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Guide to culturing Rice Flour Beetles (Tribolium confusum)
***Warning the beetles & larvae are considered agricultural pests so please be careful if you intend to use these as a feeder insect and do not release these outside your house***

Both the adult beetles & the larvae can be used as a feeder insect for dart frogs. The beetles are 3-4mm in length & the larvae reach up to 6mm in length. It is my understanding that not all animals will accept the beetle as they do release a noxious gas to deter predators. In addition to this the adults are very hard shelled (& thus have high chitin content). Unfortunately I have no specific data on the nutritional content of the larval stages or the adults but I presume this to be broadly similar to mealworms. I really don’t feel that this feeder can ever be considered a staple food item but are a great addition to a varied diet & excellent as a backup food just in case you ever have problems with your fruit flies.

For the culturing container I use a 1 litre Tupperware box (the kind that takeaway comes in). A booming culture of this size could potentially produce hundreds if not thousands of food items monthly

Culture Medium

200g Plain flour
200g whole wheat flour
100g Brewers yeast

Mix the flour & brewers yeast together & add to the culture container.

Add the beetles to this; I would start with about 50 – 100 or so. Leave them to it; it’s as simple as that!

The lifecycle takes about a month when the culture is kept a constant 85F. The lifecycle will vary if you decide to keep them at higher or lower temperatures, they are tolerant of a wide range of temp so play around to see what works for you, if you keep at dart temps I would expect the lifecycle to be around 2 months or so (I haven’t tried this so over to you guys).

There are lots of guides out there which will give you an idea of how to begin to culture these to get the best possible production; I am breeding these as a back up & for a little extra variety so I am not breeding these on a regimented rota. If you want to then go for it but I haven enough of a chore with the fruit flies so I am just topping up the culture with fresh flour & yeast on a monthly basis to keep them ticking over.

To harvest the beetles & larvae I have created a very small sieve using the remnants of some ventilation gauze for a viv & a few off-cuts of wood. This allows me to remove the flour out easily leaving just the food items. Some frogs will take the adult beetles and not the fuzzy larvae and vice versa. Some hobbyists report that thier frogs initially refuse or spit out the insects, but after some persistance -addtional offering, were more accepting. It's hit or miss, I guess.

The flour beetles & the larvae are not very moisture tolerant so it is essential to keep the culture dry, if you do notice any condensation then you will need to remove any wet culture medium immediately & move all beetles & larvae to a new (dry) culture. The fact that flour beetles aren't moisture tolerant means that they won’t be likely to escape from your vivs as they will either be eaten or will die off from the high humidity. As I mentioned at the top of the post flour beetles will infest any stocks of flour you have in the home so please ensure that your cultures are well sealed & make sure to be careful when feeding out as I can imagine that you wont want to see them cropping up in your home made cakes & biscuits.

When you feed out these insects, make sure they are are dry and in a small dish. If they escape into the viv or get wet from misting, ect, they will quickly die.
Phil, is this the same formula you used in your cultures you sold at frog day? I just found my culture that I bought back last May and its still producing!!!
Yep...cultures can last a long, long time, apparently.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
Philsuma Wrote:Yep...cultures can last a long, long time, apparently.

Thanks. I think after 11 months it's time to culture a new one lol. Now if only to get ffs to last 11 months lol.

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