The mealworm is an excellent candidate for domestic breeding. It is silent and easy to handle. About sixty larvae, easy to find in pet stores, are enough to start breeding.
You will also need:
• at least three plastic containers with lids. To ensure good ventilation, make an opening in the lid and cover it with mosquito net or muslin (breeding containers are also sold in pet stores);
• mixed grain products in the following proportions:
- 10 parts of oat or wheat seeds
- 10 parts oatmeal or whole wheat flour
- part of wheat germ or powdered milk
- a portion of nutritional yeast (important for preventing nutritional deficiencies in insects)
- pieces of vegetables (cabbage, carrot, potato, lettuce) or fruit (preferably apple), which will provide insects with the water necessary for their development
• if necessary, accessories for heating the vivarium (40 watt bulb or hot plate).
The vivarium and care
Place the vivarium in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place. In a first well cleaned container, place a layer about 2.5 cm thick of the cereal mixture. Then add the larvae and place a few pieces of fruit and vegetables directly on the mixture.
The larvae of the mealworm reach about 3 cm in length before developing into a nymph. As soon as the first nymphs appear in the breeding tank, transfer them to a second container to prevent them from being eaten by the larvae. As the nymphs do not feed, there is no need to add anything to the container.
When the adults emerge, they appear as small whitish beetles which then turn black. They too can eat the nymphs. You must therefore transfer them to the third container, where you will have placed 2.5 cm of the mixture of cereals and pieces of fruit and vegetables. Adult mealworms may begin to mate two to five days after emergence. Females lay up to 40 eggs per day. The eggs hatch after about 12 days. The larvae moult several times before reaching their maximum size. At temperatures ranging from 18 to 25 ° C, the mealworm in cultivation takes six to ten months to complete its life cycle.
Replace pieces of dried fruit or vegetables often. Also change the mixture when it takes on a sandy appearance. The insects must then be removed one by one or separated from the mixture using a sieve. Regularly remove dead insects and take the opportunity to stir the cereals to incorporate the molts of the larvae into the mixture, allowing them to be eaten by the insects. During each harvest, make sure to keep several larvae that you will allow to transform into adults, otherwise your breeding will be short-lived.