Farming our own mealworms became a natural extension of our backyard wildlife care, freeing the fridge space of keeping bought larvae, and saved a lot of money.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED to start your own mealworm farm:
Two containers. Any handy container, 8 – 10 inches deep, with smooth sides, will work; they won’t crawl out. We use five-gallon buckets because we already had them on hand.
Enough bedding material (which is also the food source) to add 2 – 3 inches in each container. We use oatmeal.
Decent size potato (or apples will work too) for moisture. Replace when moldy.
~ 20 meal worms to start the farm. If you can start your farm with adult beetles, cutting at least 6 weeks time for mealworm production.
Fill the bottom of a five-gallon bucket with 2 – 3 inches of oatmeal.
Cut a potato in half (long ways) and add to the container fresh cut side down. This will be their water source.
Place in a dark area and keep at room temperature or warmer. We keep ours in a utility area.
Adult beetles eat their own eggs, so separate the adults from the eggs. Giving the adults enough time to lay eggs, at about 2 weeks after the beetles appear, transfer the beetles to another similar container, where they can lay more eggs without eating the ones they just laid.
The second container can wait to be filled when these adults are ready to be transferred. It will take about 3 months to get a good production of mealworms started. This time is made up as 6 weeks from the time the mealworms are added to the bucket until mealworms pupate and about another 6 weeks (or more depending on the temperatures) to become adults.
Check on them from time to time, replacing with fresh potato and apple, and transferring the adults. For our farm production level, it is relatively low maintenance. With our initial 20 mealworms we are able to maintain enough population for our bluebird’s needs.
There is more in-depth how-to grow your own mealworms available.Before we began, we researched how-tos on-line. Using available information, we then fine tuned, through trial and error, the how-to for our specific circumstances. For example, our research recommended keeping the growing site humid. In our area of Raleigh, we are naturally humid, so we didn’t worry too much about adding humidity. However, if you live in a drier climate, you should add a wet sponge to increase the humidity.
For our home use, we find the farming of mealworms easy to do and a no biggy in the add-on of chores and responsibilities.The bluebirds (and chickens)
seem to appreciate our efforts.
Executive Director, Bee Better