The Effect of Caffeine on the Survival and Development of Mealworms By: Anna Gillin Question • How does caffeine affect the growth, survival, and development of mealworms? Research • Caffeine (C8H10N4O2) is a drug that stimulates the nervous system • It gives consumers an increase in energy and can elevate mood • Caffeine is added to many drinks and foods such as chocolate, coffee, energy drinks, and many soft drinks and is heavily consumed by people today • Some side effects of caffeine are headaches, anxiety, and dizziness. High levels of caffeine can be very dangerous, especially when mixed with other foods or drinks. Research • Mealworms are the larva staged of the Darkling Beatle • They are part of the Tenebrio Genus and the T. molitor species • The larval stage of mealworms can last from 90 up to 114 days • In their larval stage, the prime occupation of mealworms is growing and eating • As mealworms grow, they shed old shells and develop new ones. Hypothesis • The group of mealworms exposed to high levels of caffeine will lose more mass and have a higher death rate than the groups exposed to lower levels of caffeine. Materials • • • • • • • • • • 500 milligrams caffeine 100 milligrams caffeine 100 mealworm larvae Square plastic containers Metal screens Distilled Water Wheat Bran Corn meal Shredded Newspaper Mortar and Pestle Procedure • The mealworms were divided into Group A (no caffeine), Group B (low caffeine), and Group C (high caffeine), each consisting of 3 boxes • 15 mealworms were put into each box • 50 mL of the solutions were mixed with 50 grams of wheat bran and cornmeal and evenly distributed among 3 containers. The following solutions were made: – Group A: 100 mL of distilled water – Group B: 100 mgs ( ½ caffeine pill) in 100 mL of distilled water – Group C: 500 mgs (2 ½ caffeine pill) in 100 mL of distilled water • The mass and survivors of the mealworms were measure after a week and new bedding and solutions/food mixtures were made and distributed in the containers Variables • Independent Variable- the amount of caffeine given to each group of mealworms • Dependent Variable- the effects that caffeine had on each group of mealworms and the number of mealworms still living • Control- the group of mealworms (Group C) that was not exposed to caffeine and only had food moistened by water • Constants- the type of container, metal screen, temperature, food, bedding in the container, and amount of mealworms in each group Data Data Data Data Data Data ttest of the Number Dead 0.034 ttest (Group A, Group B) 0.035 ttest (Group A, Group C) ttest (Group B, Group C) 0.184 ttest of the Percent Change in Mass Ttest (Group A, Group B) 0.306 Ttest (Group A, Group C) 0.088 Ttest (Group B, Group C) 0.708 ttest of the Percent Change in Mass/Organism Ttest (Group A, Group B) .530 Ttest (Group A, Group C) .916 Ttest (Group A, Group C) .297 Conclusion • The hypothesis stated that the mealworms exposed to higher levels of caffeine would lose more mass and have a higher death rate. • The hypothesis was partially supported because caffeine had a negative effect on survival rate of mealworms, but not the masses of the survivors • It was rejected that varying levels of caffeine have different effects on mealworms Improvements • The temperature should remain constant • A different source of food could be used • The environment should remain consistent Further Studies • Different organisms could be tested with caffeine • The same experiment could be performed for the mealworms in their adult form as beetles • A wider range of caffeine levels could be used to see if different amounts of caffeine have the same effects Works Cited • Gavin, M. L., & Black, J. D. (2008). Caffeine. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from The Nemours Foundation website: http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/drugs/caffeine.html# • Kovacs, B., & Stoppler, M. C. (n.d.). Caffeine. In Caffeine [Caffeine, Health Effects, Statistics]. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from MedicineNet website: http://www.medicinenet.com/caffeine/article.htm • Lieberman, H. R., Tharion, W. J., Shukitt-Hale, B., Speckman, K. L., & Tulley, R. (n.d.). Biomedical and Life Sciences. In Effects of Caffeine on Sleep loss, and Stress on Cognitive Performance and Mood During U.S. Navy SEAL Training [Caffeine, Effects ]. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from SpringerLink website: http://www.springerlink.com/content/2bjn0v6dg712phw5/ Works Cited • Mealworm Store. (n.d.). Mealworm Facts and Information. In Mealworm Facts and Information. Retrieved 2007, from Mealworm Store website: http://mealwormstore.com/mealworm_info.php • Smith Life Science. (2009, September 29). Mealworm Diagram. In Mealworms. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from Smith Life Science website: http://www.smithlifescience.com/MLMealworms.htm • University of Arizona. (1997). Darkling Beetle/ Mealworm Information . Retrieved October 21, 2010, from Center for Insect Science Education Outreach website: http://insected.arizona.edu/mealinfo.htm • Majithia, N. (2008). Caffeine: Understanding the World’s Most Popular Psycoactive Drug. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from Journal of Young Investigators website: http://www.jyi.org/features/ft.php?id=1327 Thank You • Please feel free to ask any questions regarding my experiment.