Hey there - welcome to the first installment of my blog!
I am a third-year student at Georgia Tech studying Biology and Spanish. I currently serve as a peer advisor and teaching assistant for introductory biology labs. Outside of school, I enjoy Netflix documentaries, working with kids, and searching for a plant-based cheese alternative that tastes as good as the real thing.
This summer, I am working on an at-home insect farm (yes, my roommates are thrilled) to research mealworm eating habits and how these farms can be used to benefit our community through composting, recycling, and food security. This blog will mainly feature weekly updates of the farm along with informational and anecdotal pieces related to insects and the sustainability movement.
So if you’re wondering what growing your own insect food source looks like, how communities can come together to practice sustainability, or why a strict vegetarian just might make an exception for bugs, you came to the right place. Let’s dive in!
A Bug's Life: Week One
This week I completed the set-up of my at-home insect farm. The farm is compact, self-sorted, and layered to prevent the mixing of stages (otherwise they will eat each other). Below are the steps I took to complete the project!
Step 1: The first step was gathering materials - I purchased 6 plastic containers of varying depths (3 for each farm), oatmeal for bedding, and mesh for the self-sorting aspect.
Step 2: Using a box cutter, I cut out the bottom of two containers, leaving the third on in tact. I then cut out mesh the size of the holes and affixed with hot glue. The first box will house darkling beetles, and the second box will house their larvae (mealworms!). The mesh allows beetle eggs to fall through to the larvae box, and allows frass (mealworm exoskeleton and excrement) to fall through to the bottom box to be used as fertilizer.
Step 3: While any type of bran will work, I used oatmeal for my bedding because it's big enough to avoid the mesh holes. I added about a half inch of oatmeal to the top two boxes and then added air holes with a box cutter.
Step 4: Bug time! I added beetles and larvae to separate containers and nested the boxes (beetles --> mealworms --> frass) to complete the setup. The mealworms will exist in the larval stage for about 10 weeks, after which they will pupate before turning into beetles. I have a separate container to house pupae for the 2 weeks before they emerge as beetles and will be doing the transfers by hand (ew).
Food for Thought: The History of Eating Insects
The tradition of eating insects dates back thousands of years to hunter gatherer societies; in addition to foraging for plants, early humans also foraged for bugs. Ancient Romans dined on beetle larvae and the Old Testament mentions eating locusts and grasshopper. In tropical areas, eating insects was more common due to a more predictable harvest cycle and a better variety. While insects are on the outskirts of North America's food pallet, they remain an important part of both historical and modern cuisine.
I haven't fully decided how best to utilize this section - a gateway for literature and documentaries? A place for reviews and links to other sustainable brands? DIY projects and lifestyle changes? A combination of these ideas or something totally different? Help me decide! If you have any suggestions or requests on what you'd like to read about, leave a comment or send a message through the contact page! As much as blogging can feel like just writing into the void, my hope is that this is an educational and fruitful experience for both readers and myself.