Lake Hills Fourth Grade
Morphing Macro Style

We recently completed an investigation of Tenebrio (mealworms) in Mrs. Fiore's science class. The worm-like larvae are soft, light brown and easily viewed and handled. Like all insects they have six short legs, but the larvae don't have three body parts until they mature into adult beetles. The class has witnessed the three life stages of the beetle--larvae, pupae and adult.

Eric Anderson, Kevin Kozel, Chris Weavers investigate a handful of mealworms.

Photos by Nancy Fiore

Thomas Mushroe, Dion Jackson, Jonathan Steinbach, and Stacy Hill work together to find a growing community of Tenebrio larvae.

Each mealworm measures about 2 centimeters long. Their exoskeletons are shed about five to seven times as they grow during the ten-week larval period. When a larva molts for the last time, a soft new exoskeleton underneath takes on the shape of a pupa. This change from larva to pupa is it first metamorphosis--changing form.

Two or three weeks after it changes from larva to pupa, an adult beetle about 1.5 centimeters long emerges. The adults are almost white right after this second metamorphosis.

Female beetles lay eggs about seven to ten days after emergence from the pupal exoskeleton. The eggs hatch about fourteen days later into tiny larvae launching the three-stage life cycle once again.

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