Mealworm diet - sourmash / sourdough

Has anyone ever tried this with their mealworms?

I'm going to experiment at some point, curious if anyone has tried it. I'll update in the future as I test.


  • Hi oskizzle, - Fermenting grain/bran would change some of the carbohydrates into simpler sugars. Presumably the larvae don't then need to use enzymes to do that & their metabolism directs more energy into growth.

    Link's mash recipe of fermentation is using dextrose (another term for glucose); which is probably mostly used up by batch microbes. It also includes young chicken chic feed & that is, a protein boost (anabolic builder). Figure if product is for 6 week old chick's (pullets) about 18% of chick feed is protein (could be 20-24% protein formula younger).

    Sourdough fermentation microbes include some protein degraders (proteolytic); this creates more free amino acids & loose peptides. In certain sourdough products the free aminos can be almost 3 times more abundant than otherwise.

    Fermentation changes the physical structure of glutenin. The configuration changes under the influence of pH shifting (microbe driven) & gives more unusual orientation of the atoms' arrayed; which opens gluten in up for cleaving nitrogen formats (peptides/aminos) free for metabolism when ingested.

  • edited August 24

    In simpler terms, it could be good for the mealworms and could result in larger/quicker growth (compared to a standard diet of wheat bran/potatoes/carrots in similar raising temp/humidity)?

    Any impact to pupation, would it potentially help in delaying it?

  • HI oskizzle, - I presume this would accelerate pupation; since, if can extrapolate, low protein diets slow caterpillar development & retard time to pupation. We are discussing freed up amino acid availability as opposed to protein assemblages.

    In insects by their last instar before pupate their fat body is where they are assembling amino acids they cleaved from food (or recycled internally) into proteins; if they don't have to wait for their digestive enzymes to cleave loose the aminos then they can put those amino acids into use faster. During the beginning portion of the stadia of last instar this protein assembling goes on quite robustly & then those proteins are sent out into circulation (haemolymph); these kinds of proteins (not bound up in tissues) are not only enzymes (enzymes are proteins) but also involved in dynamics moving other molecular assemblies about (ex: lipophorin, the insect version of human lipo-proteins such as our well known circulating LDL).

    Then there is a segue in the late portion of the stadia of last instar, such that a significant portion of the proteins in circulation go back into the larval fat body. Apparently this is preparatory to pupation, since pupa do not synthesize a lot of proteins at first; although once pupae are chunky pharates they again gear up to perform more new protein assembly in their fat body.

    The criteria for developing from one larval stage to another & eventually pupa is driven by toggling levels of juvenile hormone & ecdysone hormone of a moult. Apparently either of these can ramp up fat body protein assembly.

    I think the issue is what specific proteins do these 2 different hormones provoke being synthesized; each hormone will have some impact on which genes start to express copies of what uniquely codes. Possibly the fermentation (sourdough/mash) cleaving proteins liberates specific amino acids in a ratio that those 2 hormones mentioned respond to &/or the fat body synthesizes more rapidly in proteins that activate those 2 hormones (juvenile & ecdysone).

    Meanwhile, bear in mind that quicker growth from higher protein diets has to judged in relation to the extra cost of labor you'll deal with. Consider also expense of protein for the substrate you are fermenting; bran is cheaper than bread flour & chick feed (which, depending of basic ingredients, is enriched in amino acids like lysine, methionine, tryptophan &/or threonine).

  • If you want to boost mealworm development bear in mind they are classed as holo-metabol-ous & the following tactic was used on an insect that was not holo-metabol-ous. Still, I think the tactic has a decent chance of working to make mealworm larvae larger. Search Forum using words "royal jelly" & also see Miyashita, et al. "Body-enlarging effect of royal jelly in a non-holometabolous insect species, Gryllus bimaculatus; link = ?

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