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!

20150723_200054

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.

20150917_124057
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.

 

 

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