According to the Cornell Waste Management Institute of the famed Cornell University, worms do not bite. In fact, in nature wax worms do not feed on anything but pollen, honey, cocoons, and beeswax. Wax worm breeders have no problems feeding their inventory of wax worms without the help of pollen and cocoons. These squirmy little creatures can also survive off of an artificial diet of a mixture of dog food, water, and honey or a mixture of Gerber’s mixed cereal, glycerin, honey, and water.
While wax worms do not bite, they can be covered in any number of things that can irritate human skin such as bacteria and fungi or even microscopic mites. Wax worms may also have trace amounts of pesticides on their bodies. So, if the skin comes in contact with a wax worm or many wax worms, you may experience itching or even a rash as a result of what’s on the worms body, not from a bite. If you experience a rash or itching as a result of coming in contact with a wax worm, simply wash the area with soap and water and apply calamine lotion or Benadryl. Benadryl is available in spray, cream, and oral forms.
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Wax worms are the larva of the wax moth or Pyralidae. The wax moth is a flying insect that typically lays its eggs in beehives. Wax worms have 13 segments and they are white to tan in color, and very soft. The wax worms segments include the head, three thoracic segments, and nine abdominal segments. Although the wax worm is considered moderately active, they are quite easy to handle. The average first or second grader can handle a wax worm fairly easy.
The wax worm moves around on prolegs, which are leg-like structures made up of claspers (muscular pads). The wax worm has four pairs of prolegs and stiff hairs on its body. These stiff hairs are called “bristles.” These bristles are so stiff that they can prick or itch if placed on bare human skin. Also on the wax worm body, you will find spiracles (openings) on each side of the body, which serve as an entryway for oxygen.
The wax worm is the second stage in the development of the wax moth. The first stage is the insect egg, the third is the pupa, and the fourth is the adult moth. The female can lay as many as 1,600 eggs, which hatch within a short 4 days.
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Wax worms are useful to humans for several reasons. Much like the mealworm, wax worms produce silk and they may be reared for fish and reptile food/bait. They are favored in the pet industry due to their high fat content. In addition, wax worms have been used for lessons in science classrooms all around the world for years. Kids can raise wax worms in the classroom by feeding them any of the two mixtures mentioned above and by keeping then in dark places such as covered cups and jars. Wax worms love the dark, so this means they are much more active when they are kept in dark places.