Self sorting Mealworm farm?

artchic528

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
16
Less smelly and easier Mealworm farm?

Hello! I know I don't post a lot, rather I just lurk about from time to time, but now I have some questions pertaining to mealworms.

I am setting up a self sorting mealworm farm so I always have mealworms on hand. Its going to be a three drawer system with mesh screens on the bottom of the drawers. I am starting with about 200 mealworms, a number that won't overwhelm me when they pupate into darkling beetles and then reproduce and I wind up with hundreds of thousands of mealworm larvae on the first cycle.

I tried setting up a farm in the past and I guess I didn't do it right because I didn't get any mealworms from my beetles, probably because I didn't sort anything out and everything was all in one bin thus resulting in mass cannibalism, and mostly it just smelt of sour milk and ammonia mixed together. The smell made my eyes water everytime I opened the bin. I eventually gave up and put the bin outside for the woodland creatures to pick through. I should add that I put sliced potatoes in the bin for moisture (about one russet potato sliced up in fourths for roughly 1000 mealworms and then eventually their beetle forms).

I discerned that I put too much potato in the bins, and too moist a potato. I should have put only a single slice of potato that I've blotted with paper towels to lesson the moisture. The excess moisture from the unblotted potatos was fouling the bran and causing a bad smell. Also, I didn't clean out the bin regularly and the dead and decaying bodies of the worms, pupae and beetles was creating a foul smell.

So, I think this time around, I'll put a small amount of carrot in the bins/drawers and because the drawers have mesh screening on the bottom, it'll auto sort to some extent and I can just take the drawer of frass out from below (if its from the beetles I can then set it aside and watch for mealworm larvae to appear later on) clean it further and use it in the garden (I've heard good things about gardening with mealworm frass).

I guess I should get to the point and my questions. I would like to know how to further reduce the sour milk/ammonia smell, and any advice and/or tips to making the process of farming mealworms less difficult.
 
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edgeofthefreak

Arachno-titled!
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Apr 2, 2012
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496
I don't really breed meal worms, I just let them breed. They certainly have a smell about them, but since they can't climb smooth plastic, mine live on bran with carrots, in a repurposed, very lid-free butter container.

Change the carrots every few days, and after the beetles have passed on, there's usually a bunch of little worms in the frass at the very bottom.

I guess I don't really have any advice, but my redneck method works wonders for the small number of worms I'm hoping to produce. Your method sounds robust! At best, I can recommend leaving carrots in your fridge until they slightly dessicate, that way they can sit on dry bran a little longer.
 

Beary Strange

Arachnodemon
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
672
I love that auto-sorting idea. As it is now I just move the beetles every couple of weeks and dump the oatmeal into my worm bin- but that's a pain so thanks for the idea. :D
Mine have zero smell other than oatmeal, which doesn't bother me and there is nothing in my cups other than the sub, carrots and beetles. But I don't have a whole lot anymore, there are maybe 20 pairs all told in my little deli cups. The rest have been parted out to roach colony maintenance or were used as desperate measures feeders during a brief period when I had no roaches in sizes appropriate for a few of my Ts...one of which seems to prefer the beetles to roaches now as a result. :/
 

JeromeTabuzo

Arachnobaron
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
326
I breed mealworms , i just place the mealworms ( i bought from a store) in a container and dropped oatmeal in there and a few fish flakes and to provide moisture , what i do is placing it in a small container ( to avoid molding and moisture) , and i check it everyday and pick out the pupas and place them in a container , and when beetle emerged , i place them in another container and placed oatmeal and a tissure roll , i also placed a bowl for moisture , i transfer the beetle to another tank after two weeks (to stop beetle from eating its eggs). btw i give my beetles and mealworms potatoes for moisture and they love it very much!! Hope i helped :)
 

artchic528

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
16
Okay, decided to post the pictures of my setup. It consists of a Sterilite three drawer unit, which can be found in stores like Target and Walmart. Its the smallest drawer system they make, as far as I know.

100_1193.jpg

The first drawer, designated as the "beetle" drawer, has several holes drilled into the bottom in a circular fashion, leaving a small lip. This allows for the eggs and newly hatched larvae to fall through to the second drawer, designated as the "mealworm" drawer, so that they won't be eaten by the beetles. I don't have any beetles yet, as I just set up the system.

100_1194.jpg

The second drawer is left undrilled and, like I mentioned before, is designated the "mealworm" drawer. The mealworms will be in here, doing their larval stuff (mostly eating), until they pupate. I have around 95-100 mealworms in there right now. I tossed in a baby carrot cut longwise into thirds, and then blotted with a paper towel to prevent excess moisture from spoiling the wheat bran.

100_1195.jpg

The third drawer is for pupae to rest until they emerge as beetles. Its also empty as again, i just got the mealworms today and they aren't pupating yet. When the beetles full emerge, I will put them in the first drawer and they will get on with their freaky beetles selves and make and lay a couple thousand eggs each. The eggs will drop into the second drawer and I'll have a second generation of mealworms to either feed my critters, or let pupate and become beetles to keep the circle of life going.

100_1196.jpg

I also have a few extra baggies full of wheat bran, as seen in the first picture. I might go out and get more mealworms to add to the culture as time goes on.
 

edgeofthefreak

Arachno-titled!
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
496
So organised! This setup would work well for Zophobas morio, the superworm. They most certainly cannibalize their own eggs, larvae, beetles, pupae, etc. I just might start a separation system for my meager colony. Thanks for sharing!
 

JeromeTabuzo

Arachnobaron
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
326
I suggest you placing petroleum jelly outside the containers , the ant are attacking colonies.
 

artchic528

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
16
I suggest you placing petroleum jelly outside the containers , the ant are attacking colonies.
Really? Ants? I don't have a problem with ants in my house, at least outside the kitchen. I will keep my eyes open for any invading the colony. Thanks for the heads up.
 
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