• Partners
  • News & Media
  • FAQ

    Tenebrio Molitor

    > What insect species do you farm?

    We raise yellow mealworm beetles, also known as Tenebrio Molitor (Molitor meaning “miller” in Latin), the premium insect protein of choice.  In the old days, we found Molitor larvae in flour bags, which gave them the name “mealworm”.

    > Where is the Molitor species endemic?

    The mealworm species was discovered along the Mediterranean coastline in 1758. Today it is a cosmopolitan species, in abundance all over the globe.

    > Why do you farm insects?

    Insects bring an innovative, natural and sustainable response to one of humankind’s main challenges: to feed the animals that nourish a human population expected to reach 9 billion individuals in 2050[1].  Insects are a natural nutritional source for pets and farmed animals, mainly fish and poultry. Farmed insects can be grown almost anywhere with limited environmental impact and vastly higher land productivity compared to alternative protein sources.

    [1] FAO report “How to feed the world in 2050?”

     

    > Is there a risk of an insect invasion from a Farm-hill?

    There is no risk of Ÿnsect’s mealworms escaping our farm-hills. The vast majority of our insects lack mobility as they do not grow beyond the larval phase—so they don’t have legs or wings. Our farm-hill also has a variety of reliable containment measures to prevent insect escape.

     

    The Farm-hill, our Vertical Insect Farm

    > What is the Farm-hill, our Vertical Insect Farm?

    We raise our insects in farm-hills, where we prepare products made from Molitor. Our first farm-hill is located near the town of Dole, in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, where Molitor grow in vertically stacked spaces, inspired by natural ant-hill engineering.  The farm-hill is equipped with automations and sensors to ensure optimal farming conditions. Using automation and robotics, we meet the highest requirements for quality and food safety, and minimize occupational health risks for our people.

    > How do you raise insects and ensure their well-being?

    In the larval phase, the mealworm species that we farm, the Molitor, is social: they live in groups to keep warm and protected, and to avoid stress.  We have automatic sensors in our farm-hills to monitor humidity and temperature so our insects enjoy optimal 60% humidity at 25°- 27° Celsius.  We feed our mealworms a contaminant-free diet for healthy growth, with quality feedstock such as wheat bran.

    > Do you use chemical products in the farm? Are your insects “organic”?

    There is absolutely no chemical input, either within our farm, or in our manufacturing processes. Our Molitor are mainly fed wheat bran, a contaminant-free, cereal by-product.  They are processed into finished products – mainly proteins and oil – using automated mechanical processes. Given the nascence of the insect ingredient market for animal feed, there are currently no “organic” label schemes for insect-derived products, or industry-specific criteria to earn “organic” status. However, our insect-based frass fertilizer product, ŸnFrass, is compatible with organically-farmed label “AB” status in France.

    > How do you kill the insects to make Ÿnsect products?

    We are especially attentive to the well-being of our insects. Once the larvae have reached maturity, they are rapidly steamed using water vapor, which causes a very quick and unstressed death.

    > Is there a difference in the life span of wild versus farmed insects?

    The Molitor insect adapts its development to external conditions. In nature, the larval stage can last up to a year to enable it to survive the winter. Under optimal temperature conditions, the farmed larval stage development lasts from 8 to 10 weeks.

     

    Food safety of our feeds

    > Will eating a fish fed with insects endanger my health?

    No. Eating fish fed on insect-based products is completely safe. Wild fish consume insects as a main source of protein.  Wild trout diets, for example, include 40% insects[1]. Numerous studies have also validated that an insect-fed fish have the same body composition as those fed without insects.

    [1] ICES Journal of Marine Science. Diet and size selective feeding by escaped hatchery rainbow trout, 2006

    > Is traceability ensured for our Molitor insect and their feed?

    Our Molitor are born and develop within our farm-hill. We ensure complete traceability of each Molitor batch. Ÿnsect works with only the highest quality suppliers to ensure traceability of the insect feed and insect starter stocks.

    > Does a fish fed on ŸnMeal and ŸnOil ingredients change its taste, color or odor?

    We have conducted thorough studies to ensure the optimal quality of our finished products and to investigate their impact on the animals which consume them. We guarantee that fish fed on an Ÿnsect-based diet keep their natural properties, with no changes to their aspect, taste, or texture.

    > Are insects safe for my pet?

    Yes. Insects can represent up to 3 to 5 % of the natural diet of dogs and cats[1]. Feeding Ÿnsect ingredients to pets with kibble made with ŸnMeal or ŸnOil is part of a balanced and healthy diet.

    [1] Acta Theriologica 41 (4): 409-414. Feeding ecology of the European wildcat Felis Silvestris in Portugal. 1996

    > Could living near the Farm-hill be hazardous to my health?

    No. The proximity of the farm-hill does not present any health risk for nearby residents. Ÿnsect adheres to all government regulations and ensures the highest possible containment standards for its insects. Molitor neither fly or walk at the larval stage, so there is no risk of escape. Ÿnsect doesn’t use any chemicals in farming or processing, nor does it have any waste outputs.  We use every part of the insect to make Ÿnsect products, nothing is then wasted or stored outside.

    > Can humans eat Ÿnsect mealworms?

    Farming and harvesting insects for human consumption has been done on a small scale for centuries.  Over 2 billion people around the world already eat insects. Our mealworms are clean, odourless and rich in protein, minerals and vitamins, including B12.  Some day we all may be consumers.

     

    Environmental stakes

    > By raising such large quantities or insects, won’t this impact the nearby natural ecosystem?

    Our insects do not make contact with the natural environment. The safety of our farm-hill is constantly controlled to avoid any insect escape. 95% of our insects never surpass the larval stage, so they neither fly or walk—they just wiggle!  Our premium insect of choice, the Molitor, is already part of the natural ecosystem in our regions, so there is no risk to endemic insect populations.

    > How does a Ÿnsect diet compare to the natural diet of fish?

    Insects are part of a natural diet for fish. For example, insects comprise to 40% of the diet for some wild trout. When fish eat a Ÿnsect diet, we are not modifying natural nutrition; we are returning insects to their rightful place in the natural food chain.

    > Does the food Ÿnsect feed its mealworms displace food for humans?

    Our Molitor feeds on by-products from crop production. This part of the stalk is not edible for humans, whereas it is an ideal meal for our mealworms.