Learn how to breed waxworms with these few easy steps. Breeding waxworms is great for those who want to save money, experience something fun, and see what a waxworm life cycle looks like. Have in mind, waxworms contain a lot of fat (80%), so do not feed these to your reptiles, frogs, or invertebrates often. Only feed them as treats (like candy).
1.) A Jar or any air tight container.
3.) Wheat germ
5.) Wax paper
6.) Heat (heat tape, heat mat, etc.)
The bedding is very important. This is where all the magic is going to happen. If you mess up the bedding, you will ruin the whole breeding process.
Honey: in the wild wax moths attack bee hives and lay eggs in their hives which hatch out the wax worms. So it’s very important to have honey in the mix.
Wheat Germ: this is going to be the main bedding that they can eat, dig, and crawl in. This will act like a honey comb in a bee hive.
Glycerin: I have had good results with and without glycerin. However, glycerin helps keep warmth in the bedding and it keeps the bedding damp. It also helps grow the waxworms faster.
Wax Paper: Many people will say you don’t need it, but it does provide a food source for adult waxworms. It also gives the months places to lay on. You do not necessarily need to use it though.
Heat: This is KEY! If you cannot keep temperature above 80 F, your worms will die off or make the breeding process a very long wait.
Making Waxworm Bedding
Prepare your container before you start mixing the bedding. I Like using basic jars, but anything that will lock airtight will work. You cannot have small holes in the container because baby waxworms will be able to crawl out of the holes. What I do is stab holes in the lids for some ventilation and use a paper towel like a screen to keep worms inside. So it will be jar, paper towel, lid.
Once you have your container ready, you can move onto mixing the bedding. Grab some gloves if you don’t want your hands getting all messy. When pouring the ingredients into the mix, you should be able to eye it. I never measure anything out to be honest. Pour as much wheat bran as you need (1 – 2 inches). Then add a lot of honey. Then start mixing. It’s important to mix the items by hand. Mixing it by hand will allow you mix everything really good. You know it’s done when the whole batch is damp and the wheat bran falls off your hands in sticky crumbles. Do not submerge the wheat bran in honey.
Then add a few spoon fulls of glycerin. Once your bedding turns dark in color, you will know it’s all damp with glycerin. Then you’re ready! Now place the bedding in the container. Make sure you have up to a inch or more piled in to your container. After the waxworms hatch, the first layer will be covered in dead moths and such, so make sure it’s deep enough so the babies can burrow away from that. The rest you can store in the refrigerator.
When you first order your wax worms, they will usually come in a container with cedar chips (its much cleaner than their food). Adults are about a inch long and there is no need to move them into food bedding. Wait, and you will see them cocoon. They will turn a dark brown color when they cocoon. Place them in the jar with food that you prepared (waxworm bedding). Place a good number of them in there, because once they start hatching, you really can’t open the jar again… So add enough cocoons! Do not place the jet black colored worms in the container, they are dead and probably smell really bad.
TIP: You could place jars in incubator, the faster you get them warm the faster they grow…(I use 80F for moths) remember you don’t have to yet..
It can take around 2 weeks (I never really counted) or so for the cocooned worms to turn into moths. You will see the small gray moths lying around during the day and only at night will they fly and breed. They are not much to look at. Be careful not to open the lid. Don’t worry about dead or dirty left over cocoons, moths, or worms. Just wait!
What do waxworm eggs look like? Take a look…
Breeding Success – 3 Weeks
Around 3 weeks later, you will notice SUPER TINY BABIES and TONS of them. You will now know why you needed that paper towel as a screen. They climb all over and and will sneak out of any small holes. DON’T OPEN THE JAR. You will just have tons of babies getting away.
TIP: Turn up the heat! Once you see babies you need to get them warm. If you don’t, your passing up valuable time to get them growing. (I use 85-88F)
TIP: It’s so dirty! Yes, they’re not the cleanest feeders, in fact keep the lid shut because there will be one hell of smell, even with the lid on….. Really, don’t worry about it. You should never see mold. However it WILL smell super bad if you open it, so don’t! (You might see white bits, webbing, and hairs in the jar. This isn’t mold, this is from the wax worms making little tunnels.)
Juvenile Waxworms Growing – 6 weeks
You’re going to see worms in their own little pockets in the bedding crawling around. There might be some small babies still but some should be larger now.
Adult Waxworms – 8 weeks
ADULTS! They are FAT and full grown wax worms. I take them out and split them up. Some will go in clean new breeding jars to cocoon and the rest will go in big clean bins with cedar to be used as feeders. And this is how to breed waxworms easily.
Info submitted by Heather (SnakeGirl)