18 Things You Can Feed Your Mealworms

f you own birds, reptiles, or even some smaller mammals like ferrets, minks, and other mustelids, you already know that mealworms are one of the best things you can feed them. Packed with protein, fat, and a variety of healthy micronutrients, they’re an excellent snack and dietary supplement for these creatures.

lots of mealworms

But while you may be mostly concerned with feeding mealworms to certain livestock, if you’re going to raise mealworms, they’ve got to have their own food if you want them to grow big… and grow fast.

To help you raise your crop of these larvae, I’m bringing you a list of 18 things you should feed them. We’ll get right into it below.

“Mealworm Mix”

This is an excellent, all-purpose food for mealworms that will help them pack on weight quickly and also supply them with the nutrients that they need. Consists of oats, wheat, birdseed, and powdered milk.

Combine equal parts, stir, and then serve. However, it isn’t ideal as a substrate by itself, so consider layering it over wheat bran or something else.

Wheat Bran

This is a long-time substrate and mainstay food for mealworms. However, it can be so fine and sandy that mealworms might have a hard time moving around on it.

Consider adding it to a container that has larger chunks of material in it so they can move around easily, or combine it with a coarse substrate to give them some traction.

Note that wheat bran is notorious for getting moldy and also attracting parasites which can both decimate your mealworm herd. Stay on top of changing it out before it gets too gross!


Cornmeal is another great substrate option for mealworms, one that’s high energy, easily digestible, commonly available, and easy to replace in their container once it is soiled – and they will love it. Consider mixing cornmeal with flour, wheat bran, and other grains to give them well-rounded nutrition.

Whole Wheat Flour

Veteran mealworm farmers know that flour, and specifically whole wheat flour, is a great source of nutrients. It’s also cheap and very easy to handle and change.

However, like wheat bran, it tends to mold and attract pests and parasites that can injure or kill your larvae, so you’ve got to diligently stay on top of keeping it changed and fresh.

Leafy Veggies

It’s a little surprising how many folks don’t know that mealworms eat leafy vegetables and plants of all kinds. Lettuce, cabbage, clippings, buds, and more are all on the menu and a great way to give them a well-rounded nutritional profile.

These plants are also a good source of moisture for them when they are fresh, so make sure they’re getting leafy greens or other kinds of produce below on our list.


Cucumber is juicy, hydrating, and very easy for mealworms to eat. It’s also very easy for you to cut and prepare, and a couple of cucumber chunks in the substrate can supply them with adequate water and the good vitamins that they need.

As expected, though, cucumber decays very quickly so you’ll be changing this frequently if you want to keep their container fresh and safe.


Carrots are one of the best options for mealworms if you want to keep maintenance and hygiene concerns to a bare minimum. It’ll take your mealworms longer to nibble a carrot chunk away to nothing, and they are a little harder for them to digest, but still a good source of nutrients.

Carrots are also really cheap and very easy to prepare. You can even just snap off chunks if you want to and drop them in the substrate.


Zucchini is much like cucumber concerning where it fits into the diet of mealworms. It’s a great option for hydration but decays rapidly – so keep it changed and change out the substrate as soon as it shows signs of being too moist.


Cheap, hydrating, nutritious. Celery is a wonderful supplement for your mealworms, and tends to last longer than cucumber and zucchini. Don’t forget that mealworms can also eat the leafy green tops and get plenty of good stuff from them, too.


Tomatoes can be a decent food for your worms, and one that is easy for them to digest, but it has some drawbacks.

Tomatoes are highly acidic, so you need to be careful about the pH balance of their diet in total, and they are so juicy they can quickly make a mess of your substrate. Stay on top of changing out the tomato and the other contents of the container to avoid problems.


Eggplant is a great but little-used mealworm food. Even though it has many benefits, most mealworm ranchers I know either don’t seem to know about or just don’t care and stick with some of the more common items on our list.

Eggplant is nutritious, highly digestible, and not too juicy, so it can stick around longer in the container without causing cleanup problems or risking a mold outbreak. Cut it into slices and then cubes for distribution.


A mainstay for mealworms, bananas are a wonderful source of concentrated energy and calories, and very easy to prepare. The best part about them is that mealworms usually eat them away to nothing before they have a chance to rot and then cause problems.

Just pay attention to the quantities you’re putting in the container based on the size of your population because they go fast, and it’s not out of the question that some of your worms will miss out.


Another mainstay option for mealworms, apples are a great source of calories and various vitamins and minerals. And they aren’t too juicy. Cut apples up into wide slices to allow more mealworms to feed on them at the same time.


You can treat pears just like you would apples for feeding to your mealworms, and they can certainly get plenty of calories and nutrients from them.

However, they tend to be softer, mushier, and juicier compared to apples, so they can make more of a mess and necessitate substrate cleanup. Consider using a small, flat dish or holder in the container to keep more of the juice off the substrate.


If you want to gut-load your mealworms or help them grow as quickly as possible, peaches are a great option because they are so sugary.

But as expected, that moist, sticky sweetness will readily cause a nasty mess in the container, so be prepared for a quick clean-up and substrate change when needed. Great as a finishing feed before you put your mealworms in the fridge.


Most folks wouldn’t think to feed their mealworms oranges owing to how moist and juicy they are, but you can make a great case for it because they are so easily digestible, sugary, and cost-effective.

No surprise here: orange juice will make a dreadful mess in the container, so consider giving this to your herd when the substrate is already nearing changing time.


Watermelon is supremely hydrating and surprisingly nutritious for mealworms, hampered only by the fact that it’s so soft and juicy it can flood your filler if you aren’t careful. Treat it like oranges in this regard.


Cantaloupe has some advantages over watermelon for your larvae because it’s firmer and less juicy, meaning it will make less of a mess.

That said, it is soft enough to be easily eaten by the little guys, and you’ll appreciate the fact that you can cut it into cubes or planks more reliably to facilitate feeding time.

One Last Thing: How Long Can Your Mealworms Last Without Food?

These larvae, surprisingly, have huge caloric demands and they eat pretty much constantly. Accordingly, they can die quickly if they don’t have any food to eat, within a couple of days.

Now, to be clear, most pre-bagged mealworm substrates and other things that people recommend for mealworm bedding are in fact types of food for them, and they will both eat it and live in it. So as long as they are inside a container with this material, they’ll have something to eat…

If you’ve got them transferred into a plain box or empty container, you’ve got to get them food right away and change it constantly so it stays fresh.

Giving your mealworms optimum nutrition ensures that they themselves will be highly nutritious for your animals and that they’ll also grow to a suitable feeder size in short order.

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