GGreenhorn Gardening Mealworm ColonySeveral of you have expressed interest in starting mealworm colonies. Here at Greenhorn Gardening I started a colony for fish bait. I've had several bumps in the road including killing off several colonies by not properly cleaning and maintaining them. It doesn't take much time, but do not neglect them.


Set a regular maintenance schedule to keep them happy, feed and breeding, not to mention avoiding the stench of an ammonia filled mealworm colony. After all the goal is to build a never-ending supply of fish bait, bird or reptile food.


Supplies Needed

  1. Extra 27 liter/28 quart container
  2. Window screen or sifter
  3. Wheat bran for bedding: 5 lbs.
  4. Two recycled egg cartons (the paper kind, avoid styrofoam)
  5. Fresh green vegetable leaves
  6. Trash bag: never used

Time Required

  • Less than 20 minutes
  • Check monthly


  1. Open the extra container, place 5 lbs of wheat bran, oatmeal, flour, cornmeal or whatever you're using for bedding.
  2. Place the egg cartons into the new bedding. If you're using old cartons from the old container, skip to step three.
  3. Place the lid of one container upside down. Take three to four handfuls of the old bedding in the old container and place it onto the window screen or sifter. Sift until only mealworms, darkling beetles remain.
  4. Remove the dead bodies.
  5. Dump the live worms and beetles into the new bedding. Give them a few fresh green leafy vegetables as a water source. Now they have a new home with fresh bedding.
  6. Pour the screened material (frass) and dead bodies into trash bag.
  7. Don't throw the trash bag away. There are usually hundreds of eggs in there. Keep that trash bag for a month or so. Screen it again to get the remaining mealworms. You can skip this step if you just don't feel like keeping bug poop around the house.
  8. Your done!



Again this doesn't take much time, but it needs to be done regularly: during the summers about once per month, during the cold months, about double that time. This is a great way to get rid of a little extra garden waste if you don't feel like fooling with the composter. This is a cost effective way to feed your birds, reptiles and is a great way to catch bait fish, as bait fish catch bigger fish.


Grow'em big!


2 Responses to “How to Properly Maintain a Mealworm Colony and Avoid the Stench of Insect Poop”

  1. james denny Says:

    I started my first colony in a five gallon bucket had hundreds of beetles and pupas but did not produce hardly any babie meal worms. Now ive started my second colony i have mealworms in a 30 gal tank out in the garage aprox 1500 to 2000 I have the beetles in a seperate 30 gallon tank in total darkness in the house and the pupas in a seperate container I really want to have a sucessful colony Does it sound like im on the right track?

  2. Damon Says:

    Yes, they don’t seem to like light much. I’ve found that if you start with a few thousand, you’re much better off. New colonies have a certain level of die-off when I starting from scratch.

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