How to Raise and Feed Flour Beetle Larvae
Article compliments of The Indy Amazon
Flour beetle larvae are fantastic food items as an addition to the diet of your herps. As a small (1/16-3/16 inch), high protein and fat food source that is easy to maintain, they add great variety to a well rounded diet. They can really pack on weight to skinny animals, and are a perfect backup food source if you are out of crickets, flies, etc. They are especially great for smaller animals like geckos, day geckos, leopard geckos, chameleons, anoles, dart frogs (Dendrobatids), small salamanders, toads, and any animal that needs or enjoys smaller food sources. This care sheet should make feeding propagating these great food items a snap.
Culturing these guys could not be easier. Just take any wide mouth container, fill it with dry media, and add the larvae and/or adult beetles. Put your lid on, put it in a dark corner at room temperature, and forget about it. That’s it. A new 1 quart culture may take as long as a month to establish, but once that occurs, you should be able to feed off 100-200 larvae per week. Media should be refreshed every 3-4 months, but don’t throw out all your old media . . . leave some of it because it will have eggs in there, or split it out to make 2 cultures.
Flour beetle larvae feed on grains and grain dust. Some use flour, others use corn meal. I have a special mix that adds a bit more protein, vitamins, and minerals and boosts production. I feel certain you will find better production with my media over straight unbleached flour (never use bleached flour).
Adult beetles live 5-8 months, and the females lay 400-800 eggs during that time—a few each day. So, it’s important to leave as many beetles in the media as possible to ensure that your culture remains productive. Further, keeping a few larvae in the culture to mature into beetles is a good idea so that you constantly have younger, more productive adults.
Some people find this tricky, but I’ll let you in on the secret to making this a breeze: use a fine flour sifter. You may have to try a few to find one with the right screen size, but you can find them at any grocery store or department store. Scoop out a big amount of the media with your sifter, sift the media through the sifter. You’ll be left with a bunch of wriggling larvae and a few beetles. Place the sifter over a feeding dish (or a margarine lid); the larvae will wriggle through the holes and fall onto the dish. Some will stick to the sifter—just invert the sifter back over the culture and bang those back into the culture along with the beetles. They’ll be back to be fed next week.
Present the larvae right on the dish by placing the dish in the vivarium. A dark dish will allow the animals to see the white larvae better, but I have fed on a white or clear dish as well. Do not allow the larvae to get wet, or to allow them to sit somewhere that they can burrow. Water kills them quickly, and they squirm to find dark places where they won’t be seen.
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