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Beetle count question

I'm trying to determine the total number of beetles I should have in the growing containers I am using.

From this thread:

we get 8.4 beetles per 100 sq. mm.

my container is 508 mm x 406 mm, so 206248 sq mm. 206248 / 100 * 8.4 = 17324.8.

Is that right? I can fit 17,000+ beetles in my container? That seems like way too many...

Thank you for your help!


  • Cited research stated : " ... progeny per unit increased to a maximum at a density of 14 adults/dm2 ...." 1 dm2 = 100cm2 & I apparently wrote the conversion in mm. Will correct that now on original link, thanks for catching this.

  • Ah, okay, math in cm then...

    40.64 x 50.8 = 2064.5

    2064.5 / 100 x 14 = 289.03

    Is that accurate? Now it seems low...although it is early where I am so my brain isn't totally up and running yet.

    I also thought from the cited sources that it was more optimal to borrow with 8.4 per day, but above you use 14...?

  • You are correct the study authors last 2 sentences of their conclusion figure 8.4 beetles/dm2 (100 m2) is ideal "optimal adult density" for "most efficient" mass rearing. The full text is free on-line.

  • edited December 2016

    Take into consideration the study used equal numbers of male & female beetles in the rearing experiments. There is also a recommendation of frequently changing over the breeding pairs.

    Most of us do not know what the % of females are which are mating . Elsewhere in Forum issues of different male insects' paternity with a female that mates with multiple males is discussed. If you follow the researcher' advice on when to change out the breeding beetles (to some degree, not necessarily precise to the day) then my thinking is any disparate sex ratio among breeding beetles will statistically even out your production of live progeny.

  • Great point. I just expanded my growing area and am trying to fine tune my cycles. I plan to let the beetles lay for a week, switch them to a new bin, repeat. I'm now trying to figure out the pattern for replacing the beetles as they age.

    Fun times!

  • My bins are about 200 beetles would be quite lonely? I've assumed and keeping about 1000/1400 beetles in each bin.

  • edited March 2017

    Does this mean that my tower drawers (9.5inWx14inD = 858cm2) should only hold 120 beetles each? These numbers seem way too low. Even if it's for 'max progeny per unit', wouldn't the benefits of keeping larger populations in the same space far outweigh their slightly decreased progeny-per-unit amounts?

    For example (using loosely made up numbers): if 14 mealworms per 100 cm2 yield 200 progeny each, and 30 mealworms per 100 cm2 yield 120 progeny each, then wouldn't having more worms per cm2 ultimately yield more progeny per container? (2800 vs 3000 in this case)

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the biggest issue for most farming setups is the total container volume (quantity, cost, space). If there were unlimited containers, substrate, food, etc then maybe the 14/100cm2 ratio would be a realistic goal.

  • @Moofisilla - I think it is always a good idea to slightly over-populated and over-breed for your target output. It's hard to guarantee the complex web of factors that yield "optimum" growth and reproductions rates for every batch so you always want to give yourself some padding

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