Superworms! Superworms are one of the most common feeder insects in the reptile community. Superworms range in size from 1.5 to 2.5 inches long. They are brown and tan in color and have a shiny, hard exoskeleton. Although we call them superworms, they really aren’t worms at all. Superworms, or Zophobas Morio, are the larvae of Darkling Beetles. These bugs are very interesting and different in the way that they change throughout their lives.
Superworms are the larvae or babies of the dark black Darkling Beetles. Once superworms reach full size, they are ready to pupate. Unlike mealworms, which they are often times compared to, superworms will not pupate unless special steps are taken to do so. If you have a tub of superworms, they will remain superworms for the remainder of their lives and eventually die off. In order for superworms to pupate, they need to be secluded from all other worms. They need to be in a space all by themselves in order to morph into their next life phase. Once they are in a space of their own, they will begin to slow down. They will then curl up and become very still. After they curl, they will begin to molt their skin and become a pupae. The pupae are small, cream or yellowish colored things that will remain still other than the occasional twitch of their tail. They will twitch when they are touched or picked up. Soon after the pupae appears, the beetle will begin to emerge from the pupae. Legs will start to form and wings will begin to unfold. The beetles will be white at first and then turn orangish and then red. The red color will deepen until the beetle becomes jet black.
In their beetle phase, the bugs will mate. After a couple weeks, the beetles will begin to lay eggs in the wheat bran bedding. Female beetles can lay about 500 eggs! The eggs will hatch in seven to ten days and tiny white superworms will emerge. Depending on their husbandry and food, superworms can grow very slowly and may take 5 months or even longer for them to become full sized. When kept at warmer temps and fed more heavily, some worms can grow much faster than that. Superworms can be quite sensitive to temperature and humidity and they will also start to cannibalize if they are not fed enough. They can be fed pretty much any fresh vegetables but a few that we feed include carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and sweet potatoes. These veggies supply enough water for the worms as well.
Although superworms are one of the more involved feeders to breed, they are a great addition to your pet’s diet and are typically readily available. When fed with other bugs, superworms can become a great staple for a balanced diet for your pets. We have superworm beetles available on our website if you would like to start your own colony. If that isn’t your thing, we have large superworms ready to be enjoyed by your pets!