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Ultra Cheap Mealworm Production



  • Am I right in noticing that as meal worms grow they become dark and look almost dead - that's when they shed 'skin' and come out quite pale. :-?
  • Mealworms darken to a golden amber and stop moving much for a day or two before molting, but if they're turning black they're probably actually dead. How dark are you talking?
  • Pretty dark. I have some husks that look like a whole worm but have a hole in the underside... I'm guessing those ones died and got a bite out of them.
  • I'm starting to sense the difference now, good to know if they go real quiet they aren't necessarily dying.
  • When we get a wiki up we'll be sure to include photos of all the life stages and normal behaviors for reference!
  • I see now the reasons not to use paper egg cases. I will try to use some washed empty plastic coffee capsules (Nespresso like). Will make some holes on it for the mealworms to climb.

    @andrew the wiki is really a gr8 way to summarize all the information. I am available to help. As a matter of fact I am trying to put some info on google docs, maybe we could use this kind of thing or go to Github directly.

    What do we need to start this thing?
  • I created an empty Github project and wiki. I'll give you permission to edit the wiki - do you have a Github username?
  • Actually, it looks like anyone can already edit by default, so feel free to add some pages!
  • Great news @dansitu! I will add some structure of a starter guide for meal worm farming. Then everybody can edit and or change it completely.

    The first thing will be just the incomplete structure, and I promise to keep improving it. Since I am a newbie in insect farming, I count on the community to give some inputs. ;)

    Let's see how this thing will evolve!
  • Seriously awesome, thanks for picking up the torch here! It's really exciting to see things start to come together.

    We'll also get going on adding content related to the current Open Bug Farms designs ASAP.
  • I add some text structure there, it needs to edited and to be filled with some text, but we gonna make it!

    This is pretty awesome indeed. Open Bug Farms is really a great idea, and I am glad to contribute to this project.

    Here it is the draft:
  • Brilliant @Allen, looking forward to it!
  • Really great work everyone on getting the wiki rolling, especially thanks to @Allan! I've added a new page to house listings of other open source tools and resources available, like the plans for this awesome $10 platform to turn your phone into a microscope (with built in photograph and video capabilities of course). Here's a shot from our initial tests with it in our workshop:

  • Awesome! Did you get the infra red camera thingy working yet? ;)
  • edited February 2014
    I've got it plugged in and working, but i need to build a little mount to keep the camera steady to take good pictures. Here's how it came out of the box:

  • These are the possibly dead meal worms I mentioned earlier... or did they just moult?
    I have heaps of these black dry ones at this stage, I can tell some are just shells, others... not so sure. They should be close to pupau by now, I've had them for 1&1/2 weeks - WAIT UP! I JUST FOUND MY FIRST PUPAE!!!! =)) =))
  • edited February 2014
    HOORAY! Just had to experiment to see how to post the pic. Yup, I can be a techno dum-bum, but I get it in the end.
  • Looking forward to your fancy shots with the new equipment guys.
  • Awesome contribution @andrew! Thermal photography is really interesting and useful tool.

    @kerri I have some of these black worms too. I think that they are dead, but I am not 100% sure.
  • @Kerri Yea, those (black ones) are looking quite dead. Did they all die together like that on that, what is it, potato? Or did you put them there for examination? I wonder why you're getting so many dead ones (we've never had 'heaps of dry black ones') - it could be a number of factors like too hot/not enough humidity, or something they're eating.
  • Hi @jena, great to see someone new joining the conversation. Yes, I did put those ones aside to watch them, so I can see now that most or all of them are whole dead worms, so perhaps the ones that look like shells got eaten at. The shell cast offs look quite different (not black but thin & crumpled. I have many such deaths now (50-80?) and think I may have let them get too cool overnight (it's very hot by day here in Australia). I've added a heat matt (small) and am watching the temp at different times (don't want to cook them either!) Their food is fine, oat substrate (pre-frozen to sterilise) and carrot or potatoes. That leaves humidity which I imagine will come alongside the extra warmth. I would love to hear about what you are doing @jena, What you're breeding, how long for, what you have learned etc. :-h
  • @allen, Yup, I reckon they are well dead! (read jenna above) I have more pupae today, perhaps because I warmed them up.. or they were just ready.
  • @Kerri The shell/castoffs are just that - shells. In other words, old skins from molting - totally normal, the mealworms grow too large for their skin, they leave the old behind (appearing lighter in color and more energetic afterward) and grow new. This happens many times during their lifecycle. How cool do they get overnight? We've left ours outside in relatively cold temps for extended periods of time (45 - 60's), and the only effect we've seen is a prolonged larval and pupal stages. In my experience, too much heat/desiccation are more often the culprit than coldish weather.

    To answer your question on what I'm up to: I'm a Tiny Farms team member, am currently breeding crickets and mealworms, but have experience with a few other species like wax worms, roaches, and silkworms. Been at it for a couple years now.
  • Hi @jenna, - In Aus we use Celcius so I have to convert. Good advice though, I doubt it's the cool air (we have horrific raging fires here because of the hot summer) . I'll look into humidity, but how can you create that if it is cooler than say, 80 degrees F.? My heat mat is now keeping them at about 85 F (about 30 C) - Do you reckon that's OK? This is my first batch so I'm fairly clueless! X_X . I am also breeding my first batch of crickets and after adding some warmth have found them crowding towards the heat... so that must be the right thing there. No deaths in crickets that I know of so far. [-O<
  • Hi @Kerri - What kind of heat mat are you using? I think I will need to invest in one so just curious ;) Thanks, Yichong
  • Troubleshooting issues like mealworm deaths is the kind of subject that deserves its own forum thread - it will be particularly useful to future forum users, so I've copied the recent comments to this new thread:
  • @yìchóng I'm also interested in buying a heat mat for my mealworms and here it is a link to some heat mats on ebay:

    I wonder if the heat mat do not increase too much the costs of production. Anyone knows if it is expensive to keep a heat map for a small production during winter months?
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