If you own an insect-eating reptile or amphibian, you know just how expensive it can be to buy enough bugs to keep your pet fed. They practically need their own grocery budget! While you’re shopping, it’s easy to let price be the only determining factor behind whether you buy from a certain site. But here’s the thing — there’s a lot of factors behind the scenes that help determine how much those bugs are worth. And sometimes this means that it’s worth spending a little more.
Ease of Breeding
Different insect species breed more easily and prolifically than others. The easier a bug is to breed, and the more it produces per clutch or litter, the less expensive it will be.
Crickets, dubia roaches, black soldier fly larvae, mealworms, and superworms are all good examples of feeder insects that are easy to breed on a large scale, which is why they’re some of the most common feeder insects available today.
Often, the older (larger) a bug is, the more it will cost. This is because each bug represents a certain investment of food, electricity, labor, and other resources to the breeder. Young insects haven’t been in the breeder’s care for very long, so the breeder hasn’t invested very many resources in them and can sell them at a very low price. Alternatively, adult insects have been in the breeder’s care for a while, so the breeder has invested more resources in them, making them more valuable.
Furthermore, adult insects tend to offer more value to buyers as potential breeding stock, which can be another factor that increases their price.
Bugs are small. On an individual basis, they really don’t eat that much. But when you’re responsible for raising thousands and even millions of insects, it’s staggering to realize just how much those insects can eat every day. That gets expensive fast, so many breeders will do whatever they can to reduce food costs, and some do that better than others.
High quality food is usually more expensive than low quality food — this is a fact of life that you probably rely on every time you go to the grocery store. So when a breeder invests in the food that they give to their insects, the insects are likely to be at least a little more expensive as a result. But the quality of the food that insects eat affects their ultimate nutritional value. So higher quality food results in healthier, more nutritious feeder insects, which results in healthier reptiles and amphibians.
Sanitation & Maintenance
Keeping enclosures clean and generally taking care of all those insects takes time and labor. For smaller breeders, this might be a (very busy, but still doable) job for one person. But for most large-scale insect breeders, they need to hire help. The cleaner the enclosures and better-maintained the insects, the more people they will need to do the work. These employees’ paychecks also influence what you might have to pay for feeder insects.
As exciting as the phrase “free shipping” is to see, it’s never actually free. Shipping is advertised as “free” because the breeder is absorbing the expense, which comes out of their profits. To maintain profitability, a business owner will increase product prices to reduce the money that they lose on free shipping. This is usually still a good deal for the customer, but not always.
Are more expensive feeder insects always better? Not necessarily. Some people will inflate the cost of their product to give it the appearance of superior quality to maximize their profit margin when actually the quality and value are very low. On the other hand, sometimes you will see very affordably-priced insects from breeders who prefer to take the hit to their profits in exchange for providing feeders that will help people take better care of their pets.
At DubiaRoaches.com we know the struggle to keep insectivorous reptiles fed without blowing your budget. We do our best to strike the ideal balance between providing high quality feeder insects and offering them at affordable prices.