What is a Mealworm?
Phylum, Arthropoda; Class, Insecta; Order, Coleoptera

Identifying Features

Mealworm (larva) averages an inch in length. They have
a tough yellowish brown exoskeleton and are cylindrical.
The larval stage (referred to generally as mealworms) is
worm-like and somewhat hardened for burrowing. The
egg is white.

The pupa is 1/2 to 3/4" long, white initially then darkening
just before the beetle emerges. Length of the life cycle is
3-5 months. The larval stage may molt as many as 20

The beetles and larvae eat decaying leaves, sticks,
grasses and occasionally new plant growth. As general
decomposers, they also eat dead insects, feces and
stored grains.

Mealworms live in areas surrounded by what they eat
under rocks, and logs, in animal burrows and in stored
grains. They clean up after plants and animals, and
therefore can be found anywhere where "leftovers"
occur. Mealworms prefer darkness and to have their
body in contact with an object.

Many predators eat mealworms including rodents, lizards,
predatory beetles, spiders, and birds.

Impact on the Ecosystem
Although mealworms clean up organic materials not
readily used by others, and mealworms are food for other
animals, sometimes mealworms feed on seedlings and
clip plants off near the soil line. Mealworms can be pests
to stored grain. It is strongly recommended that no
animals or insects be raised loose or outdoors where
they may escape and adversely affect local ecosystems.  

Where to get live insects:
Most pet stores and many fish and tackle shops sell
mealworms. Mealworm larvae can be purchased from
various companies on the internet as well.  Many sites
offer worms, feed and even special incubators.  The links
on this page are a great place to start looking for live
worms and start your mealworm farm right away!  The
mealworms will quickly grow into pupa, then into adult
beetles, within a month or two.  Some mealworms are
treated with hormones so they will not become adult
beetles.  Make sure you don’t buy those!

Let’s get Started!  
1.        1 Dozen Live Mealworms
2.        A small to medium plastic container with lid, about
6 inches square by 2 inches deep.
3.        Oatmeal, cornmeal, or specialized feed mixes such
Super-Meal Premium Mealworm Food and Bedding.
4.        An automatic humidity controller or some slices of
moist carrot to keep humidity in the container at the
proper level.    

Putting it all together:
1.        Drill or cut a few small ¼” air holes in the lid of the
2.        Fill the container to about ¼ to ½ inch deep with
feed mix.
3.        Place mealworms in the container.
4.        Place the humidity controller or a few slices of
moist carrot in the container and put on the lid.
5.        Keep the container at room temperature.  Be sure
to check humidity levels and clean the containers
regularly.  Nature will do the rest!  Soon you will see
pupae, then full-grown beetles, who will then lay eggs of
their own!
6.        Note:  If the feed becomes dark then remove it
and reduce humidity, and never leave the container in
direct sunlight!

Handling  & Storing Mealworms
To pick up mealworms, use a plastic spoon or a 3x5" card
to scoop them up.  When moving mealworms, keep your
hands over the container or table to avoid dropping the
mealworms on the floor.  To store mealworms, keep them
in a refrigerated container between 43-53 degrees F (6–
12 degrees C), again, with bit of feed and a piece of
moist carrot for good humidity.  This method can keep
mealworms dormant for weeks.     

The Sky is the Limit!
Are you an entrepreneur?  Can you recognize a great
opportunity when you see one?  As you can see, the
mealworms do all of the work!  With a little ingenuity and
effort, you can turn raising mealworms into your own
money-making business!  

Pet owners need nutritious tasty feed for fish,
hedgehogs, lizards, birds, spiders and other exotic pets!  
When your customers see how much their pets love live
mealworms, they’ll be hooked!  Other consumers of
mealworms include pet stores, feed stores, fish farms, &
poultry farms.  Schools often use mealworms to study
insect anatomy and life cycle.  The sky truly is the limit!  
You can grow your business in increments, adding new
incubators as demand increases.  Best of all, you can
get started right now!     
hedgehog chow time!
illustration of mealworm larva and beetle
meal beetles, adult mealworm beetles
mealworm Al sleeping
mealworm pupa, pupae
hedgehog on the prowl
mealworms, mealworm larva
mealworm Al is ready to build
mealworm farm container
Professor M.
mealworm Al is a business worm too!
Mealworms are easy to breed and exciting
to observe as they morph from larva to
beetles!  Enjoy this, and other interesting
articles, while learning about Hedgehogs,
Lizards, Snakes, Birds, Fish, and other
Exotic Animals.