You'll learm what mealworms really ARE? Where perform they live? and also much more. Btw. They room not worms.

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Build your mealworm knowledge-base.

Mealworms have actually risen to fame in the last 5 years or for this reason as one of the most well-known edible insect species.

If you are here, friend either have actually tried lock or space thinking of law so.

But you feel you need to know much more about them.


You"ve come to the appropriate place.

Let"s begin a mealworm fast tour.

1. Mealworms space NOT worms


Let"s say you have given in to the temptation of increasing mealworms in ~ home.

You have bought several of those little yellow wrigglers indigenous a pet shop.

Then, you put them all snug in a container (like for instance a plastic box) in your room.

You give your mealworms a quite substrate to burrow in, and also you provided them cereals and also vegetables to feed on.

One morning you wake up up, walk to her mealworm microfarm to see exactly how your pets room doing and....

... The container is all crawling through BEETLES!


Photo by: David Short

This is a classical scenario that will await a beginning of the person in mealworm breeding who has not excellent his/her homework, to gain to recognize the peculiarities of the mealworm biology and life cycle, because...

... Mealworms space not worms!

They do look wormish, yet these nice small bugs room actually... Beetles!

So, what are mealworms?

Mealworms space the larvae the darkling beetles.

Darkling beetle is just one of the names the the adult insect is recognized by.

"Darkling" because of that is colour once the mealworm has finished turning into an adult beetle: it will go indigenous white come brown come black.

2. Mealworms have actually legs. And a skeleton


Ok, one Exoskeleton watch nothing like this...

If you have taken a closer look at at your mealworms, girlfriend will have noticed one more revealing detail... They have actually LEGS!

Short and also not really visible, but legs, alright.

Six of them.

All sprouting indigenous the thorax, right below the head.

Worms, ~ above the various other hands, have no legs.

Remember, mealworms are larvae.

Very different from the adult insect the they will revolve into.

So the human body of the mealworm is quite various from that of the darkling beetle.

Much that it will change.

The foot though will stay.

They will prosper quite a bit.

In the larval phase they room not draft so much for walking however for burrowing. Therefore they room short.

The adult darkling beetles, in contrast, are fast runners.

Try exposing them to the light and also you’ll see!

Mealworm anatomy

Original photo by: AJC1

The legs room attached to the three segments the the thorax (proto-, meso- and meta – thorax).

The thorax is just one of the body parts of the mealworm, the others are the head and also the long abdomen, make of nine segments. The critical segment is pointed and also called "spine".

The abdomen is where the mealworm stores all the fat created by the large quantities that food it eats.

It will require the fat later, in the pupa phase, to assistance the change into an adult beetle.

This accounts because that the high content in fat (nearly, 30%).

The Exoskeleton

Mealworms have another thing that worms perform not: an exoskeleton.

That way a skeleton wrapped roughly the body, rather than a skeleton inside the body.

The form is different, obviously: no bones, yet a semi-rigid envelope.

Made no of calcium but of chitin.

Why is this therefore important?

Chitin is an amazing fibre the can carry out you through a collection of wellness benefits.

3. Mealworms have four lives: satisfy the remarkable Mr. Tenebrio

The enjoy the meal "worm" is one of the 4 life phases that the darkling beetle. Clinical name: Tenebrio Molitor.

We deserve to loosely translate it together "the dark miller", since it loves come chew grains.

The "worm" is the larval phase in the mealworm life cycle.

The life bike of the mealworm develops across four stages: egg, larva, pupa, imago (adult insect)

In that is larval phase, after hatching from an egg and also before turning into a pupa, Mr. Tenebrio does in reality resemble a worm.

And the loves to feeding on enjoy the meal (ground cereals, aka flour) if the can get inside a pantry.

That"s just how it gained its popular name.

Mr. Tenebrio is a holometabolous insect.

Oh gosh!

What the hell walk this mean?

This exotic (* Greek, from: from hol- + metabolos = changeable) meaning means that Tenebrio Molitor undergoes a finish metamorphosis... Cycling with the 4 stages we currently mentioned.

It also method that the larva is an extremely different indigenous the adult.

All beetles have the same four-stage life cycle, and also so do butterflies and also moths, flies, and wasps.

While crickets and grasshoppers undergo an incomplete metamorphosis of only three step — egg, nymph and adult.

4. Mealworms are initially pests from Africa

Where perform mealworms come from?

There is an interesting small fact here.

You could not recognize this, but mealworms moved from Africa.

Later, they obtained naturalized in phibìc America. And also Europe together well.

How did this little bug manage to come so far?

Very likely, surprise in some distribution of grains, that obtained infested by mealworms (hence your name).

Humans have actually been acquainted with mealworms for millenia.

An archeologic study reports proof of mealworms in a well known prehistoric website in today"s Turkey: the legend city the Troy!

You might be curious...

Where can mealworms be discovered in nature?

In nature, mealworms love come lay low under rocks or to colonize pieces of rotting hardwood (darkness, moisture and warmth room what it seeks...).

Darkling beetles like to feeding on decaying necessary matter.

Like vegetables and also rotten leaves, but also animal matter and seeds.

At a details point though, the background of Tenebrio Molitor acquired mingled v humans.

And the darkling beetle uncovered that the human setting can be so much more plentiful.

Especially in places where improperly save grains and flours gain damp... A actual feast for constantly hungry mealworms!

So Mr. Tenebrio Molitor added to its job the function of pest... It have the right to infest grocery stores, grain warehouses, and chicken coops too.

It have the right to even damages infrastructure, munching on materials much more resistant 보다 food like.... Styrofoam!

It"s no a joke, yet we will certainly tell friend the complete story around this later.

Remember this as soon as you arrangement a mealworm farm: take treatment to organize your containers in a method to prevent escapes.

Not therefore difficult, but give that a thought.

A pair of runaway beetles probably will not change your life, but you never know when they can decide to begin a household (or.... A dynasty!) in her kitchen cabinet or in your garden.

A woman mealworm beetle can lay as plenty of as 500 eggs...

Kinda like this:

That provides for a laaaarge household of critters!

5. Mealworms LOVE darkness. Native birth.

Mr. Tenebrio likes darkness, together its name says (* tenebra way "darkness" in Latin).

So in nature that would start its life there, in darkness, as a practically invisible small whitish egg... Like a serial of rice yet smaller.

Its mama would certainly bury thousands of them in the ground were they could also have the warmth the is crucial for the egg to hatch.

Remember this if you desire to to organize a mealworm farm:

You"ll need to recreate comparable conditions to get more generations of healthy and balanced mealworms.

Mama Tenebrio, once she can raise her family in person surroundings, loves to ask her mealworm egg in flour.

So the babies deserve to start eating straight away as shortly as they hatch.

If you enter mealworm breeding, provide a comparable environment and it will be a full success.

Give lock a class of substrate thick sufficient for them to burrow in: at the very least 2-3 inch (5-8cm).

If you use some edible material, favor cereals, you will solve part of the feed too, in one move.

Adding some egg cartons to assist Mr. Tenebrio hide from the light will make it happy.

In nature, it would certainly hide under rocks or behind tree bark, or dig itself in the floor or some heap the rotting leaves.

6. Mealworm egg hatch faster in damper environments

How long does that take because that mealworm egg to hatch anyway?

In normal conditions, one or 2 weeks.

BUT keep in mind that your mealworms are really sensitive to temperature and also humidity.

If the conditions you administer for them are NOT optimal, the life bicycle of Mr. Tenebrio might turn into a much much longer story.

Keep those eggs in a nice warmth environment, however without overdoing it... Other around 77 F (25 C) will do.

They would like a relative humidity in the range the 50-60%,.

So if girlfriend live somewhere v a dry climate add a high-sided key of water come the mealworm container.

The exact same goes because that the larval-worm phase, the one that is most interesting to us.


You will uncover out in the following chapter.

But let"s get earlier to our hatched eggs.

Baby mealworms space out... However you will hardly an alert at very first sight!

They are very, an extremely small

Your best chance in ~ spotting them without a magnifying glass is noticing some motion in the substrate.

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There, they will be happy wriggling and also searching for food.

Eating and also growing is what mealworms room all about.

So store those babies immersed in some edible substrate and also they will very soon become much more than visible!

7. The mealworm life cycle is much faster with higher temperature and humidity

This is only true until a details temperature is reached... You don"t want to overheat them.