What are superworms?
Superworms are larvae of the beetle Zophobas morio, a species of darkling beetle. Known as superworms, super worms, Zophobas, and sometimes Mario worms, these larvae are inexpensive, easy to house, and make a great treat for your pet reptile, amphibian, or bird.
How do I feed Superworms to my pets?
Superworms are easy to feed to your pet reptiles, amphibians, or birds. Larvae are fed to your pets, as most animals will not consume the beetles due to a distasteful chemical they emit when threatened. Simply remove the superworm from the bedding material and offer it to your critter. Contrary to popular belief, a superworm will not eat your pet from the inside out. Superworms are scavengers, so they will prey on deceased animals – you can see how this old wive’s tale probably arose.
If feeding superworms out as a treat, tong feed the superworm to your animal, or place them in a feeding dish or bowl that the superworms cannot escape from. Superworms are great at burrowing, and it may be difficult (if not impossible!) for your pet to find superworms after they have burrowed. Dusting with a quality vitamin/mineral supplement is always a great idea.
Superworms do have a hard, chitinous exoskeleton that makes digestion a bit of a challenge. Therefore, do not feed your pet superworms often! A few superworms at a time, 2-3 times a week, is ideal.
How do I house superworms?
Even though superworms look a lot like mealworms, DO NOT REFRIGERATE SUPERWORMS – it will quickly kill them. Store superworms at 70-80F – humidity is unimportant. Superworms can be kept without food for 1-2 weeks, but take the opportunity to gutload the superworms with something nutritious, such as Josh’s Frogs Cricket Food, or a carrot/sweet potato.
Keep the superworms in a smooth sided plastic container, such as a sweater box or cat litter pan. Housed together, superworms will not pupate and turn into beetles, so as long as you house them in a group and provide plenty of food and moisture, superworms can keep for several weeks. House superworms on 1-2” of Josh’s Frogs Mealworm Bedding, which also doubles as a food source! Provide a moisture source, such as Josh’s Frogs Insect Watering Gel, carrots, or sweet potatoes. Make sure to provide a piece of egg flat, so that the superworms have a hiding/climbing place.
How do I breed superworms?
Breeding superworms is fairly simple, but does take quite a while due to the superworm’s relatively long life cycle.
Egg Larvae Pupae Beetle (Adult)
7 – 10 Days 120 – 150 Days 14 – 21 Days 90 – 120 Days
Set up the adult beetles as you would the superworms. Adult beetles will live from 3-4 months, and will lay eggs throughout this period (although they will lay more eggs from 2-12 weeks of age). At Josh’s Frogs, we move the adult beetles to new containers every week or two, so that the superworms that hatch out in a bin are a similar age and size, making feeding easier.
We’re also experimenting with a tray with a screen bottom, that houses the beetles and sets over the top of another tray with bedding in it. That way, we can easily move the adults from one tray to another and control breeding.Start out by purchasing superworms, and house them as your normally would. After they have reached adult size (over 2” in length), remove them and house the superworms individually, without any food or water.
Those hobby boxes used to separate beads, fish tackle boxes, or even film canisters work well for this. After a week or so, the superworms will begin to curl into a ‘C’ shape, before pupating. The pupae will get dark, and after 2-3 weeks will hatch out into adult beetles.
After the eggs hatch (7 – 10 days), very small white larvae will be visible. Treat these just as you would with larger superworms, and in 3-4 months you’ll have 1.5 – 2 inch long superworms! Feed most of the superworms off to your pets, but make sure to hold some back to breed the next generation.
Where do I get superworms?
Nowadays, most pet stores carry superworms. You’ll find them by the mealworms and other feeders, typically on top of the fridge they store their other bugs in. We also sell superworms at Josh’s Frogs, in 25 or 50 counts. 50 worms is plenty to start out with – after a couple weeks of breeding, you’ll produce tons of worms! Don’t forget to pick up Josh’s Frogs Superworm Kit, which contains everything you’ll need to get started raising superworms up for your pet reptiles, amphibians, or birds!