Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keeping Mealworms

Do you have an amphibian or reptile that eats crickets or mealworms? Do you need to nurture them for science class? Or do you just want to keep them for fun? Do you have a small SMOOTH-SIDED Tupperware™ or bowl? You can keep mealworms easily, and for a long time. (Not the mealworm itself, but you can have a running cycle of them.)

You can obtain the mealies from Wal*Mart or any pet store. They come in small packages and come with their own meal (fine grained oats and other grains).

Life Cycle: 114-165 days to complete. First it is a larva, then a pupa (the mealworm stage), then it grows to adulthood (darkling beetle) where they mate and then die a few weeks after the eggs are laid. Also, they might go dormant for a couple days before the make their chrysalis to turn into beetles. (THE BEETLES FLY AND LAY UP TO 500 EGGS PER BETTLE. Try not to cause an infestation of your house.)

Genders: They are virtually genderless, though they do have indistinct genders. It is said that the males have smaller heads, and the females have larger ones (if the males' are smaller, then duh the females would seem larger. Doi).  You can find the gender by turning your mealworm on is back, or looking at its belly through a clear cup. Use a hand lens for this. The end closest to its 6 legs is its head. The side farthest is the tail. See the sections of the worms? Count seven down from the head. On a female, there will be a swelling and two outcroppings. This is most likely a female.

Keeping Materials:
  • Shallow smooth-sided cup, bowl, or box
  • Fine grains with no additives (e.g. Bleach in flour)
  • Sticks, leaves, etc. etc.
  • A lid with air holes or a rag with a small-medium hole (away from the sides of the container)
  • Small fruit slices with HIGH water levels
  • NO NO NO NO water EVER
  • Mealworms!
Keeping Directions:

Lay the grain throughout the container. Add any leaves or twigs you want. Put in the small fruit slices around the box. Add the mealworm!

Now, just try to keep them healthy and safe. NEVER EVER EVER add water. No added moisture is needed, or they will die. They are hydrated form the water and other liquids in the fruit that they need to eat.

Mine's name is Leopold (Leo for short). I am trying not to get too attached because he is going to die soon. I am going to release him when he cocoons.

Happy mealing!

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