Raising Your Own Mealworm Farm

  • Mealworms are an excellent food source for all kinds of critters!  Here at Rose Shadow Ranch, we raise them to help feed our chickens, ducks and quail.  Starting your own mealworm farm is easy!
  • Here it is in a nutshell:
  • You’ll first want to purchase your mealworms.  They can be purchased at feed stores, pet stores, and bait stores.  We buy ours at a local pet store.  We started with 100 which cost us $3.
  • Place mealworms in a shallow plastic container (I recycle plastic lunch meat containers and these are perfect). Poke small holes in the top for ventilation.
  • Add 1-3″ of bedding/food: wheat bran, and/or oatmeal I have found work best!
  • mealworm 2For moisture, add a small wedge of an apple, a carrot or half a potato.  The mealworms will also drink from this.
  • Ideally keep at around 80°F (room temperature is fine too) and around 70% relative humidity.
  • Periodically (about every 1 to 2 weeks) sift out beetles from bedding whichwill contain the eggs/tiny worms. Once worms are big enough, sift the waste and bedding out once a month, dispose of in garden, wash and dry container, return worms and add new food.mealworm 3
  • Timetable and Life cycle:  Mealworms have an egg, larva, pupa and beetle stage. Depending on food and temperature, it takes about 100 or more days for them to complete their life cycle. Therefore, if you want worms in the spring, start your colony in November or December. For every 20 beetles, you should get about 300-350 adult mealworms in about 200 days.
  • Stage Time*
    Egg Incubation 4-20 days.
    Larva 10 weeks. Visible after about a week
    Pupa 6-20 days
    Beetle and Egg Laying 8-12 weeks (followed by death). Egg laying starts 4-20 days after emergence 
  • Eggs hatch into larva.
  • Larvae burrow below the surface of the grain and undergo a series of molts (10-20), shedding their exoskeleton.
  • The last molt occurs about 3 months after the egg stage. Newly molted worms are white, and the exoskeleton has not hardened.
  • The fully grown larvae (worms) are golden brown and 0.98-1.50 inches long.
  • The larvae come to the surface. They turn soft and plump, stop moving, curl into a “C” shape, and then transform into naked white pupae that turn yellowish brown after a day. The pupae don’t eat or move much.
  • Adult darkling beetleAfter 6 -20 days, the pupae turn into beetles. At first the beetle is white/light beige with a soft shell, and then it darkens and hardens to red, brown, and finally turns dark brown/black after about 2-8 days. The beetle is about a 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long and slightly flat. Males and females are indistinguishable. They can not fly, but they can move very quickly.
  • Beetles lay their eggs 9-20 days after emergence. They lay for 2 to 3 months, and then die. Each female beetle lays about 250-275 tiny, bean-shaped white eggs – about 40 per day. The eggs are seldom seen because they are sticky and rapidly become coated in substrate.
  • Egg incubation takes 4-20 days.
  • The cycle begins again as the eggs hatch into tiny whitish larvae, which may not be easy to see for several weeks.
  • In 4-6 weeks they will be about 0.5″ long.

That’s it in a nutshell!

2 thoughts on “Raising Your Own Mealworm Farm

  1. Thanks so much for the info. I want to raise these for my chickens. When do I feed them to the chickens if I want to keep raising them. Do I keep a 100 from my first batch?

    Kim

    • Hi Kim!

      Yes always keep some from your first batch that way you can keep them going. 100 will quickly turn into 1000′s so just keep them rotating and you should have a continuous supply.

      ~Christa

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