Breeding mealworms: 3. Larvae

on 17th December 2016

Earlier posts: 1 and 2.

The eggs of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio monitor) are only visible under the microscope, thus extremely tedious to observe. So are the early stages of the larvae. This may explains the variations in the lengths of each stage of its early life cycle provided by different authors. It is reported that the female lays about 500 eggs. And after four to 19 days the egg hatches LINK. The larva feeds on vegetation and dead insects. In culture oat flakes are commonly used. Slices of potato, carrot or apple are added to provide a source of moisture.

Mealworms 11th October 2016

The larva is elongated and segmented with three pairs of legs behind the head and a support leg on the last segment of the body (below).

Mealworms showing legs
Mealworms showing legs

It passes through nine to 20 instars before turning into a pupa (below).

Mealworms about to pupate with a pupa - 5th September 2016
Mealworms about to pupate and a pupa

A newly hatched larva is around 3 mm long LINK. It moults 10 to 20 times before reaching about 30 mm long when it changes into a pupa. A newly moulted larva is soft and white, hardening and turning brown with time.

The video below shows the young larvae recorded on 6th September 2016.

…below shows larvae on 13th September 2016.

…and below on 11th October 2016…

Mealworms are cultured mainly for pet food – for fish, reptiles and birds.

Mealworm snack (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mealworm snack (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

They are edible, available as a healthy snack after frying or baking (above) and as a garnish for fried vegetables (below).

Mealworms as a garnish in a vegetable dish (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mealworms as a garnish in a vegetable dish (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Mealworms have the potential of degrading plastics, as reported HERE.

YC Wee
15th December 2016

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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