Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raising mealworms

You know those mealworms that my birds and the wild birds love so much...

birds eating mealworms

Here's a photo of my little mealworm "farm" - one of the trays is filled with hundreds of darkling beetles and the others are filled with thousands of mealworms (which are the larvae of the darkling beetles) in various stages of growth. I have the whole stack sitting in a shallow moat of water to keep ants from invading.

mealworm colony

They live in a bedding of wheat bran mixed with corn meal, topped with sheets of newspaper. They are easy "pets" - I just give them some fruit or veggie scraps every few days. Today I gave the beetles a peach pit with some fruit remaining on it. I think they liked it! These photos were taken in 30 second increments:

darkling beetles eating peach

darkling beetles eating peach

darkling beetles eating peach

darkling beetles eating peach


LauraHinNJ said...


Thought I was weird for the worm bin in my basement!

Great post. Wondered how you managed to feed all those birds! I buy tiny little crickets once a week for my fire-belly toads - can't imagine what it would cost to feed a whole aviary!

Question about your bin: do the drawers/levels connect in any way?

Susan said...

Fire-belly toads??? - I had to google that one - they look very pretty.

The bins each contain 3 drawers and I've stacked them 3 tall. They don't connect, but they do stack nicely. I bought them at Walmart (or as my sister calls it - "the store that must not be named".

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

What a great idea! I spend $12 for 1000 and my backyard birds would eat them all in a day if I put them all out at once.

Another quesion: why don't the adult beetles crawl or fly out?

My family would no doubt send me off to the loony bin if I tried raising meal worms at home. They are totally creeped out that I store them in the vegetable drawer in the frig!!

Susan said...

Hi Lynne,
The beetles can't crawl up the side of the plastic trays. Also, they supposedly can't fly, but I did once see one fly across the room and worried that I was raising some kind of super-mutant-flying beetle. Luckily it only happened once.

LauraHinNJ said...

The fire-belly toads were an anniversary gift from my husband a few years ago - how romantic is that?!?


They're cute - they bark like little dogs sometimes when the house is dark.

I asked about your bin and whether the levels connected because I wondered how you separate the beetles from the larva? Or don't I want to know? *grin*

Susan said...

the 9 trays are completely separate - every couple of weeks I move the beetles into a tray with fresh wheat bran. The tray that I removed them from then contains a whole bunch of eggs & teeny-tiny mealworms which will be yummy bird food in a month or two. At the same time, if any of the large worms have mutated into pupae or beetles, I move them into the beetle tray. And yes, I just use my hands. I know, eeewww! I used to use latex gloves, but now it just doesn't phase me to pick up the beetles.

LauraHinNJ said...

I have to *manage* my worm bin the same way - separating the worms and eggs from the compost. Not so easy or pleasant to do!

Anonymous said...

the beetles can and will fly away if they arent provided with a source of moisture. As long as they are provided with food and moisture they will stay put.