With standard maintenance, your waxworms should survive for several weeks in your refrigerator door. You can do a couple of things to increase their lifespan by up to 2 to 3 months. No guarantees, but it's worth a try!
Most people lose their waxworms to too-cold temperatures. Unfortunately, most household refrigerators are a little too cold, and room temperature tends to run a little too warm. That's why we recommend storing your waxworms in your refrigerator door - the warmest spot in the fridge. Still, the temperature can fluctuate and dip low enough to kill your entire batch of worms. When in doubt, waxworms will last longer at room temperatures than at low temperatures like 40°F.
Some fishermen swear by acclimating their waxworms to dormancy by keeping them at 65°F for 2 weeks, then moving them to the fridge door.
If you have a thermometer or temperature gun (like most reptile caretakers do), try identifying a spot in your home that consistently stays 50-55°F. That's the sweet spot for waxworms. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Wine cooler
- Drafty mudroom
Surface area is a huge consideration when housing waxworms for more extended periods. The overcrowding of a small shipping cup contributes to their short lifespan. They'll live longer if you move your waxworms to a larger container, like a rectangular Tupperware or margarine tub. If you are comfortable with the idea, you can leave the lid off (or loose) to increase ventilation. They won't escape, and low humidity will increase their lifespan.
Dead waxworms in the container will cause the remaining worms to die off faster. Check the storage container and remove dead bugs at least weekly - daily is better, if possible. Dead waxworms are black. If they're already dried out by the time you find them, consider checking the container more often.
If you intend to keep your waxworms alive for longer than a few weeks (and, thus, are storing them at around 55°F), you may want to consider feeding them. Just mix some bran or oats with raw honey, and add a little to the holding container every few weeks.
Waxworms are named after their affinity for bees' wax - and *honey*.
Finally, clean conditions can promote their longevity. Changing the sawdust bedding every 3 to 4 weeks may help your waxworms last longer.