1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Have your mealworms ever built a chrysalis?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by azygous, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,527
    2,460
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    One of mine apparently has. [​IMG]
    It's in the upper left corner of the tray. (The larger object in the center is a carrot.)
    [​IMG]


    Here's the back story. Sometime back I posted on the meal worm thread about my larvae failing to morph into the pupae stage. It was due to the type of substrate I was using which seemed to have juvenile growth hormone, possibly naturally induced.

    The feed is wheat bran but finely processed. The worms in it never advance to the pupae stage, instead growing to an inch and a quarter in length and even larger.

    This morning I opened the container and found a chrysalis. It's about an inch and a half long. It certainly isn't part of any vegetable matter I placed in the container for moisture. I use whole carrots.

    Is this something new? Or have others experienced this? There has never been a pupa in this tray of larva. This worm has gone directly to a chrysalis from larva stage.
     
  2. Sophocles

    Sophocles Out Of The Brooder

    36
    15
    28
    Mar 15, 2017
    I only had a mealworm farm for a couple of months before I had to get rid out of it, so correct me if I'm wrong, but mealworms don't have a chrysalis stage. It goes egg, larva, pupae, beetle.
    A chrysalis is just a specific term for a kind of pupa, usually applied to butterflies.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,527
    2,460
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're so correct! This is why this chrysalis is unique. The photo should be self evident that this isn't a case of mistaken terms.

    This meal worm tray has a lid secured to it so no other insects could possible have gotten in. I raid this tray every day to feed my chickens, and this chrysalis was not present 24 hours ago.

    I measured it, before only estimating, and it's exact length is an inch and a quarter long, the length of the other meal worms in this tray.

    I have other trays of meal worms on Red Mill wheat bran. They morph from larvae to pupae to beetles in a normal fashion. So this tells me for certain that it's the type of substrate that is preventing these particular larvae from advancing to the pupal stage. Instead they keep growing to super lengths. The worms on wheat bran grow to an inch long, then morph. Out of thousands of meal worms, none of my larvae on this "feed" have reached the pupa stage. The grain is a generic "feed", so labeled, sold at my local Big R farm store. It's the consistency of corn meal, but smells like wheat.

    Finding this chrysalis this morning was a shocking surprise because I've been raising meal worms for five years, at least, and I know from long experience, let alone empirical fact, that meal worms do not form chrysalises as a stage in their morphing process. This is sort of like discovering your cat has just laid an egg.

    And please, don't even suggest I'm doing a troll job here. This is legitimate. I'll be keeping close watch on this "object" and will update if I see any changes in it.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,278
    5,178
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    I'm guessing that you had some sort of catterpillar hike a ride in the grain. Can you take this chrysalis out, and put it in it's own container with some of the substrate for isolation? The only other thought I have is that it was infected with some sort of virus/fungus causing it to develop a funky shape. Kind of like galls on plants. This is totally not normal. How bout contacting an entymologist at your state university? [​IMG]
     
  5. PapaBear4

    PapaBear4 Out Of The Brooder

    86
    13
    44
    Feb 25, 2014
    Maryland
    I would guess that a moth snuck in there at some point and laid eggs. One has clearly thrived! Or at least survived. I wouldn't be shocked if a few more made an appearance over the coming weeks.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,527
    2,460
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Except I had a tight-fitting lid on the container, and it's in my house.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,527
    2,460
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    LG, I am pretty anal about my worms, visiting them every day and fussing with their substrate. I am pretty sure I would have noticed a strange worm or caterpillar in the substrate as I sift through for the largest worms to feed out to the flock. This substrate was also treated at 250 F for 45 minutes to kill all grain mites before introducing it into my meal worm trays, so it would also have killed any other foreign insects in the grain. No caterpillar or wild worm could have gotten into the tray since I have lids locked on at all times. All obvious evidence points to the meal worms undergoing an unorthodox change due to the nature of the substrate.

    I'm snowed in at the moment, but when I can once again escape my winter fortress, I will trot this over to my university extension office and see what they have to say about it.
     
  8. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    21,187
    4,681
    496
    Jun 18, 2013
    NH
    subscribing for updates [​IMG] i wanna see what comes out of that thing
     
  9. Sophocles

    Sophocles Out Of The Brooder

    36
    15
    28
    Mar 15, 2017
    Between A) a mealworm made a chrysalis or B) accidental contamination with a different species despite your care, I'd say the latter is more likely. :p
    But I'm curious what it is.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,278
    5,178
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Waiting with baited breath. (pun intended.)
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by