Birdwatchers and nature guides sometimes make use of mealworms to lure birds into the open LINK. Photographers may also bait birds with these mealworms for a better image. The above image shows a Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki) feeding on a mealworm, courtesy of Chan Wei Luen.
I was introduced to mealworms by 9 years old Amber Lau. She showed me her mealworms provided by her teacher. These are the larvae of a species of Darkling Beetle (Tenebrio molitor), each about 2.5cm or more long. The adult beetles are 1.25-1.8 cm long.
When Amber’s mealworms turned into beetles and subsequently laid eggs, she gave me the beetles and kept the eggs to observe the life cycle.
The young beetles are light brown, turning gradually to dark brown then black as they age (above). The beetles are kept in a container with a layer of oats as a convenient feed. At intervals a thin slice of apple, carrot of potato is added to provide a moisture source (below).
The beetles even cannibalise dead beetles found inside the box (below).
YC Wee & Amber Lau
11th September 2016