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Major's Mealworm Journal


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#1 Offline Major - Posted August 23 2018 - 11:31 AM

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When you have ants, you've got to have a food source. I was sick of taking trips to petco to buy more mealworms, or going outside to find insects, so I have decided to start breeding them.

I went to petco and bought around 70 mealworms. Then I put them in this little portable aquarium and filled it up with some crushed oats. I give them the occasional potato or apple, one time I even gave them strawberries.

I didn't see any pupae even though I had some pretty fat ones. I eventually got my first 2 pupae. Well, at least I think their pupae. They were these mealworms that we're starting to curl up and not move so that's my best guess. At first I though they were dead so I picked one up with my hand but it but me? No, it wasn't it's little prickily legs, I have felt that before. It was a very sharp bite, even two tiny marks on my hand. Haven't been bitten by a mealworm before, is this something that the pupae do as a defense? I have been urinated on by a mealworm though... :lol:

Well, enough of my rambling here's a couple pics.

Setup:


Pupae:

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#2 Offline AntsAreUs - Posted August 23 2018 - 11:34 AM

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I don't think you would want to keep the pupa in a test tube. They can come out just fine without a lot of humidity.


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#3 Offline Major - Posted August 23 2018 - 11:55 AM

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Hmm, then maybe I'll try one in a test tube, and the other just in the normal set up.
"You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."

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#4 Offline Major - Posted August 26 2018 - 9:15 AM

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The pupae are turning darker, the top half is almost all black.

I also fed a dead mealworm to a massive Tetramorium Immigrans colony near me. I check on the the next day, and the shell is even gone. :)

Edited by Major, August 26 2018 - 9:16 AM.

"You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."

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#5 Offline DaveJay - Posted August 28 2018 - 2:59 AM

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I have photos for a "how to" thread but you've started right for my method, although if you have more oats you could add them, when the oats are all turned to frass you have to decide whether to clean out the container or just add more oats. I usually only clean them out every few years myself.
On top of the oats you should add egg carton, top that with flat pieces of cardboard and add more layers ending with cardboard, creating mealworm 'condos'. I like to put holes in the cardboard and some in the egg carton for easy access for the worms and beetles. Leave one end bare so you can add food directly to the oats. Carrot and spinach/chard are staples (for the essential vitamins and minerals they contain, important when feeding to fish and reptiles, perhaps for invertebrates too) but a wide variety of vegetable and fruit scraps can be fed.
A recent innovation I stumbled upon is adding brown paper bags to the top of the enclosure. There are always enough worms and pupae in the bags that dismantling the egg cartons and digging in the substrate is not required, I get about 60ml of worms just out of the bags in each enclosure and put most of the pupae back into the bags.
I assume higher yields might be had by separating the stages but I've been doing it this way for decades without feeling I needed to. The bags I've only been adding for 5 or 6 years but it's made a big difference, no more wrecking it all and digging around, I tip the bags out onto the inverted lid, pick out all I need and pour the rest back.
One thing I've found is that particularly with new colonies they can develop a cycle where they seem to be all mostly in the same stage, all pupae, all beetles or all worms. This can be overcome by buying more worms every few weeks after setting up for a couple of months, or if you have more than one mealworm colony keeping them in different rooms (different temperatures and temperature cycles).
They are really easy to keep, I never remove food, it just gets swallowed down into the oats where any left will dry out and shrivel, I clean them out probably 3 times a decade and harvest them just by tipping out paper bags, it really couldn't be easier! :)
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#6 Offline Major - Posted August 28 2018 - 4:24 AM

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Thanks! One think I've found that the mealworms prefer their oats pretty crushed, I'll be adding some today. I fed them a whole apple yesterday or the day before and that was a flop (sliced.) Last time I fed them apple slices, they devoured it. Maybe their just not hungry?

The test tube was getting moldy fast so I just left the pupae in the bin.
"You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."

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#7 Offline DaveJay - Posted August 28 2018 - 4:58 AM

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I usually mix the normal rolled oats with the quick cooking sort. I've never had much of a reaction to apples, carrot seems to be by far the favorite food of both beetles and worms, I have time lapse photos of half a carrot disappearing over 3 hours! I expect the initial reaction to apple was probably more for moisture than food. With regular vegetable feeding they don't go through the oats very quickly at all, perhaps a kilo per year. With a new colony thin slices of carrot are best so that the leftovers dry out rather than go mouldy but a mature colony can have carrots cut lengthways or large chuncks.
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#8 Offline DaveJay - Posted August 28 2018 - 5:53 AM

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Oh, and I fed the ants pupae that I cut in half, they are liquid inside during the most of their development and the ants just left empty shells, they were a big hit.




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