Understanding the Life Cycle of Mealworms for Proper Care

Pet

If you are a pet owner of some handsome and beautiful reptiles, then it’s vital to feed them mealworms apart from the staple diet choices of dubia roaches. But did you know what researchers have recently uncovered? They have given the green light for humans to consume meal worms as well.

If you are new to mealworms and want to understand everything about raising and caring for mealworms, you must start with understanding the mealworm life cycle.

The Life Cycle Of Meal Worms

Mealworms, the feeder insect that all reptiles love, are not precisely worms. You would have heard about darkling beetles; if yes, mealworms are their larvae. The darkling beetle goes through metamorphosis and lives through four different stages of life. 

Here is the mealworm life cycle for you to understand them better. 

The First Stage – Egg

Meal worms spend the first stage of their life as eggs. The eggs are white bean-shaped, and the size is that of a speck of dust. The egg has a sticky texture to it, and it quickly gets covered by substrates, dirt, and dust.

Their life cycle usually begins during the early summer or late spring seasons. Before laying the eggs, the female beetles will look for dark and secluded places. The female beetles produce 300 eggs at one time. And it will take around two to four weeks for the egg to develop and hatch into larvae.

The Second Stage – Larva

The egg hatches into a larva, which is called mealworms. When the egg hatches, the worms will have milky white, segmented, and slender bodies. They turn into yellowish-brown color after a few days.

The worms will feed on the surroundings and grow up to an inch in length. During the growth process, the worm molts and shed the rigid exoskeleton. In this stage of the mealworm life cycle, the worm will shed the skin at least ten to twenty times. 

Throughout this time, the mealworm eats and grows to save energy for the transformation.

The Third Stage – Pupa

Until the temperature drops, mealworms will remain in the second stage, as larvae. After that, they transform into pupae for hibernation. When the larva molts for one last time, it turns into a stout, C- shaped, yellowish-white color pupa. 

It does not feed, as the mouth and anus will not develop at this stage. They will have non-functional wing buds and legs. They will not be able to move around except for a little wiggling. It will last for two to three weeks before the mealworm transforms into the adult stage.

The Final Stage – Adult

Once it turns to summer, the pupa will transform into an adult beetle. In the initial stages, it will be in white and orange color, which will gradually turn into yellowish or black color in a few days. The adult beetles live for a period of three to twelve months.

The female beetles will start to reproduce after two weeks into adult life. Again they will look for a dark and secluded space to lay eggs, and the cycle repeats itself.

Once you understand the meal worm’s life cycle, raising them with proper care becomes a lot easier. Though it is a time-consuming process, all it takes is a little patience, regular attention, and care to work with mealworms.  

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