In broad terms there are two different ways to breed mealworms. Below we give an overview of each one and then you can go to the relevent section to get specific details of the method and how it applies to the species you are breeding (ie yellow and super mealworms).
At the end we discuss the Pros and Cons of each method to help you choose the best method for your circumstances:
1) Screen Method
This method requires 2 trays which sit on top of each other. The top tray houses substrate and beetles that lay the eggs into the substrate.
When the baby mealworms match, many of them will move to the bottom of the tray and fall through the mesh or screen bottom, into a collection tray below. The collection tray has substrate in it which is replaced regularly (one per week for instance).
2) Filtering Method
The filtering method consists of dedicated trays filled with substrate and beetles that lay eggs into the bran. On a regular basis the beetles and bran are separated by filtering using sieves. The old bran with eggs are placed into a new tray where the the eggs will hatch and grow into mealworms.
We refer to the trays that houses the growing mealworms as the “grow out trays”. This process is repeated on a regular basis (usually a week apart) to create schronised (same sized) batches of mealworms.
Pros and Cons of Each Method
- As the babies move through to the collection tray by themselves it requires less maintenance and time than the filtering method.
- Is well suited to the hobbyist or small scale commercial
- Housing can easily be build using common file or draw systems.
- Babies which do not move down into the substrate are likely to be eaten by the beetles which can provide a nutrient rich food for the beetles to help lay eggs.
- Some of the baby mealworms will hatch and be eaten by the beetles. This can reduce the production rate compared to the filtering method.
- If you use fine substrate such as wheat pollard or a mixed substrate (fine and course) then much of the smaller components will fall through the screen leaving little substrate for the beetles. This is corrected using a courser bran.
- Due to the potential lower production rates from cannibalism, it may have limited use for large scale commercial.
- As cannibalism of baby mealworms is reduced to a minimum, production rates are higher. This makes it better suited to medium and large scale production.
- Requires more time and maintenance