answers

Superworm FAQs

June 25, 2020

superworms - zophobas morio

Table of Contents

 

What are superworms?

Superworms (Zophobas morio) are a type of darkling beetle larvae. They are a common feeder insect for both insectivorous and omnivorous reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and other exotic pets. This is because they are readily available, inexpensive, and easy to house. Superworms are high in fat and phosphorus, so they are best fed as treats or in a rotation with low-fat, high-calcium feeders.

Are superworms and mealworms the same?

No, although they are related since they are both darkling beetle larvae. Superworms are Zophobas morio, and mealworms are Tenebrio molitor.

Superworms are much larger than mealworms (giant mealworms being an exception. They also have a dark brown head and tail, while mealworms tend to be lighter, with little patterning. Because they are larger, superworms have a higher meat-to-shell ratio compared to mealworms, which means that they contain less chitin per insect.

What are the nutrition facts for superworms?

  • Moisture — 57.9%
  • Protein — 19.7%
  • Fat — 17.7%
  • Ash — 1.0%
  • Fiber — 2.7%
  • Calcium — 177mg/kg
  • Phosphorus — 2370mg/kg

What substrate should be used for superworms?

Superworms tend to do best in an oat bran substrate. This substrate functions as both a bedding and a food source, although they still need a separate source of hydration, and gut-loading prior to feeding is highly recommended.

What do superworms eat?

Superworms are not picky eaters — they'll eat just about anything you give them. However, the nutrition that your pet receives from eating them is affected by their diet, so it's best to give them a diet that is appropriate for them and contains nutrients that your reptile/amphibian/invertebrate will benefit from.

How do I gut-load superworms?

High-quality commercial superworm gut load formula can be used, or you can give them pieces of nutritious, nontoxic vegetables like squash, sweet potato, and dark leafy greens. Avoid using avocado, spinach, onions, and other vegetables that are known to be harmful to reptiles.

Superworms should be gut-loaded for at least 24 hours before being fed to your pet.

How do I house my superworms?

After you have ordered your superworms from DubiaRoaches.com, they will arrive in a small plastic tub or cloth sack used for transport. It's best to take them out of this transport container and transfer them to a permanent form of housing, which can be a plastic tub or critter keeper. If using a tub, make sure to poke plenty of holes in the lid for ventilation.

Fill the tub with a few inches of an edible substrate such as oat bran or uncooked oatmeal and add some pieces of nutritious vegetables for a source of water. Also, make sure to provide a lid or small paper plate with food for gut-loading.

Superworms kept in tubs together generally don't pupate into beetles, but it has been known to happen. If you accidentally end up with a beetle or few, you can try feeding it to your pet or use them to breed your own superworms.

For more information about caring for superworms, read our guide. 

How do I feed superworms to my pets?

Before being fed to a reptile or amphibian, superworms need to be coated in calcium powder, which helps balance the high amount of phosphorus that they contain. Do this by sticking the worms in a paper or plastic bag with some calcium powder inside and gently shaking until they are evenly coated.

Superworms have very tiny legs, so generally, they're not hard to give to your pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate. You can handle them with soft-tipped feeding tweezers or by using your hands, and you can feed them to your pet this way too — although if your pet is known to have poor aim, it's best to use the tweezers. Alternatively, you can give the superworms to your pet in an escape-proof bowl.

Do I need to dust superworms with supplements before feeding them to my pet?

Yes. Superworms contain unusually high amounts of phosphorus, which can prevent your pet from absorbing calcium properly. This is resolved by dusting superworms with high-quality, superfine calcium powder before feeding. Stick the worms in a paper or plastic bag with some calcium powder inside and gently shake until they are evenly coated.

How old/big does my pet need to be before I can start feeding them superworms?

Superworms can generally be fed to any reptile/amphibian/invertebrate of any size, although tegus and large monitors may not be interested in them. The size of your pet will determine what size of superworm will be best to give to them, as the worm needs to easily fit in their mouth to be chewed and swallowed. Juvenile and small individuals will likely need small or extra small superworms. Adult and medium to large individuals are likely to do well with medium or large superworms.

Some of my superworms are white! Is there something wrong with them?

This is perfectly normal. Like other insects, superworms shed their exoskeleton (outer shell) periodically as they grow, a behavior known as molting. Freshly molted superworms are creamy white in color and are very soft, but they will return to normal color and hardness in a few hours as they dry out.

Try feeding a freshly-molted superworm to your reptile or amphibian as a special treat! Many reptiles and amphibians seem to prefer these extra-soft feeders.

Do superworms bite?

Yes, they can bite, but it's not likely to hurt. Their mouths are too small to damage human skin.

They may be able to hurt reptiles and amphibians with thin or delicate skin. You may see your pet flinch if they get bitten. However, superworms generally don't do significant damage — crickets have a worse bite. The belief that superworms can chew their way out of a reptile or amphibian's stomach is a myth.

What if my order of superworms arrives dead?

We make every effort to ensure that your order arrives alive, which is why we also include a few extra to compensate for any losses. However, we can't always guarantee the weather or how the postal service will treat your package. If your order arrives dead, please send us a photo of the dead superworms in the container that they were shipped in. Once this is verified, we will send you a replacement or issue a credit to your account. We can not guarantee superworms that have been left out on your porch for more than 1 hour.

What if I receive something I didn't order?

If you receive the wrong item, shoot us a message with your order number, the item you received, and the item you were supposed to receive. We do our best to avoid mix-ups, but mistakes still happen on occasion, and we'll be happy to send you a replacement.

 

Learn more about superworms in our Superworm Care Sheet!