August 1, 2007

Pupa Count: 1

Filed under: mealworms — Brian @ 5:30 pm

We have a bluebird house in the yard. We’ve had it for a few years, and each year, the same bluebirds return and raise more bluebirds out there.

We try to help them out by chasing off the house sparrows that compete for the next box, and by providing mealworms for them, especially during mating and nest-sitting and baby-feeding season (spring & summer). And can’t-find-many-bugs season (winter).

Mealworms are expensive at the bird store. $8 for 500, which lasts about a week or so. We found a couple places online where you can order them in bulk ($25 for 10,000), but even those add up.

So, about a year ago, I decided to try to raise them myself. I picked out 75 worms from our bag of 10,000 and tried to take care of them. They made it from larva through pupa and into adult (darkling beetles) but never on to egg. They died out in the first generation.

I read some more, and made some improvements to my housing and feeding regimen. This time it worked! I could see the eggs, and a while later, the worms. I’d guess I have about 1000 worms right now. I was thrilled when I could see the first of them. They start off *tiny.*

Well, today, I found the first of my second-generation pupae. I’ve taken them through a full lifecycle, and they’re starting the second one today!

I kept very clear notes the first time I did this – when they all died. I didn’t keep any notes the second time – when they all lived. I’m hoping to combine the two this time: notes *and* life.

It could happen. It would be cool to be self-sufficient on mealworms. I have hopes of supplying our local wildlife rehab center – the one that tried to save our mockingbird – next year.

I’m a worm farmer. I’ll get some pictures up.



  1. How did I miss this post? A worm farmer! So, if I understand correctly, for $25, you could have raised 10,000 darkling beetles? Sounds like a great science fair project! ;-)

    Comment by gwynne — August 19, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

  2. Yes, 10,000 worms to 10,000 beetles. Each female beetle lays around 500 eggs, from what I read.

    So, start with 10,000 worms, and if you have a 50/50 mix of male & female (and perfect mealworm husbandry), you can have 2.5 million worms in one generation, which takes about 6 months or so. I think. Like I said, I didn’t keep any notes the time it worked.

    It’s going well – the pupa count is nearing 100 now, and I’ve got somwehere around 10 beetles again, too.

    It’s pretty exciting. Which probably says more about me than I’d like.

    Comment by Brian — August 19, 2007 @ 6:08 pm

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