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Chez

Mealworms

So. Mealworms.

I've got a plastic chest of drawers system set up. The beetles are in the two small drawers at the top. I sieve out the frass and the eggs in to the two small drawers under that.

Then I sieve the hatched mealworms in to a drawer under that one.

And then I have two drawers that are filling up with frass and possibly eggs but I'm not sure.

How do I get rid of the frass? Is there a size of mesh that will separate that and the eggs and hatchlings?

I seem to have a million of them roughly, so it's all going quite well, but at some point I'm going to have more frass than actual bedding.
wellington womble

I don't think you can sift eggs. Not sure about hatchlings, though. I keep them in solid bottomed trays until you can see the babies, and then just tip them into a mesh bottomed one. The frass falls into the next one down the tower until I have a solid one at the bottom.

The mesh works well (no sieving, and keeps the ages separate and flowing) but I'm having problems securing it, I keep having structural failures and they all fall into the next tray down. I need to measure the gauge and find some rigid mesh. A rainy day job.
Chez

When you've measured the gauge, could you let me know? I was thinking of making a sieve of the Exact Right Size Holes, rather than using one of the kitchen ones.

Also, how do you get rid of the dead bits of beetle? Are you just picking them out? I ended up starting off my top two drawers by sieving out the lump of stuff in the vivarium and putting the beetles and bigger worms in the top as my breeding boxes. However, there is loads of straw etc mixed in that is making it impossible to properly winnow through, and corpses. I am picking both out by hand every so often, a bit at a time, but there's so MUCH of it, it's rather time consuming.
wellington womble

I don't really bother. They all end up in the harvest tray eventually. I'll let you know the mesh sizes when I get a tape and the stuff in one place.
Chez

I'm frightened to harvest any in case I have some sort of End Of Life event with the mature beetles. I'm rather vague about it all, to be honest.
BahamaMama

Have you two set up a robin farm? Shocked
Chez

Womble has them IN HER DINING ROOM. That's even more eccentric than me, I'm delighted.

It's part of my 'the poor hens can't free range and aren't getting any bugs' thing. They are 40% protein and it's so very easy. And sieving them is quite soothing.
BahamaMama

Soothing.......

Possibly not for the mealworms Laughing
Chez

I pretended I was panning for gold, this morning. I have a very active inner life Smile
Hairyloon

I have been meaning to give this a go, to see how they get on with my waste products.
Thank you for the inspiration...
dpack

i have never gone for the layer system ,just a biscuit tin and some slightly damp unsalted crackers .i harvested by hand and added more crackers til it got messy then put a quarter into a fresh tin and the rest in the toad enclosure.

ps if you have a lot they are rather nice honey roasted or dry fried with a bit of salt and chilli.
wellington womble

I only keep them in the dining room. Although it would be worth it to see Lady J's face!

I went for a low input system, although it takes a bit of setting up. I wanted loads to feed to the chicks and quail, as bribes to make them behave! The beetles and the harvest trays have mesh in the bottom, which is 13 holes to the inch, or 7 to the cm. The growing worms go on mesh which is 39 holes to the inch or 17 to the cm. Frass, eggs and worms that are not yet visible go on solid bottoms.

They live in a hi-rise IKEA trofast unit (I cut the bottoms out with a Stanley knife) and I just move everything on a drawer every week or so. I give them fresh veg and top up the oats about once a week, and put a few slices of state bread on top. They like to hide and eat them. otherwise I completely ignore them. Unless visiting children want to play with them. They do, all the time. The order goes like this:

Beetles (mesh)
Eggs (solid)
Nursery (solid)
Nursery (solid)
Harvest (mesh)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Frass (solid)

The harvest is in the middle, as its on mesh to let food through, which them goes all the way down through the growers until you get just the powerdery frass at the bottom.

The beetles tray is fairly static, the others just move down the tower, or get tipped into the next stage. When the harvest tray is nearly empty I let the last few pupate and start them off in the beetles tray again.
If I was doing it again I would get some baskets, as I can't secure the mesh properly and it keeps falling off, tipping all the critters into the next stage down. Also, it sags terribly, meaning you can't pull the drawers out easily, and the beetles all died off (this may have been age as we were away for the summer, or it may have been heat because they were all squashed in. The worms were fine, even being ignored for a month) I'm planning on getting some stainless steel mesh for them, but plastic baskets would probably be better, if they fit.

I had planned on putting them in the cellar. But the cellar is horrible and I don't like going down there and they are no trouble where they are. They are no bother, really. They smell of stale breadcrumbs and at night the beetles make a scratchy scratchy noise so you think it is raining. They make dust, but what doesn't? Lady J has some special beetles that live in a special plastic box in her room. She took them into school as well!

I'll take some pictures when I've sorted my structural issues and got the thing going again. It's a bit stalled after the beetle failure.
SandraR

Would love to see a step by step photographic guide. Very Happy
Hairyloon

The beetles and the harvest trays have mesh in the bottom, which is 13 holes to the inch, or 7 to the cm. The growing worms go on mesh which is 39 holes to the inch or 17 to the cm. Frass, eggs and worms that are not yet visible go on solid bottoms.

What sort of mesh do you use and where do you get it?
wellington womble

Herein lies the problem. I used window screen and nylon mesh, but I can't secure it to the box well enough (trofast boxes have a sort of gutter that makes hot glueing impossible). I've been using duct tape, but it keeps failing, and the fabric itself sags. I'm looking at stainless steel mesh next. I'll report back. Baskets would probably work better. When I actually get it working properly, I'll definitely do an article.
Hairyloon

What's the life cycle/turnover rate? Preferred temperature? Other helpful hints and tips?
I think I'll try dpacks strategy first: see how we get on...
dpack

iirc life cycle is about a month at 20c .too wet = mould, too dry = dead worms . enough ventilation but no escape routes (not popular Rolling Eyes )
sean

It's thinking of names for them all that puts me off.
Hairyloon

iirc life cycle is about a month at 20c .too wet = mould, too dry = dead worms . enough ventilation but no escape routes (not popular Rolling Eyes )

Is a bit of mould a serious problem?
dpack

they do not thrive on mouldy food . Chez

I've got them in a plastic chest of drawers from Argos and I have an electric heat pad for a vivarium that sits underneath them on the concrete floor for when it's chilly. Apparently the life cycle slows down when it's cool.

http://wildlifehub.com/mealworm-life-cycle/
http://mealwormcare.org/life-cycle/
Chez

Continuing my mealworm monologue, I spent ages over the weekend reading up on this forum ... http://www.openbugfarm.com/ ... apparently you need 1/8 inch mesh to sieve pupae and beetles out from frass, eggs and most worms. That's 3.1mm. So I've ordered a sieve with 3mm holes and hopefully that should make things easier. Hairyloon

What manner of beetle is it that they develop into?
We were moved to wonder if there is any scope for breeding predatory beetles to help tackle the slugs...
Chez

Darkling beetles. I think they might be a bit small for slug control - I've got my ducks on that, they go round the edges of all the raised beds and eat the eggs in the spring. Mostly Smile BahamaMama

Darkling beetles. I think they might be a bit small for slug control - I've got my ducks on that, they go round the edges of all the raised beds and eat the eggs in the spring. Mostly Smile

You could start a 'rent-a-duck' business - I have a gazillion slugs and snails but I don't want a duck full time Smile
Chez

If you were closer, you would be most welcome, they do like a change of scene Smile BahamaMama

Very Happy wellington womble

The beetles live on bread etc too. I live in fear of the things getting into the larder. Although so far there is no sign and they are easy enough to spot. I fed worms to chicks in the house, which resulted in a number surviving in the bedding while we were on holiday. I've been finding them all over the place!

Be interested to hear how you get on with the sieve. Everything is so muddled due to Structural Failure that I have alsorts of sizes mixed together.
dpack

meal worm beetles are vegan cereal killers

there are firms that breed predators for gardens,commercial growers and grow rooms.their products include nematodes for the slimey hoard,ladybird type stuff for aphids, odd looking small things and some sort of spider that eat red spider mites etc etc .i suspect that some of them do beetles for various targets.

there are also firms that breed crickets .locusts and mealworms for the reptile and spider side of the pet food business

of the insects i know about mealworms are easy due to their food and conditions being easy, crickets are fairly easy if you can stand the noise, locusts are a bit more complicated as they need several different conditions at different stages and they have a fairly long life cycle.for the pet food side of things stick insects are quite good as they go through 5 instars each of which is a perfect size for different type/aged reptiles/amphibians and their food and conditions are reasonably simple.fruit flies are medium easy and perfect for baby frogs and toads.
daphnia are quite easy as are bloodworms and popular with fish and fish keepers.
dpack

The beetles live on bread etc too. I live in fear of the things getting into the larder. Although so far there is no sign and they are easy enough to spot. I fed worms to chicks in the house, which resulted in a number surviving in the bedding while we were on holiday. I've been finding them all over the place!

Be interested to hear how you get on with the sieve. Everything is so muddled due to Structural Failure that I have alsorts of sizes mixed together.

skp's will often move into the biscuits but in the cornflakes is a mixed blessing or a full yuck depending on opinion .

loose is probably a bad thing as they do head for any cereal based stuff. less bother than feral crickets which can take years to get rid of.
wellington womble

I'm planning on dropping into ikea and stocking up on jars really soon.... dpack

a fine idea Wink
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