How to Care for Mealworms

Mealworms are some of the most important insects today, especially when you are a farmer. If you look at the composition of a basic food chain, you will realize just how important mealworms are. Some people use them as food for their pets, others eat them as food. They do play an important role in decomposition, making them some of the most important members of the natural ecosystem.

By now you have probably learned how important mealworms are, and how to breed your own mealworms in your farm. Breeding mealworms is a far better alternative than constantly buying worms for use for whichever reason you need them. It will save you a lot of money, and there is also the satisfaction in having your mealworm farm that is self-sufficient and always reliable. To achieve this, you also need to learn how to care for mealworms.

While having mealworms ready whenever you need them is awesome, you must also look into ways of making sure your mealworm farm is sustainable. You must care for the worms so that they live out their life cycle, and eventually morph into darkling beetles to produce new mealworms. Self-sufficiency is the most basic consideration when growing a mealworm farm. At the center of self-sufficiency is proper care for the mealworms.

Protecting the Worms

One of the first things you must learn about how to care for mealworms is getting them proper housing. You must set and maintain the right conditions for mealworms to thrive. Find a wax coated container, plastic, metal or glass for them. These are ideal, especially when they do not have a grip on the sides. You do not want the worms crawling out. A smooth surface makes it difficult for the worms to crawl out.

There are other materials that you should avoid altogether when thinking about containers for your mealworm farm. Cardboard or any material made of, or lined in fabric should be avoided. The worms can latch onto these materials and climb out of the container.

Next, you also have to think about the lid. In some cases, you can do without a lid. However, a container in this scenario should be no less than 8 centimeters deep, and without a slippery side. If you cannot find such a container and have to use a lid, make sure it has holes at the top, to allow proper circulation of air. Still on the lid, you can use cheesecloth as a cover for the container because it prevents other insects from getting inside.

How to raise mealworms & breeding mealworms

How to raise mealworms & breeding mealworms

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Feeding the Worms

Next on your list of important considerations for how to care for mealworms is proper feeding. All animals need food, some more than others, and others more frequently. Mealworms are an interesting kind of animals. They can eat almost anything they come across. At the bottom of the breeding container, you should find quality material that will act as the substrate.

There are several options you can consider as substrates. Remember that when choosing the materials, the mealworms will almost certainly feed on the substrate. Therefore you also need to keep checking on whichever material you used, to figure out whether you need to add more if the worms have eaten up most of it. You do not want them starving. At the same time, think about the role that the substrate has to play in the moisture content of the breeding ground. When there is not enough substrate, the moisture balance might be upset, making the conditions unsuitable for mealworms to grow.

While still on the issue of feeding mealworms, always use moist food to feed them. Adding water into the breeder is unwise, as this will interfere with the moisture balance. Mealworms, like other animals, prefer fresh food and vegetables. Foods like apples, potatoes, and carrots are ideal. In fact, potatoes should be your best bet when feeding mealworms, because it takes a long time before they become dry. They also do not mold as fast as most of the other food items do.

You should monitor the substrate level in the breeder and add more to counter the effect of moisture from the food. Too much moisture can also lead to molding, which will almost certainly interfere with your mealworms.

One of the other reasons why the water in the breeder is not advisable is that mealworms can easily crawl into the water, and drown in the process. Therefore, the best source of nutrition and water for your worms is the fruits and vegetables you feed them.

How to raise mealworms

How to raise mealworms

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Life Cycle Stages

At each stage in their life, you need to take care of the mealworms so they can make it to the next stage, and keep the cycle going. The first rule is to make sure that each stage proceeds in a separate container. If you leave them together, the mealworms and beetles can feed on the pupa.

You must also be aware of how long it takes for the mealworms to grow from one stage to the next. At the point of purchase, especially for your first batch of mealworms, confirm with the seller how long they have been in that particular stage. This gives you sufficient time to plan and prepare the correct living conditions for them.

Mealworms typically stay in the larvae stage for around 10 weeks. Therefore, if you bought mealworms which are already grown into their adult stage, there’s a good chance you have a very short time to get them through the next stage. This is information the seller should provide you upfront. Otherwise, for your next batch of mealworms, you should be good to go, since you will have bred them on your own, and are fully aware of how long it took them to get to the next stage.

Larvae and beetles feed on the same type of food. You should, therefore, make sure you keep them satiated. However, once they morph into the pupal stage, they do not eat at all. It is also advisable that you transfer any pupa into a different container from the main breeding container.

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