Meal worms and Frass

Meal Worms

beetle cycle

Meal worms are 20% protein. We raise them as a high protein snack for the girls. When we first started this project, we would separate them into the different stages of their life cycle, meal worms, pupa and beetles.  We have now come up with a more simple solution. We just keep them all in one tub. The chickens don’t mind, they like the meal worms just as much as the beetles or pupa. Before giving them a scoop of treats, it’s important to sift out all the small particles into another bin.  These small particles contain meal worm eggs and the amazing frass (bug waste and exoskeletons)!  The eggs will hatch shortly after and the microscopic meal worms will take a few weeks to grow enough to be noticeable.  As the worms gets larger, I will sift the bin again to sort the frass from the worms. I save the frass for my plants and the worms go into the main tub.

They eat grains (oatmeal and cheerios) and their water source is through any food containing moisture such as fruits and veggies. I just discovered they LOVE cooked eggs!

20150829_111149 Each bin contains the meal worms in the different stages of their life cycle


Meal worms morph into pupa, which turn into beetles, which lay eggs that hatch into baby meal worms and the cycle continues. Each stage of life must be separated into a different bin or they will be eaten.

The meal worms and beetles eat grains (oatmeal and cheerios) and their water source is through any food containing moisture such as fruits and veggies. I just discovered they LOVE cooked eggs!


This has been an awesome kid project. Colt understands the whole life cycle and is always excited to put the new pupa and beetles into their appropriate bins.

In addition,

Not only do the chickens benefit from these high protein snacks, but our plants benefit from them too.

All the meal worm waste that collects at the bottom of the meal worm bins, called frass, serves as a great organic nutrient for plants.

9 ounces (half pound) of insect frass from meal worm bin.

The whole process can be really scientific, but basically, when you put insect frass on your plant, the plant thinks it’s being invaded by bugs. This kicks the plant’s auto immune system into overdrive and forces the plant to protect itself by strengthening it’s cell walls and releasing an enzyme (chitinase) that acts as its own natural insecticide and fungicide. These defense mechanisms make the plant stronger and better able to fight off disease, mold and pests.

It is not harsh enough to burn your plants and makes it suitable for regular fertilizing.

We are currently experimenting with the frass to see how well it works and I will post the results soon.

The frass can be used as a top dressing, mixed directly into the soil or brewed into a tea. It is becoming quite popular and can be purchased at many plant nurseries and online stores.




4 thoughts on “Meal worms and Frass

    • Im guessing I have 1000+ mealworms in each bin and I sift it each month. I probably get a little less than an ounce of frass (?) Ive never really weighed it. There are some oatmeal fragments mixed in my frass, since I use that as the substrate, so I can’t say it’s “pure”. There are also eggs from the beetles and exoskeleton from the worms mixed in it as well. Obviously, the more worms, the more frass. You’ll be surprised how fast it builds up. Especially if you don’t sift it often.


  1. How do you separate your frass and trash from good eggs>? I have a 3 bin set up with beetles in the top bin with a screen bottom so when they lay their eggs they fall below to the meal-worms in the middle. I keep the pupa in the top with the beetles. I notice mold amd moisture build up sometimes on the wet food so to clean it out, how do i get rid of the frass but keep all the eggs i need turned into worms?


    • Hey Kyle. Why is the food wet? I have a problem with humidity here, so my substrate (oatmeal) tends to absorb moisture and mold. I think the best way to avoid this is to change out the frass/egg bin monthly Depending on temperature, it can take 1-3 weeks for the eggs to hatch, so as long as you let them sit (without adding more frass/eggs to the mix), then you’re safe to say after a month it’s just frass.
      So, if that didn’t make sense… each month on the same day, sift your mealworms out, then leave the frass and eggs to sit somewhere for a month or so to hatch and grow (place a different, empty bin to catch the new frass/eggs). Then you can sift out those little worms and use what’s left, the frass.


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