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Mealworm vs Crickets

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to understand what other the pros and cons of both mealworm and crickets. How should someone think when choosing either one for rearing?

Specific criteria I've thought of:

  • market demand
  • rearing complexity
  • animal vs human consumption
  • costs

It would be really great if anyone had a view on this that can be shared.




  • Are there any complications with doing both?

  • Forum thread "Crickets vs. Mealworms" of May 5, 2017 reposting:

    A recent report details some key differences between adult Acheta domesticus crickets & Tenebrio molitor "yellow" mealworm larvae. From article linked here are highlights & since some comparisons are specific to what can actually be eaten may interest some here.

    The research is not exclusively about eating bugs; comparative data is more extensive than what summarized below. Free full text =

    Table 1 shows: (a) percentage of live weight that is edible weight is higher (100%) for mealies than crickets (80%) ... (b) kg of dry matter feed required for conversion into a kg of edible bug weight has a better range (1.6 - 2.1) for mealies than for crickets (1.9 - 2.4) ... (c) energy content (calorie) per edible weight is notably higher (8.9 M.Joules/kg) in mealies than for crickets (5.9 M.Joules/kg).... (d) gross protein content per edible weight is definitely higher (205 gr./kg) in crickets than for mealies (179 gr./kg) ... (e) efficiency of feed converted into energy (calorie/joule) is greater (33%) for mealies than for crickets (19%) ... (f) efficiency of protein feed being converted is similar for mealies (50%) & crickets (49%)...

    Fig.1 has 2 graphs related to a year's productive use of a square meter (land area) with minimum & maximum range bars, along with the average: (a) compares energy content ( M.Joules) per in a year & mealies average, as well as maximum potential for mealies, is higher than for crickets; although the crickets under their maximum conditions would come out better than mealies under their (mealie's) minimum productivity ... (b) compares how many grams of protein per in a year & both bugs have similar min. & max. potential...

    Fig. 2 estimates how much crop land & how much pasture land usage would be involved if either of these bugs were to replace half (50%) of human nutrition (in developed nations) currently obtained from animal related products .... mealies have a very slight land requirement & (as per Table 2) would require 34% less agricultural area to replace 50% of animal products in human diet (in developed countries).

    As for the question of market demand I think that depends on which market selling into. I know of a team of Western investors who started a grasshopper venture & decided their home market was not worth opening up, but rather get into an East African market with traditional appetite for grasshoppers.

    Everyone here has heard of cricket "flour". The following may help determine profitability of making mealworm "flour" in comparison to cricket "flour", which seems the most resonant presentation for Western markets.

    See (2016) "Recovery and techno-functionality of flours and proteins from two edible insect species: Meal worm (Tenebrio molitor) and black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae", originally published in Food Science, Vol. 2(12); free full text =

    My personal opinion is that mealworms are less complex to rear & easier to manage costs for than crickets (which I do not rear). As for the question of whether target consumer is human or not I think there is greater potential to place an insect product in the non-human food as an ingredient.

    For some idea of developing country set-up's cricket profitability see (2015) "Cricket Farming for Animal Protein as Profitable Business for Small Farmers in Indonesia", originally published in Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology; free full link =

    Quote: regarding costs "...labor ...the largest component ... 61.086% of the total expenses ... average value of Return/Cost ratio ... was 1.4 ... nymphs ... most saleable products ... main consumers ... bird keepers ....'

  • edited August 2017

    Thank you for this response

  • edited September 2017

    Depends on your goal. Since you mentioned market demand, I assume you want to do this as a business?

    I raise mealworms for my own consumption. I almost went with crickets because of the supposedly higher protein content. But these were the main factors for me.

    • Crickets chirp at night. If you live with other people, they might hate you for it. Mealworms are quiet
    • Crickets need a closed container so they don't escape. Mealworms don't. This might mean that mealworms are also more space efficient because they take up so little vertical space and can be stacked easily, but I don't know much about cricket farming, maybe the same applies to them.
    • Crickets jump, which makes it harder to herd them around, sift them, and pick them up. Mealworms don't.

    If you get a facility dedicated to farming them, those factors shouldn't be an issue. But if that's the case, then +1 for try out both.

    There are a few factors in favour of crickets:

    • No pupae to separate from the rest of the brood. This is a huge win for automation.
    • Easier to determine the sex

    Probably a few more; I'm not an expert.

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