Maggots are the larvae of common houseflies, blowflies and other species of flies. Waxworms are the larval form of the bee moth or wax moth. They are longer and meatier than maggots, ranging from ¼-inch to about an inch long, but share the same creamy-white colour. Mealworms are usually the larvae of the darkling beetle, and can range in size from as small as ½-inch to over an inch in length. So-called giant mealworms are about an inch and a half long, although they are merely common mealworms that have been treated with an insect growth hormone, but superworms, or “king” mealworms, are a different specie and naturally grow to as big as two inches in length. Mealworms range in colour from dark yellow to dark brown to black, and larger specimens can look a bit intimidating to handle, sporting a hard shell and large horns or pincers.
A quick survey of the ice huts gathered atop any icefishing hotspot will usually reveal few hard-water anglers using these productive baits, but those that are will likely be putting fish on ice when few others are. Perch and crappies are suckers for maggots, waxworms and mealworms, even when nothing seems to be working.
As with any live bait, the key is to keep your bait fresh and lively. This means keeping them from freezing, and changing your bait frequently. A good foam container is best, but tobacco tins are popular. Just make sure to keep them in an inside pocket, unless you’re in an ice hut.