Are Mealworms Harmful? [Major Concerns]

Mealworms are not actually worms. They are the larval stage of darling beetles. After two to three weeks, the pupated larva will transform into darkling beetles. On average, it takes 10 to 12 weeks for a mealworm to transform from egg to adult size.

As the name suggests they’re raised as food for pets, reptiles, and other animals. They’re also fed as a nutritional supplement. This post will help you to know the answer to the question:

Are mealworms harmful? They are harmless if consumed by humans, pets, and reptiles in a limited amount. They are extremely bad if introduced as a feeder for birds in poultry. They can block the digestive tracts of chickens and birds. They also carry parasites that can affect meat and poultry more badly than humans.

Mealworms are native to Africa but now spread worldwide. Introducing worms to new areas requires knowledge and research. The infestation of Mealworms acts as a pest outside of their native range. Keep reading to know the concerns related to mealworms!

Are Mealworms Harmful To Plants

If you find mealworms in your garden, it’s a very bad sign. 

Are mealworms harmful to plants? Yes, they are because they act both as scavengers and decomposers. They will eat up all types of fruit, cereals, grains, and even young seedling. Even they will eat both dead and live plants.

The only good thing associated with this worm is that they would clean up the garden from dead leaves and plants. However, they will also eat up live plants. 

Are Mealworms Harmful To Humans

According to reports of EFSA, “Mealworms are safe for human consumption” However, they also concluded that the high protein content in these worms can alleviate allergic symptoms. The effect varies with dosage and variety of species consumed.

Are mealworms harmful to humans? No, they are safe to eat. However, quantity matters alot. They contain a high quantity of protein and many food allergies are linked to proteins. So, it’s critical to say mealworms are safe to eat for all humans. Obviously individual health and immunity matter alot. Consuming adult beetle is toxic.

The good news is that there is no case reported in which allergies are transmitted from consuming mealworms. They are legal to sell in dried form. They are still new products to Western markets. More data is required to set the belief that they are safe. The nutritional value of consuming this worm is equal to fish and meat. It contains protein, amino acids, monosaturated fats, and 3fattyacids. It also helps to lower cholesterol levels.

are mealworms harmful to humans

Are Mealworms Harmful To Dogs 

Are mealworms harmful to dogs? No, they are safe to eat not only for dogs but for other pets as well. In dried form, mealworms contain 45-70% protein and 30%fat. Introducing it regularly to a dog diet can have long-lasting health benefits. They are non-toxic in larval form but toxic in beetle form.

If your dog eats live mealworms from the garden, need not get worried. They will add some protein to the dog’s nutritional chart. Although they can bite yet they are harmless. Consuming it can be a good alternative to meat.

Do Mealworms Carry Diseases

Not all types of mealworms carry diseases. Lesser Mealworm is the vivacious feeder of dead birds and animals. It can carry pathogens such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, or infectious bursal disease virus.

Mealworms also carry parasites Gregarine spp., Hymenolepis diminuta, and mites of the family Acaridae. It is important to note that the bacterial load of a mealworm is naturally high. It is suspected to include the members of the Enterobacteriaceae family. 

As they live and grow on decaying matter, the chances of carrying pathogens are quite high.

Are Mealworms Harmful For Reptiles

In captivity, the reptiles are fed by mealworms. However, the amount is kept limited as compared to those feed to poultry birds. Feeding a controlled amount of mealworms to reptiles is safe.

Are mealworms harmful to reptiles? It’s safe if the amount of mealworm is not too high. However, mealworms dont provide enough nutritional value to reptiles. It can just fill the empty stomach as gut loading. The only concern is that it can block gastrointestinal track if taken in high amounts.

Are Mealworms Harmful To Chicken/Bird/Poultry

Many feeder companies advertise mealworms as feeders for chicken and poultry. The infestation of mealworms is extremely bad for poultry farmers and infrastructures. 

Are mealworms harmful to chicken, birds, or poultry? Yes, they’re because they eat up poultry feeders and insulation vigorously. It can cause overheating of the poultry. When chickens or birds feed on it, it can block their digestive tract. They can also make the birds sick. They are by no means healthy to introduce in poultry. 

Are Mealworms Harmful To the Environment

Many worms exist in an environment naturally. Nature has a mechanism to control the infestation. When humans try to introduce the worms to a new place, they try to break this natural barrier. In this way, it can be harmful.

The major concern to introducing mealworms to non-native areas arises for poultry farmers. They have to spend extra money on the insulation and infrastructure for poultry. Moreover, they destroy plantations vigorously.

If you’re worried about hammerhead head worm infestation, read how to get rid of hammerhead worms thoroughly.

Top 10 Mealworm Questions Answered!

People Also Ask

Are Mealworms Harmful to Cats?

It’s safe for cats to eat mealworms in controlled amounts. However, if taken in large amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal blockage. Introducing a small number of dried mealworms regularly to the cat diet can have long-lasting health effects.

Are Mealworms Safe?

The bite of melworm is safe. They don’t release toxins. They are also safe to eat in dried form for humans and pets but not for birds and poultry. They carry pathogens that can affect them differently.

Do Mealworms Carry  Parasites?

Yes, they carry pathogens as they live and grow on biological waste. However, the risk of passing these parasites is low for humans as compared to meat and poultry. They carry parasites of the family Acaridae. 

Last Lines

Mealworms are harmful or not, it depends mainly on where they are infested. If they are on poultry farms, they are worst. If they are infested in your garden, they can bring havoc after eating up all fruit, plants, and even dead leaves. However, they are harmless for pets, reptiles, and humans.

It does not mean you should start eating large amounts at once. They are protein-rich worms that take time to digest. Experts recommend it introducing this insect food gradually into your diet, not at once.

Lisa Marshall

Hi, This is Lisa Marshall. Lisa has been working with farmers for over thirteen years. It is his passion, hobby and profession. To facilitate other gardeners from her experience, she has decided to start this website to share her gardening experience with her plant lovers.

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