Occasionally we will get a ‘phone call or an email from a customer who has received their order for worms that they have arrived with some dead, dying or very lethargic, when we query as to what makes the customer think they are dead, the response is invariably that the worms are not moving much, many people assume that worms are very active, wriggly creatures, whilst this is true when you have just dug them up (they are now attempting to get away from a situation where they are likely to be eaten! why else would they be dug up?) but when they have been harvested, packed and then shipped out in a moving vehicle the worms response is to burrow down, stick together, stop moving, “play dead” and hopefully I will not get eaten! disturbance, movement, vibration etc are all threats to worms.
We always send out worms in A1 condition, there is no point in doing so otherwise so unless something exceptional happens to them on route it is almost impossible for them to die, the exception to this maybe when smaller quantities are sent out in tubs and they have been left out under the sun, possibly during delivery or more likely when requested to leave or some other extreme conditions, if this has happened then the evidence is very obvious and distinctive.
When the worms arrive and they do appear lethargic do not write them off, if they are composting, garden or fishing worms and you are not ready to use them straight away, give them a little water and/or wet newspaper/moss and place the closed container somewhere cool for them to get over their journey, if they are composting worms and you can, add them to the wormery straightaway do so and give a little water, this applies if you have bought loose worms or in a kit.
We have put this together after requests from previous customers.
This advice applies to the 3 main casters available with some differences, these will be pointed out as necessary, the 3 casters are the large Blue Bottle, smaller Green Bottle and the small House fly.
When maggots are required to turn to casters they should be sieved off the sawdust and put into fine and already damp sawdust or peat, do not just add water to maggots already in sawdust or you may find the wet maggots are able to escape an open container, These should be kept at room temperature, it is a good idea to take off the casters every day or so, this is done by placing them on the sieve allowing the maggots to wriggle through, the casters that are retrieved should have any rubbish removed and the clean casters put back into damp sawdust, to slow the development keep them chilled, if flies are needed then keep some at room temperature, you will notice that the casters will continue to darken, when they are almost black they are close to hatching and should be moved into an enclosed container or you may find you have a room full of flies. The flies will hatch best when the casters are kept in damp sawdust.
We have put this together after requests from previous customers.
This advice applies to the 3 main maggots available with some differences, these will be pointed out as necessary, the 3 maggots are the large Blue Bottle, smaller Green Bottle (Pinkies) and the small House fly (squat).
The first thing to do is to clean up the maggots, if they are purchased from us this will already have been done, if bought from a fishing tackle shop they are likely to be pretty grubby, probably a bit smelly and put in sawdust, if this is the case carry out the following;
The maggots must be sieved off the dirty sawdust (you can often buy sieves or riddles from a tackle shop) or if you have a sieve the mesh needs to be about 3mm, once the sawdust is removed, leave the maggots on the sieve and allow to wriggle through into a suitable container placed underneath, do this at room temperature, this will remove any dead maggots, cast off skins and general debris, you may have to do this a couple of times, once you have the cleaned maggots put them into fresh, fine sawdust, this process should be carried out every 3 or 4 days.
When you first acquire the maggots, if they are fresh, you will notice a black mark in the middle, this is the stomach and if black contains its last meal! If feeding your creature the maggots it is best to keep them for as long as it takes for the “food spot” to disappear, the reason being that this food is not very wholesome and is best not fed to your creature, not always the case but better to be safe than sorry! If keeping the maggots to turn to casters the food spot will naturally be used up.
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Worms Direct has been in business for almost 20 years, during this period we have been conscious of the use of environmentally unfriendly materials and processes, it was inevitable that plastics would be used, particularly in packaging after all, worms tend to live in damp materials!
The tubs we use are manufactured from high grade plastics making them readily reusable and easily recycled, boxes and packaging are of cardboard or paper, again easily recycled, we admit we did get drawn into using plastic tape for the packaging, mainly because it was quick and easy to use, however, we have now dispensed with plastic tapes and replaced it with gummed paper tape and it looks a lot smarter! the plastic documents enclosed envelopes used for attaching the paperwork have been replaced by “green” envelopes, the manufacturers claim these biodegrade in a few months but there seems to be some doubt about this if and when buried deep in landfill so we are still looking for a viable alternative.
The biggest challenge we still have is finding an alternative to the white woven poly bags we use for the larger orders of worms, we have looked at cotton and hessian bags, both ideal but very expensive to buy ready made, we have been making up our own but this is not ideal so the search goes on.
There are several other areas where we are eliminating plastics too many to list but an example being we no longer use the plastic bags supplied by the courier for shipping lightweight items as a “5kg pack” instead we are paying a little extra to send them as a normal parcel in a cardboard box.
Posted on the forum in Feb 2009, ianandjoy want to know is it cruel to chill mealworms?
“I have up until now kept my medium sized mealworms on the top shelf of the fridge supplied with porridge oats to supplement their bran. They appear to have kept OK for 2-3 weeks but I must admit to not knowing what a poorly worm looks or behaves like.
The current recommendation to not keep them in the fridge – are they more likely to go into the beetle phase being out of the fridge and is it cruel to chill them?
I have fed them apple and banana and they are eating these, so I am expecting to see more beetles in future.
Many customers tend to keep their mealworms in a fridge but usually this is a bit too chilly, they tend to go dormant and this slows their feeding down, like all living creatures, lack of food leads to losing condition, however, as you say, the warmer you keep them the quicker they will turn to pupae and then beetles, the pupae are almost immobile and look like little aliens but birds will still feed on them quite happily.
We find the ideal temperature to keep them is around 10degC so possibly the top part of a warmer fridge may be fine or at this time of year a garage or somewhere similar, freezing temperatures will definitely harm them. If they are feeding ok they will continue to shed light brown dried skin as they grow and you will see white, fairly soft mealworms in the container that have recently shed their skin, they will also consume more food.
The dry, dusty material that collects should be sieved off every now and then. Apple and Banana, particularly Banana skin is a great source of food and moisture but don’t put too much on causing the dry food to become damp and mouldy creating problems.
A poorly worm just dies off, dries and turns black and its not cruel to chill them as they would experience colder temperatures in the “wild” Hope this helps.