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23 Jun '16

The Optimal Mealworm Diet for Optimal Mealworm Health

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The Optimal Diet for Your Mealworms Health

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If you’ve begun the easy task of breeding your own mealworms, you might be wondering how to keep them as healthy as possible. After all, healthier mealworms are better for the things that eat them and your pets can benefit greatly from having these already nutritious worms in peak health before they get eaten. Let’s take a look at some of the best things that you can feed your worms, ensuring they go beyond just being a healthy snack and can take your pet’s health to the next level.

The Substrate

Mealworms are called such because in the “wild” they often show up in grains. These make something of an ideal substrate, and if you don’t have a feed store near where you live you can even consider something like oatmeal.

Quite a few people actually use ground up food for domestic pets like dogs and cats as well, these are higher in proteins which can help your mealworms grow up bigger and stronger. A lot of more experienced keepers blend a variety of grains, powdered milk, pet foods, or other things in order to try and make the optimal mixture for their arthropods. They’re fairly hardy, so if you intend on keeping them for an extended period you might want to experiment a bit yourself.

You’ll want to keep the substrate dry, to ensure that you’re not adding any fungus or mold as well. These can be quite dangerous to your mealworms, and possibly the animals that eat them depending on the variety.

Moisture from Fruits and Vegetables

Your mealworms will get most of their hydration from fruits and vegetables. The larvae and beetles aren’t particularly adept swimmers, so adding a water dish is just going to kill them. Instead, you’ll want to add vegetables and fruits which are high in water content. There're two varieties here that you’ll want to consider. Whatever you choose to use, though, make sure that you place them on some paper to ensure that you don’t wet the substrate.

The first are sweet, softer fruits like berries. These will be readily accepted, and might even cause a bit of a commotion when placed in. Don’t use too much, you still want to avoid rot, but mealworms have a hefty appetite and these foods should be readily devoured but you’ll want to check on these foods at least once a day to make sure they’re not decaying.

There are also hardier fruits and vegetables which can provide moisture for extended periods without molding or going to rot as quickly. The favorites are usually apples, potatoes, and carrots, they’re cheap and will last for some time. You still need to check on them regularly to ensure they’re not decaying, but every other day should be sufficient for these tougher plants.

One food that comes highly recommended is kiwi with most of the fruit scraped out. A couple of keepers have found that they increased the length and size of their mealworms substantially over just using the substrate.

Another thing to consider is using commercial cricket “quenching gels”, it’ll allow for adequate moisture with no risk of wetting down your substrate.

The important thing is to feed a varied diet, just like us a varied diet will help to provide a wide variety of the numerous important minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients and help to make your worms and beetles healthier.

Measuring Your Results

If you’re analytically minded, you might want to consider running some experiments to determine what works best. There're a couple of simple methods you can use to obtain some verifiable results.

The easiest way is to raise your mealworms on a certain type of diet, count out twenty to fifty of them and weigh them. Divide the weight by the number of worms, and you’ll have a good idea of the average mass of your worms.

You might also want to consider measuring the length of several dozen worms on a certain type of diet and averaging it out in order to determine if they’re truly bigger. It can be a bit tedious, but being able to obtain solid information is nearly priceless. Be sure to share with other keepers if you carry out experimentation, you can make your own contribution to science this way.

Summary

Mealworms are remarkably easy to feed, and a varied diet is sure to keep them healthy. With a little bit of extra work, you can even start to figure out what works best. The health of your mealworms can help to keep your pets healthy as well, and it doesn’t take much effort to provide them with a diet that’s absolutely optimal.


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