March 26, 2014

Meal worms

Leo's latest pets are meal worms, which he checks every day to see if they have pupated or turned into beetles.

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Part of the work we do on Food Web is trying out new species to see if they could serve a role within our web. The latest experiment is meal worms.

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We bought a few meal worms from a pet store. Although called worms, they are actually the larva of the Darkling Beetle. They start off as a worm-looking creature (with six legs), then turn into pupae, and then emerge from their cocoons as beetles.

Leo is the one who looks after them. He feeds meal to the adults and larvae, as well as giving each a little vegetable matter (like carrot or cucumber) for their liquid intake. Whenever he sees that a larva has turned into a pupa, he removes it and puts it in the larva section. Likewise once a pupa has turned into an adult beetle. The reason for the three compartments is that both the larva and adults would eat the pupa. He gets so excited once he discovers that one has transformed.

We’re still in very early stages, so not much to report. We bought a handful on the 19th Febuary. They started turning into pupae on the 7th March, and we then saw the first beetle on the 19th March. Food for so few is minimal and not yet worth measuring. Once we have a mature set of egg laying adults, we will start to keep better records on intake and output. We are hoping that they can become the protein intake for our poultry.

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