Home / Darkling Beetles (Tenebrionidae) / Mealworm Beetle (Tenebrio molitor)

Mealworm Beetle (Tenebrio molitor)

The mealworm beetle is a member of the family of darkling beetles. They are most well known for being a source of high protein.

Mealworm Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Tenebrionidae
  • Genus: Tenebrio
  • Scientific name: Tenebrio molitor

Physical Description and Identification

Adult 

Size: 1.25-1.8 cm

Color: These beetles are black.

Other Characteristic Features: They are prolific breeders, with the males releasing a pheromone to attract females.

Tenebrio molitor

Larva

The larvae go through many instars (around 9-20). They are 2.5 cm long.

Mealworm Beetle Larvae

Pupa

Pupae are whitish, turning brown over time. This stage lasts for 3-30 days.

Mealworm Beetle Pupa

Egg

Females lay over 500 eggs in their lifetime.

Quick Facts

Lifespan3 – 12 months
DistributionWorldwide
HabitatAnimal burrows, under logs and rocks, and in stored grains
Seasons activeYear-round
PredatorsReptiles
Diet of adults and larvaeDecaying leaves, sticks, grasses, and occasionally new plant growth. Also, dead insects, feces, and stored grains.
Mealworm Beetle Image

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

Both the adults and larvae are pests of stored grains.

Did You Know

  • Mealworms are often used as food – both for pets like reptiles and birds and also humans. They have high protein content.
  • These insects can digest polystyrene at a rate of around 34-39 mg/ day.
  • The mealworm was one of the first terrestrial creatures to travel to and circle back from the moon on the Soviet mission Zond 5 in 1968.
Mealworm Beetle Picture

Image Source: warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, discoverlife.org, feedipedia.org, upload.wikimedia.org, amentsoc.org, live.staticflickr.com

The mealworm beetle is a member of the family of darkling beetles. They are most well known for being a source of high protein.

Mealworm Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult 

Size: 1.25-1.8 cm

Color: These beetles are black.

Other Characteristic Features: They are prolific breeders, with the males releasing a pheromone to attract females.

Tenebrio molitor

Larva

The larvae go through many instars (around 9-20). They are 2.5 cm long.

Mealworm Beetle Larvae

Pupa

Pupae are whitish, turning brown over time. This stage lasts for 3-30 days.

Mealworm Beetle Pupa

Egg

Females lay over 500 eggs in their lifetime.

Quick Facts

Lifespan3 – 12 months
DistributionWorldwide
HabitatAnimal burrows, under logs and rocks, and in stored grains
Seasons activeYear-round
PredatorsReptiles
Diet of adults and larvaeDecaying leaves, sticks, grasses, and occasionally new plant growth. Also, dead insects, feces, and stored grains.
Mealworm Beetle Image

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

Both the adults and larvae are pests of stored grains.

Did You Know

  • Mealworms are often used as food – both for pets like reptiles and birds and also humans. They have high protein content.
  • These insects can digest polystyrene at a rate of around 34-39 mg/ day.
  • The mealworm was one of the first terrestrial creatures to travel to and circle back from the moon on the Soviet mission Zond 5 in 1968.
Mealworm Beetle Picture

Image Source: warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, discoverlife.org, feedipedia.org, upload.wikimedia.org, amentsoc.org, live.staticflickr.com

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