How to Care for Larva da Flour (Tenebrio): 9 Steps

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How to Care for Larva da Flour (Tenebrio): 9 Steps
How to Care for Larva da Flour (Tenebrio): 9 Steps

The mealworm is the early life stage of the Tenebrio molitor insect, a black beetle. This larva is often used to feed pets such as reptiles, spiders, birds and even rodents. Furthermore, it is also an important part of the natural ecosystem, as it consumes decaying organic matter and keeps everything clean. If you want to raise it and keep it in good condition, understand better about your eating habits and know how to offer a safe and comfortable environment.


Part 1 of 3: Housing the Flour Larva

Care for Mealworms Step 1

Step 1. Place them in a glass, metal or plastic container

It is necessary to ensure that they cannot climb the walls of the container wherever they are so that they do not run away. A container with smooth, slippery walls is the best option.

  • Avoid cardboard or fabric-lined containers. These surfaces have adhesion, and larvae can escape.
  • Is the container about 10 cm deep and has slippery walls? It is difficult for them to escape even if it is not covered. However, if you prefer a lid, don't forget to make small holes in it. Another option is to use gauze, which also keeps out other insects.
Care for Mealworms Step 2

Step 2. Line the bottom of the container

The material used as substrate also serves as food for the larvae, so you need to replenish the content as it is consumed. You can add oats, barley, cornmeal or ground dog food. They are all good options to use as a substrate.

You can also try a mixture of some of them. Use a food processor to grind larger pieces to make the substrate texture finer and more consistent. Line the bottom of the bottle with a layer of about 5 cm

Care for Mealworms Step 3

Step 3. Leave the bowl in a warm place

The room temperature is good, but ideal for breeding and the increase in the number of larvae is around 25 °C. Do you live in a mild climate? Try keeping it in the garage.

Part 2 of 3: Feeding Flour Larvae Correctly

Care for Mealworms Step 4

Step 1. Add moist food to water the larvae

Slices or pieces of fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes or apples, are good options. Potatoes are great as they take a long time to mold or dry.

  • Do not put water in the container. The mealworm ends up drowning in the little dish. Add fruits and vegetables to provide needed hydration.
  • Replace pieces of fruit and vegetables that have become dry or moldy as needed.
Care for Mealworms Step 5

Step 2. Change the substrate in a few weeks

You should add more substrate to the container as the larvae consume the food, but you don't need to change it for a few weeks. Keep an eye on it to avoid mold or unpleasant odors.

You can use a sieve to gently separate the larvae from the substrate, when replacing it or when you need to remove them from the container for any other reason

Care for Mealworms Step 6

Step 3. Choose fruits and vegetables that release less water

If you notice that the foods offered are over-wetting the substrate, change them to other options. Is the container lid always full of droplets from condensation? This is a sign that the environment is too humid. Let in a little more air.

Part 3 of 3: Taking care of larvae at different stages of life

Care for Mealworms Step 7

Step 1. Place insects at different stages in separate containers

If you plan to keep the mealworms until they pupae and then beetles, separate each stage in a container. The beetle and larvae will eat the pupae if they stay in the same environment.

Don't want to let the larvae reach maturity? Remember that they usually remain in the larval stage for eight to ten weeks. If they are already grown when purchased, this time is even shorter

Care for Mealworms Step 8

Step 2. Give the same food to all stages

Both the beetle and the larva eat the same food. Therefore, keep replenishing and changing the substrate every time, even after the transition. When the larva pupae, it stops eating.

When you notice pupae in the container, transfer them to another container lined with paper towels (not the usual substrate). Thus, they have a place to stay while they don't turn into a beetle, which can take between six to 24 days

Care for Mealworms Step 9

Step 3. Keep the temperature above 15 °C

Temperatures below this can be detrimental to the larvae's breeding cycle. If you want the larva to become an adult beetle and lay eggs, starting the cycle again, provide a warm enough environment.

On the other hand, if you already have a large amount of larvae and intend to use them as food for pets, place the covered container (with holes) in the refrigerator so the larvae will last longer. However, a temperature below 5 °C can kill them


  • Do not place wild beetles with adult mealworms. Many species of beetles are carnivorous.
  • If any larvae die, take them out of the container.
  • It is best to place the pupae in a container with the substrate and food so that they come out of the shell and have something to eat.
  • Never give water to the larvae. It's okay to put in a piece of apple or a damp cotton swab.


  • The mealworm darkens when it dies. Keep an eye on the container from time to time.
  • Stir the mealworm carefully and hold it on top of the container so as not to accidentally drop it on the ground.

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