× This is an archived campaign website. Please do not use the forms and direct all enquiries regarding BUGS the film to Rosforth Films

From bait to plate – the versatile little mealworm

Bug of the Week

Mealworms are actually not worms at all but larvae of a beetle which has a fondness for meal, or grain. This beetle belongs to the family of Darkling Beetles - sounding like something straight out of Harry Potter! There are various kinds but all look beautifully beetle-like - a black, shiny serrated back and crabby little legs.

Robin with Mealworm

Mealworms. Photo: Josh More, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Their larvae, mealworms, have adapted to thrive in moisture-free piles of grain and oats, so ingeniously they create moisture out of carbohydrates and can live on next to nothing. This trait makes them extremely easy to breed, and that’s why you might be most familiar with mealworms as pet food – they’re sold in bulk for reptiles, fish and birds, and for fishing bait. Little wonder as their nutritional values are impressive – around 20% protein and 12% fat, and particularly high levels of vitamin B12 as well as zinc and other essential minerals.


Robin with mealworm. photo: fs-phil, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With garden birds facing habitat loss and starvation, they need all the help they can get, and bird-lovers are being encouraged to breed their own mealworms to put in their bird feeders. Both the RSPB and British Ornithological Society have detailed instructions available online. The worms like to eat bran, old bread, potato and cabbage - so are ideal for recycling your food scraps. They do apparently smell a bit fishy when growing, though. An innovative new kit funded through on Kickstarter which will let you grow-your-own right on your kitchen table.


Mealworm farm. Photo: velacreations, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Of course mealworms are entirely fit for human consumption too, and are eaten all around the world. You can buy them dehydrated and use them straight out of the packet – Jonas of the BugsFeed team did just this and experimented with some mealworm soup and salad. Read his account of cooking with the “nutty, but bland” mealworm.  

If you get your hands on fresh mealworms, dry-roasting is an easy ‘intro’ to eating this little bugs. Salt or sugar make them a tasty snack – see here for a simple ‘how-to’.


Mealworm lifecycle. Image: ©Livin Farms
More on Bug of the Week

The multipurpose minilivestock: Stingless Bees get the UN excited

Delicious honey with no sting: the perfect bee? Meet our BUG OF THE WEEK. More →

More on Bug of the Week

Never mind the fake worms – here's the real deal

The old myth ‘if you cut them in half, two will grow back’ is still being tested daily all over the place, despite being not true at all. Poor worms. More →

More on Bug of the Week

Black Soldier Fly, or: the helpful fly

Why Black Soldier Flies are good for the environment – and for your lunch. More →

More on Bug of the Week

June's own bug

The feast in your front porch – June Bugs are our new Bug of the Week! More →

More on Mealworms

Fact check: Are insects better for you than meat?

There’s a big hype around edible insects: low in fat and high in nutrients, they're going to revolutionise food on a global scale! Is it true? BUGSfeed went fact–finding. More →

More on Pet Food Bug of the Week Snacks

Eating Crickets – a bit dull or the next big thing?

Unless you’re a serious bug fan, you wouldn’t describe these brown and black scuttling things as pretty. But despite being a bit dull, crickets have become the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to edible insects. More →

More on Snacks

Termite crackers

In Kenya, Nordic Food Lab’s lead researcher for “Deliciousness as an argument for edible insects”, Josh Evans, came up with a cracking idea for a termite dish… More →

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.