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Waxworms would be the caterpillar larvae of wax moths, which are part of 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 belong to the tribe Galleriini within the snout moth subfamily Galleriinae. Another species whose larvae share that name is the Indian mealmoth (Plodia interpunctella), though this species will not be available commercially.

The adult moths are sometimes called “bee moths”, but, particularly in apiculture, this can also reference Aphomia sociella, another Galleriinae moth which produces waxworms, however 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 get pests. Galleria mellonella (the more wax moths) is not going to attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax used 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 important for the larvae’s development, by means of brood cocoons. The destruction of the comb will spill or contaminate stored honey and may kill bee larvae or be the reason for the spreading of honey bee diseases.

When held in captivity, they can go a long time without eating, specifically if kept in a cool temperature. Captive waxworms are usually raised on a blend of cereal grain, bran, and honey.

Waxworms are a perfect food for many insectivorous animals and plants.

These larvae are grown extensively to be used as food for humans, as well as live food for terrarium pets and some pet birds, mostly due to their high fat content, their simplicity of breeding, along with their capacity 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 such as the three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), and chameleons. They can additionally be fed to amphibians including Ceratophrys frogs, newts including the Strauch’s spotted newt (Neurergus strauchii), and salamanders such as axolotls. Small mammals including the domesticated hedgehog can also be fed with waxworms, while birds like the greater honeyguide can also appreciate the food. They can be used as food for captive predatory insects reared in terrarium, including assassin bugs inside the genus Platymeris, and tend to be occasionally used to feed certain forms of fish within the wild, including 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 used for catching some types of panfish, members of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae), Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and can be applied for shallow water fishing by using a lighter weight. They are also used for fishing some members of the family Salmonidae, Masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou), white-spotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Waxworms rather than mammals in animal research

Waxworms can replace mammals in certain types of scientific experiments with animal testing, particularly in studies examining the virulence mechanisms of bacterial and fungal pathogens. Waxworms prove valuable in such studies as the innate immunity mechanism of insects is strikingly much like those of mammals. Waxworms survive well at body of a human temperature and they are large enough in proportions to allow straightforward handling and accurate dosing. Additionally, the considerable cost benefits when you use waxworms instead of 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 expectation of identifying promising therapeutic compounds. The later studies have proved especially valuable in identifying chemical contaminants with favorable bioavailability

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