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How to Raise Meal Worms in Oatmeal

by Anthony Smith
  • Overview

    Meal worms, which are actually the larvae of the darkling beetle, are often used by bird lovers as feed for bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches and other birds. They are especially helpful to the birds in times when food is scarce, the weather has turned very cold, or when adults need to feed their young. Meal worms can be purchased at a local pet store, on-line, or you may consider raising them yourself if you want to save some money and have an ample supply on hand at all times.
 
  • Step 1

    Prepare a worm bed made from a shallow plastic sweater container. Use a utility knife to cut a large ventilation hole in the lid, and attach some window screen over the hole with hot glue.
  • Step 2

    Prepare bedding and food for the worms by making a mix of 10 parts oatmeal, 10 parts whole wheat flour, 1 part wheat germ or powdered milk; and 1 part brewers yeast. Spread a 3 inch layer of this bedding in the container.
  • Step 3

    Purchase mealworms via either mail order or a pet store. Do not buy those labeled "giant mealworms" as they are not suitable for breeding. Add the mealworms to the bedding. If possible, buy a few of the adult beetles and add them too.
  • Step 4

    Put the container in an area that is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, dark, and about 70% humidity. Place a half of a potato on a paper towel to the top of the bedding to provide some moisture. Replace the potato weekly.
  • Step 5

    Place a sheet of newspaper on top of the bedding when you need to harvest the worms. The worms will crawl under after a few hours and make it easy to collect them as you need them.
  • Step 6

    Clean the bedding every month or so by sifting the oatmeal to separate the worms and adult beetles from the waste and sediment that has settled to the bottom of the container. Take care not to get rid of any larvae or eggs. Wash the container out, add a fresh batch of bedding/oatmeal, and put the worms, larvae, and eggs back in.
  • 3
  • Shallow plastic sweater container Utility knife Window screen Hot glue and gun Oatmeal Whole wheat flour Wheat germ or powdered milk Brewers yeast Mealworms Potato Paper towel Newspaper
  • Shallow plastic sweater container
  • Utility knife
  • Window screen
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Wheat germ or powdered milk
  • Brewers yeast
  • Mealworms
  • Potato
  • Paper towel
  • Newspaper

References & Resources