Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths, which belong to the family Pyralidae (snout moths). Two closely related species are commercially bred – the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella) and the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella). They are part of the tribe Galleriini in the snout moth subfamily Galleriinae. Another species whose larvae share that name is the Indian mealmoth (Plodia interpunctella), though this species is not really available commercially.
The adult moths are sometimes called “bee moths”, but, particularly in apiculture, this can also refer to Aphomia sociella, another Galleriinae moth which also produces waxworms, but is not commercially bred.
Waxworms are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads.
Inside the wild, they live as nest parasites in bee colonies and eat cocoons, pollen, and shed skins of bees, and chew through beeswax, thus the name. Beekeepers consider waxworms to be pests. Galleria mellonella (the higher wax moths) is not going to attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax utilized by the bees to develop their honeycomb. Their full development to adults requires use of used brood comb or brood cell cleanings-these contain protein essential for the larvae’s development, as brood cocoons. The destruction in the comb will spill or contaminate stored honey and may kill bee larvae or perhaps be the main cause of the spreading of honey bee diseases.
When stored in captivity, they can go a long time without eating, specifically if kept at a cool temperature. Captive waxworms are usually raised on a combination of cereal grain, bran, and honey.
Waxworms are an excellent food for most insectivorous animals and plants.
These larvae are grown extensively to use as food for humans, as well as live food for terrarium pets and some pet birds, mostly because of the high fat content, their ease of breeding, and their capacity to survive for weeks at low temperatures. Most often, they are used to give reptiles like bearded dragons (species within the genus Pogona), the neon tree dragon (Japalura splendida), geckos, brown anole (Anolis sagrei), turtles such as the three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), and chameleons. They can even be fed to amphibians like Ceratophrys frogs, newts like the Strauch’s spotted newt (Neurergus strauchii), and salamanders including axolotls. Small mammals such as the domesticated hedgehog can even be fed with waxworms, while birds such as the greater honeyguide can also appreciate the food. They can also be used as food for captive predatory insects reared in terrarium, such as assassin bugs in the genus Platymeris, and tend to be occasionally used to feed certain types of fish within the wild, such as bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus).
Waxworms as bait
Waxworms may be store-bought or raised by anglers. Anglers and fishing bait shops often reference the larvae as “waxies”. They are utilised for catching some varieties of panfish, individuals the sunfish family (Centrarchidae), Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and can be applied for shallow water fishing with the use of a lighter in weight. Also, they are utilized for fishing some family members Salmonidae, Masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou), white-spotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
Waxworms as an alternative to mammals in animal research
Waxworms can replace mammals in certain varieties of scientific experiments with animal testing, especially in studies examining the virulence mechanisms of bacterial and fungal pathogens. Waxworms prove useful for such studies because the innate immune system of insects is strikingly similar to those of mammals. Waxworms survive well at body of a human temperature and are big enough in size to permit straightforward handling and accurate dosing. Additionally, the considerable cost benefits when utilizing waxworms rather than small nzowbx (usually mice, hamsters, or guinea pigs) allows testing throughput which is otherwise impossible. Using waxworms, it is actually now easy to screen large numbers of bacterial and fungal strains to distinguish genes associated with pathogenesis or large chemical libraries with the hope of identifying promising therapeutic compounds. The later studies have proved especially valuable in identifying chemicals with favorable bioavailability