Where can you find this insect ?
Mealworms can be found in any country that produces cereals. But it is considered as a pest since the larvae feed on ground cereals. Nowadays mealworms are however farmed all over the world as an animal feed and a human food.
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Farming mealworms is quite easy! Larvae need a humidity of about 40% and a temperature between 20 and 27°C. The highest the temperature is, the biggest the larvae will be. Larvae naturally feed on cereals flour (oat, corn, wheat) but it is possible to give them some co-products from the cereal industry or breweries. Water supply is a critical point for farming mealworms. Indeed moisture and diseases quickly develop if the humidity is too high. Several techniques exist to control water supply such as using gel water.
Once mature, larvae turn into nymphs, which stop moving and feeding for 1 to 2 weeks. Then nymphs turn into beetles that need to be separated from the other nymphs since they eat them! Adults feed on cereals and vegetables and need a higher humidity than larvae and nymphs. They can live over 2 months! After mating, a female will lay 500 eggs in its entire life. The eggs hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. We come full circle!
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Which taste ?
Mealworms taste like toasted nuts. They are considered as the most appreciated insects and can be added to foods without considerably changing their taste (biscuits, bars, hamburgers). They are perfect to enter a western market where people are still skeptical about Edible Insects. Be careful however of mealworms flour that has a slightly stronger taste than the hole insect.
Mealworms are used in different shapes: entire fresh, dried, tasted, smoked, or ground into a flour. Thus, you’ll find bread, hamburgers, protein bars, or biscuits made of mealworms on several shops around the world !
Nutritional composition of dried mealworms
|Moisture content||5 %|
Source: Nergui Ravzanaadii et al. Nutritional Value of Mealworm, Tenebrio molitor as Food Source. Inter. J. Indust. Entomol. Vol. 25, No. 1, 2012.
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