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How To Grow Your Own Rove Beetles & Save Lots of Money By building a Rove Beetle Farm

A few years ago I got fed up with buying rove beetles. They are just so damn expensive to be blatantly honest. That being said, I also feel they are an integral part of a no-till growing environment indoors. They are some of the best soldiers you can have to help you defend against fungus gnats, and root aphids. However the cost of them is a draw back.

So I set off to learn how to farm my own rove beetles, and the following technique has proven to work time and time again for me. With a few simple steps, you can be farming your own rove beetles in no time. If you do it right you will only have to buy them once. This technique can also be scaled up to be used for larger commercial grows. Once you scale it up, you will save thousands of dollars per year. You're welcome. :)

Things needed to build your rove beetle farm
  • Shoe box size plastic tote
  • 50 or so rove beetles
  • Premixed substrate (I use peat and rice hulls)
  • Oatmeal
  • Water

That's literally it. It took me a lot of reading to figure out how to do this. Obviously the insectaries keep their secrets close to the chest, so once I happened upon a random study about oatmeal and rove beetles, I at least had a direction to go in.

First thing to do is mix your substrate. This is nothing more than a place for the rove beetles to live, and hang out. I personally use peat and rice hulls. I use 40% rice hulls to 60% peat, or roughly around that amount. I've never gotten exact with the measurements to be frank.

Once this is mixed fill up your tote with the substrate. You only add the substrate to 3/4's of the tote. I like to have it start high on the end of the tote and slowly angle down as it goes to the other end of the tote, stopping 4” or 5” from the edge. Then you are going to add your oatmeal. 1/4 to 1/2 cup is plenty. Now pour a little water on the oatmeal. 1/4 cup is a good place to start. spread the water slowly around all of the oatmeal. Some of the water will end up in the bottom of the tote. It's fine as the oatmeal or substrate will eventually soak it up. You will want to keep the oatmeal moist all of the time. 

The last step is adding your rove beetles. I have started to just dig up some soil from under an avocado, or around a plant that is loaded with rove beetles, and then throw that in the tote. If you don't currently have any you can purchase 100 to get you started. If you don't fuck up, it will be the last time you ever purchase them. Once added, the rove beetles pretty much know what to do.

rove beetle farms for predatory insects

You will have to change out the oatmeal periodically. It can start to mold, or smell sour. Sometimes in a week, and sometimes it may take 3 weeks. When I change out the oatmeal I throw it on top of my pots because it will typically contain rove beetles. Check the moisture of the oatmeal daily to see if you need to add any water.

Also I drill or cut air holes in the lid, and then tape part of a compost tea brewing sack (which is made out of a super fine mesh material) to the under side of the lid. This way there is air flow, and the rove beetles can't escape. 

I have used the same substrate for many months on end. The oatmeal is what will need to be consistently changed out, but you can rock the same substrate for months or even a year sometimes. Keeping the substrate moist is a good idea. Not soaking wet, but moist.

Within a couple of weeks you will notice that the larvae will be at the edge of your substrate, or under the oatmeal. Within a month you should be able to harvest at least 100 rove beetles from the tote. This can be scaled up with the use of more totes. If you use a wire rack shelving system you can have 25 to 50 of these going which would yield you roughly 2500 to 5000 rove beetles for the price of oatmeal. The insectaries are going to hate me right?

I will add that if you use avocados in your containers it will help keep your rove populations high in the soil, but supplementing with this farm is a good way for commercial and larger personal grows to make sure that their defense force is heavily populated at all times.

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