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What Are Mealworms?

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The problem with mealworms is that if they find an accessible food source, they’ll spread. The longer they’re established, the more difficult they are to wipe out completely. That means the best way to counteract mealworms is to prevent them in the first place. 

In order to do that, you should know what mealworms are, where they come from, and how to keep them away. That’s what we’re here to help with today. This is everything you should know about the mealworms that might infest your property.

What are mealworms?

Mealworms aren't actually an individual species; they’re the larval form of many different species. Mealworms are often talked about as if they are pest species in and of themselves simply because so many of them look and behave similarly. After all, what you care about is that you have a pest problem, not necessarily what your particular pest is.  

If you have a mealworm problem, you’re probably dealing with a yellow mealworm. Yellow mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, which is a species of darkling beetle. They typically measure around 1/8 of an inch long, though adults can grow up to half an inch in length. In color, they're yellowish-brown with darker toned rings along their segmented bodies. When they grow into beetles, they are dark with hard shells and a typical size of half an inch.

Why do I have mealworms?

If you have mealworms, it’s because they were able to find and access a food source on your property. Mealworms will eat almost anything they can find, but they particularly prefer damp, decomposing, rotting, or moldy food. Infestations are quite common in brush piles, animal waste, and garbage. 

Yellow mealworms are also very interested in making their way into pantries to feed stored products. If you store things like rice, pasta, oatmeal, flour, or cereal, you're at risk of mealworm infestation. Mealworms never stop growing, which means they never stop eating. They will continue living and feeding on their food sources continuously as they molt and grow.

How can I prevent mealworm infestations?

Preventing mealworm infestations relies on taking away their access to things that draw them in in the first place. Limiting their access to stored foods is the most effective way to do that. You can accomplish this by:

  • Storing all dried goods in airtight plastic containers. We understand that it’s easier to keep stored goods in the boxes and bags they came in. Unfortunately, however, stored product pests like mealworms can easily chew into these types of containers. Upon receiving food deliveries, move dry goods into airtight plastic containers. These containers prevent moisture accumulation and keep pests out. 
  • Cleaning up food spills immediately. One unnoticed spill in the kitchen could start a large infestation. Implement strict cleaning methods and stick to them. Don’t let any old crumbs or messes sit.
  • Preventing mold accumulation or rot. Make sure you carefully, thoroughly, and regularly clean the spaces where you store your dried goods.  Don’t ignore dark corners or out of the way spaces. Keep a close eye on your humidity and watch for any moisture accumulation. Even condensation on walls or pipes could seep into food. You should also completely empty, clean, and reorganize storage rooms multiple times per year.

What should I do if I’ve found mealworms on my property?

Mealworms are a stored product pest. If you’ve found them on your property, it’s probably because you’re in charge of a business that processes or deals with food products. If you’ve noticed them, there are a couple of things you can do to remove them and prevent further disruption of your business. Things like:

  • Utilize pheromone traps. If you’d like to take an initial do-it-yourself approach to mealworm control, you can use pheromone traps. These traps can be found in most local hardware stores. They’re typically made from cardboard and have a sticky, glue-like substance on them. These traps include a pheromone that attracts mealworms. When the mealworms approach the pheromone, they get stuck in the glue-like substance.
  • Throw away any food that has been contaminated. We understand that this can be financially troublesome, but it’s necessary. The cost of any quantity of lost products will never be as the cost of an ongoing mealworm infestation. Losing food now could cost hundreds. A customer finding a mealworm in their food could cost much more.
  • Call a professional pest control company. This is your best option. Mealworms are unfortunately very difficult to remove on your own, because they’re very good at hiding. Even if you remove all of the food they are infesting, if you miss a single larva or pupa anywhere in the infested area, the infestation could begin again. Professionals can prevent that.

A mealworm problem can be disastrous for a business or commercial property. They’re unpleasant to find, gross to look at, and generally bothersome. If you suspect you have a mealworm infestation, don’t let it go. Instead, call the experts at Assured Environments. They’ll be able to diagnose and remove your pest problem as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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