Raising crickets and mealworms
Crickets and mealworms are like candy for chickens. Exotic pets such as lizards and snakes go crazy for them too. Start your own bug farm and you’ll always have healthy treats ready to hand out.
Wendy Lu McGill of Denver, Colorado, is examining how farming edible insects could have a positive impact on food and nutrition insecurity for humans. She raises crickets and mealworms on a large scale, but says anyone can grow a batch of bugs as an inexpensive source of animal nutrition.
"You could have one bin, you could have 10 bins depending on your space. You just need a place where it’s going to be warm and climate-controlled, and just be ready to spend a few minutes each day cleaning out the bins and replacing food," says McGill. "And then eventually you harvest them to feed to your backyard chickens or your pets."
Feed your mealworms and crickets a combination of composted vegetables and grains. If you’re looking for something simple, there is actually a “cricket chow” that commercial cricket growers use. McGill says her mealworms live in oatmeal and will eat the same things as the crickets.
"Crickets need a little bit of extra water and sometimes people do that by putting a wet sponge in there, but you have to be really careful because they drown really easily," says McGill. "Mealworms on the other hand get their moisture from the food. The mealworms I have found to be a lot easier to raise, but their life cycle’s a bit longer. So you’re going to be looking at more like three-months to harvest mealworms, whereas with crickets they’re more like six-weeks."
McGill strongly advises that you not collect these insects from the wild to get started because it’s hard to be sure they’re not carrying high levels of pesticides. She recommends ordering them from a company that raises them commercially.
Interact with others who are farming insects
Learn more about raising crickets and worms
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