Can cats eat mealworms?
Breeding mealworms - building the breeding system
For many animals, animal protein is of great importance in the diet. Mealworms are highly valued as additional feed by various animal species. Insect eaters such as hedgehogs, various species of monkeys, small mammals such as rats or hamsters and not to forget some birds devour these tasty arthropods with pleasure. In the following we show how you can easily grow mealworms yourself and what you need for it.
It is not difficult to set up and operate a well-functioning mealworm farm, but the time required should not be underestimated. Half an hour to one and a half hours of work per day for breeding mealworms must be included.
- Wheat bran
- Plastic bin
- close-meshed litter box
- fine sieve
- Plastic boxes
- Heating mats
- hard rolls or bread
- fruits or vegetables
What does a mealworm breeding facility look like?
Plastic boxes, which do not necessarily have to be transparent (e.g. litter boxes, cage bases or other containers) are placed at a comfortable and above all back-friendly working height depending on the space available. Uniform boxes make daily handling easier and easier to arrange. Since flour beetles do not fly, no lids or other grille covers are required.
An old desk is quickly equipped with pull-out compartments, so that a relatively large number of boxes can be stacked on top of each other on a small floor space. Another option is to place the cultivation containers on shelves and a work table next to it, on which the daily care is carried out. Although this method takes up a little more space, the system can be easily expanded and expanded as required.
It is important that the climate in the containers does not become too stuffy. Good ventilation must therefore be ensured. Excessive humidity can promote the formation of mold or cause severe mite infestation.
The boxes are filled about 5-15 cm high with wheat bran, which serves both as substrate and as food. Bran can be obtained cheaply on the Internet.
Since growing mealworms is a dusty affair, the place or the room in which it is located should be selected with foresight. Basement rooms or old stables are particularly suitable, but high-yield breeding is also possible on the balcony. It should be noted that the moults of the worms, which are regularly stripped off as they grow, are feather-light and are whirled through the air with the slightest gust of wind. The bran is also not really low in dust and should be stored in a plastic bin, especially to protect it from pests.
Feeding mealworms - what do mealworms eat?
Dried rolls or bread serve well as feed, with rolls being preferred and preferred to be eaten. One or two pieces of it are placed in each box.
Fruits and / or vegetables are an integral part of the mealworms and mealworms' diet and provide the necessary moisture. The best varieties are those that are not too watery, such as apples, pears, carrots, zucchini, pumpkins or sugar melon or honeydew melon peel. Depending on the season and what is currently available cheaply. The animals are grateful for variety and show this with their lively appetite. Broccoli or cauliflower stems are also used here.
Cucumbers and watermelons as well as ringlets and peaches are suboptimal due to their porosity and the large amount of stored water.
The fruit or vegetables are cut into 1 cm thick slices and served to the worms with the cut surface facing down. The beetles, on the other hand, need the cut surface at the top so that they can eat unhindered.
Salad should not be fed as it is often heavily contaminated with pesticides.
Fruit and vegetable residues must be removed daily and replaced with fresh food.
Breeding start - let's go !!
The first mealworms, from which one would like to breed many mealworms, can either be obtained from another breeder or from the Internet.
The mealworms bought are emptied into the box filled with bran, depending on the size of the container, this should be 0.5 - 1.5 liters. Pastries and wet food are added.
As soon as the first larvae pupate, another vessel is provided with bran, into which the pupae are moved. Feed is not needed at this stage. The process of gnawing must be carried out daily, otherwise the pupated animals will be nibbled on by the worms. The substrate is carefully rummaged by hand in order to catch as many pupae as possible.
After a while, the pupae develop into beetles, which are initially whitish and soft, but soon the chitin shell hardens and the insects become darker and darker until they finally mature into completely black animals.
The beetles are moved into a new box equipped with bran, fruit and biscuits to prevent the adult animals from eating the resting pupae. The crawlers feel most comfortable when they are housed in a darkened area, it is sufficient if the beetle boxes are, for example, in the lowest compartments, special covers are not necessary.
After mating, the eggs are laid directly in the substrate. Tiny worms hatch from them after about 3 weeks. A female beetle can produce up to 200 eggs in her lifetime.
Depending on the population density, the beetles stay in a box for 3-8 weeks, then they are moved into a newly prepared tank with the help of a litter tray with narrow openings. The larvae required as food are also removed with this shovel.
When the breeding is running - What work does it have to do?
Depending on the stage of development, the boxes can be marked with numbered clothespins, which can easily be moved and reused.
A small pocket calendar, which is ready next to the breeding facility, is very helpful. It is noted when which box was newly filled with beetles so as not to lose track of things.
At high temperatures, the animals develop at a rapid pace, so that the population seems to literally explode. In the cooler months of the year, heating mats under the basins have proven to be effective in stimulating the metabolism of the arthropods. The mats do not have to be in constant use. The operating time can be regulated by means of a timer so that, for example, only every second hour is heated, which in turn means savings in electricity that cannot be ignored.
The worms also eat the wheat bran, so over time the substrate consists almost entirely of feces. The animals are separated from the old substrate with a fine kitchen sieve and either transferred to fresh beds or fed. A dust mask should be worn during this work, as the airways are heavily burdened by the fine dust that is blown up. When the larvae have been sifted out, the remaining substrate can be added to the compost or worked into the soil to improve the soil.
Cleaning and hygiene
Commercially available dishwashing detergent, vinegar cleaner or normal vinegar are suitable for cleaning the containers. Rinsing with very hot water will kill many germs. In addition, the boxes can be left to dry in the sun, because the UV rays also have a disinfectant effect.
Every now and then moths are brought in with the wheat bran, although these are annoying, but in no way reduce the success of the breeding process.
If the feed mite infestation was severe, too much moist feed was offered to be eaten by the animals. If hosts of these little beasts attack the whole facility, only one thing helps: increase the temperature of the substrate. The easiest and most effective way to do this is with the heating mats. It is crucial that the bran is one to two degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. The microscopic pests disappear immediately with this method. With a high stocking density, the animals themselves generate so much heat that mites do not even settle.
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