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Exploring the Nutritional Wonders of 4 Novel Insect Proteins: Yellow Mealworms, Black Soldier Flies, Earthworms, and Fly Larvae


In the realm of novel animal protein sources, yellow mealworms, black soldier flies, earthworms, and fly larvae have recently emerged as intriguing subjects of study. These four animal proteins are drawing significant attention due to their outstanding nutritional value, which rivals, and in some aspects, surpasses that of traditional fish meal. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into their nutritional profiles and potential applications in various industries.

1. Yellow Mealworms: The Pinnacle of Animal Proteins

Yellow mealworms, commonly known as yellow mealworm beetles or flour beetles, belong to the Tenebrionidae family within the Coleoptera order. Originating from North America, they have been reared for nearly a century in China. Yellow mealworms are resilient creatures, characterized by rapid development, with their life cycle comprising four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Of these, the larval stage, lasting approximately 120 days, is the most nutritionally valuable.

Name Protein Content Fat Content
Yellow Mealworm 50%-70% 15%-25%
Black Soldier Fly 45%-50% 15%-25%
Earthworm 20%-40% 10%-20%
Maggot 35%-57% 30%-40%
Comparison Table of Crude Protein and Crude Fat

Yellow mealworms stand out as a superior source of animal protein, rich in fat and amino acids. In their larval and pupal forms, they exhibit impressive protein content ranging from 47.70% to 58.70%. The amino acid profile is equally noteworthy, with a total of 17 amino acids, including seven essential ones. Notably, yellow mealworms meet the ideal protein model proposed by FAO-WHO, with favorable ratios of essential amino acids to total and non-essential amino acids.

The high fat content in yellow mealworms, particularly unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, makes them a valuable source of quality fats. Additionally, they boast abundant minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Vitamins, including B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin D, are present in significant quantities, rivaling or surpassing those found in conventional animal protein sources.

In summary, yellow mealworms offer a complete nutritional package, with high protein and fat content, rich in micronutrients and vitamins, positioning them as a premium animal protein source with promising prospects.

2. Black Soldier Flies: Nature’s Efficient Recyclers

Black soldier flies are dipteran insects belonging to the Stratiomyidae family. These flies originated in the tropical grasslands of South America but have now expanded their habitat to tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions globally. Their life cycle includes egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages, with the larval period consisting of six distinct instars. During development, they transition from white to black, with the sixth instar representing the prepupal stage, where they undergo pupation.

Nutrient Component Black Soldier Fly Larva Meal Fed with Pig Manure Pupa Meal Fish Meal
Protein Approximately 40% – 60% About 50% About 60% – 80%
Fat Approximately 20% – 30% About 25% About 5% – 15%
Carbohydrates Approximately 5% – 15% About 20% Lower
Vitamins Contains vitamins such as A, B, C, D, etc. Contains vitamins Depends on source
Minerals Contains minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, etc. Contains minerals Depends on source

Black soldier fly larvae are renowned for their exceptional nutrition and efficient recycling capabilities. They can thrive on a diet of food waste, animal manure, and organic matter, resulting in larvae with rich protein and fat content. Pre-pupae, in particular, are nutritionally dense, with protein content ranging from 42% to 43%, and fat content between 31% and 35%. Notably, they are abundant in calcium and phosphorus.

Nutritional comparisons show that black soldier fly larvae meal fed with pig manure outperform fish meal in terms of protein and fat content. However, their mineral and vitamin content largely depends on their diet source.

3. Earthworms: Nature’s Soil Engineers and Protein Providers

Earthworms, belonging to the Annelida class, are hermaphroditic, soil-dwelling creatures that reproduce rapidly. They primarily inhabit nutrient-rich topsoil, favoring warm and humid conditions while shunning direct sunlight. They have a remarkable tolerance range, surviving temperatures between 5°C and 28°C. Earthworms are easily reared and find suitability for artificial cultivation.

Nutrient Component Earthworm Powder (per 100 grams)
Total Protein 53.37 grams
Essential Amino Acids 30.65 grams
Non-Essential Amino Acids 22.72 grams
Essential Amino Acids as a Percentage of Total Amino Acids 57.43%
Vitamin A Rich in content
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Rich in content
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Rich in content
Vitamin E Rich in content

Earthworms offer high nutritional value, with protein content similar to fish meal and even higher fat content. The total amino acid content is 53.37%, with essential amino acids accounting for 30.65%. Furthermore, earthworm meal is rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin E. Additionally, it is a good source of minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and iron.

4. Fly Larvae: Tiny Nutritional Powerhouses

Common flies are holometabolous insects belonging to the Diptera family. Fly larvae, often called maggots, are lauded as high-quality, high-protein insect feed, thanks to their strong reproductive capacity, short growth cycle, and low rearing costs.

Nutrient Component Fly Larvae (per 100 grams)
Total Protein 59% – 65%
Essential Amino Acids 43.83%
Fat Content Approximately 12%
Unsaturated Fatty Acids 58.50% – 68.20%
Essential Fatty Acids 24.89% – 36.00%
Minerals and Vitamins Rich in content
Vitamin A Abundant
Vitamin D Abundant
Vitamin C Undetectable (<1mg per 100g)
Water-Soluble B Vitamins Abundant
Mineral Content Very abundant

Fly larvae are rich in protein, with protein content ranging from 59% to 65%. They also possess ample essential amino acids, making them a valuable protein source. Their fat content is around 12%, with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid. This makes them an excellent source of essential fatty acids.

Minerals and vitamins in fly larvae are abundant, with high levels of vitamin A, vitamin D, and water-soluble B vitamins. The mineral content is impressive, with significant quantities of copper, iron, zinc, and selenium, while heavy metals like lead remain minimal.

In conclusion, fly larvae represent a nutritional powerhouse with a strong focus on protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.


The nutritional benefits of these four novel insect proteins – yellow mealworms, black soldier flies, earthworms, and fly larvae – are impossible to ignore. Their impressive protein and fat content, rich amino acid profiles, and abundance of vitamins and minerals make them viable alternatives to traditional animal protein sources. As the world seeks sustainable and efficient ways to feed its growing population, these innovative protein sources offer a promising solution for the future. With their nutritional richness and versatility, they may well become a cornerstone of the global food and feed industry.

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JH BIO -Leading chinese multinational manufacturer and distributor offeed ingredients. Main Products:Driedmealworms,DriedBSF,Dried
superworm.Mealwormpowder,BSFpowder,superworm powder.
Mealworm defatted powder, BSFdefatted powder,Corn protein powder etc.

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