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Sifting....

Yes...I raised them for awhile before sifting. Now, after the fact, I am searing for good ideas of sifting. I have containers of Fraser about four inches deep. Do I scrape in inch layers to sift? Do the babies only go so deep? What is a good idea to get my farm healthier? I also fight moths. I have added cloth lids wit rubber bands which has stopped an increase but they are still regularly emerging. Is there a treatment to prevent them from growing in my mealworms? Anything to catch them before the egg laying process? For the eggs, what is the life of a beetle for egg laying? Just a few questions to ask. I am learning daily. Thanks to each for such helpful discussions and at times such detail. This site has given me more information than the last twenty I've read...thanks to all!

Comments

  • edited September 1

    Hi Debra, - Are you raising eggs, mealworm larvae, pupae & adults all together in one container? I think to get a healthier farm it is better to raise mealworms in their different stages in separate containers.

    A good start is to sift the adult beetles every week or so out of the food and put the food with the eggs laid into a container growing larvae, or even better a new clean container. Then give the adult beetles new food to eat & lay eggs in for repeating the cycle.

    4 inches of frass excretion build up is not desireable because it has a compound in it that acts like a signal & the larvae will finish their cycle slower. If you have more than one container of larvae then when a group of mealworm larvae stop growing & become pupae you can sift out the pupae in order to separate the old food with any frass excrement in order to clean the container.

    The moths might be from eggs that were in the food you bought for the mealworms & they will keep hatching into moths until there are no more of those eggs. The solution is to try & find some feed next time that did not get exposed to moths laying eggs.

    There is a "search" box at right side of page & it is a good way to find previous discussions on eggs & how long to use the same adult beetles. If you are not using a computer then go to bottom left page where says "version" & click on "web" because that way the search box will show up on a tablet.

  • Thank you. I'll sort all of them and compost the frasse. I'll save the top 1" in hopes of eggs. So...a beetle tray, an egg tray, a pupae tray and how many additional trays for eggs one more a week x 4? I'm going to switch to bran it's cheaper than oatmeal. OK? Also...I'm always worried about if my worms are thirsty. How many pieces of potato or carrot per square foot? Do they know there's water or do I have to constantly circulate or over water? Ok...thank you for all your beginning advice. I appreciate your time.

  • edited September 1

    Hi Debra, - It would be useful to you if other people reading the Forum also respond to you here. I am only producing mealworms in TinyFarm grow bags & do not use containers.

    If you can not search the Forum to find the way I farm them or the pictures of that please let me know & I will track some links for you. I decided that several compromises were acceptable to me instead of doing everything according to the "optimal" way research reports.

    My opinion is that mealworm larvae are not "thirsty" & they only consume moist vegetables once their mouth parts are big enough. Although I have no research to reference this position it seems that moist plant consumption is more for easily deriving soluble dietary components more so than extracting water moisture when the larvae already have a carbohydrate/protein food.

    I have very low mortality of larvae, at least as far as I know - but this may be wrong if actually have many early stage instars die that I am not noticing had decomposed (or been consumed by fellow mealworms). You should be able to search my experience with carrots posted elsewhere in the Fourm.

    What want to say now is that I always put radishes in with the adult breeding beetles. I think it was Andrew's team suggested radishes & I find them the most practical for me. If you can get them then I think you should try using them to see for yourself.

    Bran is the only food my mealworm operation ever uses; for larvae, pupation, mating beetles & eggs to live in. Hopefully the bran you find will not have moth eggs, so try to find out if it was stored in a way that you have confidence in.

  • I'm new, and definitely not as awesome as gringojay, but I'll share my experience since I do use containers.

    I'll have to give radishes a try, thanks gringojay!

    I've been using baby carrots and sweet potatoes so far. The bugs tell you how much they need. I like to replace the veggies every day, and keep them on plastic so they don't make the bedding gross... and I give just enough that they're just starting to chew holes through them. I couldn't tell you if that's the right way to do it or not.

    Sifting

    I only sift when I'm cleaning because I only have a couple thousand.

    • Eggs separate themselves from beetles automatically
    • new beetles separate themselves from pupae automatically
    • I still manually pick the pupa out by hand because there's only ~half a dozen a day and I do it daily. I plan to automate this eventually.

    If you use oatmeal, or anything else that can't be sifted, then put it in a blender before giving it to them. You now have oatmeal powder. To sift, just get a spare container, put a sifter over it, and dump the mealworms/feed into the sifter. The feed falls down so you can dispose of it. Then dump the mealworms into wherever you plan on keeping them. Try to separate the mealworms into multiple containers organized by age. You won't need to sift the youngest ones, and they would fall through the sifter anyway.

    TBH I'm trying to think of a way to automate my pupa picking process (say that 10 times fast) because I'm a lazy software engineer who automates all the things.

    Maybe something like dumping an entire container into a sifter that sits over another container, Leave all the feed and veggies in the bottom container and leave overnight so the larvae crawl down, leaving only the pupae in the sifter. No idea how well that'll work or whether it's somehow harmful.

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    Egg separation

    Top drawer has a mesh bottom and it's meant for beetles. Their feed is probably about 1cm deep. Apparently they burrow to lay their eggs, which then fall through the mesh and into the next container.

    I recently switched from oatmeal flakes (my newbie mistake) to a powdered mix for easier cleaning. But it introduces the problem of keeping the feed from falling through the mesh. So I laid paper towel down first. I don't know yet whether the eggs and babies will make it to the next container at all.

    You might notice I got fancy and glued a skewer to the outside of the container so when I open it, the container below it opens too. No more frass on the floor!

    Beetle separation

    There's also an old sandwhich container I put in the top drawer, with paper towel lining the inside, giving an upward slope. Pupae hatch, climb up it, fall into the beetle area, and can't get back in.

    Until earlier this week, I had the next three containers with larvae of different ages, but I just consolidated all of them into the bottom container. Not sure what I was thinking, probably a bad idea. Don't do that.

    So the bottom drawer is for larva. Food again is only about 1cm deep. I'm currently experimenting with putting scraps of paper towel in there because someone said they like to pupate between sheets. My experience has not confirmed this, but it's pretty early.

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    Moths

    Are the moths coming from outside, or did they originate in your mealworm containers? If they're from outside, you should be able to keep them out with flyscreen over your windows.

    If they're coming from the containers then maybe they laid eggs in the feed. In the future, you could try microwaving the feed before giving it to them (wait until cool). Apparently mite infestations are also an issue that microwaving solves.

  • I just would like to leave a comment of appreciation to both gringojay and EntoAaron. Your attention to detail, education and helpfulness is wonderful. Thank you...now, I must return to my worms.. :)!!

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