Mealworms, or insects of the Coleoptera order, are insects that regularly appear in the wild. Typically harmless, these bugs spend the majority of their lives assisting in the biodegradation. Outside of the wild, mealworms are used for fishing and studying. If they are left unchecked, however, mealworms can become pests and affect homes by burrowing in carpet.
Adult mealworms are small, black beetles with hard wings known as elytra. Antennae of the adult mealworm are relatively small and sit under a ridge located near the insect’s eyes. These antennae are often multi-segmented. Mealworm antennae segments are largest near the tips. Male and female mealworms look extremely similar. Gender differences can only be seen through a microscope and dissection. Mealworm larvas look drastically different than their parents. They are about an inch long and are protected by a thick, yellow exoskeleton. Generally, they are cylindrical in shape.
Mealworms spend the vast majority of their lifetime living in dark, moist areas and are most comfortable when contacting another object. They prefer living under rocks, logs or in animal burrows. In the wild, mealworms are primarily known for being assistants in biodegradation. They mainly consume dead leaves, grasses, other insects, feces and leaves. However, they have been known to consume live plants. Mealworms have many predators including rodents, spider, birds, lizards and other beetles.
Mealworms and Humans
Mealworms are easy to acquire because they are constantly used by humans. Sportsmen regularly buy them in tackle shops and use them for fishing. Teachers can purchase mealworms from pet stores and use them in their classroom. Mealworms can also be pests. They tend to feed and destroy stored grain. Although it is uncommon, mealworms can be devastating to local plant populations in gardens. In the home, mealworms can burrow into carpet.
Mealworms typically do not need to be dealt with if they are not being invasive. However, if they burrow in carpets, they should be removed. Any adult mealworms that can be seen in the home and are not burrowed in the carpet should be thrown out. Taking steps for early precaution are the best ways to prevent infestation by burrowing. If they do burrow, pesticides can be used but are usually unnecessary. If food sources are sealed, mealworms will die off.