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Chilly Mealworms?

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.
Ian”

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.

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Do blackbirds have long memories?

A nice story posted by gbw in April 2009…

“For a number of years families of blackbirds have used the same nest in the garden. Each year I have fed them mealworms from when the young appear to the point where they have fledged. At the beginning of the season I keep the amounts relatively low and build up as the spring and summer warm up and the parent birds show signs of exhaustion as the drier, harder ground makes finding food more difficult. The norm seems to be 4 clutches of four young.
I put the food out in a plastic tray which I tie to the back rail of the garden bench and very quickly the female blackbird becomes quite tame and will tolerate me being close. I generally make sure she gets used to me because of the garden noise (mower, moving bins and so on) could be quite stressful and I wouldn’t want her to abandon the nest. She quickly realises when food is going out and is at the bench before I get there.
I was very suprised this year when I found the female waiting on the back rail of the bench when I was attaching the tray for the first time. Not only does this suggest that it is the same female from last year, but that she remembers the feeding routine and was able to anticipate it before I even came out with the white plastic pot! Good to see she survived the winter, and has what seems to be an outstanding memory.
This first batch has only been three young and they fledged this morning. Bad news for our two cats and italian spinone – they are going to be kept in for a few days until the young move away from the garden. The dog is more risk than the cats – she can sense the young and find them in the bushes.”

Hello gbw

I think you are right about Blackbirds and their memories, we have a female bird that returns every year and we know it’s the same bird as she has a displaced wing feather which is the same every year, my office door is open to the area where the birds feed and a couple of years ago she started coming into the office looking for food and she was then given her own tray of mealworms, this year, having not really seen her since last year, she was back stamping round the office DEMANDING her tray which was, of coarse, immediately put out so she clearly remembers the routine!

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Composting worms a danger to UK’s indigenous species?

A question posed by  customer has lead me to clarify an issue which may be of concern to many people.

Posted by Doggymix in March 2010, and still relevant today, the question was regarding the introduction of foreign species;

“A friend recently told me that Tiger worms and other composting worms can cause problems for the UK’s indigenous common garden species. Is that correct? I see you clarify exactly what a Tiger worm is but are the worms you guys advise indigenous to the UK? I’m just about to set up my wormery and could do with being able to tackle such questions at the allotment!”

You may think that the following post is what you would expect from the company selling the worms but I assure you this is correct!

I was surprised to read about your friends comments, all the worms sold by Worms Direct and all other companies in the UK (that I am aware of) are all indiginous species and have lived together since time began! Tiger worms are indiginous, Dendrobaena are indiginous, Lumbricus terrestris are indiginous and all can be found living together all over the northern hemisphere! I suspect that your friends identification of worms has got muddled somewhere along the way or the information she/he has is incorrect, this does highlight the dangers of repeating incorrect information, anyhow – no problems.
If you or your friend need further clarification, please come back but preferably with latin names of the worms in question as it is usually using common names that causes confusion. I hope this has answered your question and put your mind at rest,

Regards, Nigel.

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Crisis as Our Songbirds Disappear From Farmland

BIRDSONG may soon be lost for ever from the sound of the countryside, a shock report revealed last night.
Populations of farmland birds have plummeted to their lowest levels for over 40 years and breeding pairs are 52 per cent fewer than in 1966.
The crisis, which particularly affects species such as skylarks, grey partridges and lapwings, is likely to get worse, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warned.

Havens

The decline, charted by the Department for the Environment, has occurred despite grants for farmers to work the land in a more environmentally friendly manner.
The figures do not include the removal earlier this year of fields set aside and left to run wild, which had provided safe havens for many birds.
Between 1970 and 2006 the number of corn buntings declined by 89 per cent and turtle doves by 86 per cent.
RSPB agricultural policy officer Gareth Morgan said:
“The further drop in the numbers of some farmland birds is deeply troubling.
“This is a credit crunch for birds. We know that the general intensification of farming, driven by the Common Agricultural Policy, has accounted for the majority of the decline in farmland birds, but with good conservation support now available for farmers this year’s results are still dismaying.” His colleague, Grahame Madge, said the decline was already changing the sound of rural spring when birds such as skylarks and turtle doves sing to attract mates. “The orchestra is definitely getting quieter.
In some areas the variety of birds is nowhere near as good as it was in 1970.” The National Farmers’ Union vice-president, Paul Temple, said last night that it was “much too simplistic” to lay the blame for decreasing bird numbers at the door of farmland management.
He added: “Other elements, such as climate change, encroaching urbanisation and increased traffic, will all be contributory factors, ”
By John Ingham Environment Editor

Thanks to the Daily Express

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Why Untidy Gardens Make the Best Habitat for Wildlife

Why untidy gardens make the best habitat for wildlife
By Steve Connor, Science Editor

People who want to turn their gardens into wildlife refuges should relax and let the grass grow tall, the flowers turn to seed and the hedges, shrubs and trees expand skywards.
A detailed study of biodiversity in town and city gardens has found that they offer a vital refuge for animals and plants – provided that those responsible for their upkeep are not too fastidious as gardeners.
It has also found that many of the preconceptions about wildlife gardening are not true. Small gardens are just as good as big gardens at attracting wildlife, suburban gardens are not always better than city gardens and non-native plants are not always harmful to native insects and birds.
Britain’s 16 million gardens are a haven for hundreds of species of animals and plants that would find it impossible to survive on intensively farmed land, said Ken Thompson of Sheffield University.
“Gardens are amazingly diverse even compared to natural habitats that are good for wildlife. Gardens are more interesting on a small scale because they are so variable. All the wildlife responds to these variables,” Dr Thompson said.
“Compared with an equivalent area of modern intensive farming, gardens are much, much better in terms of everything you measure, whether it is spiders, bugs or birds,” he said.
“It sounds heretical, but from a biodiversity perspective most farmland would be improved by having a housing estate built on it,” he told the British Science Festival.
Dr Thompson was involved in the first detailed study of the wildlife inhabiting British gardens when he and his colleagues surveyed 61 gardens in Sheffield between 1999 and 2002. They found an “astonishingly diverse” array of flora and fauna.
They also identified a range of simple measures that improved a garden’s habitability for wildlife. “The top thing is to grow more big shrubs, trees and hedges,” Dr Thompson said.
“These massively increase the volume of vegetation in your garden and a lot of vegetation means a lot of places to live and a lot of stuff to eat,” he said.
“Don’t be too tidy: don’t be in a hurry to clear up everything when the garden stops flowering. Just leave a bit of stuff lying around.
“There’s a mistaken belief that wildlife gardening is something special, something different, something odd and that a wildlife garden needs to be untidy, messy and not something you’d be proud of, but that’s not true,” Dr Thompson said.
The best gardens for wildlife needn’t cost lots of money, and many of the “wildlife” products sold in garden centres are unnecessary, he said.
“Decking is a disaster. One of the findings of the Sheffield study was the very clear relationship between hard surfaces of any sort and less wildlife. It doesn’t matter what it is – as long as it’s hard, it’s bad,” he added.
How to get a more natural garden
*Plant large shrubs and let them grow big. Shrubs and trees produce more vegetation where wildlife can live and eat.
*Allow at least some flowers to turn to seed and the lawn to grow tall. Don’t be in a hurry to clear up fallen leaves.
*Create a pond for insects, frogs and toads. Think before stocking it with fish which will eat insect eggs and larvae.
*Don’t illuminate your garden at night with bright lights. This will disturb many nocturnal creatures, such as moths.
*Create a compost heap – they are miniature nature reserves in themselves. Compost also enriches the soil.

Thanks to Independent Online

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How We Discovered “Chook Scratchings”

We really discovered this almost by mistake, our redworms are grown on outside beds and as a result they produce a very fine worm compost, this compost is put to one side for further refining until sold, whilst being stored it is invaded by a myriad of tiny creatures from spring tails, millipedes, centipedes, little beetles, eelworms, white worms and a 1001 other creatures and their offspring, added to this are a lot of worm cocoons that hatch into tiny redworms, it is a whole soup of tiny living creatures and chickens love it!

Our chickens are free range and get into everything, when this compost is “barrowed down” for further processing we have to fight the chickens otherwise a barrow full is spread around in no time, as chicken owners you will sympathise with this!
Chickens when kept confined in a run or enclosed area soon decimate the surface soil and anything living in it, after a while pretty much every living bug has gone leaving the chickens to scratch around in a pretty barren area, this can lead to boredom and a reliance on food provided for them, natural live foods now being replaced by mealworms, maggots or a few earthworms dug up elsewhere, this is now why we offer this for sale, a small saucepan full put into the run will immediately be set upon, they will pick out every little morsel of food they can find! scratching away to their hearts content.

This product is 100% natural it is completely organic and contains nothing harmful, if there is any left, just sweep it up and put it onto your garden where the natural nutrients will now benefit your plants.
There are also health benefits, chickens are built to scratch and pick, all day long if necessary, when they can no longer do this they will end up with set mealtimes i.e. corn in the morning, maybe extra greens put in during the day and maybe a mash feed at night or whatever your feeding regime is, giving them something to pick and scratch in along with all the live food they will find can provide nutrients, vitamins and minerals that may be missing from their diet, apart from that there is nothing like a bit of live food to keep the crop in good working order and just to make sure we add some extra worms and chicken grit to it, as a bonus, egg yolks look like what egg yolks should look like!

Buy Chook Scratchings now!