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How to Make a Mealworm Habitat

Learn how to make a mealworm habitat with the instructions in this Howcast science project video.


If you guys go to school whether you're in pre-K, kindergarten, first, or second chances are your teacher has done the experiment with the caterpillar. The caterpillar gets a lot of attention because what is a caterpillar turn into? It turns into a butterfly. That's called a complete metamorphosis. A complete metamorphosis is when you have one thing that changes into something completely different. Starts as the egg, it's a larvae, it goes into the pupa where the metamorphosis takes place, and out comes the adult butterfly flying around.

Why does a caterpillar get so much attention? Do you know how expensive it is to buy caterpillars when all you need to do is walk to the local pet store. For a dollar you can get something that I think is so much cooler than a caterpillar. These are called giant, mega mealworms. I'm going to put the mealworm on my shirt and you're going to notice that this mealworm is pretty long. This mealworm is pretty cool. And this mealworm loves to dance. Look at this. [makes noise] Boink.

The reality is this mealworm is now in the same stage as the caterpillar. It's in the larvae. Which means that he did not go through a metamorphosis. What does that mean he going to change into? He's not going to turn into a butterfly. In fact, I'll tell you what he changes into when we're done building his habitat.

Every living thing needs to have a place to live. A habitat needs to have several things: water, food, air, and shelter. If you ever got a delivery of a sandwich container or if Mommy has ever ordered some Chinese food why throw these containers away when we can turn them into a habitat? That's my home for the mealworm.

Now I'm going to give it food. What does it need? It needs oatmeal. Please do not cook the oatmeal. You do not want to drop your mealworm into hot oatmeal. The poor guy will be like, "No!" Don't do it. Take some oatmeal. This is what they eat, this is their food. Cover the bottom of your sandwich container with just some oats.

Now you need water. I do not think you'll want to take your mealworm into the bathroom with you like your rubber ducky, right? No. You don't want to open up the sink and put his head right underneath the water. No. Get an apple. Think about it. What is an apple? Apple is just water and sugar. What you do is cut out a piece of the apple just like this. Then when I pull it out if I squeeze the apple you're going to notice drops of water, sugar water. I take it and I lay it in. Now he has his water. Now he has his food.

Now I'm going to take out the mega mealworm. I'm going to drop him in. This guy is now extremely happy. He's a larvae. The job of a larvae is just to eat and grow and eat and grow. He's going to eat his oatmeal and he's going to drink his water. You want to make sure that the apple always has juice in it. So if it ever goes dry dry, it goes bye bye or he will go die die. Always change your apple and close your container. I already made a couple holes in my container so that he has air.

When your mealworm is exactly about two inches long you can remove the oatmeal. That will help him go through his metamorphosis and he's going to fall back. You're going to be like, "Oh no! Fred's dead." But Fred's not dead. He's actually now in the pupa stage. He's going to start to look like a mummy. His arms come into his body. He's going to turn extremely white and pale. Then he starts to turn really dark in color.

You know what he metamorphosed into? A shiny black beetle. I know some of you are thinking that beetles are creepy but no they're not. Ladybugs, those cute little red with the polka dots, guess what they are? Beetles. Fireflies that light up at night, guess what they are? Beetles. He metamorphosed into an amazing, beautiful, shiny black beetle. I think you guys should go to the pet store, go buy you a mealworm, do this amazing experiment, and watch something other than the caterpillar go through a metamorphosis.

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