Raising mealworms: growth and development

December 24, 2008 by Riley Kyrsten  
Filed under Food & Diet

Raising mealworms is very low maintenance and there will be little you will actually have to do other than maintain their food, clean their cage and move pupa, beetles etc. to their correct bins. Usually this only takes about 10 minutes out of the day. However there are a lot of things you can do to speed up the process and make sure the mealworms are healthy and juicy for your sugar gliders. Here are just a few tips and tricks that will make a big difference!

Temperature: The ideal temperature to maximize growth is 77-81ºF, but 72-74ºF is also good. Mealworms do reproduce in temperatures ranging from 65-100 F, but temperatures above 86ºF negatively impact growth and development (inhibiting pupation). The duration of the pupal stage will depend on temperature. It is six days at 91.4ºF, seven days at 80.6ºF, ten days at 75.2ºF and thirteen days at 69.8ºF.

Temperatures below 62ºF may halt reproduction. In cold temperatures the larval stage can last two years. Chilling worms and then re-warming them may significantly delay pupation. Prolonged exposure to temperatures below 40ºF may kill the worms.

Light: Consistent with the name darkling beetle, they prefer the dark. Keep the container out of direct sunlight.

Moisture and Relative Humidity: Mealworms do require moisture. Too little moisture slows growth and reduces size. Too much can produce mold. If larvae are provided with dry food, they can survive and produce one generation a year. If they are provided moisture, they will undergo six generations per year and will be fatter.

Beetles lay more eggs when the relative humidity is higher - ideally 70% (55-80% is good). In one experiment, at a relative humidity (R.H.) of 20%, beetles laid an average of 4 eggs each, but at 65 percent R.H., they laid an average of 102 eggs each. Adult worms also become more active between 90 - 100% R.H. Keeping the culture moist also prevents cannibalism.

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