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Understanding the Life Habits of Yellow Mealworms
Yellow mealworms, due to their extended adaptation to living in warehouses, exhibit distinct life habits that set them apart from other insects. These habits are genetically controlled and are not easily altered by external factors. Therefore, successful artificial breeding relies on a comprehensive understanding of the life habits of yellow mealworms and the scientific creation of conditions that best cater to these habits. Let’s delve into the intriguing world of yellow mealworms.
Yellow mealworm larvae possess crawling abilities and will seek out food when it becomes scarce. However, they struggle to crawl on smooth surfaces. Pupae can only move within a small range by flexing their abdomens and cannot crawl forward. Adult mealworms do not exhibit a strong diurnal or nocturnal activity rhythm; they are active and feed during both day and night, with a preference for nighttime activity. While adult mealworms have weak flying capabilities, their crawling abilities are strong, allowing them to quickly move from one place to another. This characteristic can be utilized for their controlled breeding. Additionally, both adults and larvae tend to cluster together when feeding. This behavior facilitates blood circulation and digestion, promoting growth and reproduction. It also lays the foundation for high-density farming. However, clustering can lead to localized temperature increases, so maintaining suitable breeding density during hot seasons is crucial.
Yellow mealworms exhibit a preference for dim lighting and aversion to strong light. In natural conditions, adult mealworms seek refuge in dark corners or under debris to avoid sunlight. Under bright conditions, larvae are often found burrowing 1-3 centimeters beneath the surface of grains, flour, bran, or rice husks. In artificial breeding settings, creating a dim environment by shading doors and windows is important, with light intensity in the range of 50-100 lux to avoid strong light exposure. The thickness of larval feed should be maintained at 3.0-4.5 centimeters to accommodate their feeding habits in shallow feed.
Yellow mealworms are omnivorous insects, primarily found in various agricultural product warehouses. They feed on a wide range of items, including grains, flour, bran, rice husks, bread, biscuits, oilseeds, feathers, dried fish, meat, insect carcasses, rodent feces, vegetable leaves, fruits, and moldy stored goods. In theory, any nutritionally valuable agricultural or byproduct can serve as suitable artificial breeding feed. However, different feeds have varying nutritional compositions, directly affecting larval growth rates, adult reproduction, and lifespans. Hence, selecting feed types and balanced feed formulations is crucial for successful artificial breeding. Yellow mealworm larvae have strong resistance to hunger; they can go without food for over 10 days in optimal growing seasons and even survive for over 6 months without food at lower temperatures. This resilience makes them ideal live feed for specialty economic animals like scorpions.
Both adult and larval yellow mealworms exhibit cannibalistic tendencies. When different life stages are mixed under certain conditions, adults often feed on larvae and pupae, and larvae may consume eggs and pupae. In high-density, single-stage breeding conditions, undernutrition or significant developmental differences can lead to self-inflicted harm. Therefore, effective separation and controlled density, along with continuous feed supply, are essential considerations in artificial breeding.
Adult yellow mealworms begin mating approximately 4-5 days after emergence, typically during the nighttime hours from 8 PM to 2 AM. Male mealworms have a strong mating capacity and can mate with up to 8 females without affecting their lifespan and fertilization rate. To conserve feed in large-scale breeding, maintaining a 1:1 sex ratio and removing excess males after 10 days of continuous mating, or eliminating some males during the pupal stage, is advisable to achieve a sex ratio of 3:2 or higher. Female mealworms are also capable of multiple mating sessions, with increased copulation leading to significantly higher egg production. They start laying eggs 3-5 days after mating, with eggs often laid individually or in clusters on the surface of the substrate. The eggs are covered in a protective layer of mucus, sometimes adhering to fine feed particles or other powdered materials, offering some protection. Yellow mealworms can lay eggs throughout the day and night, with nighttime being the peak period. The primary egg-laying period occurs between 10 and 30 days after emergence, accounting for 95% of total egg production, with 70% concentrated between days 15-25 post-emergence. Egg production significantly declines after 40 days, so it is advisable to remove older adults to save feed. Under favorable conditions, egg-laying can extend beyond 60 days. Total egg production per female varies considerably due to factors like temperature, humidity, feed nutrition, mating conditions, and breeding density, generally ranging from 150 to 350 eggs per female. In optimal conditions, a single female can lay as many as 400-500 eggs, and sometimes even surpassing 680 eggs or more. On a daily basis, during the peak egg-laying period, the daily average ranges from 6 to 10 eggs, with some individuals capable of laying up to 40 eggs per day.
Understanding these unique life habits of yellow mealworms is crucial for successful artificial breeding. By creating an environment that aligns with their natural tendencies, breeders can optimiz
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