These nasty critters can survive a dip in your stomach acid. And today, they’re the only things on the menu. So tuck in your bib and loosen your belt. You’re not leaving until you eat not one, not 100, but one million mealworms. If you ate this many mealworms, how much weight would you gain? How many mealworms can your stomach hold? And how could these creatures eat you alive?
People around the globe use mealworms as a cheap and quick nutritional supplement for themselves and their pets. And if you weren’t busy gulping down handfuls of these larvae, they would pupate into an adult black beetle. While many pet owners feed mealworms to their birds, lizards and rodents, you could also roast them for your next meal.
After all, these little wigglers provide high amounts of protein. And they have less fat than traditional meats like ground beef. Some restaurants even put these nutty-flavored morsels on the menu. Can you box that up for me? But how long would it take you to eat one million mealworms?
Over 2.5 billion people eat insects every day, but few have the guts to take it to this extreme level. And there’s a good reason. If you were to sit down and eat one million mealworms, you wouldn’t be going anywhere else for a while. If you ate 10 to 20 larvae every 30 seconds, it could take you almost 100,000 minutes to eat one million. That’s over two months of non-stop eating.
No sleeping. No bathroom breaks. Well, maybe a few. But if you were eating that fast, could you bother chewing? If you swallowed a mealworm whole, it could survive in your stomach acid. And these larvae, now deep inside your system, could start burrowing into your organs. While some urban legends say that mealworms can chew their way out of an animal’s stomach, scientists disagree.
But if you had enough of these creatures alive in your stomach, they could destroy your stomach lining. You would need to crush them into a powder to avoid getting an ulcer. Of course, this feast could still make you sick to your stomach. The average mealworm weighs about 100 mg (0.004 oz).
That’s not too much. But one million mealworms could weigh up to 100 kg (220 lb). But your stomach can only hold about one to two kg (2.2-4.4 lb) at a time, which means you could only have between 8,000 and 16,000 mealworms at a time.
If you didn’t stop and expel the waste, your stomach might burst. But you’d be eating more than the worms. These larvae could carry bacteria like salmonella or even parasites. Whether you’re eating mealworms dry roasted, pan-fried or raw, consuming too many of these insects could result in severe health problems and diseases that could threaten your life.
But if we raised these larvae and ate them in moderation, it could help end hunger worldwide. Now, what would happen if you only ate insects for the rest of your life?
- “Facts On Mealworms For Kids”. Marisa Swanson. 2019. sciencing.com.
- “Mealworm Recipes & Nutrition”. 2022. mealwormcare.org.
- “EFSA Says Mealworms Safe For Human Consumption: ‘An Important Milestone Towards Commercialisation’”. Katy Askew. 2021. foodnavigator.com.
- “Is Eating Live Insects A Bad Idea?”. 2004. theguardian.com.
- “Insect Market To Explode: EU Gives Green Light To Eating Mealworm”. Alex Ledsom. 2021. forbes.com.