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Can we grow mealworms without grain feed?

 
pollinator
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I am planning to grow mealworms and would prefer them to be high in Omega 3s, so rather not to feed them grain or the least amount needed. Could I feed them just greens, hay, and vegetables? Do they absolutely need grains for their health?
 
master pollinator
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Here's what I found:

"The darkling or mealworm beetle is a native species of Africa but has become naturalized in North America. They are often found in
cupboards, pantries, or wherever food is stored and are considered pests. In Africa the beetles and larvae eat decaying leaves, sticks,
grasses, and occasionally new plant growth. As general decomposers, they also eat dead insects, feces
, and stored grains. Mealworms
live in areas surrounded by what they eat under rocks, and logs, in animal burrows and in stored grains. They clean up after plants and
animals, and therefore can be found anywhere where “leftovers” occur. "

https://www.wardsci.com/assetsvc/asset/en_US/id/16920388/contents
 
Joy Oasis
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Thank you. So I don't have to feed them grain. But then I will need some sort of wood chip vedding or something like that?
 
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Joy Oasis wrote:Thank you. So I don't have to feed them grain. But then I will need some sort of wood chip vedding or something like that?



They do prefer to have something to dig into in my experience. I'd just make sure whatever you give them as bedding is quite dry as I've had a few bursts of mold when my bedding gets wet.
 
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Can i ask why you don't want to use grain?

Responsible grain production and consumption is not bad. Anyhow, I think you could simply use loose flax seed as their "substrate" which is high in omegas and they would also eat it. You could grind it to increase their consumption, that way you wouldn't have to use corn or wheat. I have used oats and cornmeal for a substrate for them but I haven't scaled beyond experimenting.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joy Oasis wrote:Thank you. So I don't have to feed them grain. But then I will need some sort of wood chip bedding or something like that?



I would just use tree leaves and debris of that sort, or unfinished compost for them to hide in.
 
Joy Oasis
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Lucas Green wrote:Can i ask why you don't want to use grain?



Because I prefer my worms grass or green fed. Higher nutrition. Grains have lots of calories, but they are high in phytic acid and nutrients inside are not very available. Occasional grain is okay, but as a main source of food -not so much. Neither for humans nor for animals. I actually can control my tooth from getting infection by removing all grains and fruit. I already do not eat sugar and seed oils for a year, but that alone is not enough.
Plus I rather feed them something I can gather or grow myself. I do not trust commercial foods grown by large corporations, eve organic. When organic oats were tested, from 15 samples, 6 contained significant amounts of roundup.
 
Joy Oasis
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elle sagenev wrote:

They do prefer to have something to dig into in my experience. I'd just make sure whatever you give them as bedding is quite dry as I've had a few bursts of mold when my bedding gets wet.



I got some from Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and since they were fed oats, I put a think layer of oats and added guinea pig wood pellets (or roundish bobbles to be exact), and also gave them greens, and celery and carrots. They do not seem to be too interested in greens. I didn't get that much -maybe 30 worms and about 50 beetles, so can't try to eat them yet.
 
pioneer
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Joy Oasis wrote:

Lucas Green wrote:Can i ask why you don't want to use grain?



Because I prefer my worms grass or green fed. Higher nutrition. Grains have lots of calories, but they are high in phytic acid and nutrients inside are not very available. Occasional grain is okay, but as a main source of food -not so much. Neither for humans nor for animals. I actually can control my tooth from getting infection by removing all grains and fruit. I already do not eat sugar and seed oils for a year, but that alone is not enough.
Plus I rather feed them something I can gather or grow myself. I do not trust commercial foods grown by large corporations, eve organic. When organic oats were tested, from 15 samples, 6 contained significant amounts of roundup.



I'm not at all certain that phytic acid is bad for meal worms, or that the nutrients in grains aren't very available to meal worms. You seem to be presenting those things as fact, but I'm not sure that they are. I personally believe that grains are not good for humans to eat, and that fruits are, but regardless which of us is correct about that, I wouldn't say that is any evidence that those things are good or bad for meal worms.  I can tell you with no conjecture that i have been raising meal worms for years on dry dog food, chicken layer pellets, and alfalfa pellets ground in a blender. That food is also their bedding. The animals I raise that eat them are also healthy, thriving, and breeding well.  

As far as feeding organic, I would say that feeding any creature food without poison in it is best. If there are companies selling organic food that has "significant amounts of roundup", I don't understand how their organic certification wouldn't be pulled immediately.  There is certainly nothing wrong with growing your own food for your meal worms, but I would be concerned that raising them on grass may cause some nutrient deficiencies. I don't have any proof of that, but I would be conscious of that possibility.
 
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We grew mealworms for a couple of years and always used buckwheat hulls for the substrate and fed them veggie scraps or rejects (potatoes, carrots, radishes, and zuke trimmings were their favorites). Never fed them any other grain.
 
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I know on campus we had mast-producing trees and there were always darkling beetles scurrying about under them. I believe they may eat alfalfa pellets as well. I'll try and gather some different substrates to test next spring so far I have acorns or other nuts and alfalfa cubes or pellets on my list. They do eat carrots and various veggies, but in my experience it was at a much lower rate than grain bedding. keeping the bedding dry is the most important thing, since at least with the grain, you could get grain mites and yes, mold.
 
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Grew mealworms for years.  Bran to eat and sliced potato for moisture.  They used to grow wild and fat in my grandfather's chicken shed on the floor under the chickens.
 
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