Country Corner

Some mealworms
Some mealworms

Here is a brilliant and fun way to get kids interested in insects.

As I feed my tame blackbirds on dried mealworms, I thought I would have a go at trying to breed the wee beasties myself.

Kits are available to buy, consisting of numerous mealworms and a bag of meal.

In the picture to the right, the long, hard, brown caterpillar is a mealworm.

After a while the mealworms split their skins.

Out comes wriggling a white pupa like the one seen to the left of the mealworm here.

These pupa then appear to be dormant for a while, but they can still wriggle really rather violently when touched.

Slowly the pupas start to change shape until their skin splits once again.

This time, out crawls a very light-coloured beetle.

Over the coming days, this beetle becomes a much darker brown, until it appears almost black.

It is then that the beetles have reached breeding maturity, and your tank of meal becomes a hive of activity.

My own colony is at that stage now.

No doubt they will be laying their eggs, but I haven’t been able to spot any as of yet.

Hopefully, the next stage of the process will be lots of new young mealworms to carry on the life cycle.

I must admit that I am still feeding my blackbirds on dried mealworms at present, and may well continue to do so.

I have become rather attatched to my homebred live ones.

What I do know is this: the whole cycle is utterly fascinating and I heartily recommend you give it a shot, especially if you have kids.

Go on, let some insects into your life.