close up of a group of mealworms on a white background

How to set up a Mealworm Farm that Works

Some Basic Materials and you are on your way to saving money!

How Many Containers do I Need

To begin your colony you will need a minimum of  3 containers, however it is recommended to have 4 to improve the separation of small and large mealworms. More containers can be added as required to handle your requirements.

It is essential you separate the lifecycles to avoid cannibalism. For more details visit our Mealworm Lifecycle page [insert link to this page when uploaded]. The good news is all stages of the mealworm lifecycle can use the same type of container.

Container 1– Houses your large mealworms and contains 2-3 inches of mealworm substrate.

Container 2– Houses pupa and beetles. It also containers 2-3 inches of mealworm substrate. To prevent cannibalism both the pupa and beetles need to be separated. This can be done by placing an egg carton on top of the mealworm substrate and place the pupa into this (more on this later).

Container 3- Houses the baby mealworms which have just hatched from the mealworm substrate.  As you will learn later this container originally had beetles which were removed so they would not eat the eggs and mealworms.

Container 4- (optional but recommended to separate small and large mealworms)– Houses medium mealworms and mealworm substrate.

photo of the partial build of a a mealworm shelving rack system. The shelving has a metal frame with wood vertical breams to support metal rails. Mealworm rack is located within a commercial mealworm farm with aluminium insulation on walls.
Photo of a prefabricated or bought tray system. Comprises of three separate units next to each other. Each unit has a shiny metal frame with colored pull out trays. Trays are multiple colors.
photo of a blue mealworm breeding tray on cement to build a mealworm farm

How do I Build a Container

As shown in the photos, containers are generally one of two types. 1) Multi-draw units which have containers that can be pulled out. 2) Free standing containers or tubs with a lid.

Below are some tips for choosing a container:

  • It must have a large surface area and have smooth sides to prevent them from escaping.
  • Plastic containers are best as they are light, impervious to moisture and easily cleaned.
  • A lid is not essential but it will prevent pests such as spiders and geckos from eating your mealworms.
  • The lid should have sufficient ventilation holes. This can be done by cutting out the center of the lid and replace it with fly mesh and attaching it with a hot glue gun, rivets or construction adhesive.
  • Enough height to prevent them crawling out. Six inches will provide sufficient height for placing 2-3 inches (5-8cm) of substrate and to prevent them from escaping.

How Many Mealworms do I Need to Start

  • If you don’t intend to use your mealworms whilst they are establishing, you can buy as little as 100-200 mealworms.
  • If however you plan to feed your animals as the colony grows you will need a lot more, probably around 2000-4000 to start with. This however will change depending on our requirements for mealworms.
Photo of a wood mealworm rack with 5 trays. The mealworm rack has wood sliders which support the trays.

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