Breeding Wax Worms

By Snaketracks / March 3, 2020
Breeding Wax Worms

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How To Breed Wax Worms

Breeding and running your own wax worm farm is a great way to save money and fuel (no more trips to the pet shop for these fatty little worms.)

Breeding waxworms could be a valuable skill especially when you are a reptile owner or keeper. Breeding these little critters can also be quite fun when observing their life cycles.

In this article, we’ll take you through the basics of starting and caring for your own wax worm farm.

Read through carefully and by the end, you’ll be able to run your own wax worm breeding facility successfully.

  • Scientific Name: Galleria mellonella

Quick Reference Section

What are Waxworms?

Wax moth larvae on honeycomb

Waxworms, the larvae of wax moths are fatty, medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped little feet and tiny black or brownish dark heads.

There are two closely related types of these little critters, the Achroia grisella and the Galleria mellonella; both belonging to the family Pyralidae.

These little dudes got their name ‘cause in the wild, they are nest parasites living in bee colonies, chewing through beeswax, eating cocoons, pollen, and shed bee-skins.

Why raise your own army of wax worms?

Waxworms are valuable, due to their high properties of calcium, protein and fat content. They are useful both to fishermen and reptile owners as bait and fatty food items.

Fishers and reptile owners will benefit highly from breeding these protein-packed worms. Because of their ability to live a long time without eating and survive for weeks at low temperatures, they are incredibly easy to breed.

Pros and Cons

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of running your own wax worm breeding facility? Well, lucky you stumbled upon this cool little article here, cause I’m about to take you through the wonderful, interesting little world of wax worm raising and whatnot.

Cons:

  • If you’re squeamish, then that’s probably going to be a problem.
  • Dealing with bad smells.

Pros:

  • No need to run to the worm shops when you forget to stock up.
  • Watching the interesting life cycle of these little worms.
  • Saving up on expenses.
  • Waxworms are very easy to breed and won’t require much attentive care.

Running your own farm is quite cheap. Materials are relatively easy to find and gather. Prepare a budget of about 5-20$, even less sometimes, depending on what resources you have.

Starting Steps & Materials Needed

First off, you’ll need to get some waxworms, of course. Purchase some from the nearest shop or from online sellers like amazon.

Now off to step two. Grab a jar; or any glass, wood, or hard plastic airtight container for their habitat. A jar or 5-gallon tank will have plenty enough room for around 50 worms.

For the bedding, your items to prepare will be:

A. Wheat germ, bran or uncooked oatmeal

Wheat Germ in a bowl

This will be the main bedding they’ll eat, dig, and crawl in. This serves as the honeycomb in a beehive.

B. Honey

Honey

Honey is very important to have in the mix, ‘cause in the wild, eggs are lain in the beehives. This is also where wax worms are hatched.

C. Glycerin

Glycerin helps the worms grow quicker and also keeps the bedding warm and damp.

D. Wax paper (optional: egg carton pieces)

This is not a big necessity. But wax paper serves as a food source, a place to lay on for them, and a place to spin cocoons.

E. Heat (heat tape, heat mat, heat lamp, etc.)

Heat is very important for the breeding process. Heat determines how quick it can be. Temperatures should be kept around 80º to 90ºF.

You can try something like the Zacro pictured above with a fixture like the one from Flukers as an example. Be sure to get a thermostat as well to avoid frying them.

Phase 1:  Setting it up

Now time to start mixing. Better get your hands ready. But if you don’t like getting your hands sticky and yucky, grab a pair of disposable gloves.

  1. Put wheat germ (enough to cover about 1-2 inches of ground in the container) in a bowl for mixing. Then, add a lot of honey (about 2 tablespoons) to the mixture. Mix with hands until it is damp and you have a sticky, soft, thick, and crumbly paste. Add in a few spoons of glycerin until the mixture turns dark.
  2. Let the bedding mixture dry. Place on the waxy side of wax paper and leave to dry.
  3. Once the bedding has hardened and dried, break it into clumps and place in the container. Again make sure there is about 1-2 inches of bedding.
  4. Throw in some wax paper (crumpled into small balls).
  5. Now, time to introduce the little wax worms to their new home. Put in the waxworms. Healthy ones are always of a cream color without any dark discolorations. Make sure to not put any black worms since they are probably already dead and will smell.
  6. Cover the container with a net, mesh, cheesecloth or a type of wire screen that’ll allow easy access of air through. Then put lid (make sure there are holes cut on lid) on said covering.

Great! Now we’re all set for

Phase 2: Raising and caring for the wax worms.

Proper Steps for Breeding Wax worms

  1. Put container in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Ensure container temperatures remain between 80º to 90ºF, any higher could prove fatal to the moths.
  3. Keep their environment dark. One could put a tube of paper around the container or simply cover it with a paper bag.

Check on your breeding facility daily

Once the waxworms have cocooned themselves, it usually takes between 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer) for the moths to hatch.

Once they do, they will start mating and laying eggs (ideally on the objects placed in the container) within a short period of time. Once they’ve laid their spawn, the moths will die after a week or so.

If the enclosure gets too rank, you can transfer the moths over to another container but be sure to not let any escape.

For the eggs to hatch, it could take no less than a week, or it could take up to a month. Now, procedure is to just wait and let mother nature take its course.

Once they hatch, they’ll start feasting on the bedding, wriggling around the container, and climbing everywhere (this is why you need to make sure the container is properly sealed). Once they reach eight weeks of age they’ll be plump and juicy, ready to be fed to your reptile or used as bait.

Check out this YouTube video for more direction and guidance:

Conclusion

So in conclusion, building and raising your own wax worms would be a very useful and valuable skill to learn. Not only is it cheap and cost-effective, it’s also quite easy and not much of a hassle running your own wax worm farm.

So what are you waiting for, get out there, gather your stuff and get onto it. Sit back and relax whilst you observe the interesting life cycle of these little grubs. Before you know it, you’ll have a couple hundred of these fatty little critters wriggling around your DIY habitat.

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