Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mealworm Habitat for FOSS Science Kit

Insect Unit

In Miss Stetson’s 2nd grade classroom we have been learning a lot about insects. The newest members of our classroom include 200 meal worms, 25 crickets, 50 wax worms, 8 painted lady caterpillars, 50 milk weed bugs, and a praying mantis egg. Our classroom is completed “BUGGED OUT.”

Meal worms:
I found a link on Pinterest while I was looking up activities about meal worms. The habitat was a 3 tiered housing unit for the meal worms.  I found this much more visually appealing for the times we were not observing the meal worms. The unit has 3 layers and cost me about $20.00 total since I had some of the materials at home.

The top layer houses the adult meal worms. I put wheat bran and old fashioned oats for the adult meal worms to eat. I also put an old egg carton ripped up for the meal worms to climb and hid under. (They love to hide) They will begin to mate in this section and their eggs will drop into the middle layer.

The Middle Layer
The middle layer houses the pupa and eggs. I call this the resting chambers. I learned the hard way that too much handling can cause harm to the mealworm pupa. When the eggs hatch (9-20 days) the bran will begin to move little that is how you know you have baby meal worms. I did keep a fresh apple in this layer in case over the weekend any eggs hatch or meal worms transform into their final stage.

The Bottom Layer
The bottom layer was my classroom’s favorite layer. It was filled with 200 meal worms. I put cut up apples in the drawer on for the meal worms to drink. If the bran starts to look like sand it is time to change the bran. (The meal worm droppings are great food for your plants) Every morning I assigned a student to go through the bottom layer to look for pupa to put into the middle layer.

Benefits to this system
I found it was much cleaner and I did not get grossed out having worms open for the class to see. The students looked forward to watching the entire life cycle of the meal worms and enjoyed searching for them. We had some causality in our meal worm container, but they learned this sometimes happens for no reason.  We even once caught the adults “playing” aka mating in our habitat. It will take the meal worm about 1-4 days to begin laying eggs.

Cons to the System
I found out that if you put the mesh on top of the drawer that a meal worm may get stuck underneath the mesh. I had to remake the liner only once to get it to work. I hot glued it underneath. It did make it stick a little but it kept the meal worms safe. I also found that opening the top drawer sometimes makes a mess. So I would open the middle and top together or put a plate underneath habitat for the bran to fall on.

After the Unit
I have a student who has many chickens. I am donating the habitat to his chickens since I have had many delicious eggs this school year.

We really enjoy this habitat and I hope your student do as well. 


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