How to grow a wax worm farm

Exercise extreme caution when you open the jar or you may find yourself with a housewide infestation.

For additional escape prevention, a piece of muslin or cheesecloth can be placed beneath the screen prior to taping it down.

Wax worm colonies thrive at room temperature or slightly warmer conditions.

To make a simple worm food, mix 7 cups of dry dog food with 1 cup of water. Wait 5 minutes for the food to soften slightly, then add 1 to 2 cups of honey to the mix. Let stand for 24 hours before using.

Wax worms are a popular source of protein, fat and calcium for amphibian and reptile pets. They are also a common choice of live bait for fishermen. The worms can be raised easily in your home and will provide a source of worms to meet your needs all year long. To raise wax worms, simply follow the steps in the guidelines below.

Find a small set of starter worms from the local pet store or bait shop. Begin with 24 to 36 worms. If you know anyone who keeps bees, check with them as well. Wax worm larvae wreak havoc on established hives and beekeepers are more than happy to get rid of them.

Set up a holding container. Wash a 3-to-5 gallon bucket, can or jar and allow it to air dry. Make sure you choose a container made from glass, metal or hard plastic as the wax worms are able to gnaw their way through softer materials such as wood or pliable plastic. Cover the opening of the container with mesh screening, 20-gauge or smaller.

Prepare the worm food. Combine one box of Gerber mixed-grain baby cereal with 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup glycerin. Stir the ingredients together until the cereal is moist. Add water if necessary, 1 tbsp. at a time. Sprinkle approximately 1/2 of this mixture on the bottom of the big container you’ve chosen. Store the extra in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Add the wax worms and a few sheets of slightly wadded-up waxed paper. Cover the opening of the jar and secure the screen by connecting it to the jar with duct tape.

Observe the colony. Every 4 to 5 weeks, add more food. In addition to the cereal/honey mixture, wax worms eat leafy greens and slices of apples or oranges. If your colony is successful, the worms will begin to spin cocoons. Moths will break out of their cocoons in approximately 2 weeks.

Remove the sheets of waxed paper when the adult moths die and place them individually into newly prepared jars. The waxed paper will contain the eggs, which hatch into new worms.

How to grow a wax worm farm

The night crawler, known scientifically as Lumbricus terrestris, is a species of earthworm that is the preferred bait of many freshwater fishermen. To keep a handy supply of bait at your fingertips, you can raise night crawlers in a worm bed in your home or backyard. If you prove to be an effective worm farmer and live near a popular fishing spot, you could even start selling the wriggling creatures in large quantities for profit.

Items you will need

Opaque plastic storage bin

Step 1

Wash the bin with unscented soap and water. Rinse the bin well.

Step 2

Drill multiple holes between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch in diameter near the top of the bin.

Step 3

Add moist bedding to the bin until it is half full. Bedding options include finely shredded matte paper, peat moss and coconut fiber. Moisten paper bedding by spritzing it generously with water; moisten moss or coconut fiber by submerging it completely in water and wringing it out well.

Step 4

Add 1,000 night crawlers, or 1/2 to 1 pound of worms, per square foot of the bed’s surface area, regardless of the bin’s depth. Turn on a light near the bin while the worms are settling in. Because worms dislike light, this will encourage them to burrow into their new home.

Step 5

Sprinkle food over the bedding. Arrange small sections of food in various areas over the surface of the bed. Use either commercial chicken mash purchased at a pet store or food waste from your own kitchen, such as potato skins or coffee grounds. Do not add acidic foods or anything that contains dairy products. Add finely crushed egg shells to aid in the worms’ digestion.

Step 6

Replenish food only after the worms have consumed most or all of the food from the previous feeding. Adjust feeding times, ingredients and quantities as you learn more about your worms’ preferred diets.

Step 7

Spritz the bed with water regularly to maintain a consistent, moderate degree of moisture.

Step 8

Store the worm bed away from direct sunlight and exposure to extreme temperatures.

Waxworms (Galleria mellonella)are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths and are tan with black feet and small brown or black heads. They are considered a pest by beekeepers as they are a parasite in bee colonies in the wild. They have a very high fat content making them a perfect food source for many reptiles, amphibians, and some pet birds. Waxworms are also very easy to take care of and can survive for a long time at lower temperatures.

Quick Facts

● Waxworms (moths) live in and around beehives and get their name from their ability to ingest beeswax combs.

● In captivity, they can live a long time without food when kept at cool temps.

● Waxworms are high in fat content and make a good feeder insect for malnourished pets.

● In this state of their life cycle, they no longer consume food and live off the fat supplies in their bodies.

Shipping

Our live waxworms are shipped in cups that contain a bedding to ensure they remain healthy prior to feeding.

Storage

Waxworms should be kept at a constant cool temperature (55-60°); this will keep them dormant and ensure that they last several weeks. Most refrigerators are too cold to store them in, but the refrigerator door or a wine cooler is a little warmer and will usually work fine. It is extremely important to store them at low humidity. If bedding feels moist, remove lids from their containers to allow them to dry out.

Waxworms do not need to be fed. As a daily task, remove any dead worms (they will appear black) and remove the cocoons of any that are spinning.

Offering to Pet

Waxworms are high in fat content and should be offered as a snack a few times a week. They are also excellent feeders for malnourished pets.

Safe Disposal

To dispose of live waxworms responsibly, place in an escape-proof bag or container, freeze for at least 24 hours, and then dispose of in the garbage can. Never release live feeders into the wild as they can be harmful to the native environment!

How to successfully raise earthworms as a home-based business.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“How do I make my worms grow bigger?”

This is a question we get quite often. Recently, one of our customers, Judith, emailed that her vermicomposting European Nightcrawlers weren’t getting any bigger. She not only uses the worms for vermicomposting kitchen waste, but she also uses the worms for fishing. She’s had these worms for over a year now. Even though she’s not into worm farming as a business, the answer to her vermicomposting problem is same.

There are several reasons that worms stay small and don’t grow into bait size. Below is a summary of these reasons with remedies.

1. The worms are too crowded.

In order for worms to reach maximum size, they need plenty of room. This is particularly true for young worms. In Judith’s case, her worms have been breeding and laying egg capsules all along. These egg capsules have hatched and her vermicomposting bin is most likely getting over-crowded.

My advice to her was to split the bed into two. Since she’s not interested in have more than one vermicomposting bin or in going into the worm farming business, she should give them away. The worms must be divided and the population reduced in the existing bed for her worms to grow.

2. The bedding is “too old” and/or compacted.

If she hasn’t changed out the bedding recently, her vermicomposting bin bedding has undoubtedly been converted almost entirely to worm castings. An over concentration of worm castings is unhealthy for the worms and eventually kills them.
The good news is these worm castings are an excellent source of fertilizer for gardens and flowers. She can take her worms out of the bedding, transfer them into fresh bedding and broadcast the castings onto her plants. If the worm castings aren’t needed right away, they store very well and will keep until needed.

3. There’s not enough food to go around.

The more worms in a bed, the more food is required. When worms are growing, they need an “all-you-can-eat” food supply. In Judith’s case, she wants worms to grow to bait size. An option she could consider is to pull out the mature worms, put them into a separate bed and feed them a rich worm feed such as FRM’s Worm and Cricket Food (you can find it at some feed and seed farm stores.

This option is one you will be using in your worm farm business if you are going to serve the fish bait business. Feeding your worms in this way is tricky and can lead to problems (such as “protein poisoning”) if not done correctly. There are complete instructions on fattening bait worms in my upcoming “Worm Farm Manual”.

In a nutshell, feed rich, grain based worm feed only in the amount that the worms can consume in a 24 hour period. The trick is to give them all they need without overfeeding.

4. Worm Farming Secret: Increase the microbe content of the bedding and added food.

One of the surest ways to not only grow big worms, but also keep your worms healthy, is to spray you worm bedding and added food with a weak mixture of VermaPlex® (a liquid soil inoculant fertilizer made from worm castings) and water (80 parts water to 1 part VermaPlex®).

Worms digest food by “following behind” microbes. The microbes basically predigest the food, thereby facilitating the worms’ digestion. Worms absolutely must have a healthy amount of microbes in order to process food.

The good news is, microbes show up automatically in food waste. By adding the VermaPlex® spray, you are speeding up this process and guaranteeing the worms have plenty of help with their digestion process. Read about the application of VermaPlex® to your worm beds here “Worm Farming Tips #2”.

In summary, provide amply room, food and microbes for your worms to grow big and fat. Please post any questions or problems you may have about growing bigger, better worms.

Worm Growing Resources :

Worm Farm Manual: A Step By Step Guide To Raising Earthworms. An easy to follow guide on feeding, growing, harvesting, and making a profit worm farming. Download or Hard Copy

Other worm farming resources:
VermaPlex® : As a worm bed enhancer.
European Nightcrawlers: By far the best fishing bait worm. Excellent composting worm, too.

We have the best Wax Worms, bar none. We’ll stand behind them 100%

Our wax worms are plump and disease free.

Place wax worms in the door of our refrigerator, or a cool basement if you plan to keep them for a while. The shelf of the refrigerator is too cold, which is why we say to keep them in the door which is usually a little warmer.

If you keep your wax worms at room temp they will pupate and then become moths. Some reptiles love the moths, so you may want to try that. To breed your wax worms just place moths in a container with some Worm Man Wax Worm Bedding, and place some crumbled pieces of wax paper in the bedding. The moths will lay eggs on the wax paper, and in a couple days you will have baby wax worms. Add more bedding as needed and your wax worms will get nice and plump. The warmer you keep them the more active they will become, and the faster they will grow.

Wax worms go through four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. At 85 degrees it will take the worm 5 to 6 weeks to go from larva to adult.

ANOTHER WAY TO BREED WAX WORMS

Keeping and breeding wax worms

1.Best way to start raising wax worms is to buy some. You can get them here.
2.Prepare an escape proof container for them ie 3 to 5 gallon tank with screened lid
(tape it on later).
3.You will also need a substrate- get some bran and honey- mix it together dry. If you can get some bees wax grate it into the mixture. Crumble the mixture into the tank. You can also buy the bedding above.
The mix may still be a little sticky.
4.Put the wax worms in the container with the bedding.
5.Add a few crumpled balls of wax paper as well.
6.Keep the wax worms at room temp. eventually the waxworms will begin to spin
cocoons. They will remain in their cocoons for approx two weeks- then moths will
emerge.
7.The moths will mate and live for about a week or so- they will lay their eggs in the wax
paper.
8.A couple of weeks after the moths have died you will see lots of tiny worms. They
grow fast if they are kept at room temp- so once they are half grown you may want to
store them in the fridge in a container with small air holes and some of the honey and
bran mix. If you leave them at room temp the cycle will begin again. 🙂
9.You must secure the top. The worms hatch small and will escape.

Exercise extreme caution when you open the jar or you may find yourself with a housewide infestation.

For additional escape prevention, a piece of muslin or cheesecloth can be placed beneath the screen prior to taping it down.

Wax worm colonies thrive at room temperature or slightly warmer conditions.

To make a simple worm food, mix 7 cups of dry dog food with 1 cup of water. Wait 5 minutes for the food to soften slightly, then add 1 to 2 cups of honey to the mix. Let stand for 24 hours before using.

Wax worms are a popular source of protein, fat and calcium for amphibian and reptile pets. They are also a common choice of live bait for fishermen. The worms can be raised easily in your home and will provide a source of worms to meet your needs all year long. To raise wax worms, simply follow the steps in the guidelines below.

Find a small set of starter worms from the local pet store or bait shop. Begin with 24 to 36 worms. If you know anyone who keeps bees, check with them as well. Wax worm larvae wreak havoc on established hives and beekeepers are more than happy to get rid of them.

Set up a holding container. Wash a 3-to-5 gallon bucket, can or jar and allow it to air dry. Make sure you choose a container made from glass, metal or hard plastic as the wax worms are able to gnaw their way through softer materials such as wood or pliable plastic. Cover the opening of the container with mesh screening, 20-gauge or smaller.

Prepare the worm food. Combine one box of Gerber mixed-grain baby cereal with 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup glycerin. Stir the ingredients together until the cereal is moist. Add water if necessary, 1 tbsp. at a time. Sprinkle approximately 1/2 of this mixture on the bottom of the big container you’ve chosen. Store the extra in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Add the wax worms and a few sheets of slightly wadded-up waxed paper. Cover the opening of the jar and secure the screen by connecting it to the jar with duct tape.

Observe the colony. Every 4 to 5 weeks, add more food. In addition to the cereal/honey mixture, wax worms eat leafy greens and slices of apples or oranges. If your colony is successful, the worms will begin to spin cocoons. Moths will break out of their cocoons in approximately 2 weeks.

Remove the sheets of waxed paper when the adult moths die and place them individually into newly prepared jars. The waxed paper will contain the eggs, which hatch into new worms.

How to successfully raise earthworms as a home-based business.

Pages

  • Home
  • About Worm Farming
  • Contact
  • Worm Feeding
  • FAQ’s
  • Manual
  • Store

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is Worm Farming Profitable?

Worm Farming Questions

We receive many worm farming questions in emails and phone calls. Here’s a common one I’d liked to share with you in our Q&A post today:

Q: “Can I really make money worm farming? Is worm farming a profitable business?”

A: The short answer is “You bet!” But, of course, with me, there’s also a long answer.

Growing Worms For Profit

Successful Business Basics

Starting a business, any business, and making that business flourish requires that a few basics fulfilled. Check off this list tailored to worm farming from the beginning, and you are well on your way to success:

    Answer this question: Is there a market for your worms? As with any other product, you should have a supply of customers in your area that are interested in purchasing your worms and worm castings/vermin-compost. The market for your worms consists of fishermen, vermicomposters, bait shops, reptile/fish/rabbit/etc. owners, and gardeners.

If you live in an urban area, you’ll most likely require an online presence and ship your worms to customers. The trend recently, however, has shown even apartment dwellers and city-folks are becoming interested in vermicomposting (which you can do in a small tub in the laundry room) and container gardening.

Profitable Worm Farming Resources:

Get off to a good start with your worm farming business. Find other how-to’s and troubleshooting tips in my Worm Farm Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms.

Other Worm Resources:

European Nightcrawlers: One tough fishing worm. You could be the exclusive source in your area. Excellent composting worm, too.

How to grow a wax worm farm

Though potentially more difficult to care for than some worms, many fisherman still enjoy using the Canadian nightcrawler. With sizes that reach up to 14 inches, the worm can easily be attached to fish hooks and used as bait for many varieties of fish. Despite their more finicky living conditions, Canadian nightcrawlers can still be fairly easy to care for with practice.

Obtain a container that will fit in your refrigerator, such as a small plastic bucket or tub. Fill the bottom of the container with gravel and sand for drainage. Then fill the container with potting soil or other bedding, such as peat moss or decaying plant matter. Bedding should be at least 6- to 8-inches deep.

Put a fish tank thermometer in the container, then store the container in your fridge. Keep the temperature in the bucket at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to keep temperature below 65 degrees.

Purchase Canadian nightcrawlers and pour them into your refrigerated container at home. The worms can be found at bait shops or even at Walmart. You may store up to 1 lb. of nightcrawlers for every square foot of bedding in your container.

Feed your nightcrawlers by sprinkling food over the top of the dirt. Canadian nightcrawlers eat greens such as leaf and grass clippings, as well as other organic material, including fruit and vegetable peelings or coffee and tea grounds. Do not worry about overfeeding the nightcrawlers.

Check your nightcrawlers every two to three days. Remove any old or rotting food. Moisten bedding by sprinkling bottled water over the top. Keep bedding damp but not too watery.

Aerate the nightcrawlers’ bedding by flipping or turning the dirt every two to four weeks. Ten percent of the bedding should be removed and replaced with new bedding every four to six months.