Feeding Nature
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Mealworms

What Do Mealworms Eat?

Mealworms are some of the most useful worms to keep because they can be used to fed numerous other animal species such as lizards and fish.

This worm is the larvae form of the mealworm beetle.  Throughout its life, this beetle will go through several stages.  They hatch from an egg, turn into larva as mealworms, and will then enter a pupa phase before turning into adult beetles.

Mealworm larvae are usually 2.5 cm in length. Their small size makes them an ideal food source for numerous animals and pets which is why they are frequently sold in many pet stores.

What Do Mealworms Eat?

Mealworms are mostly vegetarian but they can sometimes eat meat sources.  Here is a quick look at the most common food these insects like to eat;

Meal and grains

Mealworms can eat a variety of grains and they are quite fond of consuming grain in meal form.  They will eat meals like oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat, milo and cereal, rice, corn, barley, and sorghum.

The best way to offer these foods is in meal form or as soft cooked food.  The soft-cooked grain is especially good for your mealworms since they cannot drink water and need to absorb moisture from foods to stay hydrated.

Fungus

In the wild, mealworms will eat all sorts of fungus that grow on plants and food sources.  Fungus like mushrooms, moss, yeasts, and mold are all very good food for your mealworms but you should be careful not to offer too much so your worms won’t get ill.

Seeds

You can offer your mealworms all sorts of seeds.  They love nuts, sunflower seeds, and many other seeds.  Lots of mealworm keepers supplement their worms by offering chicken food or chicken scratch since these foods are rich in nutritious seeds.  You can also offer your mealworms birdseed mixes.

It is important to also offer other soft foods in addition to seeds.  Seeds are usually dry and don’t contain any moisture that can keep your worms hydrated.

Decaying plants

Mealworms can eat all sorts of plant matter including decayed plants.  This is one of their main food sources in the wild.

These worms will eat all sorts of decayed matter.  Just about any green decayed plant such as grass, tree leaves, soft bark, and decayed roots are very good food for mealworms.

Dog and cat food

You can also feed mealworms pet food.  Dog and cat food contains lots of protein to nourish your mealworms and to keep them from eating each other.

Ideally, you should only offer dog or cat food pellets by crushing these foods up.  This is also considered as a “gut loading” feeding method since dog and cat food contains so many nutrients.

Mealworms are especially fond of chicken flavored pellets.

Fruits and vegetables

It is important to offer your mealworms lots of fresh fruits and veggies in addition to dry foods.  They cannot drink water and get all their needed moisture from the foods they consume.

These worms can eat a huge variety of fresh fruits such as apples, grapes, pears, peaches, bananas, and many others.  Juicy fruits are ideal for offering along with your mealworms dry foods.

You can also offer as many veggies as you like.  Mealworms love carrots, leafy greens, beans, pumpkin, and many other veggies.  You also don’t have to remove old veggies from the box because mealworms are happy to consume decayed plant matter and they also thrive on moss that grows on old food.

Other insects and meat

In harsh conditions, mealworms will eat other insects like earthworms.  If you don’t offer them enough food or enough moist foods then they will also grow cannibalistic and will eat each other.  Mealworms are also sometimes found in carcasses since they can eat decayed flesh matter in limited quantities.

Diet Variations

Mealworms mostly eat vegetarian foods but in harsh conditions, they will become cannibalistic and will eat each other.  They can also start to eat meat if other foods are limited.

How to Feed Mealworms

Mealworms are very easy to feed because they can eat decayed plant matter.  To feed these worms, you can simply leave food on the top of their bin.

Ideally, you should offer a combination of dry and wet foods such as oatmeal and fruits or cornmeal and veggies. This way your mealworms will get all the needed nutrition and moisture. A balanced diet creates mealworms that are rich in vitamins and minerals which makes them better food to offer other pets.

What Do Mealworms Eat In the Wild?

In the wild, mealworms will only eat food they find in their surroundings.  They mostly eat decayed plant matter such as leaves, roots, fruits, veggies, and soft bark but will also eat other worms such as earthworms.

What do Baby Mealworms eat?

Newly hatched mealworms are still small and need lots of moisture.  The best foods to offer them are softer moist foods like potatoes, banana peels, carrot slices, apple slices, and other fruits and veggies.  You can also supplement them with a fine meal that is easy to consume.

As they grow, you can start to add a wider range of harder foods such as seeds or dog and cat food.  When their jaws are tough enough, they can easily consume these foods.

How Much Do Mealworms Eat?

You can feed mealworms as much as you like.  The more you feed them, the faster they will grow, and the bigger they will become.

The most important thing to remember is to feed them every week or two.  They can eat decayed plants but they do require fresh produce ever so often to stay hydrated and healthy.

What Foods Are Toxic To Mealworms?

Mealworms are not very sensitive.  They can eat a lot of food that is toxic to other animals and insects.  These animals can even safely consume plastic and Styrofoam without getting poisoned and researchers have found that worms that consume these pollutants are physically just as healthy as worms that are fed on human foods.

Some materials like gasoline, oil, and poisons can however be harmful to your mealworms and they can easily drown if their environment is too wet.

Can mealworms eat Styrofoam?

Yes, mealworms can eat Styrofoam and they can easily digest toxic chemical additives in this product.  They are considered as wonderful creatures because of their ability to clean the environment from these pollutants.