Overview

Brief Summary

Keepers of amphibian, reptile, bird or fish pets will be familiar especially with the larval form of Tenebrio molitor, known commonly as the yellow mealworm, or just mealworm. These yellow larvae can grow up to about 30 mms in length, and are the immature stage of a shiny black darkling beetle (family Tenebrionidae). Tenebrio molitor larvae are easy to culture (they are often raised on oats, and females lay up to 500 eggs), high in protein, and readily available commercially, so are a good food source for pet owners.

Yellow mealworms are scavengers and often infest stored grain products, especially in damp or decay-promoting conditions. They also will eat dead insects and meat scraps. They are among the largest pests infesting stored products, but they are not terribly serious pests in that they can be removed fairly easily by screening, and populations can usually be controlled with proper sanitation techniques. Although thought to have originated in Europe, they are now common in homes and storage facilities all over the world.

(Grains Canada 2009; Jacobs and Calvin 2009; Wikipedia 2011)

  • Grains Canada, 2009. Yellow mealworm Tenebio molitor L. Retrieved December 5, 2011 from http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storage-entrepose/sip-irs/ymw-tm-eng.htm">http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storage-entrepose/sip-irs/ymw-tm-eng.htm">http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storage-entrepose/sip-irs/ymw-tm-eng.htm
  • Jacobs, S. and D. Calvin. 2009. Dark and yellow mealworms. Entomological Notes Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension. Retrieved December 5, 2011 from http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/mealworms">http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/mealworms">http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/mealworms
  • Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 August, 2011. “Mealworm”. Retrieved December 5, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mealworm&oldid=446592918">http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mealworm&oldid=446592918">http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mealworm&oldid=446592918
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Tenebrio molitor

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tenebrio molitor

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 21
Specimens with Barcodes: 29
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Mealworm

Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. Like all holometabolic insects, they go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Larvae typically measure about 2.5 cm or more, whereas adults are generally between 1.25 and 1.8 cm in length.

Reproduction[edit]

The mealworm beetle breeds prolifically. Mating is a three step process, the male chasing the female, mounting her and inserting his aedeagus, and injecting a sperm packet. Within a few days the female burrows into soft ground and lays about 500 eggs.

After four to 19 days the eggs hatch. Many predators target the eggs, including reptiles.

During the larval stage, the mealworm feeds on vegetation and dead insects and periodically molts. A molting episode occurs between each larval stage, or instar. The larva of this species has 9 to 20 instars. After the final one it becomes a pupa. The new pupa is whitish, and it turns brown over time. After 3 to 30 days, depending on environmental conditions such as temperature, it emerges as an adult beetle.

Relationship with humans[edit]

Tenebrio molitor is often used for biological research. Its relatively large size, ease of rearing and handling, and status as a non-model organism make it useful in proof of concept studies in the fields of basic biology, biochemistry, evolution, immunology and physiology.

As pests[edit]

Mealworms have generally been considered pests, because their larvae feed on stored grains. Mealworms probably originated in the Mediterranean region, but are now present in many areas of the world, spread by human trade and colonization. The oldest archaeological records of mealworms as human pests can be traced to Bronze Age Turkey. Records from the British Isles and northern Europe are from a later date, and mealworms are conspicuously absent from archaeological finds from ancient Egypt.[1]

As food[edit]

Mealworms are edible for humans. Baked or fried mealworms are marketed as a healthful snack food. They may be easily reared on fresh oats, wheat bran or grain, with sliced potato, carrots, or apple as a moisture source.

Mealworms have been incorporated into tequila-flavored novelty candies. Mealworms are not traditionally served in tequila, and the "tequila worm" in certain mezcals is usually the larva of the moth Hypopta agavis.

Mealworms are typically used as a pet food for captive reptiles, fish, and birds. They are also provided to wild birds in bird feeders, particularly during the nesting season. Mealworms are useful for their high protein content. They are also used as fishing bait.

They are commercially available in bulk and are sold in containers of bran or oatmeal. Commercial growers incorporate a juvenile hormone into the feeding process to keep the mealworm in the larval stage and achieve an abnormal length of 2 cm or greater.[2]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Panagiotakopulu, E. (2001). New records for ancient pests: archaeoentomology in Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science, 28(11), 1235-1246.
  2. ^ Finke, M. and D. Winn. (2004). Insects and related anthropods: A nutritional primer for rehabilitators. Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 14-17.
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