Bugs

An Introduction To Mealworms

So, the title was going to be “How to Farm Mealworms and Why” but, there’s so much that could be jammed into that post that I renamed it “An Introduction to Mealworms”. Don’t worry though, there’ll be future articles about how to set up a mealworm farm, where to get your mealworms from, and how to dry your mealworms.

What are mealworms?

Well, I can tell you what mealworms are not; they are not worms. Mealworms instead are the larva stage of the mealworm beetle which is a species of darkling beetle. The life cycle is very similar to the life cycle of any other beetle. Which is: egg, larva, pupa, adult.

They stay an egg for about 2 weeks. They then hatch into larva that are so tiny that it’s nearly impossible to see them. The baby larva will start molting constantly over the course of several months (usually around 3-6) until they reach a little over an inch long(this is their most nutritious stage). Once they pupate they won’t hatch until 1-3 weeks. In my experience I find that it’s nearly always closer to the 2 week mark. Once the pupa hatch they’ll turn into a beetle. The beetles live 2-3 months before they die.

When beetles first emerge out of their pupa, don’t be alarmed that they aren’t black like they should be. When a beetle fist hatches it’s white and orange.

A newly hatched mealworm beetle

After 2 days the mealworm turns a deep orangish brown. Then by days 3-5 they’ll be black.

Mealworm beetles cannot fly. They do have wings, but like an Ostrich or Emu, they can’t use them to fly. They can climb, but they have a difficult time climbing over an inch when what they are scaling is vertical. Just to be on the safe side though, you should use slippery packing tape along the edges of whatever you’re housing them in so you don’t lose them for any reason. Once a mealworm beetle is lost, it’s nearly impossible to find again.

What can eat mealworms?

Lots of things can eat mealworms! From fish to humans(yes, I know it’s gross but it’s the truth) practically any omnivore or insectivore would eat one.

Things that eat mealworms:

  • Omnivorous and Carnivorous fish
  • Hamsters
  • Gerbils
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Most Lizards
  • Some Snakes
  • Most Turtles
  • Chickens
  • Parrots
  • Most song birds
  • Most domesticated birds
  • Sugar gliders
  • Squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Rabbits
  • Hermit Crabs

There are probably dozens or more animals that I didn’t list that would gladly take a mealworm as a treat! Make sure you research it first before you feed them to any of your exotic pets that I didn’t list. Also, It’s a good idea when feeding a small animal or an animal with cheek pouches that the mealworm is dead. This is for the safety of the pet. With fish(like betas and goldfish), it’s a good rule of thumb to chop the mealworm into tiny pieces.

Well, that’s my introduction to mealworms! If you’re thinking about maybe farming your own then stick around because I might be doing another mealworm post next week😉. Thanks for reading!

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