Original post made by Jerry Trew(Jtrew) on January, 7, 2005
Waxworms are not difficult to culture. You will need several 1-gallon wide-mouth plastic or glass jars (your local deli may have mayonnaise jars they are willing to give you), corrugated paper, and some fine wire screening. A basic food can be made from:
· 16 oz. baby rice cereal (Pablum)
· 16 oz. wheat germ
· 9 oz. honey
· 4 oz. glycerin (purchased in drug stores)
In a large bowl, mix wheat germ and cereal. Add honey and glycerin and work in thoroughly until mixture becomes crumbly, completely absorbing all liquid. Divide mixture into Ziplock bags, each bag containing enough to cover the bottom of a gallon jar to a depth of about 2 inches. The bags can by frozen until needed.
To set up a colony, cut a hole in the lid of each jar at least 1" square. Cut a piece of screening to cover it, allowing a half inch overlap on all four sides. Hot glue, Silastic, or Shoe Goo (from Wal Mart) will do to fasten the screening securely. Put a portion of the food mix into the jar and allow it to warm to room temperature. Roll up a tube of corrugated paper about 5-6 inches in height and insert it in the food, leaving 3-4" protruding. Place the jars in a warm (70 deg F) dark pace. They are now ready for larvae.
Select the biggest and healthiest larvae for a breeding colony. (You can order waxworm larvae from many of the live food insect suppliers.) Place them on top of the food, they will immediately begin to feed. Put lids on and maintain the jars at 75-90 degrees in a dark place. Note that larvae generate heat. Never overcrowd, as this will cause jars to sweat. The culture should never be allowed to get wet. Check the heat level and change food to control heat or moisture.
Within a week or so, moths will emerge from the paper. They will not need food, but water will be necessary. To supply this, a wick of blotter paper can be inserted into the jar, either through a slit in the side if the jar is plastic, or through a slit in the screen if the jar is glass. The blotter paper wick can be placed in a small water bottle taped to the outside of the culture jar; capillary action will feed the wick, but keep the culture bottle from becoming too moist. Keep the small bottle filled with water while the moths are alive.
The females will lay hundreds of eggs from which microscopic larvae will emerge in a few days. Within four weeks there will be masses of larvae of all sizes in the cardboard. When cultures seem to be becoming exhausted, break the jar down and wash thoroughly before begining a new culture.