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Main Curriculum Tie:
Supplemental Materials (pdf)
Background For Teachers:
The mealworm undergoes complete metamorphosis. The female darkling beetle lays hundreds of tiny, white, oval eggs, which hatch into tiny mealworms (the larval stage) - it takes from 4 to 19 days to hatch. Each mealworm eats a tremendous amount and grows a lot, molting (shedding its exoskeleton) many times as it grows. It then enters the pupal stage (this stage lasts from 2-3 weeks, up to 9 months, if the pupal stage over-winters). The pupa does not eat and seems inactive, but it is transforming itself into an adult. After pupating, a white adult darkling beetle emerges from the pupa -- it soon turns brown and then almost black. The adult lives for a few months.
Both the adults and the larvae are scavengers that eat grains and some
seedlings. Because of this, it is considered a pest. They also eat decaying
material, like decomposing animals and dead plants. They get all the water they
need from the food they eat. Mealworms are eaten by many animals, including
many birds, rodents, spiders, lizards, and some other beetles.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Tell the students that they are each going to take an animal back to their classroom to take care of over the next several weeks. Ask them what kind of animal they think they will receive. Tell them they are going to be taking care of a mealworm. Explain the mealworm life cycle and that they will be making a habitat for their mealworm. Explain the purpose of the wheatbran for bedding, the whole wheat flour for food, and the potato for moisture. If this is presented with excitement and fascination, these emotions are very contagious to the students. Explain to them that it is a big responsibility to take care of an animal and that they will learn how to do that safely today.
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