The Effect of Caffeine on the Survival and Development of Mealworms

The Effect of Caffeine on the Survival
and Development of Mealworms
By: Anna Gillin
• How does caffeine affect the growth, survival,
and development of mealworms?
• 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.
• Mealworms are the larva staged of the Darkling
• 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.
• 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.
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
• 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
– Group C: 500 mgs (2 ½ caffeine pill) in 100 mL of distilled
• 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
• 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
ttest of the Number Dead
ttest (Group A, Group B)
ttest (Group A, Group C)
ttest (Group B, Group C)
ttest of the Percent Change in Mass
Ttest (Group A, Group B)
Ttest (Group A, Group C)
Ttest (Group B, Group C)
ttest of the Percent Change in Mass/Organism
Ttest (Group A, Group B)
Ttest (Group A, Group C)
Ttest (Group A, Group C)
• 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
• 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
• 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:
• Kovacs, B., & Stoppler, M. C. (n.d.). Caffeine. In Caffeine
[Caffeine, Health Effects, Statistics]. Retrieved October 5, 2010,
from MedicineNet website:
• 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:
Works Cited
• Mealworm Store. (n.d.). Mealworm Facts and Information. In
Mealworm Facts and Information. Retrieved 2007, from
Mealworm Store website:
• Smith Life Science. (2009, September 29). Mealworm
Diagram. In Mealworms. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from
Smith Life Science website:
• University of Arizona. (1997). Darkling Beetle/ Mealworm
Information . Retrieved October 21, 2010, from Center for
Insect Science Education Outreach website:
• Majithia, N. (2008). Caffeine: Understanding the World’s Most
Popular Psycoactive Drug. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from
Journal of Young Investigators website:
Thank You
• Please feel free to ask any questions regarding
my experiment.

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