Mealworms are larvae of the darkling beetle. They are filled with protein and perfect for feeding chickens, reptiles, fish, and domestic birds. If you are adventurous and looking to save a few dollars on feeding your pets and livestock, consider a DIY mealworm farm. There are mealworm starter kits available but it is a simple and painless process to put together your own.
Unlike other bug farming options, like crickets, mealworm farms are ideal for those just starting in bug farming. Mealworms are less noisy than crickets. They also don’t fly or jump so you can raise them in any container that maintains the proper temperature and humidity.
Mealworms are not escaping artists so raising them in a container with a wire mesh top and some duct tape will suffice. Let’s take a look at some of the DYI mealworm plans that can get you started with your very own bug farm.
We have an easy-to-follow plan for creating your own mealworm farm. Mealworms are a popular, healthy, and nutritious snack that provides the protein chickens need to lay an abundance of eggs. Mealworms are on the top of the list for healthy chicken treats.
Mealworms can get expensive to buy if you are feeding an entire flock. You can grow your own for a fraction of the cost. These DIY plans help you select the proper container and provide instructions for building a simple mealworm growing system.
The instructions help you choose a good location and explain the conditions needed to grow the larvae. They also provide suggestions on the types of material you can use for the base layer, the food source and breeding grounds for your mealworms. This is a self-contained ecosystem. Once you supply the first batch of live worms, it will continue to produce mealworms.
2. Mealworm Breeding DIY
Mealworm Breeding DIY has a video entitled Mealworm Breeding DIY that has one of the simplest and quickest ways to get you started raising mealworms. This homemade system uses a three-drawer plastic container and costs under $5 to make and 20 minutes to set up.
This 7-minute video is perfect for those that want to try their hand at breeding mealworms on a smaller scale. This method would produce enough mealworms to make a tasty and nutritious snack for any household omnivore that enjoys worms.
Mealworm Farm by velacreations promotes mealworm farms as an alternative source of protein for not only any omnivore’s diet, like pigs, canines, and poultry but also humans.
Mealworms are tasty and have a slightly nutty flavor and a palatable texture. In an emergency, mealworms could be a life-saving form of protein. They could be a source of protein for humans in an uncertain future.
Instructables has a DYI plan for a large-scale, multi-tiered mealworm farm. It can be constructed for as little as $30 and completed in a couple of days. It uses approximately 1.5 square feet and produces a pound to a pound and a half of mealworms each week.
This design creates a tower which contains three separate modules. There is a containing tray for the adults, the eggs, a nursery, and two trays for growing the mealworms.
An additional tray is used for the mealworms that are ready to harvest. This complex system will allow you to grow and manage each lifecycle of the mealworm efficiently and effectively. This plan is for the more serious mealworm farmer.
4. Better than Self-Sorting: Home Mealworm Farm Overview
If you want to go above and beyond the basic mealworm farm, you can get into sifting and sorting beetles, pupae, eggs, and worms into their own bins. Better than Self-Sorting: Home Mealworm Farm Overview is a more advanced method of raising mealworms. This video will explain to the serious mealworm farmers a great method for sifting and sorting. It also provides helpful links on where to purchase the necessary gear.
Reptiles Magazine website offer instructions on How To Raise Your Own Mealworms. The Reptile world uses mealworms as food for their pets and recognizes the benefits of raising your own. They have DIY plans that help you pack your mealworms with nutritional value and breed mealworms fast enough to meet the demands of your hungry reptiles.
Reptiles magazine not only provides the DIY instructions for creating a mealworm colony using a 66-quart plastic tub, but they also emphasize feeding additional food beyond the normal bedding source. They recommend feeding nutritious vegetables to your mealworms so the nutrition can be passed along to the reptiles.
These instructions recommend using an incandescent lamp or heat emitter on top of the screen. This will help maintain the proper temperature and provide a type of light that will not be detrimental to the mealworm’s health.
6. How to build a mealworm farm
How to Build a Mealworm Farm is a 6-minute YouTube video that covers how to make a farm using 2 slightly larger storage totes. The materials for constructing this farm also include a screen and wood. It is designed to hold around 500 beetles and can produce several hundred eggs a month.
This DIY mealworm project does require some wood cutting and stapling, but it is still a simple project for those looking for a slightly larger scale mealworm producing farm.
Mother Earth News has simple DIY instructions for growing your own mealworms at home. They recommend feeding mealworms to your poultry, game birds, and even your backyard birds. Their plans are as simple in creating a farm using a lidded box and some oatmeal.
Mother Earth states that you can use a plastic box, a tub, or even a drawer. Their supplies are as simple as some mesh or screen, duct tape, a canister of oatmeal, a paper egg carton, and two carrots or a potato. Add around 100 live mealworms are you are now an official mealworm farmer.
Instructions include using an egg carton for some added darkness. They suggest you check on the mealworms once a week and replace the oat bedding as needed. The vegetables will provide the moisture the worms need as well as provide extra nutrition.
Snake Tracks has its own set of DIY on How to Breed Mealworms. They recognize that feeding reptiles mealworms is a popular choice because they don’t escape or move quickly. They also live longer than other feeder insects.
Their DIY instructions recommend starting with 500 to 2500 live mealworms. It may be less expensive to buy the worms in bulk. They recommend getting mealworms that are healthy and well-bred. Their plans use three large rubber containers. They simply recommend drilling holes in the lids for ventilation.
Sanke Tracks recommends bedding the containers with oatmeal, wheat bran, or cornmeal. They also suggest using vegetables for moisture and nutrition. The vegetables they recommend are apples, carrots, or potatoes. You can also feed kitchen scraps like carrot tops, potato peels, or celery bottoms. They list all the steps and materials to set up your DIY mealworm farm.
Hello Homestead has DIY instructions that hey believe mealworms are not only a great source of protein for your flock, but also for the more adventurous homesteaders looking to grow mealworms to feed themselves.
Homestead describes mealworms as “buttery, oaty, toasty, almost breakfast cereal-y”. Their DIY instructions include an 8-inch x 11-inch tub that is around 6 inches deep. From there they explain how to create your mealworm nest with fine wire mesh and duct tape using dry oats and bedding and feed.
Their recommendations for creating a self-sustaining population for human consumption is that you purchase your starter mealworms not from bait shops or pet stores, but from farms that produce mealworms for human consumption.
10. Step By Step Super & Mealworm Set Up
This last video will provide you with all the information you need to know about DIY mealworm raising. This 12-minute video goes into great detail on the setup and maintenance of a mealworm operation. How I Set Up, Keep & Breed Superworms & Mealworms | Step By Step Super & Mealworm Set Up is a great guide if you are seriously looking into raising mealworms.
Whether you are looking into a simple and easy method of raising a few mealworms or are serious about producing a larger quantity, one of these sources will be right for you. Check them out and find out how easy and foolproof it is to raise mealworms. Raising your own is extremely cost-effective and will allow you to add nutrients to the diet of the mealworms.
You can decide on the scale of the project you are ready to undertake. They range from a few minutes to several days. Find the one that will work best for you and get busy raising mealworms.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.