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 also 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 occasionally called “bee moths”, but, specifically in apiculture, this can also make reference 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, brown or black heads.
Within 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 become pests. Galleria mellonella (the higher wax moths) is not going to attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax employed by the bees to construct their honeycomb. Their full development to adults requires access to 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 be the main cause of the spreading of honey bee diseases.
When kept in captivity, they can go a long time without eating, especially if kept with a cool temperature. Captive waxworms are usually raised on a blend of cereal grain, bran, and honey.
Waxworms are an ideal food for most insectivorous animals and plants.
These larvae are grown extensively for use as food for humans, as well as live food for terrarium pets plus some pet birds, mostly because of the high fat content, their easy breeding, along with their capability to survive for weeks at low temperatures. Most often, they are utilised to give reptiles like bearded dragons (species inside the genus Pogona), the neon tree dragon (Japalura splendida), geckos, brown anole (Anolis sagrei), turtles like the three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), and chameleons. They can additionally be fed to amphibians such as Ceratophrys frogs, newts such as the Strauch’s spotted newt (Neurergus strauchii), and salamanders like axolotls. Small mammals such as the domesticated hedgehog can additionally be fed with waxworms, while birds like the greater honeyguide can also appreciate the food. They can also be used as food for captive predatory insects reared in terrarium, including assassin bugs within the genus Platymeris, and are also occasionally utilized to feed certain types of fish inside 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 refer to the larvae as “waxies”. They are utilized for catching some types of panfish, members of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae), Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and can be applied for shallow water fishing with the aid of a lighter in weight. Also, they are utilized for fishing some members of the family 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 types 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 immunity mechanism of insects is strikingly much like those of mammals. Waxworms survive well at human body temperature and they are large enough in size to permit straightforward handling and accurate dosing. Additionally, the considerable financial savings when you use waxworms as opposed to small nzowbx (usually mice, hamsters, or guinea pigs) allows testing throughput that is certainly otherwise impossible. Using waxworms, it is now possible to screen many bacterial and fungal strains to recognize genes involved with pathogenesis or large chemical libraries with the hope of identifying promising therapeutic compounds. The later reports have proved especially beneficial in identifying chemicals with favorable bioavailability