START-UP & MAINTAINING FARM INSTRUCTIONS
I'd be very careful of the sites that offer advice for raising mealworms, as they aren't raising them to feed to sugar gliders. Remember; what you feed your worms, you're ultimately feeding your gliders.
Order your mealies from Grubco: http://grubco.netstorekeeper.com/index.cfm?Product_ID=1
or Superworm farm: http://www.superwormfarm.com/index.cfm
or Wormman: http://www.wormman.com/
Get yourself five containers to start, I use the zip lock or glad containers that you can easily place holes at the top portion of the sides all around, but it’s your choice as to what kind you use.
1. The First container will be your feeder container - place what mealworms you will not be farming in this container in the fridge for cool storage, you may use the same mixture of bedding in this container listed below (Which is what I do).
2. The Second container will be for Mealworms or Larvae
3. The Third container will be for Aliens or Pupae
4. The Fourth container will be for Beetles
5. The Fifth container is for your second Beetle container.
1). Feeder Container: You will need to take this container out of the fridge once or twice a week for your feeder mealworms to hydrate and eat for a few hours, only. You can place oat bran and rolled oats in your feeder container and all your farm containers with your worms/pupae/beetles or you can choose to use the mixture listed below (what I use). Get you something to store this in too, (I use a jug I purchased for my dogs called dog bites ... good sized), as you won't be using it all at once. (This is a gut load for your worms.) Here's the mix recipe:
4 cups dry baby oatmeal cereal
4 cups oat bran (all crushed up)
2 cups rolled oats (Old fashioned, not instant)
Now you’re ready to start your farm:
Place you about 100 mealies in your Mealworm container, (depending on how many suggies you need to feed, I have 4). Out of your 100 mealies that morph into beetles, you will have gazillions of mealie eggs. I would say that 15 to 20% will end up dying before turning to beetles, which is actually still quite a bit of beetles. Female beetles can lay up to 275 eggs each..... THAT’s A LOT OF MEALWORMS!! So start out with how many you like, but know that you will need to add some fresh bedding every so often to all those babies that hatch, they have a huge appetite!!
2). Mealworm Container:
Your first container should be filled with about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of your mix. You won't need the rest until you see your alien morphs (Pupae). They will be pupae’s for a week to two weeks, then they will turn to beetles. After you start seeing the mealworms turn to pupae’s, you will need to re-furbish the mealworms, simply place about ten in a week to your mealworm container. Also, know that you will have to order more mealworms from Grubco, mealworm farm or wormman, until your mealies start going good. But you'll save money in the long run to grow your own, plus you will know exactly what your mealworms are eating.
3). Pupae Container:
You will need a container for your pupae's but you won't need a lot of mix in it, about 1/2 inch of your bedding mix, just enough for them to eat when they change to beetles until you transfer them to the beetle container. Simply use tweezers to carefully transfer the pupae’s to the pupae container. Some people don't separate them at all, but I have experimented with both processes and found that you will have more mealies if you separate all stages. The beetles and the mealworms will eat the pupae and the beetles will eat the mealworm babies, pretty gross, but they will seek moisture from other mealworms and pupae.
4). Beetle Container:
Once you see beetles in your pupae container, use tweezers to carefully transfer them to the beetle container. Place about 2 inches of your bedding mix in this container and lay egg carton pieces or pieces of cardboard over the top for them to lay eggs in and on. When feeding your beetles, place a folded piece of paper towel over the bedding and simply lay your veggie right on top. Try not to allow the food to touch the bedding to eliminate any mold issues. I never use fruit, I use carrots or celery or romaine lettuce leaves instead. This is just my preference. Fruits will mold easily and I used to use them but after throwing out one or two of my farms, due to moldy fruit, I opted to use only veggies instead. Mealworms are actually really proficient at extracting moisture, so be careful not to put too much moisture in your containers, you will get mold. Place a paper towel or two over the entire top section of your other farm containers, and lay your veggies on top of that. Again, Veggies or if you do use Fruits, you use should never come in contact with your mixture, to avoid any mold issues. If you do get mold, you will need to trash the entire farm container, mealworms included, just in case they have ingested the moldy bedding. Aflatoxins are not anything you want your suggies to eat.
5). Second Beetle Container:
When you start seeing the beetles dying off, transfer all the living beetles to the Fifth container with a fresh new mixture. Do not throw away the first beetle container. This is where your baby mealworms are. They will be very tiny and you probably won't see them for a month or so after you place your beetles in the second beetle container, you will see the mix moving before you see them. It will take about 4 months to get your farm going good. This Beetle container now becomes your baby mealie container, the 1st generation mealies of your farm. I wait until about three to four weeks at a time to change the beetles to a new container and the mealie babies are massive!!!
Also, some mealie farmers mist the top of the paper towel with a light water spritz, I do not. My mealies are huge by just feeding them veggie leaves about two to three times a week. Mealworm farming is really easy. It farms itself basically, and if you get to where you have too many mealies, you can freeze them, which does happen from time to time. Just NEVER USE ANY CORN PRODUCTS !
Life Cycle of your Darkling Beetle:
Egg: 7-14 days
Larvae: 30-90 days
Pupae: 10-20 days
Beetle Adult: 5-10 days
I have found through my experience with mealworm farming, that this cycle depends on the conditions of the environment and is a general rule, but not etched in stone……
You will have to check on your farms every two to three days, but if you forget until four or five days to a week, it's no big deal if you choose the method that I use. You will need to sort them, juggle the aliens (Pupae) and beetles around, but after you get used to doing that, there’s really nothing to it. Like I said, it is extremely easy to raise mealworms. I don't place mine in any certain spot, just make sure they have ventilation, and in somewhat of a warmer temperature in your house, not cool, and your holes should be sized where the beetles cannot escape. Although they do not bite, do not fly... and are ultimately harmless, you don't want them escaping and not laying their eggs in the mix.
Another helpful hint: When placing your holes in the top sides of your containers, you can just use a power drill, it’s a much easier way and less time consuming.