Mealworms are easy to raise and take little care or room. Raising your own for food or treats will save money and trips to the pet store.
Time Required: ongoing
- Get a small plastic tub for a container. Inexpensive clear containers with vented snap on lids are available at pet stores.
- Place 1-2 inches of substrate (which mealworms will eat) in bottom. Use bran, oats or a mixture of the two.
- Place 1/2 a potato on substrate or in a small dish (supplies moisture and food).
- Get around 2 dozen mealworms from the pet store.
- Place mealworms in container, which should be kept relatively warm.
- Replace potato every couple of days (do not let it get moldy).
- The mealworms are the larval stage; within 3 weeks they should pupate, then in another two weeks beetles should emerge.
- The beetles will lay eggs, which are minuscule and very difficult to see. When these hatch, the larvae are also very small.
- The beetles will die, while the larvae will grow and repeat the cycle.
- After one life cycle the colony should be well established and you can start using them for treats/food.
- Once feeding mealworms from the colony, you can offer a variety of vegetables and fruit (e.g. carrots, orange, greens) to increase the nutritional value of mealworms for your pet.
- Do not allow mold to grow on the food or substrate.
- Add bran/oats as necessary to maintain the substrate level. Start with fresh substrate occasionally (especially if mold or damp conditions develop).
- If you have too many mealworms, place the whole container in the fridge, as this will stop their development.
- Simply rewarm to room temperature when ready, and the colony will resume development.
- Do not change the substrate until the colony is well-established, as eggs and tiny larvae will be lost and the cycle interrupted.
- Once you have lots of mealworms, it is fine to completely clean out the substrate - filter out the mealworms, discard the substrate, and start over.