Complete guide to raising the healthiest feeder insects for reptiles!
Over the years I have lost quite a bit of money due to failure with silkworms, that’s a big reason I made this site is so that you won’t make the same mistakes. Silkworm Chow can get really expensive when ordering elsewhere in small quantities so be sure you order from us if you need a half pound or a hundred! Although it is challenging, raising silkworms is worth it when you get to feed your reptile some of the bester feeder insects!
You will find many sites saying you must do this in order for the eggs to hatch. Some say you must have an incubator, it’s not necessary (but I would recommend it even if you build your own). When I first started I did not have an incubator, but I had a room that I always kept in the 80’s which is ideal for silkworms.
One of the most important parts, in my opinion, in the very beginning is overcrowding. Every site that I can remember has said to use Petri dishes to hatch eggs, DON’T! they cost way more than necessary! What I do is go to the dollar store and buy some cheap Tupperware (be sure to clean them very well before use, 10% bleach water works great). After you have them cleaned put about 200-300 eggs per small Tupperware container (less eggs = higher survival rates). Get them as close to 80-84 as you can and they should hatch in about a week
The First Feeding
The first feeding can be challenging, if you grate chow or put chunks on top of them they might get smashed. This is why I came up with my own method of feeding the new born silkworms. At this time I had 5,000 silkworm eggs about to hatch and I thought instead of losing many of them with less controlled feeding methods I could put the food in the syringe and make a very controlled line of food where ever I want it to be! This was the most effective feeding method I had ever seen, I would be surprised if I lost a single worm!
When the eggs hatch you put a string of food next to them NOT on them! They will crawl over to it to eat. The next feeding you can put it where they were the first time and they will go back! Be sure the old silkworm food has dried completely before the next feeding. By letting the old silkworm food dry completely, you ensure mold will not grow and infect your silkworms.
Past the critical stage
Getting past the critical stage is huge, the silkworms are no longer as fragile as the hatchlings are. The critical stage is the first 7-10 days after hatching. At this point it is now safe to transfer them to another clean container. If you think mold may have started to grow you should transfer them. If you must transfer them, be very careful and wash your hands extremely well before handling the baby worms. They should all be fine after the transfer. Once they have reached this stage I no longer use the syringe for feeding. To feed, I just put chunks of food around the container, it’s faster and easier. Also at this point you can cut back on feeding if you want to prolong the life of your worms. At this stage they are a great feeder insect!
When they are approaching full grown size they eat a lot more than you may think! I put a pound of silkworm food into in one of my silkworm bins and it was gone the next morning! The large silkworms are the best feeder insects for many reptiles! Be sure you have enough food to last you through their entire life cycle. Buy Silkworm chow in bulk – the food can last up to two years!
When they start spinning cocoons they will start eating less, and once they start their cocoon they will never eat again! At this stage their usefulness as feeder insects is gone. When you think that your silkworms are getting close to making cocoons put toilet paper rolls in with them. Give the cocoons a few days to finish before you remove them so you don’t dent the cocoons. Once they are completely done with the cocoon you will be able to shake it and hear them rattling around inside. In a couple of weeks the moths will emerge.