The Mealworm Life Cycle

Nov 12th 2015

Mealworms are interesting creatures. For most of us, mealworms fit into the category of a creepy crawler that we want to avoid at all costs; however, we all will do anything for our pets. Because dried mealworms are a great source of nutrients for birds, like chickens, and other domestic pets, we wanted to give you some interesting information on mealworms, like they’re life cycle.

Did you know that mealworms aren’t actually worms? They are the larvae of darkling beetles, and there are over 20,000 different types of these mealworms and darkling beetles. For a darkling beetle to reach its final stage of becoming a big and strong beetle, it first goes through a few different stages.


The very first stage of life is spent as an egg, just like many other insects. This egg is white, tiny and about the size of a speck of dust. It is bean-shaped and is concealed easily by dirt, substrate and dust. It takes about 4 weeks for an egg to hatch into the next stage, larva.


The second stage of life is larva. This stage lasts about 8 to 10 weeks. This is the stage we’re most familiar with, because it’s the stage where the insect becomes a mealworm. This is the stage we provide you dried mealworms in. Larva is quite small when it first hatches, but it grows quickly.


Mealworms molt a lot when they’re in the larva stage, during their last molt, they turn into a white pupa. During this stage, the pupa is very helpless. It does not have an anus or mouth, therefore all it can do is wiggle. This stage of life is about 3 weeks long, until it transforms into an adult.


Finally, the pupa is ready to become a darkling beetle. The beetle’s life will last from 1 to 3 months, and in the beginning, it has a white soft exoskeleton until it grows into a hardened shell. Once hard, the shell will turn black. Although the adult darkling beetle has wings, it it unable to fly.