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in Wildlife gardening
After another request i will start this thread about growing mealworms. It may sound strange, but I really enjoy raising mealworms. I have been growing worms for many years. Recently, I got my best crop so far.I wanted to tell you about my success and, hopefully, encourage others to give worm farming a try. I found that raising worms in clear plastic tubs filled with bran works well. I buy my bran cheap from foodstore. I like the tubs from Wilko because they are very clear, have a good depth and a lid 16Lts.( i started with smaller ) The other necessary supplies are mealworms, potatoes, carrots, apples, and yams.
To begin your own farm, you will need to get some live worms. You just need to find someone with a mealworm farm or try pet shops. Next, fill your tub with about six to eight inches of bran.( i did start with only a few inches )
After your farm is prepared, it is time to add the food. The worms will get their nutrition and hydration from the fruits and veggies that you provide. Their main diet needs to begin with raw potatoes sliced in half. This is where they will feed and turn into pupae. The potatoes need to be placed, cut side down, on top of the bran.
They will seek out the potatoes and begin to feed or they may just eat the bran. Soon, they will turn into pupae and then beetles (straw coloured at first but they will turn black) mate then lay eggs and then die. I remove the dead ones from the surface without disturbing the potatoes as the old ones begin to shrivel. Do not remove the shriveled potato pieces. This is where your hatchlings will be. After about a week, gently look underneath the oldest potatoes. You should see very tiny worms. Unless you began your farm in order to get hundreds of wiggly little pets, it will soon be time to harvest. Prior to using you worms as food for other creatures, they need to be "gut loaded". This will make them more nutritious. This is done by offering other food besides the potatoes, such as apples, carrots, and yams. Be sure to remove any uneaten pieces often to prevent mold from entering your farm.It is important not to over harvest your first crop if you wish to continue farming. As the worms mature, they will begin to look like little shrimp. This happens before they morph into beetles. The whole process only takes a few weeks. Ideally, you may want to set up more than one tub in order to maintain a large supply of worms. Two colonies will also provide you with many sizes of worms to choose from. Unless you are a bug wimp, growing meal worms can be easy and fun. It will also save money and provide you with a convenient and nutritious supply of worms. Deciding how many worms to harvest and how many to let continue their life cycle will depend on your rate of usage. You may need to experiment a little in order to raise the correct number of worms for your needs. The rewards of being a mealworm farmer are worth a little trial and error. Any questions then please ask.
Omg Edd this will save me a fortune buying these for my chickens!
Stacey Docherty wrote (see)
Omg Edd this will save me a fortune buying these for my chickens!
The hedgehogs love them too
I have a tropical pet shop nearby where they sell different types and some are big!
Edd - what can I say. Wormeries and now mealworms. You're a mine of information
Do you get invited to many dinner parties?....
I have to get invited every day as there is no food left in my place.
If its not the worms its the birds and hedgehogs.
Very interesting Edd, but I'm a tad squeamish with creepy craw lies and not sure I'd be brave enough. Really good info and very knowledgeable
Edd thanks for this im onto it, now does temperature mean anything as i want to do the worm farm and mealworm in the garage that has no heat.
Oh edd I wish I had hedgehogs I have badgers and apparently they don't mix with rata it hedgehogs but they do love meal worms as well.....
Thats a great guide Edd, thanks. How many worms do you first put into your tub to start the process off?
I tried it once but things got rather smelly but I think that was because the container I used was far too small, and with not enough bran. I put out live mealworms every year to coincide with bird nesting season, so I may give it another go.
Im lucky to live reasonably close to live foodsdirect..
Excellent Edd, thank you
Alan4711. Great question. If you look at the vermicomposting thread i have outdoor/cold garage and indoor photos.I will answer on the vermicomposting thread soon. There is a big difference between mealworm and red wigglers. The basic fact is mealworms need more heat (indoor heat) heat than vermicomposting.
LeadFarmer. The best answer i can give is. I used a icecream tub and about a closed hand full of worms. I bought them from a pet shop that does lizards and snakes and they were not cheap for the amount. Like i say about a hand full but that was all that was needed as they were live. The place is called coast to coast in North road, Darlington. but i have not been for years. It was online and i will have a look again. I should know as its 15min walk away.
When i say expensive i mean over £2 and under £4. so mot cheap for the amount.
Please let me know any questions. Smells in either bin system means it is too wet and things have gone 'sour' It is easily sorted out. Its normally to much food or water. It should smell like fresh woodland soil at worst and that is one for the sniffer thread. Do not worry about this until it happens then let me know as it is easily sorted. Never had smells with mealworms and only the odd occasion with composting worms, when i tried new food stuff.
Regarding the right temp for mealworms.
It takes four months or so before your mealworm culture starts to produce a steady and continuous supply of fully grown mealworms. You also need somewhere that is relatively dark and undisturbed, with a steady, moderately warm temperature (ideally around 22-30°C) I keep mine up stairs in a landing cupboard. the temp in there is 22°C and they seem to breed ok in there. I would have thought that a greenhouse would be ideal for these temps as long as they are kept covered up.
Hello LeadFarmer. I am not 100% sure how many i start each container off with. Its approximately 100. When i first started they came in 60g packets for £3. I have just looked and they are now £1. They also offer a bulk bag at a discounted price but do not give the price. They must be the cheapest on the internet at the moment. I have not bought any for years.
The larger worms are called Morio.
i feed the birds, and liked to grow them for the robin, all went well untill they stopped changing i just had a small tub of beetles.
i set them free into the garden
i may try again in the autumn.
I have found that the darkling beetle needs 22-25 degrees C to breed. This is the only time in the lifecycle that this temperature is needed at a constant rate. Try not to go below 21 Degrees for the whole process.
The female will lay hundreds of eggs at a time, but they are extremely difficult to see as they normally become consumed within the substrate. It is possible ( but highly improbable) that you only got male beetles.
I am also wondering where you got your first batch of worms as they might have been sterilized in the packaging process. I have never come across this problem though.
A friend of mine got some from Pets at Home and they have produced eggs. They are a bit more expensive from there. 60g- £2.49. 500g-£9.49
Thanks for starting this thread. I tried farming mealworms last year they started off indoors then I had to put them in the shed where they did less well. It was too cold for them I think, and I knew I hadn't been adding any wet/veg material so they wouldn't have been as happy. I had read that you shoul remove their droppings/frass. I was worried that I'd be throwing away eggs and bran. Do you ever clean them out completely or do you just harvest them all then start again? I found that the frass etc aggravated my asthma but a lid would help.