Grow Your Own Meal Worms

[Mealworm Colony] Things You Need:

  1. At least 1,000 meal worms (not giant meal worms1 or super worms2).
  2. Bedding - 2-5 lbs. of horse oats or uncooked oatmeal (depending on culture size and how often you want to replace your bedding).
  3. Dry brewer's yeast (optional).
  4. 10 gallon fish tank or Sterlite storage box (do not cover).
  5. 1 small apple (quartered), carrot, melon, etc. for moisture.

Fill your container to half full with bedding and add the meal worms on top. The worms will dig into the bedding on their own. Place the produce3 and some dry brewer's yeast on top.

Keep the container in a warm spot. A warmer area will promote faster growth and metamorphosis to the pupa and beetle stages. The adult beetle will live for up to 2 weeks and lay up to 275 eggs in the bottom of the substrate. Once the eggs hatch, the worms will begin crawling up through the substrate. The worms will molt up to 20 times and will be fully grown in 4-6 months. Adult worms can generally be harvested in the first inch or two of substrate.

Replace substrate every month or two, as it is eaten. Clean out cage and throw out substrate about once every 6 months to get rid of egg shells and worm droppings. To do this, sift out the worms and start with a new container and substrate. You can keep the old container and its contents for a few weeks if you want to be sure any left over eggs have hatched. Sift out worms and dispose of the rest.

Thin the colony if it starts to get too crowded, and make sure to supply ample food. Overcrowding or lack of food could lead to your adult worms eating the eggs.

1 Giant meal worms are regular meal worms that have been given a growth hormone so they continue to grow larger and don't morph into the beetle stage. This hormone causes them to be sterile so that, when they finally do become beetles, they can't lay eggs. We do not recommend feeding this type of worm to your hedgehog due to the unknown effects of this chemical on your pet.

2 Super worms are carnivores and have been known to bite both people and hedgehogs. It is also possible for a super worm to survive in a hedgehog stomach long enough for them to eat a hole in the lining.

3 Be sure to check your fruit/vegetable source and remove it if it begins to mold.

The meal worms shed their skin and move into the pupa stage. Meal worms and pupa.
Newly hatched beetle. Older beetle.
Adult beetles.