Keeping Hornworms Alive

GreenPekoe

New Member
Hi,

I am wondering if anybody could tell me a bit about hornworm care. I can't seem to keep them alive for more than a week. Is this normal? I have fed them bell peppers, kale, hornworm food, and I am sure some other things that I can't recall now. They have a small habitat (like the ones sold for small creatures to travel in). Could I be putting too much food in there and they eat themselves to death? They do seem to eat an awful lot. I'm just so tired of wasting money on them. I'll buy three and lose two before they should be fully gut loaded.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi,

I am wondering if anybody could tell me a bit about hornworm care. I can't seem to keep them alive for more than a week. Is this normal? I have fed them bell peppers, kale, hornworm food, and I am sure some other things that I can't recall now. They have a small habitat (like the ones sold for small creatures to travel in). Could I be putting too much food in there and they eat themselves to death? They do seem to eat an awful lot. I'm just so tired of wasting money on them. I'll buy three and lose two before they should be fully gut loaded.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
Welcome! Try to only use the specialized hornworm food to see if it makes a difference. Could you post a pic of their enclosure, please? Do they ever eat moldy food, and what brand of hornworm food do you use?
 

Mendez

Avid Member
Do your hornworms have stuck molt on the lower part of their body? I have fed hornworms romaine lettuce in the past, and I have always had at least one or two die from molted skin that starts constricting their body. And now I'm wondering if that's due to improper nutrition and/or humidity.

Interesting @ERKleRose, it's only now (thanks to you) that I'm finally putting hornworm health and nutrition together. I wonder if keeping them with their specialized food also helps with the humidity as well.
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
Do your hornworms have stuck molt on the lower part of their body? I have fed hornworms romaine lettuce in the past, and I have always had at least one or two die from molted skin that starts constricting their body. And now I'm wondering if that's due to improper nutrition and/or humidity.

Interesting @ERKleRose, it's only now (thanks to you) that I'm finally putting hornworm health and nutrition together. I wonder if keeping them with their specialized food also helps with the humidity as well.
It’s so humid in my house (and especially in the chameleon room), that I have to put them in the least humid part of the house (if I’m trying to grow them out). If I like the sizes, I keep them in a wine fridge to slow their growth. I always keep them in the pods they come in with the food on the bottom and have them upside down on top of a wire shelf for easy cleaning and ventilation
 

GreenPekoe

New Member
Welcome! Try to only use the specialized hornworm food to see if it makes a difference. Could you post a pic of their enclosure, please? Do they ever eat moldy food, and what brand of hornworm food do you use?
Thank you.
The food gets changed out daily so it never gets the chance to go bad. The habitat get cleaned up daily too. I don't know the brand of the food as the store we buy them from sends us home with a chunk. Is there a brand you would recommend? I'll post a picture shortly.
 

Kamikaze Chameleon

Avid Member
Yeah moisture and standing water will kill hornworms and can harbor bacteria, needs to be dark dry well ventilated and I use repashy hornworm food and successfully keep hornworms for weeks . I slow there growth by every other day putting them in a 50 to 55°F fridge
 

GreenPekoe

New Member
52AF612B-15A8-4CDB-B848-B2171095A8EF.jpeg

This is what I keep them in. There’s supposed to be a plastic piece that they can climb on but....I’m thinking my kid tossed when disposing of the last corpse. Kids 🙄

They live in a bedroom so it’s fairly dry. However, it’s not dark.
I’ve never seen leftover moly left on them.
 

cruz.m

Avid Member
View attachment 293507
This is what I keep them in. There’s supposed to be a plastic piece that they can climb on but....I’m thinking my kid tossed when disposing of the last corpse. Kids 🙄

They live in a bedroom so it’s fairly dry. However, it’s not dark.
I’ve never seen leftover moly left on them.
I know you are only keeping them alive to feed off and you’re not breeding but, in case you do ever decide to breed which is totally worth a try so you have an endless supply of hornworms (also breeding other bugs), a mesh laundry hamper is often used as a cage for them especially when breeding as they need something to climb out of the dirt etc. (There are definitely other options as well. I linked something that really helped me!) I’m currently getting some hornworms ready to pupate fingers crossed the moth’s wings don’t come out deformed. As for keeping them there I think it should be fine maybe look into buying some gutter guard.
https://feederinsectbreeding.blogspot.com/p/hornworm-care-and-breeding.html?m=1
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
View attachment 293507
This is what I keep them in. There’s supposed to be a plastic piece that they can climb on but....I’m thinking my kid tossed when disposing of the last corpse. Kids 🙄

They live in a bedroom so it’s fairly dry. However, it’s not dark.
I’ve never seen leftover moly left on them.
Repashy and Mulberry Farms, along with Gulf Coast Silkworms, Coastal Silkworms, Great Lakes Hornworms, and more each have great hornworm chow, along with a lot of other reputable online feeder insect stores! You can use either plastic gutter guard or knitting mesh to keep the food and hornworms off of the bottom. Coastal Silkworms actually sells silkwormworm keepers, which can be used for hornworms, along with Gulf Coast Silkworms selling hornworm keepers (I like these better), too! Let me know if you want links for anything!
 

Kamikaze Chameleon

Avid Member
Yeah I think they are best stored in the pods or quart cups with the gutter guard stapled in and the food pushed in the bottom. That way, you store the cup upside down and you let gravity do all the work and just empty the cup every[other] day. They will last much longer if you keep them clean n fed!
 

RyanBRZ

Avid Member
I think good airflow is key to reduce the amount of humidity inside their enclosure, I think the only time I've lost hornworms is when a lot of moisture built up inside. Agree with what others have said, try to put food up top with gutter guard to climb on so the poop falls to the bottom.

I always buy them small and raise them on repashy bug burger, they love it. The only downside is the amount of moisture in bug burger, which is good for hydration but bad for humidity.
 

GreenPekoe

New Member
I know you are only keeping them alive to feed off and you’re not breeding but, in case you do ever decide to breed which is totally worth a try so you have an endless supply of hornworms (also breeding other bugs), a mesh laundry hamper is often used as a cage for them especially when breeding as they need something to climb out of the dirt etc. (There are definitely other options as well. I linked something that really helped me!) I’m currently getting some hornworms ready to pupate fingers crossed the moth’s wings don’t come out deformed. As for keeping them there I think it should be fine maybe look into buying some gutter guard.
https://feederinsectbreeding.blogspot.com/p/hornworm-care-and-breeding.html?m=1
I think if I were to start another "science experiment" I will get in to a wee bit of trouble with the significant other 😆
 

GreenPekoe

New Member
Repashy and Mulberry Farms, along with Gulf Coast Silkworms, Coastal Silkworms, Great Lakes Hornworms, and more each have great hornworm chow, along with a lot of other reputable online feeder insect stores! You can use either plastic gutter guard or knitting mesh to keep the food and hornworms off of the bottom. Coastal Silkworms actually sells silkwormworm keepers, which can be used for hornworms, along with Gulf Coast Silkworms selling hornworm keepers (I like these better), too! Let me know if you want links for anything!
I'll take a google at these. Thanks!
 
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