Wax Worms Vs Mealworms

It would be quite hard to find someone who is unfamiliar with this creature called worms. You may not be able to identify one with its specific name, but worms are certainly something you know about. However, just knowing about worms vaguely is not enough when you want to use them for any particular task. 

Take wax worms and mealworms, for example. They are both a type of species of insect. Both are commonly used as fish baits or as food for our beloved pets, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, etc. However, despite being so similar, you can find quite a lot of differences between wax worms and mealworms.

If you are curious to know what those differences are, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will not only talk about wax worms and mealworms in general but also make it clear to you how these two worms are distinct from each other. So, let’s not wait any more time and delve into the world of worms.

What Are Wax Worms?

Wax worms are actually the larval stage of a moth called the greater wax moth. The scientific name of this moth is Galleria mellonella. The moths have wings and are quite large in general. However, that is not the case with their larvae form. 

Wax worms are soft and small, usually no larger than 1 inch in length (sometimes even less so). These worms have a natural off-white or light yellowish coloring. Their physical appearance is pretty similar to a caterpillar. So, be sure to ensure that you are not mistaking one for the other.

While the interior texture of a wax worm’s body is quite creamy, the exterior surface is dry and waxy. This is just another reason why commercially, these worms are called waxies. Though in general, they get the name wax worm from their ability to live and feed on beeswax. 

While their presence is certainly harmful to the beehive, the wax worms do have their usefulness. These worms are quite famous as live baits for trout fishing or as pet food for reptiles, insects, birds, etc. Their creamy interior is actually high in fat content, making them an absolute treat for your beloved pets.

What Are Mealworms?

Technically, mealworms are not really worms. They are actually the larval form of a beetle called the yellow mealworm beetle. Its scientific name is Tenebrio molitor. Unlike most traditional worms, mealworms do not have a soft exterior.

The exterior of a mealworm is considerably harder than, for example, the exterior of a wax worm. Moreover, mealworms tend to molt and shed this hard shell of theirs several times during their short lifespan. Their harder shell makes it pretty easy to handle and take care of them. 

However, once you get past the hard exoskeleton, the interior texture is buttery soft. They are filled with vitamins A and B. Not only that, mealworms are said to be a great source of protein and fiber as well. All these just make them a great food source for your pets and bait for your fishing.

A Comparison Between Wax Worms And Mealworms

Either as fish baits or as pet food, both wax worms and mealworms have quite the same reputations. But they themselves are not that similar. Let us now discuss the ways wax worms and mealworms differ from each other.

Wax Worms Vs Mealworms
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The most obvious difference between wax worms and mealworms lie in the fact that they are from separate species. Wax worms belong to the Galleria mellonella species, while mealworms belong to the Tenebrio molitor species. 


The most obvious way wax worms and mealworms can be distinguished through their appearance. The wax worms have a soft, delicate, and waxy look. Their body color range from off-white to light yellow. The mealworms, on the other hand, have much harder, tougher, and more segmented outer shells. They are found in the color range of yellow to brown.


The life cycle of both wax worms and mealworms are quite similar. Since birth, they both go through four significant stages of development. These are egg, larva, pupa, and adult. However, despite having similar stages of development, they can be distinguished based on how long their larvae stage lasts. 

The larvae stage of mealworms usually lasts for about 4-6 weeks. For wax worms, it depends on the temperature. In warm temperatures, wax worms complete their larvae stage in 20 days or less. However, if the temperature is colder, then wax worms can stay in their larvae stage for as long as 5 months. 

Nutritional Value

Both wax worms and mealworms are widely used as pet foods for reptiles, insects, birds, amphibians etc. Thus, it is safe to assume that they have some nutritional value. In fact, wax worms are high in fat content and are a great food source for rehabilitating pet reptiles after they have gone through some sickness or weight loss. 

Mealworms are rich in vitamins and are an excellent source of fiber and protein. In fact, you can process and make flours with mealworms. Such nutritional qualities make them a popular choice as the staple food for pets. Moreover, don’t be a surprised to know that both wax worms and mealworms are sometimes eaten by humans as well. 

A Quick Comparison Table Of Wax Worms Vs Mealworms

Factors Wax Worms Mealworms
Species Galleria mellonella Tenebrio molitor
Appearance Off-white to light yellow, soft, delicate, and waxy body Yellow to the brown, harder, segmented body
Lifespan Warm temp: 20 days, Cold temp: up to 5 months 4-6 weeks
Nutritional Value High in fat content Good source of Protein, fiber, and vitamins

Final Words

We hope after finishing this article, you are now able to understand the differences existing between wax worms and mealworms. Therefore you can now be able to easily choose the worm most suitable for your need. 

However, no matter the reason you are going to use them, it is important to remember that both wax worms and meals can be carriers of various parasites and diseases. Thus, before using them, always remember to take the necessary precautions. 

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