Harvesting Mealworms = Yuck.


Remember months ago when I began my mealworm farm? If it doesn’t ring a bell-go HERE for a reminder.  I got my first harvest from them this week.


Up until this point, they have been very low maintenance.  I would put a few carrots in their bin every week and that was the extent of my care.  I watched as the mealworms turned into beetles and the beetles into mealworms.  With the weather beginning its inevitable shift into fall, I figured now was a good a time as any to begin harvesting.  With cooler temperatures, the mealworms go dormant, and I didn’t want to bring them inside.

Despite what they look like, the ick factor up until this point wasn’t really too bad.  They are a little creepy, but I didn’t have any problems handling them.  However, what I did have a problem with was the smell.

When I was doing my research, most everything I read stated that mealworms did not smell bad.  There was plenty of information that stated extensive exposure to mealworms can cause an allergy to them.  Articles I read also stated folks with respiratory diseases (COPD, asthma) should not handle them.  With this information I knew they had to have some type of scent despite what everyone was saying online.

I gathered a  colander type instrument to help sift through the bedding and be left with just the worms.  I sat down on the floor in the shop and began my wormy work.  The work itself was not that tough, but what was tough was the sweet, singe your nose hair smell wafting from their bins.  Within seconds I was ridiculously nauseated.  Let me preface that by saying I am an emergency room nurse.  I have smelled everything from maggot infested wounds to rectal blood without so much as a crinkle of my nose.  The scent of the mealworms though instantly turned my stomach over.

Not being one to wuss out, I stuck my shirt over my nose and continued sifting and picking out the larger of the mealworms.  I left the smaller ones and the remaining beetles for a later harvest.

As my nausea increased I picked up the pace.  I placed all harvested mealworms in a quart sized ziploc bag.


I placed them in the outside freezer for storage.  Most websites recommend to roast them in order to preserve them, but I haven’t made up my mind what I am going to do.  If roasting them smells anything like their every day smell-no way am I doing that!

I will definitely wear a mask for the second harvest.  This experience was interesting, but the smell alone has ended my days as a mealworm farmer.  The good news is once I have harvested all the mealworms, I can use the leftover bedding in my garden as fertilizer.  Mealworms are a great low maintenance, inexpensive chicken treat-if you can stand the smell!

Until next time…


7 thoughts on “Harvesting Mealworms = Yuck.

  1. Wow this is an enlightening post! I have considered mealworms, but think I’ll stick to raising the garden variety ‘fishing’ worms… because the crawling maggoty things make me feel nauseous even in pictures… But man, a sandwich baggie full of dried or ‘roasted’ worms goes for $7 at the feed store, and that’s like a FLAT sandwich baggie, as if it had a Wonder-bread bologne sandwich in it! THe hens went crazy for them though, so one day I may reconsider it, if I can watch you go thru with it, lol.
    Thanks for sharing the truth of your experience.

    • Thank you for your great input! I agree, fishing worms are much less icky! The expense of those little crunchy worms is what led me to raising my own, but I think it very well may be worth the extra money to just go out and purchase them! 😉

  2. Here’s a little song bluebirds sing about mealies. Perhaps you’d like to teach it to your chickens:
    The mealworm is a tasty worm.
    I like it.
    It has a glabrous epiderm.
    I like it.
    I peck it ’til it’s good and dead,
    And pulp it up, and smash its head,
    Then feed my chicks and go to bed.
    I like it.
    (-by B. Burdett, of Sunapee NH, 1999) via http://www.sialis.org/raisingmealworms.htm

  3. Pingback: Time of Transition | homesteadredhead

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