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We raise mealworms. They are the larva of the Darkling beetle. In our first five months we have gone from 1,000 larvae to over 500,000 and the numbers keep rising. We estimate our first batch of beetles are laying around 10,000 eggs a week and they just keep going. Our second batch of beetles will start laying soon.
These little critters need little care. Some wheat bran or ground oats and a slice of potato or carrot and you're off and running. As the larvae grows it shed's outer layer again and again. Once it is full grown it sheds it's skin one more time and becomes a pupa (like a cocoon for a butterfly). About a week later, it becomes a beetle. This is a low cost way of raising food for your chickens, other birds, and reptiles. These can also be used as fishing bait.
Once the beetles lay their eggs, it takes roughly a month before you can start the see the larvae with the naked eye. From there, they will continue to eat, shed, grow and poop. The mealworm poop is more endearingly referring to as frass. The frass and shed skin may need to be cleaned out every month or so. Depending on the temperature and humidity conditions, the larval stage may take roughly two to three months. Do not throw away your frass! This is a nutrient rich soil amendment that is great to mix into potting soil.
At this point you may notice a few puae in with your mealworms. This is simply the larvae moving into the next stage of their life cycle. The pupae do no not eat or move much other than a few twitches here and there. Once they are done lounging, a beetle will emerge. At first, new beetles are a clear white color. Over time, they turn more copper colored, and finally black. Beetles appreciate darkness. They love empty toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and other pieces of cardboard to hide out in.
These can be used as feed for chicken and birds, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, and small reptiles like geckos and lizards.
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