Some questions about raising mealworms. I've been doing it for years, but think I could improve the

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by feetsdr, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. feetsdr

    feetsdr New Egg

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    I've been raising mealworms for years now. After a pause, and we started over, the last mealworms we bought were in June 2015. Since then we've been raising several generations. But keep thinking I'm spending too much time managing them. Wonder if I can share some of my process and can those more experienced, let me know what you think I can do better?

    First, I only use wheat bran as bedding. At some point 5? years ago, I think I got a 'bad' bag of wheat bran and we started getting moths in the house. I tried catching them, but it got out of hand and I bombed the house with insecticide. That solved that, but as much as we went way beyond the directions to prep the house, etc. our dog got sick after that, likely from the bomb. She recovered, but that almost scared me off gowing mealworms. But then I learned to freeze the bran. Been doing that and haven't seen a moth since. (I just leave as much of the bran in the freezer as I can, till my wife complains.

    Besides the bran, for a while I was getting boxes of 'deer apples' from a nearby farm stand - the older apples with bruises, etc. I'd cut them up and put them in with the worms. Even at $5 for a large box, i was thinking it was getting pricey. I keep debating just buying live or dead worms - would that be more cost efficient. I like the growing experience so I'm doing that for now.

    I've moved away from the apples to the left overs of kale and spinach that we get at costco. I make breakfasts / lunch salads for my wife and use those. At the end of the week or 2, there's usually left over kale and spinach and I throw them in with the worms.

    So some of the places I think I'm wasting time:

    I manually rummage through the large plastic tray to get the big worms and put them in the fridge till I need them. that's tedious.

    Also, I manually pull out the pupaes and put them in another tray with bran to start the cycle over again. Also tedious to look for each and grab them.

    Over time, the tray gets LOADS of frass. I've gotten a metal strainer that I've sifted out the frass. But wonder if there's eggs in there so I leave the frass in another tray for a few weeks to see if there's anything. Sometimes there is a few. Not worth the trouble, but I'm afraid this'll be the time there's loads of eggs.

    So I got rid of the frass that way,. But there's loads of old skins in there with the worms and food. Do you just leave that alone?

    Somewhere in the threads here someone mentioned that the canibalism I feared isn't really an issue if you keep them well fed? that's good to know!

    Some people talk of stacked trays with screens on the bottom of the top ones. Eggs fall through to the 2nd tray? My thinking is that the frass will fall through.

    Through all this, do you just ignore the old skins, dead beetles, etc?

    How do you get the grown mealworms out of the trays other than manually? I saw someone here talk of newspaper? I am trying that - just laying some sheets on top of the bedding / food / worms. That gets some, but no way does it make any kind of a dent in the process.

    THANKS IN ADVANCE!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Could you use some sort of collander or appropriate sized screen, and put some of their favorite food in it, the larvae would migrate into that area, then you could lift it up and sift the smaller ones out?

    What state do you live in? Have you done any research on Black Soldier Fly Larvae? Those might be easier for you to grow and harvest if you are in the right climate. Those can be grown outside, and you can set up your culture so the larvae will crawl off into a harvest bin right in your run.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  3. feetsdr

    feetsdr New Egg

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    we' in NJ.

    I've seen Black Soldier Fly Larvae mentioned here. they fly?! so that will certainly be something to do outside. Wife will not have them in the house ; )

    This is for wild bird feeding.

    Collander - yeah, I have a couple sizes.

    But that's the thing - I can filter out the frass. but could those have eggs in it?

    None of the collanders filter out the worms vs. old skins. ANd the idea of leaving pupua and beetles in with the worms if there's enough food - that sound OK? but again, frass builds up (along with skins). I can filter frass, but don't want to toss worms. And I haven't found a way to filter worms vs. skins and old beetles.

    Not sure what food they like, but I've been putting newspaper on top and some worms crawl onto it.

    .
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I've not grown mealworms for a very long time. I found it to be more time consuming than the value of the outcome. Yes, filtering out the frass would also remove a bunch of the eggs. BSF are an outdoor insect. The adult looks kind of like a small wasp/flying ant. They have no mouth parts, can not sting. The adult has only one function: breeding to produce the next generation. The larvae grow in a rich compost type of environment. They excel in turning moist vegetative matter (think spoiled produce from the grocery store, and the like) into compost. They will not survive in a freezing environment, and need a fair amount of heat to breed and develop quickly.
     
  5. feetsdr

    feetsdr New Egg

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    Thanks for the info. Yeah, we'll pass n the BSF. Interesting, but not going to work for us.

    So anyone out there with tips on how they deal with buildup of frass, dead beetles and skins?
     

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