A few months back I purchased a 100 pack of mealworms from the pet store because I was looking for something different for the girls. Variety is the spice of life, and not just for us humans. When I opened the container, I noticed a pupae inside. I thought this was odd, because my only experience was with supers, who have to be separated and stressed into pupating. So, off to trusty Google I go (what would I do without you?) and found a whole lot of info regarding mealworms and how to successfully breed them. Mealies make great treats for many lizard, fish, frogs, hedgehogs and chickens. They aren't packed with a whole lot of nutrition, but if you have the correct combination of substrate, veggies and minerals appropriate to your pet, they can be quite an inexpensive food source.
These guys go thorough their life cycle relatively quickly and you'll have a population explosion in no time, so starting out small is a good idea. I started out with a 1000 worm shipment, and I have more bugs than I know what do do with right now!
Their substrate is their food. Just because they're bugs, don't skimp here. Keep in mind who you're feeding them to. Whatever they eat is what you pet will be eating. I go to bulk barn and pick out whatever is organic and on sale, bring it home, grind it in my nutribullet and I'm done. It's not as expensive as you think. Start out small, and add a little every month or so. Good things to use are; quinoa, millet, kamut, wheat bran, lentils, seeds and any other grains you find. You can also add dried spices. I add basil and thyme to mine because they are high in calcium and low in phosphorus, which is good for my girls. You don't have to go organic - buy a box of mutigrain cheerios and a box of weetabix. Shred and grind them and you have pretty instant substrate!
The size will depend on how many bugs you have. It can be rather shallow, they're small and not very good climbers. The sides on mine are not high at all and I have yet to find an escapee. They're just high enough so my beardie can't climb in.
Eggcrate or cardboard.
Both the beetles and worms like to congregate under things. You can use eggcrate or pretty much anything available to you. I also put some folded-over pages from the phone book in there for them.
If you do not give them a regular source of moisture in the form of fruit and/or vegetables, they will suck each other dry! Things like potatoes, carrots, cabbage and celery keep well and don't really mold. You can put pretty much any scraps in there, just keep in mind, again, that your pet is eating them. Do not feed your feeders anything that your pet cannot eat. For example: I cannot put onions or garlic in there because they would make my dragons very sick. It's a small fraction, but do you really want to take the chance? Replace their food every day or so. If you're using things like carrots, you don't even have to remove the old ones: they'll suck the moisture out of them and they just dry out. If you had melon for dessert and gave them the rind, make sure you take it out the next day (shaking well to dislodge any tiny babies) to prevent mold. If you see any, take out the whole section and dump it into your compost. Mold is insidious and will take over quickly before you even realize it, sickening and killing your colony and potentially your pets.
Clean out your container and cover the bottom with about and inch or two of substrate. You don't need to start with a whole lot, as you'll be adding to it over time. Add eggcrate and any other hiding places you're giving your bugs. Dump your worms in and place some veggies inside. You can place them directly onto the bed or on top of cardboard or newsprint - they'll burrow right through to get to their moisture. That's pretty much it! Within a few months you'll start to see babies and your whole cycle begins anew. Compared to any of the other feeders out there, this setup is really the quickest and easiest method for having a constant supply of food.