As you probably already know, mealworms and carpets are two things that should not be together. Especially if you live in a humid environment, mealworms burrowing in your carpet are probably one of the unpleasant things you have to worry about. Though these larvae are typically harmless to us humans, the sight of mealworms crawling on the carpet is never nice!
What Are Mealworms?
Mealworms are not worms. Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetles. They are so common that they can be found anywhere in the world. Dark and humid spaces are ideal living conditions for mealworms. The perfect place for them to hatch eggs is a damp environment. Mealworms are not choosy eaters as they feed on fresh vegetables to decaying organic matter. Leaves, dead insects, grains, pet food, starchy food, and spoiled food are included in their diet.
How to Identify Mealworms
Since mealworms are not worms, the easiest way to identify them is through their legs. If you would look closely, they have six jointed legs, which a normal worm does not have. They have a worm-like body, dark yellow in color with brown bands. A mealworm has a hard shell-like body which helps them strive in their habitat. They can grow from 1 to 1 and 1 ½ inches long.
Mealworms have four live stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Since mealworms love dark places, female beetles lay their eggs in secluded areas. Female beetles can produce 300 to 500 eggs on average. For about seven to fourteen days, the eggs will start hatching – then comes the larval stage or, in other words, the mealworms.
Mealworms are the larval form of this insect. When hatched, mealworms are white and small. They will feed on different kinds of food and grow up to 1.5 inches long. They also shed their skin like snakes in the process. They need to shed their shells ten to twenty times in order to grow. This stage lasts for about eight to ten weeks until the larva is ready for a new transformation.
Then comes the pupa stage. Like any other insect that undergoes metamorphosis, the larva transforms into a pupa to hibernate and complete its transformation into becoming a full-grown beetle. During this stage, the mealworm does not have a mouth and an anus which means all the feeding and eating stops. Movement stops, too. As they get closer to the final stage, the pupa turns into a darker color, and eyes, wings, and legs are starting to be visible. This stage lasts for about a week or three until the larva is ready for the next stage of metamorphosis.
Finally, the last stage is metamorphosis. The mealworm or darkling beetle is ready to emerge from its pupa. As it emerges, it appears to be white at first. As time goes by, its outer shell hardens, turning black or yellowish in color. After two weeks, adult beetles start to reproduce, and the cycle begins again.
Why Do You Have Mealworms in the Carpet?
Mealworms like to burrow in the carpet. They like to burrow in the thick fibers of your carpet, so giving your carpet a good cleaning and vacuuming will help you save from this problem. To avoid them invading your carpet and possibly your furniture, watch out for early signs of infestations in your house. The cupboards in the pantry and boxes in your storage room are the places you must first look at.
Are Mealworms Harmful to Humans?
Mealworms are not typically harmful to humans unless they become invasive. From being a source of protein for some people who delight in eating insects, mealworms are treated as pests, especially when they are already invading our home.
No one wants to find crawling mealworms in a carpet, or worse, in a bag of flour just when you’re ready to bake something. Pests are pests, and they can be annoying when not prevented or treated. So a piece of advice: always look for the source!
How to Eliminate Mealworms in the Carpet Naturally
And you say it’s too late for you. Mealworms have already invaded your carpet, and the sight is hideous. Now, how to get rid of these mealworms already burrowing in your carpet without touching a pesticide? Let your mighty vacuum do the work. Be sure to get every cranny and nook of your house to get rid of these pests once and for all. If they are already in your carpet, chances are they are also wandering around looking for damp corners.
For better peace of mind, remove the furniture and roll the carpet. Wash it thoroughly by using carpet shampoo and hot water. These will make the mealworms die off easily. Then, vacuum the carpet again when it’s dry to get rid of the hanging dead mealworms.
Vacuuming and washing the carpet at least twice will also help you get rid of the eggs. Unhatched eggs may still be hiding somewhere, and you wouldn’t want to see new crawling mealworms in no time. There’s no stubborn mealworm for a persistent you!
Also Read: Do Epsom Salts Kill Cutworms?
How to Prevent Mealworms From Getting Into Your Carpet
Mealworms feed on stored foods. They love damp and moldy grains and starchy foods such as oatmeal and flour. Therefore, one practical way to prevent mealworms from getting into your carpet is to prevent them from breeding in your kitchen. It is important to note that these larvae strive in a damp environment, so keeping food in good condition and free from moisture is the first step.
Keep in mind that neglected food products at the pantry are the best place to be for mealworms. Checking your storage regularly will not only prevent you from keeping inedible moldy food, but it will also help you see if an infestation is about to take place. As they say, prevention is always better than treatment, so always start looking from the source because no food means no life for these pests!