I call them regular mealworms, you
may just call them mealworms, but if you really want to be sure
that we are talking of the same type of insect- lets call them
by their Latin name- Tenebrio Molitor.
The larvae of the Tenebrio is most
commonly used to feed to a wide variety of reptiles and
amphibians, and birds kept in captivity. You can purchase
Tenebrio in the
store or by mail
order. The larvae are about an inch long, and they are a golden
Mealworms are the larvae of the
darkling beetle. Darkling beetles undergo complete
metamorphosis, and have an egg, larva, pupa and beetle stage.
The female beetle lays 500 to 1000 bean shaped white eggs. These
are seldom seen because they are sticky and rapidly become
coated in substrate. Eggs hatch in about one week but the larva
are very small so it may take a few weeks before the larvae are
large enough to be seen well. As a larva grows it moults several
times- shedding its exoskeleton. After a period of approx 3
months the larvae eventually becomes a pupa. The pupa stage
lasts about two weeks.
The beetle that eventually emerges
from the pupa is a light beige, darkening to red, brown, and
finally black after about two days.
When you purchase Tenebrio from the
pet store you may be instructed to keep them in the
refrigerator. You may do this if you like- but the growth of the
larvae will slow down and you will likely never be able to breed
the mealworms while they are in the fridge. :) Also, if the
mealworms are kept at room temperature they will eat, and if you
feed them a good diet you can be sure that your pet is getting a
nutritious meal when you feed him the mealworms. :)
Here is how I keep and breed mine:
- shallow tupperware or rubbermaid
- Put lots of air holes in the lid, or
cut out a large portion of the lid and use a hot glue gun to
glue some fine window screening material to the inside of
the lid around the hole.
- Fill the bottom of the
container with a
substrate of rolled oats or bran- couple of inches deep. The
mealworms will eat this.
- Put one small shallow dishes in the
bottom of the container - I use the tiny tinfoil pie plates.
Fill these dishes with a half potato, a chunk of carrot and
if you like a 1/4 to a 1/2 of an orange. Other veggies can
be used- they will eat these and get their moisture from
them so you may want to also sprinkle the veggies and fruit
with calcium and vitamin supplements so that the mealworms
will be a wonderful healthy meal for your dragon. :)
- Change the veggies every couple of
days- they will go bad and mould- mould and dampness will
kill the mealworms.
- The Tenebrio will eat and live for a
long time in these containers when kept at room temperature.
Eventually you will notice that some of the mealworms
metamorphisize into pupa, and the pupa into beetles. The
beetles will mate and lay eggs in the substrate or on a
porous piece of wood in the container. The will cycle
themselves with little help or bother from you. All you have
to do is feed them.
Keeping King mealworms is very
similar to keeping Tenebrio at room temperature. Please follow
items 1-5 as above except that if you will be keeping large
quantities of mealworms on hand you may want to use a deeper
Breeding them is, however, a
different story. :)
Here is how I breed mine:
- If you would like to have a modest
supply of Zophobas around that you have bred yourself select
10 mealworms from your stock. you may select more or less if
you like- but I would use a minimum of 6 to begin with as
they don't always survive.
- Collect film containers, pill
bottles or other similar small lidded containers . Puncture
several small holes in each lid, and fill each container
half full with bran.
- Place one king mealworm in each
container and close the lid securely.
- Place the containers in a warm area-
preferably an area that stays at about 80F most of the time.
I used a
box over my
- Check the containers at least once a
week. If the mealworm is inactive and is straight it is
probably dead. Remove any dead mealworms that you find and
replace them with new ones. After the first or second week
you will see that the mealworms have become inactive and
curled up in a ball. This is fine. They have begun to
- By the second or third week most of
the mealworms should have turned into large white pupa. The
pupa will not move much, but it will wiggle when touched or
- Between the third and fourth week
the pupae will morph into large beetles. The beetles are
white when they first emerge but quickly turn pink, reddish
brown then black within the first 24 to 36 hours. check your
containers daily between the 3rd and 4th weeks.
- Place the beetles in their own
tupperware container (as described above) with bran for
substrate, a small dish of fresh veggies, and a piece of
porous wood (cork bark?) on which they can lay their eggs.
Keep the beetles in a warm (high 70's to low 80's F ) room
for best results.
- The beetles will begin to lay eggs
within the first couple of weeks.
- After approximately a month of
keeping the beetles you will begin to notice microscopic
mealworms (larvae) amongst the bran.
- Within two months after creating
your beetles you will have a number of half size and full
size mealworms in the container. You can put your mealworms
in a separate container once they are large enough to be
easily seen and picked from the substrate.