Breeding Feeders

cruz.m

Avid Member
Soooooooooo!!!!! I’m excited sorry, but I’m getting my Mist King v5.0 soon which I’m excited about. I’ve already gotten help for that so special thanks to @ERKleRose but I’m planning on breeding some feeders and want some advice from people. I plan on breeding hornworms, silkworms, and maybe dubias but I don’t think so I’m still deciding. I know how to breed the hornworms and silkworms and have researched for quite a while so now I’m taking the step to actually try it not yet but very soon (I want some extra questions answered as well as some reassurance as this is my very first time). Dubias, haven’t done much research and I’m terribly afraid of them and I don’t think I could do it so I may just stick to ordering them. I’ve been thinking of breeding superworms and bsfl but I’m not sure on that either. Anyways I have around 6 silkworms that I’m letting grow out and pupate/cocoon, and 5 hornworms that I’m letting grow out and pupate. I purchased the silkworm chow and have the 6 in a proper container that was recommended in another thread I had. I’m letting the five hornworms grow out in two separate deli cups that they came with. I will be purchasing the chow for them as well, should I buy the already pre-made or the powder and which brand? I will be using my smaller cage that my cham used to occupy for the hornworms and a mesh laundry hamper for the silks. I read that sometimes people use incubators but they are good without it as long as you still provide the correct temperatures and they will just take longer. Do you guys recommend I use one or no? I have toilet rolls ready as well for them to cocoon in, ordered gutter guard, some containers, organic soil, I’m going to order deli cups with hole lids as well, hummingbird feeder for moths etc. I don’t think I’m missing any supplies but I will double check!
Few questions:
1. What temperatures would you recommend I provide for both the hornworms and silkworms?
2. What do I feed the moths, I’m gonna use a humming bird feeder but what do I feed them, just water in the feeder?
3. How do you open the cage to collect or do anything without the moths flying out?
4. Since my cham is not old enough/big enough to eat the moths do I just discard them? Do they mate multiple times? I know sometimes other male silk moths will snatch a female even after she barely bred with a male.
5. What do you recommend I put for the moths to lay on? Like what plant? I saw that you can use a tomato plant but is there any other plant or should I use no plant at all and something else? I think saw someone mentioned you can just use paper towels or something
6. Can I see your entire setup if you do breed these insects?
7. How do you deal with so many feeders at a time cause I know that each moth will lay lots of eggs even if some of them aren’t fertile that’s a lot. Judging by their rapid growth do you just repeat the process with all the hornworms you couldn’t feed off? Like I said unfortunately my cham isn’t big enough to eat the moths yet...
I had more questions but I forgot them 🙄
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
-Disclaimer: I don’t breed hornworms so everything I’m saying is from what research I’ve done on them. With silkworms, I hatch them out to feed as flying food and extra variety, not to breed.
-I keep all of my silk and hornworms at room temp (unless I‘m stunning growth with hornworms in the wine fridge). I just have to watch how much humidity they’re getting.
-Gulf Coast Silkworms/Education Science (same website) has nectar that can be used for moths (like hornworm moths) and butterflies, which I use when I have painted lady butterflies to feed off. You use it with a hummingbird feeder. Silkworm moths don’t eat, so you just breed them then feed them off. Here’s the link for the nectar: https://www.educationalscience.com/artificial-nectar-non-fermenting-2-liters-an100
-For hornworm food, I have the Repashy chow for them, but they don’t really like it so for my next order of hornworms, I’ll be trying Mulberry Farms’ chow. Here’s my post from earlier today that talks about hornworm chow: Post in thread 'Keeping Hornworms Alive'
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/keeping-hornworms-alive.181292/post-1648727
-If you can get your hands on mulberry leaves, it is so much better than silkworm chows!
-You can use a tomato plant for the hornworm moths to lay on, then collect the eggs laid, and put them in a separate container, so when the larvae hatch out, they won’t eat the tomato plant.
-I hatch out the silkworm cocoons individually in separate and in smaller containers, then once they hatch, I feed them off immediately and put the spare moths in a Reptibreeze XL. When catching the moths, some are super slow and easy to grab and some are a little more active. I just hope I’m quick enough and accurate enough to not let any extra moths escape when I have to grab any. Again, I don’t breed silkworms, I just save around 4-5 silkworms from each order and let them pupate so I can feed the the moths off.
-You can sell off the extra eggs and larvae to put a little cash in your pocket if you have too many (which you most likely will).
-I hoped this helped! Good luck!
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
-Disclaimer: I don’t breed hornworms so everything I’m saying is from what research I’ve done on them. With silkworms, I hatch them out to feed as flying food and extra variety, not to breed.
-I keep all of my silk and hornworms at room temp (unless I‘m stunning growth with hornworms in the wine fridge). I just have to watch how much humidity they’re getting.
-Gulf Coast Silkworms/Education Science (same website) has nectar that can be used for moths (like hornworm moths) and butterflies, which I use when I have painted lady butterflies to feed off. You use it with a hummingbird feeder. Silkworm moths don’t eat, so you just breed them then feed them off. Here’s the link for the nectar: https://www.educationalscience.com/artificial-nectar-non-fermenting-2-liters-an100
-For hornworm food, I have the Repashy chow for them, but they don’t really like it so for my next order of hornworms, I’ll be trying Mulberry Farms’ chow. Here’s my post from earlier today that talks about hornworm chow: Post in thread 'Keeping Hornworms Alive'
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/keeping-hornworms-alive.181292/post-1648727
-If you can get your hands on mulberry leaves, it is so much better than silkworm chows!
-You can use a tomato plant for the hornworm moths to lay on, then collect the eggs laid, and put them in a separate container, so when the larvae hatch out, they won’t eat the tomato plant.
-I hatch out the silkworm cocoons individually in separate and in smaller containers, then once they hatch, I feed them off immediately and put the spare moths in a Reptibreeze XL. When catching the moths, some are super slow and easy to grab and some are a little more active. I just hope I’m quick enough and accurate enough to not let any extra moths escape when I have to grab any. Again, I don’t breed silkworms, I just save around 4-5 silkworms from each order and let them pupate so I can feed the the moths off.
-You can sell off the extra eggs and larvae to put a little cash in your pocket if you have too many (which you most likely will).
-I hoped this helped! Good luck!
How would I go about selling them? I wish I could feed the moths off but I cannot. Thanks that’s was pretty helpful and I’ll look at all the links :) I think for the eggs I saw that they sell them stuck to something as you would do if you were selling seeds but I’m not sure.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
I didn’t read it all - long day at work / short attention span... but I have bred (or failed to) a lot of feeders so wanted to comment.

I would skip hornworms, especially with 1 cham. They are too unpredictible. Then they grow way too fast ... and then you have 400 giant hornworms too many. I tried a few times and decided they were too much work. same was true for trying to breed flies.

I would definitely go for silkworms and dubia for staple feeders. Dubia are super easy to keep and practically bullet proof. I am terrified of roaches and fast moving crunchy bugs.... but you really do get desensitized. Of all the feeders they are the least noticeable and lowest maintenance.

Superworms are easy to keep and a yummy snack. They are also cheap so I just buy them 1k at a time and that lasts long enough.

Vietnamese Stick bugs are an awesome feeder and they can reproduce pretty quickly (compared to other sticks). Chameleons love them, and they are easy to keep.

I would recommend Silks and Dubia, followed by stick bugs to mix it up now and then. Buy the rest every so often. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and overrun.
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
I didn’t read it all - long day at work / short attention span... but I have bred (or failed to) a lot of feeders so wanted to comment.

I would skip hornworms, especially with 1 cham. They are too unpredictible. Then they grow way too fast ... and then you have 400 giant hornworms too many. I tried a few times and decided they were too much work. same was true for trying to breed flies.

I would definitely go for silkworms and dubia for staple feeders. Dubia are super easy to keep and practically bullet proof. I am terrified of roaches and fast moving crunchy bugs.... but you really do get desensitized. Of all the feeders they are the least noticeable and lowest maintenance.

Superworms are easy to keep and a yummy snack. They are also cheap so I just buy them 1k at a time and that lasts long enough.

Vietnamese Stick bugs are an awesome feeder and they can reproduce pretty quickly (compared to other sticks). Chameleons love them, and they are easy to keep.

I would recommend Silks and Dubia, followed by stick bugs to mix it up now and then. Buy the rest every so often. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and overrun.
Thank you! This was a good question of mine because I know that the moths tend to have lots of eggs. I think I might just do it once every couple months like buy hornworms, pupate, and breed them to get the eggs and not a constant cycle. I think I’m gonna do the dubias although I’m really afraid I think I’ll go for it. @jamest0o0 do you think you could give me advice on starting a colony/breeding dubias?
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
How would I go about selling them? I wish I could feed the moths off but I cannot. Thanks that’s was pretty helpful and I’ll look at all the links :) I think for the eggs I saw that they sell them stuck to something as you would do if you were selling seeds but I’m not sure.
You can post them on eBay, here, Facebook Marketplace, etc. Definitely agree with what @snitz427 said, too!
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
My dubias are just reaching breeding size. All I really need to do at this point is warm them up a bit.
I've never had one escape the bin in over a year (14 mos.) The only escapees have been out of the bug bowl into an enclosure, and they've all either been eaten, recaptured, or died.

The main problem is that the cham isn't eating them. Good thing the beardie loves them.
Point being, make sure whatever you raise, your chams, etc. will eat them! :)
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you! This was a good question of mine because I know that the moths tend to have lots of eggs. I think I might just do it once every couple months like buy hornworms, pupate, and breed them to get the eggs and not a constant cycle. I think I’m gonna do the dubias although I’m really afraid I think I’ll go for it. @jamest0o0 do you think you could give me advice on starting a colony/breeding dubias?

Yeah can you send me a PM
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
My dubias are just reaching breeding size. All I really need to do at this point is warm them up a bit.
I've never had one escape the bin in over a year (14 mos.) The only escapees have been out of the bug bowl into an enclosure, and they've all either been eaten, recaptured, or died.
D
The main problem is that the cham isn't eating them. Good thing the beardie loves them.
Point being, make sure whatever you raise, your chams, etc. will eat them! :)
Thanks, and yes my cham eats all of her feeders the dubias aren’t her favorite but she eats them. I think my problem is that I really don’t like any bugs, the silkworms I feed are ok, the hornworms once in a while as well, the bsfl also, the only thing I can’t touch are the dubias, bsf, and the superworms.
 

dinomom

Established Member
7. How do you deal with so many feeders at a time cause I know that each moth will lay lots of eggs even if some of them aren’t fertile that’s a lot.
They will all be fertile LOL.

They keep for close to a year in the fridge, so you can just hatch out however many you want at a time. I let them lay eggs in standing-up paper lunch bags, then you can cut out however large a group that you want.
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
A little update these 3 have cacooned and I’ve made my guess as to what each one is and which one cocooned first etc...Is it normal for them to be this small because the two are bigger than the middle one? I have 3 more that are spinning but here’s a picture. The one without a cardboard piece cocooned on the outside of the toilet roll which was weird. These are just fun guesses I don’t know the genders lol. I moved them in here from the larger container but I will place them in their own individual one. I have their cage set up and I will place them in there but is there anything you recommend I do? (Oh and I was afraid to take the cardboard piece off because I did try lightly and it didn’t work so I didn’t want to pry it off and possibly hurt the moths. Will it, is there anything I need to be careful of?)
 

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dinomom

Established Member
A little update these 3 have cacooned and I’ve made my guesses as to what each one is and which one cocooned first etc...Is it normal for them to be this small because the two are bigger than the middle one? I have 3 more that are spinning but here’s a picture. The one without a cardboard piece cocooned on the outside of the toilet roll which was weird. These are just fun guesses I don’t know the genders lol. I moved them in here from the larger container but I will place them in their own individual one. I have their cage set up and I will place them in there but is there anything you recommend I do?
Yes a lot of size variation is normal. Once they are done spinning you can move to another container if you want. Put a bunch of paper towels in the bottom as they take a big poo when they emerge. I don't worry too much about guessing gender, I put 3 or 4 in each bag and once they pair up I remove the extras until there is one pair per bag.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
A little update these 3 have cacooned and I’ve made my guess as to what each one is and which one cocooned first etc...Is it normal for them to be this small because the two are bigger than the middle one? I have 3 more that are spinning but here’s a picture. The one without a cardboard piece cocooned on the outside of the toilet roll which was weird. These are just fun guesses I don’t know the genders lol. I moved them in here from the larger container but I will place them in their own individual one. I have their cage set up and I will place them in there but is there anything you recommend I do? (Oh and I was afraid to take the cardboard piece off because I did try lightly and it didn’t work so I didn’t want to pry it off and possibly hurt the moths. Will it, is there anything I need to be careful of?)
I place my cocoons in a plastic shoe tote lined with wax paper. The liquid they expel evaporates quickly that way. As soon as they emerge, they are ready to get down to business. The males flap their wings a lot and have thinner bodies. The females don’t flap much at all and have plump bodies and are generally larger. For some unknown reason, I always end up with more males than females. Once they pair up, I cover them with a small paper cup so they aren’t disturbed and the eggs are contained. I’ve had several pairs that never separate and die ‘in the act’. Once they are done and the female has laid all of her eggs, let the eggs turn dark for a few days and then place in either a wine fridge or the produce drawer of your fridge. I keep them in the fridge for about 3 months before trying to hatch them.
 

dinomom

Established Member
I place my cocoons in a plastic shoe tote lined with wax paper. The liquid they expel evaporates quickly that way. As soon as they emerge, they are ready to get down to business. The males flap their wings a lot and have thinner bodies. The females don’t flap much at all and have plump bodies and are generally larger. For some unknown reason, I always end up with more males than females. Once they pair up, I cover them with a small paper cup so they aren’t disturbed and the eggs are contained. I’ve had several pairs that never separate and die ‘in the act’. Once they are done and the female has laid all of her eggs, let the eggs turn dark for a few days and then place in either a wine fridge or the produce drawer of your fridge. I keep them in the fridge for about 3 months before trying to hatch them.
Great ideas! It is sad when they die in the act, one dies first and I just have to wait for the other to die which can take days :( Can't really feed it off with a dead appendage...Once dead the whole thing goes into a pitcher plant, but I can't bear to do this with live moths for some reason.

Do you ever get eggs that are a radically different color? Normally they turn dark purple in a couple of days and I refrigerate. My last group of eggs had some that only turned the intermediate color, a pale gray. I had forgotten that I left them out waiting for them to change; and yesterday surprise they hatched.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Great ideas! It is sad when they die in the act, one dies first and I just have to wait for the other to die which can take days :( Can't really feed it off with a dead appendage...Once dead the whole thing goes into a pitcher plant, but I can't bear to do this with live moths for some reason.

Do you ever get eggs that are a radically different color? Normally they turn dark purple in a couple of days and I refrigerate. My last group of eggs had some that only turned the intermediate color, a pale gray. I had forgotten that I left them out waiting for them to change; and yesterday surprise they hatched.
I ‘stole’ @snitz427 tips for breeding silkworms, so the credit goes to her ingenuity.
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
Well the three I showed never hatched I’m about to cut them open but the other ones have hatched, bred and died. The eggs are currently in my wine fridge and I don’t want to take them out or move them. I read that once they rattle inside that means they’re most likely dead, it’s been more than a month since they cocooned and they never hatched. I wonder what I did wrong with these :(
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
I cut them open 😕 I’m guessing they’ve been dead for a while
 

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MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Well the three I showed never hatched I’m about to cut them open but the other ones have hatched, bred and died. The eggs are currently in my wine fridge and I don’t want to take them out or move them. I read that once they rattle inside that means they’re most likely dead, it’s been more than a month since they cocooned and they never hatched. I wonder what I did wrong with these :(
I’ve found that for whatever reason, some never hatch from their cocoons. I’ve had at least one that never even made it’s cocoon, but I kept it around and wrapped a little extra silk around it and it hatched! For the cocoons, I try to minimize their movement as I suspect that has something to do with it. You can tell if your eggs have died as they will get all flattened out in the center, kind of like a triangular shape.
 
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