It seems I am trying to be gross with some of my recent posts but really . . it’s just life around here.
First, I’ll give you a little much needed, and I’m sure – much appreciated, lesson on the life cycle of a mealworm! 🙂
When I order them, they arrive as the larva, or the “worm”. That is the stage at which I feed them to the chickens or bluebirds. Before they were larva, they were eggs . . tiny little eggs, about the size of a speck of dust. I can say that I’ve never seen an egg . . the mealworm beds are full of them but I just never see them.
The eggs hatch out in 1 to 4 weeks, then they’re larva (worms) for 8 to 10 weeks. Then, for my purposes, they’re pretty useless, aggravating and nasty!
Then it turns into the grosses, weirdest looking little pupa. I feel sorry for the thing. No mouth, no butt, doesn’t eat, can wiggle a bit but it just sits there .. for 1 to 3 weeks and then it turns into a darkling beetle . . which I really detest. When they’re a few weeks old, they begin to mate, lay eggs and the process begins anew. The adult beetle can lay hundreds of eggs. So, I need the beetles in order to get baby mealworms.
But, I do not need a million beetles, laying 100 million eggs.
During the winter, I fed them (celery) but I didn’t thin out the beetles. It was cold and I just didn’t do it but I won’t let them go like that again.
The above picture was after I had picked out hundreds of beetles. This container holds 21 cups and it was close to full of beetles and worm “exoskeletons”.
The chickens were quite happy with their treats! I figured there are enough eggs left in all the worm boxes that I don’t even need any beetles so I pulled out as many as I could get – I think I got all the live ones out and most of the dead ones.
All five beds are as clean as they’re going to get for now. There’s fresh wheat bran and chicken starter for substrate/bedding . . whatever you want to call it. They mostly eat celery, potatoes and apples. I seem to have the best luck with celery.
A few of the fat, juicy worms went into a bluebird feeder! I only put out a few at a time because they go in a cup and if it rains, the cup fills up with water and the bluebirds won’t eat the soggy worms.
Feel better knowing all this?
Katie Z. says
I really enjoy this information! Our compost bin seems to have become a breeding ground for meal worms, so maybe I’ll fish a few out for the chickens the next time I open it
I enjoy learning things from you. Even things I don’t need or plan to use are fun when you write them. You ought to put these in a book for your. Granddaughter. Maybe Shutterfly or something like that.
I agree with the bluebirds. Soggy worms don’t sound very appetizing. 🙂 I don’t think I would be cut out to be a country girl. Raising Mealworms isn’t on any of my future to-do lists. I had a hard enough time disposing of the dead vole in my basement. (If it had been in the un-finished area, I may have ignored it longer than I did.)
UGH, that is just downright nasty and no WAY I’d be doing all of that (digging thru and pulling out worms, beetles, worm poop, etc). The bluebirds would be on their own for their food and the chickens would just eat what I give them! HA
Linda in TX says
I love whatever you write about. I grew up in the country and am able to handle just about anything. I’m not saying that I’d like to handle it all but I could do it if I had to. My dad was very definite about that!
Somewhere back in my school days, probably for a science class, we had meal worms and had to take them home for some reason. The only thing I really remember was that my mother was not at all happy about having meal worms brought into the house. They probably went down the toilet! Thanks for posting such interesting activities on your little farm. 🙂
From my own experience with mealworms and second graders, I’ll take the mealworms over second graders for mess-makers any day. LOL They are pretty hardy. I put them in a container in the closet over the school summer holiday, and when I took them out and put new bran in, they came out and did well. I rarely put much in besides the bran, just enough potato to give them water, and they did well. The students liked to pick out some and have races across their desks. Really kind of weird races. =)