Friday, December 21, 2007

A Thoughtful Gift

My brother and sister-in-law chose a most thoughtful gift for our oldest son this year for Christmas. They chose to give him live mealworms and a mealworm habitat so that my son can watch the mealworms transform from larva to pupa to adult Darkling beetles that look remarkably like roaches. It’s so thoughtful of them to help me get over my extreme phobia of roaches by giving my kid a habitat kit full of roach-like beetles. Christmas came early at our house yesterday when the live mealworms arrived on our doorstep. There are 40-50 of them (according to the manual). I’m taking their word for it because I haven’t actually taken them out one by one and counted. But lucky for us, we will get that chance, because at each stage of metamorphosis, they will eat through their bran bedding and exchange it for poo. When that happens, you remove them one by one (with the included forceps) and dump out the poo, replacing it with fresh bran. Oh, and when they are adults, though they have wings, the manual says they prefer walking to flying. So there’s apparently very little chance they will fly away when you are removing them with the forceps to clean out the poo. We hope.

Especially being a homeschool family, I appreciate this thoughtful gift for helping me introduce subjects like cannibalism, reproduction, and euthanasia into my son’s 2nd grade education. You see, if you don’t feed them enough, they will eat each other. And they are constantly reproducing, so if you get too many, or if you are tired of raising them, you are supposed to kill them “put them to sleep” by placing them in the freezer for a few days. You then dispose of the contents in the trash. Apparently they are bad for the environment, so you can’t release them. They are hearty little buggers so they need to stay in the freezer for a few days, no matter if they are at the egg, mealworm, pupa or adult stage to ensure they are completely dead asleep.

Right now they are still in the mealworm stage. They may or may not currently be “sleeping” in the freezer. And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to pick out an equally thoughtful gift for my brother’s daughters next year.

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