The mealworm goes through complete metamorphosis to become a beetle, so its starts out as an egg. The eggs are white and tiny: only about two mm long and about 0.9 mm wide. They remain an egg for four to nineteen days before hatching. After hatching, they enter the larvae stage. During this stage, the mealworms spend all their time eating and growing/shedding their exoskeletons. They can shed their exoskeletons anywhere between nine and twenty times. They do this because their old skin becomes too small for them as they grow. The larval stage usually lasts three to five months. Then they enter the pupa stage where they will be ½ – ¾ in. long. This stage can last up to nine months, maybe even more during which larvae will be transforming into either an adult yellow beetle or black beetle. Finally, an adult beetle will emerge. The beetles will most likely be between twelve and twenty-five mm long. Their bodies will have three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), a hard exoskeleton, compound eyes, six jointed legs, and two antennae. The antennae are located under a ridge near the eyes, and are segmented, growing larger towards the tip. Between nine and twenty days after becoming an adult,
This whole process usually will take about a year, though it is surprising that you can slow this process down by storing the worm in a refrigerator. A pattern in the mealworm’s life cycle is that the larvae stage (the growing stage) and the pupa stage (the changing stage) are the longest of the stages. One could measure the length of each stage in a mealworm’s life by watching it and recording what they see. However, they would need to start out when the mealworm is laid as an egg.
Mealworms prefer dark, cool, moist places. In the wild, they are most likely to be found under rocks or logs. Mealworms are decomposers, so in their larvae and beetle form, they consume many things. These include dead insects, leaves, sticks, feces, new plant growth (only occasionally), and stored...
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