Have You Considered Raising Mealworms?
Raising mealworms can really be quite an adventure, as it is a bit more complicated than one might suspect. The first thing to consider is why one would want to start raising mealworms in the first place. The quick answer is that they are nutritious. Mealworms make excellent fishing bait; they make a nutritious food for some types, actually most types, of pets, and, if you can stand the thought of it, are highly nutritious in the human diet as well.
Many cultures eat insects, and mealworms are simply the larvae of a type of beetle, and consequently fall into the category of insects. Many insects are very rich in protein as well as many of the other nutrients we need. After all, many vertebrates eat insects, including mealworms, as their primary food, growing and becoming healthy in the process.
You may not want to start raising mealworms for use at the dinner table, though more and more people in western society are doing it, but if you do it you may be well to advise dinner guests ahead of time (though some might not even show up).
Know The Life Cycle - Raising mealworms involves much more than placing some eggs in a container and waiting for them to hatch into mealworms. When raising mealworms you'll need to know about the life cycle of the creatures, and how to deal with each stage in the life cycle. The mealworm has four stages in its life cycle, starting with eggs, then progressing to larvae (worms), from there to pupae, and finally become beetles. What we call the mealworm is the larval stage, which lasts several months.
Mealworms, once hatched from eggs go through several molts as they grow, becoming a pupa at after their final molt, and a few days to a week later, emerging as a beetle. In providing housing for the insects you'll need three containers to handle the different stages of the life cycle. The largest container, a 6 quart container is a good size for starters, is reserved for the worms (larvae) which eat the most and are the most active. Beetles and pupae can be kept in smaller containers.
First, Separate The Pupae From the Mealworms - Most people who raise mealworms start out by purchasing the larvae. At some point the larvae will begin to pupate. When this happens the pupae have to be removed and placed in a separate container to avoid being eaten by the remaining larvae. If this is not done, the life cycle can come to an end, or most probably only a few larvae-turned-pupae will remain. For the same reason, you don't want to use all of your mealworms for fishing, feeding or eating, or you'll soon have nothing left to propagate the species.
Then, Separate The Beetles From The Pupae - The troubles the pupae have aren't quite over, as once they start hatching into beetles the beetles will start eating the remaining pupae, so the beetles have to quickly be taken out and placed in their own container.
Now, Separate The Eggs From The Beetles - Once you have a couple of dozen beetles, they will start laying eggs in the bedding you have placed in their container. Now the task is to remove the eggs a soon as possible or the beetles will start eating the eggs. Since one stage in the life cycle of this insect always seems intent on eating members of another stage, it's a wonder the species survives at all, but if you're in the business of raising mealworms, for fun or profit, you'll want to keep separating the different stages to keep the numbers of mealworms you have at any one time high. It won't take long to realize than when raising mealworms, one can't just sit back and let nature take its course.