How To Raise and Grow Your Own Mealworms

Want an the easy method to raising mealworms for the birds. Here it is! by Joe Bryant

What You'll Need To Get Started

  • One RUBBERMAID - Jumbo Storage Box - 50 gallons - 42.7 X 21.4 X18.0 Sells for about $15 at Lowes and Menards, about $16 with wheels) Note: The container must be opaque because they must be raised in the dark.
  • One 50# bag of WHEAT BRAN - about $10 from any feed store, and bake what you need as you need it in an oven until it's all hot enough to destroy any eggs of mealy bugs. You can store extra in the bag in a freezer until you need more.
  • 2 paper grocery sacks (cut off the bottom, cut up the sides, and fold in half and put on top
  • CARROTS (whole) and/or potatoes cut in half, cut side down (make three columns lengthwise). They must have these for moisture. Carrots are much easier to work with and don't cost that much more than potatoes.
  • 5,000 mealworms measuring 3/4 inch size can be ordered from: Duncraft for about $39 plus shipping. You can always shop around.
  • Setting Things Up

    Now Let's get started growing our mealworms, Pour four to six inches of wheat bran into the container (add more later when you see that they need it), put the carrots/potatoes on top, dump all the mealworms on top, cover them with the grocery sack paper, and do nothing until the large mealworms turn into white, motionless grub that then turn into beetles.

    Once you have several hundred beetles, start collecting/using the large ones that crawl between the folded paper by sliding them into a container. Do this every other day whether you need them or not; they can be kept indefinitely in a ventilated container in the refrigerator.

    Those being kept in the refrigerator should be taken out for two or three hours each week so that they can be fed wheat bran and watered with carrots. Don't bother with the dead beetles; the baby worms will suck them dry, and their body parts will sift to the bottom of the container along with the feces dust and molting skins that the they produce from eating the wheat bran. Notes:

    1. Don't use egg crates, etc., they're a pain in the neck. With the paper sacks, you can slide the large ones into a container easily. Carrots leave only a long, hard core; they and the dried potato skins should be removed occasionally.
    2. For some reason that I cannot explain, only the large worms crawl into the folded paper once the process starts. Stay up with removing most (not all) of them, or you will have a million mealworms on your hands in a very short time, and an odor will develop.Each pair of beetles will produce several hundred babies. 60 beetles will produce several hundred babies for each of 30 days in a month, SO STAY UP WITH THEM.

    3. Keep the container in a heated room during spring and summer, but store in a cool garage when you will not need them. Heat and moisture are needed for growth.

      During the summer, I just lay the lid over the top; during the winter, the handles of the Rubbermaid Jumbo Box have vent holes that provide all the ventilation they need. Mealworms will multiply at temperatures ranging from 65 - 100 degrees F. The optimum seems to be about 80 degrees. I keep my house at about 74 degrees during the summer. I only keep them inside because it's more convenient.

    4. Remember that this is not rocket science; they know what they're supposed to do and will do what they're supposed to do. All you have to do is be sure that they always have enough wheat bran and carrots.

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