How Do Beetles Reproduce?

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Eclose: to change from the pupal form into the adult form.

Larva: the second, "worm-like" stage in the life cycle of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis (like caterpillars).

Metamorphosis: dramatic change in body form... more

Moult: shedding of the skin so the animal can grow.

Pupa: resting stage during which tissues are reorganized from larval form to adult form. The pupa is the third body form in the life cycle of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis (like caterpillars).

Pupate: to change from the larval form into the pupal form.

Beetle Life Cycle


Newly hatched (white) and day-old (tan) "mealworms"

Mealworm beetles are very different from humans in how they grow up. They pass through 4 different body forms in their complete life cycle. This is called complete metamorphosis.  As we have seen, the first form is the egg. A beetle remains as an egg for 7 to 10 days before hatching into the second form, the larva. This is the body form responsible for the "worm" part of the name mealworm. They are very tiny when they first hatch, and it takes them about 3 months before they enter the next body form. During this time, the larvae eat and eat and grow. However, to grow, they must shed their skin every so often. Right after they molt, their skin is white and soft, which allows the animal to grow before their skins hardens and turns tan again in a day or two.

Larvae molt about 15 times and can get very big. Large larvae are what people buy in pet stores or bait shops to feed their reptiles or fish.

large larvae

When a larva has eaten enough food and grows big enough, it pupates into the third body form, the pupa. While in this form, the beetle does not eat or move very much. The pupa just sits and waits while its insides rearrange into the form needed for the fourth and final body stage. The pupal stage lasts for 7 to 10 days, and finally the pupa ecloses and becomes an adult.

The adult form is what we typically think of as a "beetle." In the final body form, beetles look for other mealworm beetles to mate with and produce offspring to start the life cycle over again.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Life Cycle
  • Author(s): Jenny Drnevich
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: December 17, 2009
  • Date accessed: June 12, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Jenny Drnevich. (2009, December 17). Life Cycle. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Jenny Drnevich. "Life Cycle". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 17 December, 2009.

MLA 2017 Style

Jenny Drnevich. "Life Cycle". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 17 Dec 2009. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Jun 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
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