mealworm, breeding, culture, tenebrio molitor

How to breed mealworms (Darkling beetle larve)
Tenebrio molitor

Mealworms are the larval stage of Tenebrio molitor, a species of Darkling beetle. They are simple, and relatively cheap to breed, and are a nutritious food source for lizards, turtles and large amphibians.

Why should I breed mealworms?

Darkling beetles and their larvae are easy to breed and culture, and everything you need is readily available. They do not pose a pest problem for the average house, unless you are storing large quantities of oats or cereals. By breeding your own mealworms, you don't have to fork out for weekly livefoods, and you have control over their nutritional value.

What do I need to start a culture?

  • A container with lid. A large biscuit tin, or plastic storage box is ideal. I use a 4-tier storage rack, in which the trays fit very closely to the frame. Mealworm beetles can apparently fly, although I have never witnessed this myself, so keep the container covered.
  • Porridge ats, or wheat bran.
  • Sacking material or egg carton
  • Carrot, potato or apple slices for water.
  • mealworm breeding box, culture, setup, habitat, livefood,adults,worms,storage box mealworm breeding box, culture, setup, habitat, livefood,adults,worms,storage box,rack system

    How to set up a mealworm breeding box:

  • Fill your box with 2 inches of porridge oats, or wheat bran. This will act as a food for your mealworms, a substrate for them to hide in, and a medium for laying eggs in.
  • On top of this oat or bran layer, add a couple of squares of sacking material (hessian or jute) or some egg carton. This will provide an area for the adult beetles to breed, and for the larvae to climb onto to pupate.
  • Provide a source of water, such as a slice of apple, potato or carrot. This should be a small slice, and only replaced when it is dried up or completely eaten. Mealworms need very little water, and too much water in an enclosed tub will lead to high humidity, and turn the oats into a mouldy mess.
  • Add mealworms. The average livefood tub will be enough for a biscuit tin sized box, but for a larger tub you could add larger quantities to increase the yield.
  • Keep in a warm place. Some people use a heatpad, but I've had just as much success keeping my mealworm rack beside tank lighting and on-top of heated vivariums.
  • How to set up a mealworm breeding box:

    The mealworms you place in the box will feed and begin to pupate. After a few weeks in a warm temperature, you should notice adult beetles roaming around, and a few weeks after that, a large number of very small mealworms. Once the oats in a culture have started to run out, and are replaced by frass (insect droppings), I begin to sieve the larvae and adults out, and transplant them into a fresh box.

    If you have any questions on breeding mealworms or other feeder insects, feel free to contact me:
    Paul Edmondson

    Back to invertebrate / feeder insect articles >>