Authored by Bolverk Loddfafnir, of Ragnarok Reptiles.
I am breeding mealworms for my reptile collection, due to the requests of others, I have decided to write a small guide about how I establish a self-sustaining mealworm breeding project.
This is only ONE way to do it. It’s also the way that works best for my schedule, and methods. It is not by any means, the only way. Other ways may work best for others. As always I suggest experimenting on your own, to find what works best for you. I hope this is informative and helps you maintain a less expensive reptile feeder supply. Depending how large you are looking to go I usually start with 10,000 mealworms to start a functioning farm.
Sunday is my insect/invertebrate day so all activities are only done once a week. Depending on size of your farm, time required is roughly 1-3 hours per week.
**repeat each process until you’re at the next step** Time may vary depending on individual circumstances and is not necessarily accurate for everyone.
Week1– In the beginning it’s just removing the pupa from the worms (I find a higher metamorphosis rate when kept separately) I keep a bin for just the pupae. I label these, aliens.
Week 4 – you should hopefully have some of your aliens turning into beetles. This is when I set up the “beetle” bin. I lay about ¾-1” of substrate (oatmeal, bran, gut load or whatever medium works best for you) and move all the newly changed beetles from the alien bin to the beetle bin.
Week 6 – beetles lay their eggs roughly every 10 days. So I give the beetles 2 weeks in the beetle bin to let them do their thing. Every 2 weeks I start a NEW beetle bin with substrate and move the beetles. (This allows each bin to contain roughly the same size worms once they reach feedable size)
Week 12 – by this point your original lot of 10,000 mealworms has either fully turned or died out. Again based on your individual needs this may be a good time to acquire more mealworms to use to convert (as your bins will not have grown enough to be used yet)
You will also notice if you look in your first bin micro mealworms. The process has begun.
Week 18-24 – by this point you will have small – medium sized mealworms and may even be used to start feeding.
Week 30-35 – by this point you should have mealworms starting to turn back into pupae. This is what you start using instead of relying on purchased mealworms. You are now at the point where your mealworm farm has become self-sustaining.
Tips and tricks for Mealworm Breeding:
By only using ¾-1” of substrate, when the mealworms have grown to a decent size they will have eaten most/all of the substrate and only left with frass, which is much easier to filter.
Depending what you use for food and substrate there is NO smell and helps with how “dusty” the frass is while filtering.
To move the beetles from one bin to the next I use their food. While doing the daily activities I put a piece of celery in and within minutes they will have covered it, pick this up and empty them in the new bin. Repeat 2 or 3 times and you will have 85-95% of the live beetles moved.
Label your bins so you can see when they were produced, how long they took to reach size and keep them in order of growth rate.