One of the big things that distinguish a bioactive terrarium from other types of terrariums is its CUC, or Clean Up Crew. The CUC is composed of beneficial insects, fungi, bacteria, and other microfauna which consume feces, mold, and other types of waste while also aerating the substrate and keeping harmful pathogens from building up.
Although there are some other factors that make a bioactive setup work, maintaining a diverse CUC of as many different organisms as possible should definitely be a priority. One way you can do this is by using Zophobas morio beetles and larvae, also known as superworms, in your bioactive.
Do Superworms Make Good CUC?
Although they are most commonly used as feeders, superworms can also be used in bioactive terrariums as part of the CUC.
Superworms and their beetles prefer dark, damp, humid areas. The larvae bury deep into the substrate, eating and breaking down organic materials like rotting wood, leaf litter, and waste like feces and leftover food. The beetles are active scavengers that patrol the terrarium day and night, eating whatever they can find.
How Do Superworms Benefit Your Bioactive?
Z. morio have a voracious appetite, and they’re not picky. They’ll happily eat waste like leftover food, shed skin, dead insects, dead plants, and feces. Aside from eating a lot, the larvae are also enthusiastic burrowers, and they’re great at helping keep your substrate aerated and healthy. As an added benefit, superworms are more likely to pupate in bioactive terrariums than in feeder colonies!
However, there are two things you should keep in mind about including Z. morio in your CUC:
- If they don’t have enough to eat, they may begin to harass your pet.
- Reptiles love to snack on superworms and superworm beetles, so they will likely be eaten on sight if your enclosure houses an insect-eater. This can be problematic, considering that this wouldn’t exactly be great nutrition for your pet if said superworm was recently chowing down on poo.
How to Care for the Superworms in Your Bioactive
Superworms are quite versatile as a CUC insect, but they do prefer tropical environments, as they are native to Central and South America. They can be used successfully in a variety of enclosures from semi-arid to tropical, but if you want to keep them in a drier setup, you will need to make sure to provide access to a moist underlayer of substrate and humid microclimates like pieces of wood or bark for them to hide under.
Avoid placing superworms or superworm beetles in super dry or barren enclosures, as they need moisture and places to hide.
For best results, add no more than 2 beetles per 10 gallons of enclosure.
Do You Need to Feed Bioactive Superworms?
Like other CUC bugs, superworms are generally happy to eat the decaying wood, leaf litter, dead plants, and leftover food present in a bioactive terrarium. That being said, that can lead to nutritional deficiencies. To keep your CUC optimally healthy, add CUC-specific food pellets or gel cubes to the enclosure every once in a while. Pieces of fruit or vegetable are also appreciated, and make for a good source of extra water.
Although Z. morio can and will eat feces, it’s best to remove fecal matter as soon as it is noticed, as this helps prevent your pet from getting re-infected with parasites in the event that they eat a member of their CUC.