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@kerri: "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."
@jena: "@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."
@kerri: "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."
@jena: "@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."
@kerri: "Hi @jenna, - In Aus we use Celsius 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! . 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."