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The beetles are not confused...it's their name. They were once mis-identified, confused with another small beetle. The nickname seems to have lasted.
These beetles are very easy to culture. They live in flour...we use whole wheat flour.
We put about 1/2 inch of flour in a plastic shoebox and leave them alone for about 6 weeks. At about 6 weeks the culture should have enough eggs and larvae to sustain the culture until the food runs out (longer than we want to think about). Keep the lid on the shoebox. You do not have to punch holes in the lid...we don't bother.
The hardest thing we have found with the cultures is not to be too impatient. You really begin to wonder if it's worth any trouble at all at about a month. But, then the larvae start to turn to pupae and then the hatches start.
Harvesting is a little tricky. You have to sift the beetles and larvae through a strainer and leave the flour behind. That's the easy part...but the beetles start to climb on the strainer and if you get distracted by a phone call you might be about to have a pretty interesting conversation with your significant other. If you want to keep the culture going at a high level of production be sure to harvest only the beetles that would have hatched during a weeks period. Sort of hard to guess that number, so we use "volume" as a gage, removing about 1/6 of the mass we see. Eye-balling the mass seems to be easy enough.
These beetles are a specialty food. They
are good for all sorts of herps, birds, frogs and toad...and they're good for some fish
too (large surface feeders like Rivulus are great). The harvesting may seem a
inconvenient, but then if you are trying to induce a particularly hard to breed or
maintain animal, what price would you pay. Just the other day, a noted collector was
speaking to one of the clubs I belong too and mentioned that some of the fish he collects
seem to loose their color with successive generations. He pondered whether it may have
something to do with the fact that duplicating the diet of the fish in the wild was so
difficult. I'm not sure that Martha Stewart would appreciate growing maggots and worms,
but I'm sure she would say variety "is a good thing."
"We grow food not bait"