Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Raising Mealworms


 Raising mealworms is super easy.  It's a great idea if you have insect eating pets, bird feeders, or would like to start eating insects yourself.  I've read that insects can convert plant matter to protein 10 times more efficient than cattle.  They are very commonly eaten in other countries.


So what is a meal worm?  It's the larva state of a Darkling Beetle.  Most insects undergo metamorphosis. We're all familiar with the catapillar and the butterfly arn't we?  Beetles, bees, and many other insects have catipillar like larva too.    
The eggs are too small to see, so heres a larva.

When the larva mature they turn into this alien like pupa.

They hatch out as beetles

Then they darken up, mate, and lay eggs.

So how can you raise mealworms.  All you need is space.  Get a bin, some meal worms, oatmeal, and some carrots and put them together.  That's it.  You're done.  Put new carrots in there for their water as needed.  I don't do much else to mine and they work out fine.  I've forgotten about them plenty of times and it was no big deal, they're basically matenence free.

You'll get to see the whole life cycle and then they'll keep reproducing.  It takes about a month to see larva from the eggs so be patient. So far as I know only  a couple adults have gotten out of the open bin and that could have been students.

Some people prefer wheat bran, chicken feed, or whole wheat flour because it's easier to sift out the worms.
Other people like the oatmeal because it'se easier to sift out the frass. (insect poo)  (it's dry and not smelly)

Some sites suggest seperating beetles, pupa, and larva, but I didn't and it's fine.  Maybe I get a few less.

Here's a link to a really detailed how to

http://www.sialis.org/raisingmealworms.htm

 To get meal worms you can buy some at a pet store, order online, or ask me next time you see me.
To cook them it's suggested that you freeze them to kill them.  Then fry them in some butter, salt, and pepper.  Tast them to see what they are like, then substitute into any recipe.  The best idea I've seen is to put them in chex mix : )
 Here's a link to some good recipes.  Also click aroun on this guys page, it's pretty good stuff.
http://www.hollowtop.com/finl_html/mealworms.htm


Here's my cooked ones.  You can also roast them in an oven.  See the above link. 



There's really no end to their uses.  Here's a spider that me and my son feed like a pet.
Here's a link I found to a physics lab using meal worms.  Looks like a perfect lesson!
http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/measuring_speed_mealworm.html



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