What is a Waxworm?
Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths.
For every 100 grams of mealworm larvae, 270 calories and roughly 15 grams of protein are contained. Waxworms are much higher in fat than many other feeder insects coming in 22 grams. Since they are so fatty they are usually used as treats or to help gain weight to underweight animals.
Keep waxworms in a container that they can not grip the sides. Either glass, metal, or hard plastic. They can chew through soft plastic. Cover the top of your container with a double layer of cheesecloth or a wire mesh that allows air to pass, but does not allow the worms to get out. Keep in a dark space or black out your container.
Waxworm bedding can be made of bran, wheat germ, or uncooked oatmeal. Make sure you have enough to cover at least 1 inch from the base of your container. Then mix that into a separate bowl with honey, or cheaper corn syrup. This should create a crumbly, sticky paste, but it should NOT be dripping wet. Optionally you can mix in glycerin a little at a time until your mixture turns dark. This will make the bedding warm and damp, it also encourages healthy breeding.
Next set the mixture out to dry. Once dried, break it up and cover the base of your worm container.
Once the bedding is set up drop in crumpled balls of wax paper or broken up egg cartons. These will create spots for waxworms to spin their cocoons, while also allowing you to safely pull them out.
Keep your waxworm container in a well ventilated area so the condensation can evaporate. Waxworms breed best at temperatures between 82 and 90 degrees F. Heat mats or no light heat lamps are a great way to give them the extra heat without having to keep an entire room warm. You may lower the temperatures to room temp if you want to slow down the breeding process.
The waxworms will feed off your bedding mixture. The pupae and moths do not eat. Make sure to remove dead worms and moths to prevent unnecessary disease growth.
The waxworms will pupate after about 6-7 weeks if kept warm, or add months if kept at room temperature. Pull out the wax balls or egg containers adding to another container prepared the same. If you have to remove the cocoon that wasn’t spun onto something, since the cocoons take two days to spin make sure not to move them until the outside feels firm. The moths can take 10-40 days for the moth to fully hatch and up to 60 days if kept at room temperature.
In your new container place accordion folded strips of wax paper or pieces of plastic straws. The moths will mate and lay eggs in these. Eggs can hatch between 3-7 days, or 30 days at room temperature. The moths will die off in 7-21 days depending on the sex of the moth.
Newborn waxworms are wily and can climb glass and squeeze through nearly anything. Put their container into a shallow pan of water to prevent them from escaping. Once they are large enough you can place them with the rest of the worms, or start a new container.
DO NOT LET WAX MOTHS INTO THE WILD! Wax moths are a threat to local beehives. They will infest and destroy the beehive.