Glossy black grain mold beetle

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Glossy black grain mold beetle
Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer, 1797) (32514044020) .png

Glossy black grain mold beetle ( Alphitobius diaperinus )

Order : Beetle (Coleoptera)
Subordination : Polyphaga
Family : Black beetle (Tenebrionidae)
Subfamily : Tenebrioninae
Genre : Alphitobius
Type : Glossy black grain mold beetle
Scientific name
Alphitobius diaperinus
( Panzer , 1796)

The glossy black grain mold beetle ( Alphitobius diaperinus ), more rarely referred to simply as the grain mold beetle, is a beetle from the family of black beetles (Tenebrionidae). The species presumably originates from Africa, but today it is synanthropic almost worldwide. It is a feared pest in poultry production . Its larvae, which are similar to mealworms , are used and bred as food animals in terrariums and as food insects in novel food products.


The beetle reaches a body length of 5.5 to 6 millimeters. It is monochrome brown or black and shiny, the whole body is scattered with dots. The body is elongated ovoid when viewed from above. The pronotum is wider than it is long (across), it is widest at the base (the side towards the elytra) and about as wide as the elytra , it is narrowed in a flat arch towards the front, its base is deeply bulged on both sides, his Back corners are square. The fore chest is drawn out on the rear side in a pointed prosternal process, which can be inserted into a recess in the middle chest. The cheeks on the head are wider than the eyes, so they protrude slightly to the side, the eyes are slightly outlined by them. The antennae are quite short; when put back they do not reach the base of the pronotum. They are gradually thickened towards the front, but without antenna lobes. The end link of the mandibular probe is triangular. The elytra are finely striped with fine rows of dots, the spaces between them are flat or only slightly arched. The rails of the forelegs are widened outwards into a blunt tooth.

The relatively hard sclerotized larva reaches a length between 7 and 11 millimeters in the last stage, rarely up to 14 millimeters. After moulting, they are milky white and later turn brownish. The clearly segmented body is elongated with a pointed rear end, in which the ninth tergite is drawn out into a pointed urogompus . The tenth segment attaches to it ventrally and is not visible from above. On the head there are three-part antennae, the second part of which is twice as long as the first, the last has conspicuous sensillae at the tip. The strong mandibles are bilobed with a basal chewing surface (mola), they are somewhat asymmetrical. The three short pairs of legs are five-limbed with strong, curved claws.

Biology and way of life

The glossy black grain mold beetle lives in the wild in various animal burrows and bird nests, particularly often in the guano layers in caves where bats live. Today, however, it mostly occurs as a storage pest in often poorly managed and dirty grain silos and other storage facilities with plant products or in litter and waste in poultry farms. In animal breeding farms, if there is sufficient moisture, it also lives in false ceilings, the lower layers of floor coverings or crevices in the floor. As an originally tropical species, it is dependent on moist, very warm environmental conditions. The very polyphagous larvae feed on bird and bat droppings and mold in addition to spilled feed, they can appear as predators on sick young animals or on carrion and also use feathers.

Females lay around 200 to 400, rarely up to 2000, eggs in crevices near the food substrate during their lifetime. The species goes through six to eleven larval stages, the development to the adult animal takes about 40 to 100 days. Temperatures of 30 to 33 ° C with around 90 percent humidity are ideal for the species. Larvae and beetles are nocturnal, they are very active in movement. To pupate, the larvae eat passages and a pupa cradle in adjacent materials, which can destroy insulating material and floor coverings. The adult beetles are long-lived and often live one, sometimes up to two years.

Economical meaning


The species is of little importance as a store pest in cereals. They occur predominantly on already damaged, moldy grain. Grain mold beetles are one of the most important pests in poultry farming. The corridors in insulating material and floor coverings damage materials, and the resulting increased heating energy requirement can also be demonstrated. But they are particularly feared as vectors of parasites and pathogens in poultry. Some of the common strains, such as Salmonella , can also be pathogenic to humans. In addition, the larvae produce highly reactive quinones as defense substances , which cause dermatitis , asthma and other diseases in poultry workers . The species also occurs in German poultry houses and has already become harmful here, but only occurs synanthropically in Germany and not outdoors.

Contaminated supplies and grain products such as bread and flour in the household are inedible and must be disposed of immediately.

Use as a food insect

Freeze-dried grain mold beetle larvae (
buffalo worms ) as food

A Dutch company called buffalo worms has started breeding larvae under food-hygienic conditions. It produces these as food insects for human consumption. So far it has been a niche product with very little economic importance, but because of its novelty it has attracted a lot of attention. In April 2018 , the Rewe Group was the first German retailer to offer a hamburger patty made from buffalo worms. From February 2019, the hamburger chain Hans im Glück will be selling burgers with “Buffalo-Wurm” patties on a trial basis.

Use as animal feed

The breeding of larvae is more common as food insects for terrarium animals, where they serve as a substitute for the more common mealworms (the mealworm larvae).

Taxonomy and systematics

The species was first described by tanks after animals from Germany ("Germanica") under the name Tenebrio diaperinus . There are numerous other scientific synonyms : Tenebrio ovatus Herbst, 1799 , Uloma opatroides Brullé, 1838 , Cryptops ulomoides Solier, 1851 , Crypticus longipennis Walker, 1858 , Phaleria rufipes Walker, 1858 , Proselytus caffer Fåhraeus, 1870 .

The genus Alphitobius comprises 15 species, all but two of which live in sub-Saharan Africa, including the island of Madagascar; The second non-African species Alphitobius laevigatus (Fabricius, 1781) also occurs in Europe, but is more rarely reported here than A. diaperinus . It is assigned to the tribe Alphitobiini within the subfamily Tenebrioninae .

Individual evidence

  1. Z. Kaszab: Tenebrionidae in Heinz Freude, Karl Wilhelm Harde, Gustav Adolf Lohse (Ed.): Die Käfer Mitteleuropas. Volume 8. Goecke & Evers Verlag, Krefeld 1969, p. 256.
  2. Genus Alphitobius Stephens, 1832 , in Arved Lompe: Die Käfer Europäische, an identification work on the Internet ( Created July 30, 2012.
  3. a b c James C. Dunford and Phillip E. Kaufman: Featured creatures: Alphitobius diaperinus (lesser mealworm) University of Florida, IFAS Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. March 2006, reviewed: February 2015.
  4. Andreia Mauruto Chernaki & Lúcia Massutti de Almeida (2001): Morfologia dos estágios imaturos e do adulto de Alphitobius diaperinus (carapace) (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 18 (2): 351-363.
  5. Kelly Loftin & Ricky Corder: Biology and Management of the Lesser Mealworm in Poultry Operations. University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture FSA7081. PDF
  6. The Glossy Black Grain cryptophagidae (Alphitobius diaperinus, tanks) Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety
  7. Glossy black grain mold beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus), Institute for Pest Science Reinheim
  8. Florian Fiebelkorn (2017) Insects as food of the future. Biology in Our Time 47 (2): 104-110. doi: 10.1002 / biuz.201710617
  9. Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (March 29, 2018): Worms instead of meat: Osnabrück insect burgers can now be bought in Germany .
  10. W&V (April 25, 2018): ' Rewe sells insect burgers '
  11. Gastro Echo (February 12, 2019): ' HANS IM GLÜCK is the first system restaurateur to offer insect burgers '
  12. Food animals & food insects - Buffalo worms (grain mold beetle larvae) as food animals for reptiles, 2009.
  13. Wolfgang Schawaller & Roland Grimm (2014): The genus Alphitobius Stephens (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae, Alphitobiini) in Africa and adjacent islands. ZooKeys 415: 169-190. doi: 10.3897 / zookeys.415.6676

Web links

Commons : Glossy Black Cereal Mold Beetle ( Alphitobius diaperinus )  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files