How to Store Your Mealworms?

How-to-Store-Your-Mealworms Meme's Worms

Table of Contents:

How to Store Your Mealworms?
Step 1: Choose the right container
Step 2: Prepare bedding
Step 3: Feed them
Step 4: Maintain moisture
How to store mealworms in refrigerator?
Why should you store mealworms?
1. To prolong their life
2. To ensure proper supply
3. To provide nutrition to pets and livestock
4. To breed
5. To save money
Tips to store mealworms right
1. Stick to cool and dry place
2. Always check for contamination
3. Label the container
4. Ensure proper ventilation
5. Don't expose them to light
6. Monitor them regularly
7. Have a proper feeding schedule
8. Feed them right
9. Clean the container
10. Provide them with supplements
How to handle mealworms in storage?
1. Use proper handling techniques
2. Avoid overcrowding
How do we protect mealworms in storage from pests?
1. Ensure seals are tight
2. Inspect regularly
3. Check the substrate
4. Be proactive with pest control
5. Ensure quality control
FAQs
Do mealworms need air?
How do you keep mealworms in a colony?
Why are my mealworms dying?
Should I remove dead mealworms?
What pet eats mealworms?
Conclusion

According to a research report, mealworms are a good source of riboflavin, protein, and biotin for pets and livestock. That's why it makes perfect sense to store them in bulk and feed them to your pets and livestock. There is, however, one problem. Even though they are called mealworms, they are darkling beetle larvae. The problem is that birds, reptiles, and pests might not eat them once they evolve to the next stage (pupa).

The question then arises: How should you Store Your Mealworms so they remain in the larval stage? Post below will answer this question. 

How to Store Your Mealworms? 

Below is a simple 4-step procedure that can help you store mealworms correctly.

Step 1: Choose the right container

Choose a container according to the number of mealworms you want to store. The requirements of a good container include:

  • Ideally, the container should have smooth walls. This prevents the mealworms from climbing and escaping the container.
  • The container should be shallow with a wide mouth. Such a structure will aid heat dissipation, helping you maintain the temperature within the container.
  • It's best to go with a glass or plastic container. That's because mealworms can chew up cardboard or wood, so those containers can't contain them.
  • It's best to use a transparent container, which allows you to monitor and check the mealworms periodically.

Step 2: Prepare bedding

Mealworms need proper bedding as well. Therefore, after choosing the container, prepare suitable bedding using the procedure highlighted below:

Step 1: Crush bran meal, oatmeal, or cornmeal until it reaches a powdery texture, then spread it at the bottom of the container.

Step 2: Ensure the height of the bedding is around 3 inches.

That's it!

The bedding is now ready. Now, you can place the mealworms inside the container.

Step 3: Feed them

After adding the mealworms to the container, add cut potatoes and carrots. You can also add mealworm chow, to provide them proper nutrients.

Step 4: Maintain moisture

Now that the feed is taken care of, it's time to ensure proper moisture in the container. Simultaneously, ensure you don't drown them either.

Adding moist raw vegetables to the container is the best way to ensure moisture content. Alternatively, you can use gel-based water sources, which result in high moisture content in the container and provide calcium to mealworms.

That's the best way to store mealworms. Using this method, you can store them for 3 to 4 weeks in a cool and dark place, after which they will advance to the next evolutionary stage, the pupa.

Want to store them even longer?

Check the section below to know how do you store mealworms for longer periods.

How to store mealworms in refrigerator?

Storing them in the refrigerator will slow down their metamorphosis even more, which means they will evolve to the pupa stage after 6 to 10 weeks. The procedure for storing them in the refrigerator is slightly different.

Step 1: Choose a container similar to what we described above. Plastic containers are best in this case.

Step 2: Add a 1-inch grain layer at the bottom of the container. In this case, avoid vegetable and fruit pieces.

Step 3: Cover the container with a lid to seal it shut. Punch a few holes in the container for ventilation.

Step 4: Label the container and place it in a corner inside the refrigerator.

There are a few things to note when storing mealworms inside the refrigerator:

  • Never store mealworms in the freezer, as that would kill them quickly.
  • If you plan to store them in the refrigerator for 6 to 10 weeks, it's advisable to pull out the container every week for a day. On that day, keep the container at room temperature and replenish the food within the container.
  • Do clean the container on this day. 
  • Ideally, the temperature inside the refrigerator should be between 45°F and 50°F. Within this temperature range, the mealworms will go dormant, which means they will need little food and water. Consequently, the metamorphosis process will be delayed, which will help you store them longer.
  • Excessive moisture is always risky when storing them in the refrigerator. The easiest way to avoid such moisture is to place tissue paper on the worms. That will absorb any excessive moisture.

So, if you want to store them longer, stick to this procedure, and you shouldn't have a problem.

Why should you store mealworms?

Now that we have answered the question, how to store mealworms in the fridge, it's time to understand why storing mealworms is so crucial.

1. To prolong their life

An adult mealworm can live anywhere from 3 months to 12 months. The problem is most pets, livestock, and birds prefer mealworm larvae. According to a research report, mealworm larvae can turn into adults in a mere two weeks under ideal conditions. Once they evolve, your pets might or might not like them. That's why delaying their metamorphosis process is crucial to ensure you can prolong their larval stage. Storing them the right way helps you with that.

2. To ensure proper supply

Even in the wild, mealworms are scarce in the winter season as their population dwindles. According to the British Trust for Ornithology mealworms stop breeding if the temperature becomes too cold, which is why their population dwindles in winter.

But what if you want to feed mealworms to your pets in the winter?

The answer is to store mealworms. It ensures a consistent supply of mealworms for your livestock, pets, and other animals.

3. To provide nutrition to pets and livestock

According to a research report, feeding mealworm larvae to poultry and pigs improved their digestive capability. Another study found that mealworms not only provide a significant quantity of protein to animals but also have a small ecological footprint, which makes them a win-win food source for your livestock and pets. In a nutshell, there are very few other food sources for your livestock that provide such nutrition. That's why storing mealworms is crucial.

4. To breed

Many poultry farm owners also opt for mealworms breeding to ensure they have a constant supply. In that case, mealworms must be stored properly to keep them healthy and aid the breeding process. 

5. To save money

Purchasing mealworms in bulk can help you save a lot of time and money. However, you can't feed them all at once to your livestock. The only other option is to store them appropriately, and the above procedure can help you with that.

Tips to store mealworms right

It's time to look at a few additional tips to store mealworms.

1. Stick to cool and dry place

So, you chose the right container and created the right habitat inside it, but where to store mealworms?

The answer is in a cool and dry place. Mealworms require some moisture to thrive, but if you keep them in an excessively damp place, mold might grow within the container. Mold is detrimental to their health. Additionally, mites can get attracted to the container, which again is detrimental to mealworms.

So, a cool, dry place is perfect for storing these containers.

2. Always check for contamination

Your job doesn't end once you place the container in the right spot. You need to always check the container for contamination. Contamination refers to:

  • Mold
  • Mites
  • Bacterial growth
  • Buildup of waste
  • Debris
  • Dead mealworms

Any such contamination should be dealt with to ensure the container remains clean.

3. Label the container

Even in the container, you can delay the metamorphosis process of mealworms only by a certain time period. Therefore, you need to feed them to your livestock before they mature.

The best way to do this is to label every container. The label should include information like:

  • Storage time
  • Storage date
  • Type of mealworms

Always use a permanent marker to ensure the information is legible after a few weeks.

4. Ensure proper ventilation

We highlighted above how important it is to regulate moisture within the container. The best way to do so is by ensuring proper ventilation. There are 2 ways to facilitate ventilation in such containers:

  • You can get a container with holes in the lid or punch a few holes in the lid.
  • Another option is to get a mesh lid.

Proper ventilation reduces condensation and keeps the moisture on the lower side. Apart from ventilation, this also ensures mealworms can breathe easily in such containers, which significantly increases the survival rate.

5. Don't expose them to light

According to Oklahoma State University, mealworms get stressed when consistently exposed to light. Such stress isn't conducive to their population growth or survival. 

At the same time, the containers should be transparent for easy monitoring.

Therefore, the best way to prolong their life is to ensure you place the container in a dark or dimly lit area. This will also mimic their natural habitat.

Note:

Even during maintenance, don't expose them to bright light.

6. Monitor them regularly

It's advisable to regularly monitor the temperature and humidity levels inside the container. 

Use a thermometer and a hygrometer to do so. 

The temperature can be easily regulated by changing the location of the container. As for the moisture, follow the tips below:

  • The best way to increase moisture is to place a small vessel of water inside the container. Just make sure they can't reach water.
  • To reduce excessive moisture, place a paper towel over them or add more dry food to the container.
  • Additionally, you can replace the current substrate with a new one to reduce moisture. Just heat the substrate a bit before adding it to the container.
  • Similarly, for increasing the moisture replace the substrate with a more moist one.

7. Have a proper feeding schedule

Mealworms need adequate nutrients to survive. Maintaining a constant feeding schedule is the best way to provide them with such nutrients. Ideally, you should feed them once every 2 days. However, as their population increases, you might also have to increase the feeding frequency.

Under no circumstances should you overfeed them, as this is likely to increase moisture and encourage mold and bacterial growth.

8. Feed them right

You might be thinking, but what do you feed them?

A few suitable options include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Mealworm chow

Ensure you rotate the foodstuffs to provide them proper nutrition.

9. Clean the container

It is common for mealworm containers to have:

  • Food
  • Feces
  • Dead mealworms

Problem however arises when you don't clean the container. That would lead to mold or bacterial growth. That's why it's crucial to clean the container once every 2 weeks.

10. Provide them with supplements

Want to increase their survival rate further?

Feed them supplements from time to time. Anything high in calcium is a good option, like:

  • Wheat bran
  • Cricket mix
  • Ground fish

Providing them more nutrients increases their nutritional value, which is good for your livestock.

How to handle mealworms in storage?

When in storage, mealworms don't just get killed because of inappropriate conditions but also because of improper handling. Stick to the tips below to handle them right.

1. Use proper handling techniques

If you are wondering how to handle mealworms, the best practices include:

  • Always wear non-toxic gloves while handling them.
  • Don't apply excessive force while handling them. Remember that they are delicate creatures.
  • A brush or a small spoon is a suitable instrument to move them from one container to another.

2. Avoid overcrowding

Many people who farm or store mealworms make the mistake of just stuffing them into a single container. That's the wrong way to handle them. Overcrowding leads to heat, which can prove fatal for mealworms.

A 5-gallon storage box is good enough for 1000 worms. So, procure the boxes accordingly.

How do we protect mealworms in storage from pests?

While storing mealworms, it's equally important to protect them from pests by using the tips highlighted below. 

1. Ensure seals are tight

The lid of the box should be secured and tight. This not only keeps the predators and pests out but also prevents mealworms from escaping.

2. Inspect regularly

Regularly inspect the container to ensure no pests or unwanted creatures haven’t entered the container. Apart from checking for insects and creatures, also check for eggs or larvae which stand out.

Any foul odor is also a sign that something is wrong.

3. Check the substrate

Substrates within containers can be breeding grounds for mold or bacteria. One needs to not only inspect the substrate from time to time but also proactively replace it periodically. 

Apart from that ensure the substrate isn't excessively damp to ensure it doesn't attract pests.

4. Be proactive with pest control

Pest repellants like diatomaceous earth and food grade insecticides that don't harm mealworms should be used proactively.

5. Ensure quality control

Last but not least, buy mealworms from reputed suppliers who stick to strict quality control. Any disease infecting a few mealworms can spread very quickly in a container.

FAQs

Do mealworms need air?

Yes, mealworms need a lot of air to breathe and regulate their body temperature. That's why it's advisable to punch some holes into the container lid.

 

How do you keep mealworms in a colony?

The best way to keep mealworms in a colony is to separate the larger ones from the smaller ones. Apart from that, ensure you keep the beetles separate from the others.

 

Why are my mealworms dying?

The likely reasons include a lack of food, water, or air. In some cases, it can also be pests. You need to inspect the container to find the true cause.

 

Should I remove dead mealworms?

Yes, you need to remove dead mealworms to ensure they don't cause mold infestation. It's best to use gloves while doing so. Ideally, you should clean the container every 2 weeks.

 

What pet eats mealworms?

Reptiles, birds, frogs, and many other pets eat mealworms. In limited quantities, mealworms can be fed to cats and dogs as well, but not all of them like mealworms. So, it comes down to individual preference.

 

Conclusion

Hope that answers the question, how to store your mealworms. As long as you stick to the tips above, you can not only save money but also improve the health of your pets by sustaining a constant supply of mealworms.



Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9179905/#:~:text=Mealworm%20larvae%20and%20crickets,some%20cases%20folic%20acid

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652617320437#:~:text=in%20which%20the%20larvae%20transform%20into%20nymphs%20and%20then%20adults%20over%20two%20weeks.



https://www.bto.org/how-you-can-help/providing-birds/feeding-garden-birds/mealworms#:~:text=Keep%20the%20culture%20warm%20(25,too%20hot%20they%20will%20die.

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652623002627#:~:text=Previously%2C%20the%20biomass%20of%20mealworm,et%20al.%2C%202017).

 

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/znc-2017-0033/html?lang=en#:~:text=The%20farming%20of%20edible%20insects%20is%20an%20alternative%20strategy%20for%20the%20production%20of%20protein%2Drich%20food%20and%20feed%20with%20a%20low%20ecological%20footprint.%20The%20industrial%20production%20of%20insect%2Dderived%20protein%20is%20more%20cost%2Deffective%20and%20energy%2Defficient%20than%20livestock%20farming%20or%20aquaculture.

 

https://undergradsciencejournals.okstate.edu/index.php/jibi/article/view/9073#:~:text=The%20mealworms%20released%20more%20CO,when%20put%20into%20the%20light.



 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reading next