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Mealworm Responses

Mealworm Responses

Author: Meg O'Mahony

In this lab, you will plan and conduct an investigation to study the response mechanism of an invertebrate to external stimuli (e.g., the instinctive behaviour of an invertebrate in response to a stimulus such as light), using appropriate laboratory equipment and techniques.  You will need to:

  • identify and select 3 stimuli
  • predict then observe the mealworms' responses
  • classify the response as a reflex or instinct.
  • relate the stimulus and response to maintaining homeostasis in the mealworm

This is a lab on simple behaviour of Teneb


Tenebrio molitor, which is the Darkling beetle.  You will be working with the larval form - the mealworm.  These are insects that are often used to study lifecycles and simple behaviours.

A number of the mealworms will be kept so the M4's can observe its lifecycle.  It goes through a complete metamorphosis from egg to larva (it goes through several instars where it molts -sheds its exoskeleton- to allow it to grow) to pupae to adult.

The mealworms are a good source of nutrients for birds during the egg-laying season AND are an alternative protein source for humans :-)

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Virtual Lab: Mealworm Behaviour

Visit the virtual lab at

Begin with Background Information:

  • watch the short video
  • identify, briefly explain then distinguish between the two types of innate behaviours: reflexes and instinctive behaviour

  • which of these behaviours is more important for maintaining homeostasis?  Defend your choice(s)


  1. Follow the procedure as given on the virtual lab.
  2. Observe 10 different stimuli.
  3. For each stimulus, predict the response, watch the video, select the actual behaviour that the mealworm exhibits.
  4. Select 4 of these behaviours that you think would be most relevant to maintaining homeostasis in the mealworm, and carry out the experiments for yourself using the materials at the front of the room.

Mealworm Protocol:

  • mealworms are living organisms...treat them with respect
  • carefully pick up the mealworms with forcepts or your fingers


  1. Answer the 5 journal questions and send to "mso bio"
  2. For question #4, respond in context of maintaining homeostasis.