Good morning! Have you had breakfast yet? No? Good! Grab yourself a bowl of oatmeal or a piece of toast! You might want to finish eating before reading any farther! 🙂
When I decided to raise mealworms, I read about what they eat, how to build their “home”, the temperature I should maintain for them. I did not read that they shed their skin a million times. As I mentioned before, I thought I had killed about 2/3 of them because I kept finding dried, shriveled up skins and I thought that was the remains of dead mealworms. Here’s a photo of one of the worms shedding its skin.
After accidentally almost drowning them all, on Tuesday I cleaned out their “home” (which is a Rubbermaid box). When I saw how many beetles were in there, I realized they must be doing pretty good!
I had planned to transfer all the beetles, larvae, and worms to a clean, dry “home” but then I thought about the eggs? I don’t even know if I can see the eggs and I didn’t want to dump all them so I transferred the beetles, larva and worms and then left the bedding (which is wheat bran and chicken crumbles) in a partially sunny location, stirred it several times and soon it was dry so I dumped it in with the clean bedding.
They start out as eggs, then they turn into the worms. I read that it takes 4 – 7 days for the eggs to turn into worms but I also read that it takes 4 – 19 days and then I read that it takes 20 – 40 days so . . they turn into worms when they turn into worms! The black thing is a dead worm.
Above, you can see several of the “skins” that have been shed. I read that they can shed the skin up to 20 times! They are at the worm (or larva) stage for about 10 weeks. Then they turn into a pupa. There are lots of opinions about how long they stay at the pupa stage. I’m guessing 2 to 3 weeks.
Then they hatch into a beetle. They start out white.
Then they turn brown . . then they turn black.
Then . . the beetle lays eggs and then it dies. The beetle lives about 8 – 12 weeks. That, my friends, is the life cycle of a meal worm.
Aren’t you glad you ate breakfast before you started reading this? 🙂