This was not my idea, I was dutifully running to the pet store on a regular basis for the meal worms to feed my son's pet Gecko. I have to admit that this was not a fun adventure as the pet food store is waaaay across town and each visit leaves my son pining for more reptiles (no thank you).
My friend showed me her plans for not only feeding her daughter's Gecko lizards for free but also feeding her covey of Quail and offering tasty little treats to her chickens too. I was kinda curious, it was fascinating and a little gross, but I was intrigued. She was raising Darkling beetles. These are kind of fascinating creatures as they don't need to drink water and need no more care then to bury themselves in wheat germ with a little water moisture for their habitat and the occasional kitchen scraps from veggies and fruits thrown in.
In return for a scrap of apple or cucumber I have now obtained a renewable food source for not only the Geckos but also as a treat to any of the foul we raise on our little farm.
Some interesting facts: (courtesy softschools.com)
"Darkling beetles do not fly due to fused wings (also known as elytra) that are sealed to the body.
Darkling beetles feed on decaying plant and animal matter. They also eat live plants, buds, fruit, fungi and grains.
Darkling beetles rarely drink water because they are able to extract the moisture from the food they eat.
Most species of darkling beetles are active during the night (nocturnal).
Latin name of darkling beetles is "Tenebrio" which means "the one that likes darkness". Name refers to the fact that these beetles usually inhabit dark places and hide under the rocks and leaf litter.
Natural enemies of darkling beetles are lizards, rodents, spiders, birds and large beetles.
Fishermen use darkling beetles as bait for the fish.
Darkling beetles are common model organisms in the laboratories and classrooms which investigate ecology, genetic and biology of insects. They are large, have short life cycle and their maintains does not require too much effort. Darkling beetles are also used as ideal source of food for the laboratory animals such as insectivorous mammals.
Some species of darkling beetles can complete their entire life cycle in 3 to 4 months, while other species can survive until the age of 10 years. Most darkling beetles live only several months due to intense predation."
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