The mealworm is not a worm; rather, it is the larva of the darkling beetle. The mealworm is a voracious eater of grain and can become a pest in homes and farms.
Mealworms are not often found in the wild, as they find human environments more suitable. In nature, they live in moist, dark places such as animal dens and underneath rocks and rotten logs.
Humans have created a favorable habitat for mealworms by storing large amounts of grain and grain products on farms and in warehouses, grocery stores and kitchens.
The mealworm prefers a warm habitat. When raising mealworms, keeping them in a warm habitat (77 to 81 degrees F) will cause them to grow much faster than in a cool or cold environment.
In the wild, mealworms eat decaying leaves and wood, dried grasses and grains. In human habitats, mealworms eat stored grains and get their water from fruits and vegetables such as potatoes and apples.
Fish, frogs, lizards, rodents and birds eat mealworms. Humans also eat mealworms, either live or cooked into recipes such as mealworm fried rice. Mealworms are high in protein and low in fat and are said to taste like slivered almonds.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images