Mealworms are fascinating creatures, but for many people, they fit into the group of creepy crawlers that you’d want to avoid. But since you will do anything for your beloved pets, check out dried mealworms because they are an excellent source of nutrients for pets like lizards, frogs, and tarantulas.
Once you know about the mealworm life cycle, you will understand that this tiny brownish creature is the larval phase of the darkling beetle and the age of these insects is variable. People do not just feed these insects to their pets, but they are a delicacy as well.
Early Life Cycle
Mealworms begin as eggs laid in the soil by adult darkling beetles. The beetles never provide any care for their young. They even eat eggs if they get a chance. Next, the eggs can take three days to hatch or even more than a month. Here, a hot, humid environment will generally speed up the procedure. Then, small mealworms rise from the eggs, and they are the darkling beetles in the larval phase.
Similarly, these larvae spend all of their time growing and eating. The duration of the mealworm stage is generally ten weeks.
The second phase of the mealworm life cycle is the larva, and it’s the stage where the insect turns out to be a mealworm. It is the stage where you get dried mealworms. The larva is somewhat small when it initially hatches, but it breeds quickly.
Once mealworms are big enough, they spend one to two weeks as pupae. After they turn into darkling beetles, they can live for only a few months or nearly 15 years, varying as per the species and environmental influences like climate and food availability.
Additionally, the beetles start to lay eggs within two weeks after they emerge from their pupal shape, and they continue to lay eggs throughout their lives.
Also, remember that mealworms molt extensively when they are in the larva phase, and during their last molt, they become a white pupa. During this time, the pupa is extremely helpless. Moreover, it does not possess a mouth or an anus. Hence, it can only wiggle. This phase of an insect’s life is nearly three weeks long, till it converts into an adult.
In this phase, the pupa is all set to become a darkling beetle. The life of a beetle will last from nearly 1 to 3 months, and at the start, it has a white, soft exoskeleton till it develops into a toughened shell. Once hard, it will get black. While the adult darkling beetle possesses wings, it cannot fly.
After around one to two weeks of adult life, these beetles are going to mate and reproduce. A couple of days after mating, female beetles will hole into soil or substrate and lay eggs. Darkling beetles are amazing breeders, and females can easily lay hundreds of eggs during their adult phase.
Can You Raise Mealworms?
Mealworms are perfect pet food, but you should have a proper place for breeding them. You can use a small storage bin box and poke holes in its top. You can also look for a clean container that you may get at a pet store with a snap-vented cover to use as a container for your mealworm colony.
To sum up, since you know about the mealworm life cycle, make sure that you do not miss out on this protein-rich and amino acids-rich diet for your pets.
Image Credits: Pengo