can use these mealworms for feeding. So in the end be a smart squirrel and store your mealworms!
Babies! Are we there yet???
After all this time you should see your baby mealworms growing into nice adults Yes it’s been a long road for us all. We have had some very touching moments and are ups and downs but we made it. So let’s not waste any time and feed them to your reptiles! I hope this helps everyone that would like to breed mealworms what more could you need to know!!!!! 😀
Heather ShuttVisit Website
Heather Shutt is the owner of crazytailreptiles.com. She breeds leopard geckos, crested geckos, corn snakes and even cave geckos and with all the geckos, breeding mealworms sure comes in handy. Along with the other feeders that she breeds, mealworms seem to be the biggest group she has. Sometimes she has upwards of 50,000 mealworms at a given time! Breeding and caring for reptiles is one of the best talents she has.