Farming mealworms is a great way to start a mealworm colony for your reptiles, frogs, birds or small animals like sugar gliders. All you need is a few supplies and a little bit of patience. Once your colony of mealworms starts going, you will have an endless amount of mealworms to feed off to your pets.
Getting Started – Farming Mealworms
- How many mealworms? I started with 1,000 large mealworms and once they were all gone/changed into beetles I bought 1,000 more. You will need a total of 2,000-3,000 mealworms to last until you have full-grown mealworms of your own. However, if you prefer to start with fewer, then you can buy them in smaller quantities or simply refrigerate some of them to keep them from growing.
- Container: I prefer to use a clear plastic, 7-drawer unit from Wal-Mart. It has 3 large drawers in the bottom (I use 1 for storing extra bedding and the other 2 for beetles. It also has 4 smaller drawers on the top, which I use for storing the different stages of mealworms.
- Bedding: Wheat bran, powdered skim milk, and dry Brewer’s yeast
- Sifter: This will help you clean out the containers and move and beatles or worms.
- Tweezers: If you don’t like touching the bugs
- Plastic lid: Something to put the food on (plastic lid, butter dish, etc…)
You are going to want to start off with 3,000 – 3,000 mealworms. This will help you get started quickly, also give you enough to feed some off to your animals.
You are going to want to get 2/3 wheat bran, 1/3 powdered skim milk, and a small amount (maybe 5% or less) of Brewer’s yeast. Fill the container with about 2-3 inches of bedding so your mealworms can burrow in it. This will act as the mealworms food as well.
Along with the bedding, you will need to add a source of food that gives off moisture (for hydration). Potato, oranges(peeled), grapes(washed), kiwi, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, sweet potato, and etc… will do the trick. When feeding fruits & vegetables with skins, it is best to peel them first to prevent any pesticides from getting to the mealworms. Make sure the food doesn’t touch the bedding or it will cause the bedding to rot. Put it on a plastic lid, piece of foil, folded paper towel, butter dish, etc…
A temperature of 75-80 degrees is ideal. If it’s too hot, it will negatively affect the growth rate and size of the mealworms.
Mealworm Stage Care
- Bedding: Plain wheat bran. It only needs to be 1/2” -1” deep
- Food: None because they don’t eat at this stage
- Temperature: 75-80 degrees
- Moisture: Keep the moisture high by placing a bowl of water in the container with the pupae. Make sure that the beetles that emerge cannot get into it.
- Light: Doesn’t matter.
- Bedding: 2/3 wheat bran, 1/3 powdered skim milk, and a small amount (maybe 5% or less) of Brewer’s yeast. Fill container with about 3 inches of bedding. Add an egg carton or newspaper for the beetles to lay their eggs on.
- Food: Potato, oranges(peeled), grapes(washed), kiwi, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, sweet potato, a slice of bread, etc… Stay away from most fruits because they mold too quickly. When feeding fruits/vegetables with skins it is best to peel them first to prevent any pesticides from getting to the beetles. Make sure the food doesn’t touch the bedding or it will cause the bedding to rot. Put it on a plastic lid, piece of foil, folded paper towel, butter dish, etc…
- Temperature: 75-80 degrees is ideal.
- Moisture: Keep moisture high by making sure that there is always moist fruits/veggies in the container or by putting a paper towel over the top of the container and misting it lightly each day. You can also place a bowl in the bedding (high enough from the surface to prevent the beetles from getting inside). Replace the paper towel with a new, soaked towel once or twice a week. Be sure not too have too much moisture, however, because you don’t want the bedding to get moldy. The higher the moisture, the more eggs the beetles will lay.
- Light: *same as mealworms*- mealworms prefer the dark and should be kept out of direct sunlight. However, studies have shown that mealworms develop faster when provided with light, so, feel free to experiment with it.
Check your mealworm farm every couple days and remove any dead beetles/pupa/worms. Replace the bedding once it begins to look sandy (that means it’s all been eaten and is now frass/waste) or if it smells.
Sift all the beetles every 2-3 weeks. Put the old bedding in a new container (this bedding contains eggs and baby mealworms) and give the beetles new bedding. Be sure to also replace the egg carton/newspaper and put the old one with the old bedding as well because it too contains eggs.
It’s important not to allow any of the bedding or fruits/vegetables to get moldy! If anything gets moldy then you will have to toss it out along with the entire container of worms/beetles because any bug that ate of the mold can be harmful to your animals.
If your mealworms are changing too quickly too beetles and you want to save some for feeding then simply refrigerate however many you’d like to set aside.
Mealworm Life Cycle
Eggs: 1-2 weeks
Mealworms: Approximately 10 weeks
Pupae: 1-2 weeks
Beetles: 2-3 months
It will take approx. 3-4 months to have full-grown mealworms of your own.
How to Farm Mealworms
This video explains it all and shows a great way of how to start farming mealworms yourself at home.
Info submitted by: Nicole