About Dried Mealworms
Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) are the larvae, or grub, of a certain kind of darkling beetle. Being particularly high in protein, they are widely used as food for a variety of house pets, including birds, fish and reptiles. They are also used as a fishing bait and in bird feeders for attracting wild birds to the garden.
Since the adult mealworm beetle generally feeds on vegetables as opposed to rotting meat, their larvae are high in fibre, calcium and vitamins A, B and E.
Their bodies, which are dark yellow in colour, are segmented by brown stripes and feature a cluster of six little legs near the 'head'. Usually the larval state lasts between 60 and 90 days, allowing the grub to grow to around 25mm in length, however industrial growers prolong this stage of development to produce mealworms that are around 2cm long.
These commercially available mealworms are usually dried (either freeze-dried or dry-roasted) rather than live, and this is preferable for a number of reasons.
First, dried mealworms are easier to handle and keep in place - an obvious benefit for the person doing the feeding. Also, live and wriggling mealworms in an open-air chicken coop will attract unwanted competition from wild birds.
Another benefit is that dried mealworms are far higher in fat, fibre, and especially protein (53% compared to just 20% live). They are therefore particularly well suited as feed for hens during their moult, since chickens need protein in order to grow new feathers.
Dried mealworms can be purchased in large quantities of over 10kg at a time, often mixed with bran or oatmeal. They are easy to store for long periods of time, provided they are kept in a properly sealed container in a cool, dark place away from any source of moisture.