SHIPPING LIVE MEALWORMS:
Mealworms are a perishable product and they are sensitive to high and low temperatures. For the best chance of receiving your mealworms in good condition, read through this info page to be fully informed.
Our live mealworms are farm-raised. When they grow to the desired size, they are moved to a refrigerator in our facilities to remain dormant until time to ship. Mealworms are not individually counted for each order, packs are based on weight. For a 500 pack, the mealworm handler will count out 10 mealworms and weigh them to calculate how much 500 mealworms would weigh.
When it is time to ship, they are packaged in a breathable mesh cloth bag along with some newspaper that will keep them separated in transit. The mesh cloth bag is tied closed then put inside a regular shipping box. Your box may have an cold pack or a heat pack included with it, if you added those to your shopping cart. If the temperature at the delivery location is below 32 degrees F, it is recommend to add a heat pack. If the temperature at the delivery location is above 85 degrees F, it is recommend to add an ice pack. Adding cold packs / heat packs to your order will help keep the temperature moderate for the first 12 hours of transit, increasing the chance for live arrival.
Ways to prevent your mealworms from perishing in transit:
- Adding cold packs / heat packs to your order
- Choosing the fastest shipping method available
- Getting the mealworms shipped to a location where they can be received upon delivery (work), rather than sit in a mailbox
Time the mealworms will spend in transit, is based on the shipping method you select at checkout:
- Economy Shipping ($9.95)
- Standard Shipping ($10+)
- Expedited Shipping ($10.95)
- 2-Day Shipping ($18+)
- Next Day Service ($25+)
- Next Day Service Saturday delivery ($40+)
When Next Day Service is selected, your order is covered under our Live Arrival Guarantee and mealworms will be replaced free of charge if any perish in transit. In our 10 years of experience, we find it to be the very best way to ship you the healthiest worms possible. Our full Live Arrival Guarantee can be found in our Terms and Conditions online. If mealworms are dead on arrival (DOA), the customer is responsible for filing a replacement claim (by phone or email) within 24 hours of delivery time. We cannot make exceptions to this policy.
If any other shipping method is used, the customer assumes responsibility for the arrival condition of the mealworms. Therefore, please understand that choosing a cheaper, slower shipping method may result in your mealworms perishing in transit, and you being at a loss for how ever much you spent on the order, without refund or replacements. Choosing 2-Day Shipping instead of Next Day Service will usually decrease the chance of survival from 100% to 90%. Choosing Expedited Shipping instead of 2-Day Shipping will usually decrease the chance of survival from 90% to 80%. And so on. These percent estimates increase when temperatures become more harsh. It is up to the customer to decide how much risk they are willing to take with transit time, if they would like to save money on shipping costs.
PREPARE FOR DELIVERY OF LIVE MEALWORMS:
Mealworms must ship to a location where they can be received upon delivery. It is highly likely that mealworms will perish due to harsh temperatures if they are left outside or delivered to a street mailbox. These are live animals that have to be cared for properly, we require that someone be at home to receive the package. We can ship to a friend, neighbor, relative or your work address if no one will be home. It is your responsibility to make arrangements for prompt receipt of the package.
Have a storage container prepared for the mealworms before delivery, where they will live the next 6-10 weeks. Their storage container should be a large, shallow, smooth sided container that is about the size of a shoe box or larger. Mealworms thrive in a large container because providing more space will help dissipate heat and prevent overheating, which improves survival rate. Too many mealworms, stored in too small of a container, will cause the worms to suffocate, get crushed, or simply overheat and die. It is recommended to use a plastic or glass container, rather than a wood or cardboard, because mealworms can climb up or chew through wood. A clear container is best because it will let you see how much frass (waste) has accumulated.
It is recommended to keep a tight fitting, removable lid on the container to prevent infestation of mice, rats, cockroaches, spiders or moths. The lid must be ventilated to prevent mold growth. If condensation forms on the inside of the lid, you need more holes.
Next, add bedding to the container. We recommend 2-3” of Mealworm Keeper. Otherwise, any form of a substrate with the word "meal" in it will be fine (cornmeal, oatmeal, bran meal). The substrate should be ground to a fine powder to make it easier to pick out the mealworms when you need to move them Mealworm Keeper is a bedding that separates the mealworms, but also acts as food. Therefore, you will need to replace it every once in a while after it gets eaten.
DELIVERY OF LIVE MEALWORMS:
Upon delivery, remove mealworms from the cloth bag and transfer to a storage container. Shake off the mealworms from the newspapers, into the storage container, then discard the newspapers. As long as the mealworms are >1" below the top of the container, they can't get out.
If the mealworms don’t have enough to eat or drink, then they can easily die in their container. Before putting the container in the refrigerator (explained in further paragraphs), add about ½ cup of fresh vegetables to the container. Cut raw potatoes and raw carrots into 1" x 3” pieces and spread throughout the container for the mealworms. The mealworms may pull the food under the bedding to eat it, which is completely normal. Some moisture is necessary for the mealworms to drink. While the raw vegetables contain some moisture, it is best to add more by using Thirsty Cricket (gel water source). Add Thirsty Cricket to a low container (a 1/2" tall jar lid will work well) and place on top of the bedding. Do not add a dish of regular water, the mealworms can drown. Let the mealworms sit in their container with their food and water, at room temperature for 24 hours. This will give them adequate nutrition and hydration to stay healthy while dormant.
Even though you will be feeding the mealworms vegetables, naturally they will lose some nutritional value after staying mostly dormant for multiple weeks. We recommend you gutload them to offer your pet maximum nutrition, instead of offering an empty vessel. Gutloading is the process of feeding insects a diet high in vital nutrients prior to feeding those insects to other animals. To gutload, mix Mealworm Chow in with the Mealworm Keeper at a 1:9 ratio (1/3 cup of Chow per 3 cups Keeper). Mealworm Chow is a highly nutritional food source for mealworms, it is 16% protein and contains added calcium and vitamins that then transfer over to your pet upon consumption. Thirsty Cricket is also calcium-fortified, which helps prevent calcium deficiency in your pet, since feeder insects are deficient in calcium and contain excess amounts of phosphorus (high levels of phosphorus is unhealthy for pets). If your feeder mealworms are chock full of good vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, your pet will be too.
After 24 hours, remove any leftover vegetables and Thirsty Cricket to prevent mold growth. Then, place the container in the refrigerator for long term storage (continue reading for explanation).
If breeding, stop reading and see our Instructions on Raising Mealworms or Mealworm Breeder Kit. If not breeding, continue reading.
LONG TERM LIVE MEALWORM STORAGE FOR FEEDING TO PETS:
Mealworms are technically the larvae of darkling beetles (species Tenebrio molitor). To keep the insects in this stage of the life cycle (mealworm-form) for feeding to pets, you need to store them in low temperature to cease their metamorphosis. The cooler temperatures will delay the process of metamorphosis, which stops them from continuing their life cycle and turning into beetles. Therefore, store your container of mealworms in your refrigerator (at 45-50 degrees F), this will cause them to go into a dormant state and be usable for feeding for 6-10 weeks. If you do not refrigerate the mealworms, and they remain at room temperature, they will only be usable for feeding for about 3 weeks, because after that point they will metamorphosis into pupa (white, pre-beetle form). Or they will just completely die if they are not in the correct conditions to metamorphosis.
We suggest that you remove the mealworms from the refrigerator once per week for 24 hours, and repeat the steps you did during arrival. Mealworm Keeper is a bedding that separates the mealworms, but also acts as food. Therefore, you will need to replace it every once in a while after it gets eaten. Refill the container if it is not at 2-3” of Mealworm Keeper, and then feed the mealworms (vegetables, Thirsty Cricket, Mealworm Chow). Allow the mealworms to feed for 24 hours at room temperature, then remove any uneaten food, and place them back into the refrigerator again. Repeat this process weekly.
FEEDING LIVE MEALWORMS TO PETS:
When it comes times to feed your pets, there are a few tips that will ensure you are feeding a mealworm full of nutrients, leading to an overall healthier pet. As discussed earlier, offering Mealworm Chow and Thirsty Cricket to the mealworms will bulk them up for your pet. Offer your pet the mealworms on the day of or day after gutloading them, to reap the benefits.
Make sure you remove the mealworms you are feeding from the storage container in the fridge, and allow them to “warm up” at room temperature for an hour in a dish. This way they will no longer be dormant, and be wiggling around, enticing your pet to hunt. If you will not be feeding your pet by hand (or tweezers), we recommend a dish that is smooth enough and deep enough that the mealworms would not crawl out, Ceramic Dishes and Mealworm Dishes work well. We advise owners to sprinkle the feeder insects with multivitamins or calcium supplements before feeding to your pets, to help prevent calcium deficiency in your pet, since feeder insects are deficient in calcium, and contain excess amounts of phosphorus (high levels of phosphorus is unhealthy for pets).
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Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not in a position to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please visit our animal info tabs or consider purchasing a care guide book for additional information. If you have a health or pet emergency issue, please notify your veterinarian or a specialized technician.