Waxworms Galleria mellonella 

Breeding Instructions Click images to enlarge

Difficulty level - Easy

Time Table - 2 months from egg to moth depending on temperature

Food - They eat the bran/honey substrate

Water - Water needs are met from bran/honey mixture

Temperature - 80 - 90F works best. Lower temperatures slow down the cycle.

 Materials needed - Click to enlarge

Rearing Habitat Supplies

  • Plastic container with lid. I used a 2 pound plastic coffee container. 

  • Piece of insect screen large enough to cover your container.

  • Bran (I used a box of crushed bran cereal)

  • Honey

  • Wax Paper
    5-gallon tank/sweater box with lid

  • Rubber gloves (optional for mixing the honey and bran)

Holes in lid - Click to enlarge Rearing Habitat Assembly

I cut the inside of the top out and left only the ring that snaps over the container. I then laid a piece of screen over the top and snapped the lid on tightly. Waxworms like to be crowded, so the container does not need to be very big.

Orange Cubes - Click to enlarge Mix the Substrate

Pour the bran in a bowl and drizzle honey over it. Mix until you have a thick paste. Make enough to cover the entire bottom of your colony at least 1 inch thick.

Separate the Larvae - Click to enlarge

Dry the Substrate

Put the mixture on a piece of wax paper and let it set until it hardens. Break and crumble the hardened mixture and cover the bottom of the colony.  It should be at least 1 inch thick. 

Add wax balls

Crumble some wax paper into balls and drop them in the bottom of the colony. The moths will lay eggs on the wax paper as they eat the wax on it. 

Dead Larvae - click to enlarge Add Waxworms

Add 50 or so healthy waxworms and let them grow.  

 

Dead Larvae - click to enlarge They will tunnel into the bran/honey chunks, eating as they go.
Dead Larvae - click to enlarge

The worms will pupate

The worms will turn into pupae. They will remain in the pupal stage for about 10 days.

Dead Larvae - click to enlarge Cocoon

The pupae will spin a cocoon and a moth will emerge from the cocoon.

Growth stages - click to enlarge Moths emerge

After 10 days to 2 weeks the pupae will turn into moths. The moths will mate and lay their eggs on the crumbled balls of wax paper. They eat the wax on the wax paper. The moths will die after they mate. They will be eaten by the larvae.

Another variation

There are many variables in the set up. Use what you have access to but remember, the moths can fly and escape and the larvae can climb the walls.  This arrangement uses a wide mouth glass jar covered with a pair of pantyhose. The pantyhose are secured with a rubber band. The wax paper was folded like a fan and paper clipped to keep the shape. The same bran/honey mix was used for the substrate.

Maintenance

Put your colony in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before opening the top. This will slow the moths and larvae down making it easier to transfer them to the temporary container. The maintenance required is a cleanup of the dead insects. Dead larvae (see picture on left) should be removed as soon as they are noticed. They are black and appear shriveled up.
Periodically you will need to completely clean the colony. Prepare a fresh batch of substrate. Remove all the insects and wax paper and put them in a temporary container. Empty the old substrate into the trash.
Soak the colony container in a solution of 1 part bleach and 2 parts water for 10 minutes and wipe out any debris. Rinse the container thoroughly. Bleach residue can contaminate and destroy your insect colony. Wipe the container dry and replace the substrate. Check the old wax paper for eggs and relocate to the clean colony. Add new wax paper and put the insects back. Your ready to resume breeding.

 

Facts and Info

 

Fatal Temperatures for All Stages of Wax Moth

COLD

HEAT

(F) (C) Time (hrs) (F) (C) Time (min)
20 -7.0 4.5 115 46 80
10 -12.2 3.0 120 49 40
5 -15.0 2.0      

 

Nutritional Content
Moisture % 60.97
Minerals % 0.97
Protein % 15.40
Fat % 20.12
Carbohydrates % 2.54
Calcium mg/100g 13.14
Vit. C mg/kg 23.60
Dietetic fiber 1.60
Calories / fat 181.08

For more see  Nutritional Values

Stage Time (affected by temperature, humidity and food)
Egg 3-7 days 
Larva 3-4 weeks. 
Pupa 7-14 days

Moth

1-2 weeks

 

 

Some different looks

 

Waxworms can be purchased in most pet stores or online.

They are easy to breed.

Waxworms are not actually worms. They are the larval stage of the the beemoth, Galleria mellonella.

Waxworms and waxmoths are considered pests to bee keepers. They eat the honeycombs and honey destroying bee colonies.

Waxworms can be stored in a refrigerator to slow their growth thus allowing more time to feed them to your pet.

They can be "gut loaded" with additives in the substrate to enhance their nutritional value.

 

The waxworm larvae will chew through wood or soft plastic.

 

Waxworm larvae are very high in fat and protein and are an excellent food source for fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

 

In the short week that they are alive, the female moth can lay as many as 1000 eggs.

 

They have 7 instars during feeding, with most of their growth in the last two stages.

 

A look at the shape of the rear margin of the moth's wings will allow you to distinguish between males and females. The female has a relatively straight margin while it is indented or scalloped in males. Picture

 

Average size of the adult waxworm (larval stage) is 3/4 to 1 inch.

 

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