Unlike the ones I described in the previous post, this science experiment is not being kept in our kitchen.  On Tuesday, the boys and I went to the pet store to procure some mealworms.  There were actually a lot of cool things to see including: two chinchillas (cute!), scorpions, and a pair of little angler fish which use their fins like feet to walk across the sea (or in this case, aquarium) floor.  After exploring the pet store and gawking at the cool critters, we purchased a container of small mealworms.

Earlier that day, we made a habitat for them; a shoebox with wood shavings, timothy hay, and dead leaves.  We brought home the mealworms and Young Son dumped them into their new home.  They eat grain (meal) as well as dead things (leaves, bugs, animals) and they appear to have come from the pet store in the medium of wheat bran, so I’m assuming they have plenty to eat.  Brother, who did this experiment last year at school, explained to us that we should give them carrot chunks because they will suck the moisture they need from them.  So we added some of those.

Young Son shows the new mealworm habitat
Young Son proudly shows off his mealworms in their new habitat

Luckily, Brother still had a life cycle chart from his project last year.  He pulled it out and explained to his younger brother how the mealworms transform from eggs to larva (mealworms) and then to pupa and finally beetles.  It is so rewarding to see the boys learning from each other.

I asked for small mealworms at the pet store because I had read online that the larger ones are treated with hormones to prevent them from turning into beetles.  (I guess that is more convenient for people who are feeding them to their exotic pets.) I’m glad we chose the small ones anyway.  These squirmy insects seem plenty big to me.

We’ve been keeping the mealworms in their shoebox in the laundry room.  Today, Young Son went to check on them and found the box was warming up . There was a break in the rain and sunshine was coming in the window.  He smartly moved them into the living room to keep them from overheating.

With luck, our mealworms should turn into darkling beetles.

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