Superworms Zophobas morio 

Breeding Instructions Click images to enlarge

Difficulty level - Moderate

Time Table - 4.5 -6 months from egg to beetle depending on temperature

Food - They eat the oat or bran substrate

Water - Provide apple, potato, or "orange cube"

Temperature - 75 - 85F works best. Lower temperatures slow down the cycle.

 Materials needed - Click to enlarge

Rearing Habitat Supplies

 

A plastic container with lid. The size will depend on your needs, but it should be at least 6 inches deep with steep sides. You should have at least 3 inches from the top of the container to your substrate.  A piece of insect screen.

Rolled oats or bran about 3-4 inches deep for substrate and food.

Egg crate for hiding and a piece of apple or potato, or "orange cubes" as a water source. Replace water source before it becomes moldy.

Holes in lid - Click to enlarge Rearing Habitat Assembly

Cut out a section of the lid and glue a piece of screen over it. This allows air in and keeps moisture from building up and causing mold. Fill the bottom of your container with 3 to 4 inches of oats or bran. Add the egg crate. Add your moisture source.

Orange Cubes - Click to enlarge  I like the Fluker's Orange Cubes. They are gel cubes that contain nutritious kelp, spiruluna, brewer's yeast, and more which helps gutload feeder insects and they are less susceptible to mold. If you use potato or apple, make sure to change it regularly.
Separate the Larvae - Click to enlarge Separate the superworms

Zophobas morio will almost never pupate when they are in the container with other superworms. You have to separate and stress them into the next phase. Some people use film canisters to do this. I use a "tackle box" type container shown in the picture. These must be put in a warm dark area. Some people add a little food, but it slows the process since you are trying to stress them.  

It is thought that they know they are vulnerable to cannibalism in the pupal stage and that is why they must be separated. Soon after you separate them they will curl up and begin to morph into pupae.  After separation and under the right conditions, your larvae should become pupae in 3-5 days. After 1-2 weeks, the pupae should become beetles.
Dead Larvae - click to enlarge Remove dead larvae

If the larva does not curl and only turns dark like these have, it is dead and should be removed. 

Dead Larvae - click to enlarge

Move beetles to colony

Each stage begins with a "white" phase of the stage. This picture shows the white beetle. Once the beetle emerges, you should put them in the colony. After 2-3 weeks, move all of the live beetles to a new colony to prevent them from eating the eggs and larvae. Adult beetles can live up to 5 months and lay 500 eggs.

Growth stages - click to enlarge Growth stages

This photo shows the life stages of the superworm. Each stage begins with a "white" or light version of the stage. As it matures and completes the stage it darkens.  Dead superworms are stiff and dark brown or black and should be removed from the container.

  Maintenance

Refresh the moisture source frequently. After a few weeks, you will want to clean the container and refresh the moisture and food sources. Move the beetles to a new container to prevent them from eating the eggs and tiny larvae.

When you clean out the container pay close attention to what you discard. You do not want to lose any tiny insects or eggs.  Restart the process when you have enough full grown larvae to fill your needs. 

 

 

Facts and Info

Nutritional Content
Protein 19.06%
Fat 14.19%
Calcium 173ppm
Fiber 2.60%
Moisture 61.92%

For more see  Nutritional Values

Stage Time (affected by temperature, humidity and food)
Egg 4-19 days 
Larva 10 weeks. Visible in 7-10 days
Pupae 6-18 days

Beetle

8-12 weeks

 

 

Some different looks

 

Superworms can be purchased in nearly all pet stores or online.

They are not difficult to breed.

Superworms are lower in chitin (the hard exoskeleton) than mealworms.

Superworms are not actually worms. They are the larval stage of the darkling beetle. Adult beetles can fly. A soft bodied white "worm" is what you'll see after a successful molting has occurred. This is a great time to feed them to your pet. They are lower in chitin in this stage of growth.

Superworms can NOT be stored in a refrigerator.

They can be "gut loaded" to enhance their nutritional value.

 

It has been said that superworms can eat their way out of a reptiles stomach after it has been consumed. Eating them usually includes their being chewed, but in any case they are sure to be dead by the time they make it to the animal's stomach and come into contact with the digestive juices.  

 

Superworms will bite so feeding them out should be monitored and uneaten insects should be removed to be fed at a later time. Do not leave them in the enclosure with your animal for extended periods of time.

 

Cannibalism, mice, ants, and mold are common problems for superworm colonies.

 

Average size of the adult superworm (larval stage) is 2-2.25 inches.

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