How to breed Superworms

By Snaketracks / November 18, 2019
How to breed superworms

DIY Superworm Farm: How to breed Superworms

Knowing how to breed superworms is a valuable skill if you are a reptile, bird, or amphibian keeper since superworms can be fed to a variety of pets. Superworms are similar to Superworms only that they are much bigger and have higher calcium content which is good for your pets.

Superworms can be offered to geckos, bearded dragons, fish, birds including chicken and several other pets. These large worms can grow over 2 inches long.

Unlike crickets (cricket breeding guide), superworms won’t escape, make noise or smell bad. This makes them advantageous feeder insects to raise. In addition to all these advantages, they are extremely easy to breed.

Breeding superworms will save you time and money.

What Are Superworms?

Superworm

Superworms aren’t actually worms. They are larvae of a darkling beetle species specifically, the Zophobas morio. These beetles are closely related to the beetles that produce mealworms. As such, superworms are closely related to mealworms (mealworm farm guide). In fact, both are from the family Tenebrionidae. Superworms are, however, much larger.

Superworms prefer temperatures between 70 F and 80 F. When kept in temperatures below 60 F, they will die. They like humidity levels of about 70 percent.

These beetles start life as eggs. After hatchling, the remain larvae until they are about 2 inches long. They remain pupae for about 2 weeks until they transform into soft adults. Soft adults are light-colored beetles. Hardened adults are black in color. They remain adults for about 5 months.

Why Breed Superworms?

These large nutritious insects can be fed to a variety of pets such as geckos, and other lizards. These tasty insects are about 17.5% protein and 11% calcium (which is about 4 times the calcium content of mealworms).

They have a fat ratio of 16% and a fiber content of about 7%. Their high nutrient content makes them the perfect insects to breed.

Materials Needed

Superworms

Purchase about 50 to 100 live superworms. Since you need to keep feeding your pets, you can buy much more than 100. I recommend the Animal Specialties Live Superworms from Amazon. these live superworms are shipped quickly and are in great condition.

Partitioned craft boxes

This is to independently house the 100 pupating superworms. A good choice is the Plastic Organizer Box with Dividers from Amazon. Alternatively, you can also use baby food jars, plastic film canisters, condiment cups, and empty plastic cosmetic jars.

Whole oatmeal, cornmeal or wheat bran.

You can use DC Earth Wheat Bran Superworm Bedding. This is specifically designed for superworms and works perfectly.

Rubber container

which is at least 5 inches tall. I recommend the Petmate Litter Pant. It is a tall cat litter pan with a lid. Other alternatives include small aquarium or terrarium or plastic food storage.

Water crystals

These provide the beetles with water without dampening the bedding and causing rot. I recommend Cricket Water Polymer Crystals. Alternatively, you can offer slices of fruits which has to be changed frequently.

Cardboard egg cartons

This provides the beatles and superworms a place to hang out and hide. It also prevents the adult beetles from eating the eggs and the larvae.

Step Needed to Breed Superworms

Step 1 – Pupating the Superworms

Firstly, you have to acquire the starter superworms. You need about just 100 superworms. You can purchase live worms from your local pet supply store, or online from Amazon. Just make sure you acquire live worms and not dead ones.

Place each worm in a separate well-ventilated container. Objects you can use as containers include partitioned craft boxes, baby food jars, plastic film canisters, condiment cups, empty plastic cosmetic jars and many more.

It is likely you have containers you can use around your house. You want the superworms to pupate as fast as possible.

Housing the superworms in separate containers ensures they don’t nibble on one another as they mature.

It is best for the containers to be dark as this stimulates the pupation process.

Depending on the size of the superworm, add a little substrate or none at all. There is an advantage to both choices. Adding substrate which is a food base (such as oatmeal) can prolong the time it takes for the superworms to pupate as they keep growing bigger.

However, if the larva/superworms are not large enough, some may die. This is usually a few or none if you got large superworms (about 2 inches long) to start with.

Alternatively, you can add a little food/ substrate such as whole oats. This acts as a substrate and food for the superworm. Add just a little. After that don’t add any more food.

The containers must be stored in a warm dark place for about 10 days. It is important that the enclosure is dark so they pupate quickly. You can place them in a closet, drawer r cabinet.

The storage area needs to be warm (a temperature of about 80 F). This ensures they pupate with little to no issue. If the container is opaque with a cover, you won’t need to place it in a drawer since the inside would already be dark. Keep clear containers in a dark place.

As the superworms transform into pupae, they should curl up into an ‘e’ or ‘c’ shape. This should happen after just a few days. After a well, you would notice the visible change. They would look very different.

Their body becomes shorter, the ridges transform into legs, and their body color lightens to cream. They won’t look like superworms anymore.

It is possible for some of the superworms to die. Dead larvae are straight and stiff. Dead larvae may also turn dark. Get rid of all dead larvae.

Also, remember that live pupae can’t move anyway.

From there the pupae should transform into beetles. It doesn’t take long for the transformation to be completed. As the pupae mature, the legs darken and the pupae begin to look more like beetles. The process takes about 2 to 3 weeks.

Step 2 – Housing the Zophobas morio beetles

Once the larvae turn into beetles, they can be housed together in a communal enclosure. The enclosure should be about 5 inches tall. That will keep them from escaping.

Additional, the enclosure needs to have smooth sides and a screened lid or a lid with a mesh-covered air hole. The smooth sides ensure the beatles don’t climb out easily and the screened lid ensures the enclosure is well ventilated. I recommend the use of cat litter pans.

Add about an inch or two of bedding/food to the enclosure. There are several choices you can choose from such as wheat bran, wheat germ, oat bran or rolled oats. The bedding must be edible so it’s a source of food as well as a place to lay eggs for the next generation of superworms and eventual beatles.

If you use coarse grains such as whole oats, it may be difficult to remove beetles from the substrate when the time comes. To stop this from happening, you can grind up the bedding with a food processor before using it.

It is important to have a few fruit slices in the enclosure this provides moisture and nutrients. If you don’t do this, the beetles will eat each other to acquire the needed nutrition.

The fruit and vegetable slices can be apples, carrots, and potatoes. Alternatively, you can offer water storing crystals. This ensures the insects get the water needed and the substrate doesn’t get damp and moldy. Place the vegetables or water crystals on carton egg crates.

Never place a dish of water in the enclosure, it can cause the bedding to mold.

Change fruit and vegetable pieces regularly. This guarantees they don’t rot and mold the substrate.

It is important to keep the temperature right.  Keep the temperature between 70 F and 80 F (21 to 27 C). This ensures that the superworms are comfortable. You can use a reptile heating pad to warm up the enclosure if the temperature is too low. Placing superworms in a refrigerator will kill them.

Step 3 – Breeding adult Zophobas morio beetles)

Once the colony gets going, females will lay eggs which will hatch turn into superworms, then pupae, and finally adult beetles. A single female can lay up to 500 eggs before dying. Adult beetles live just 5 months.

It takes a couple to a few weeks for the beetles to start producing eggs.

Remove dead beetles and larvae regularly.

Have two separate containers. After about 2 to 4 weeks of the beetles being adults, move the now-adult beetles to a new container with bedding, egg carton, and everything they need. This prevents them from preying on the larvae and the eggs.

The new babies can now grow into larvae large enough to be fed to your pets. Gut load the superworms with fruits, and nutrient-rich water gel. A larva reaches its full size when it’s about 2 inches long.

Fruits and vegetables to feed babies include carrots, potatoes, and apples. Once they are bigger you can offer them water crystals.

Move any superworms you wish to breed to a new container with all the needed food, egg carton, and water source.

Advantages of Farming Superworms Instead of Buying

Cost

The great thing about breeding your very own insects is cost benefits. While starting the colony can be slightly costly, once you have an established colony, you won’t need to spend much.

You can feed them with wheat bran or oatmeal. It takes months before you need to change the grains used as bedding. You can also feed them slices of fruits and vegetables as well as vegetables and fruits you plan of throwing out.

Quality

As you farm the insects yourself, you will feed them well and supplement their staple diet with a lot of fruit and vegetables. This ensures the insects are of the highest quality and are very nutritious.

Availability

One of the biggest advantages of breeding your own insects is availability. When you need to feed your reptile, you can simply get some from your colony.

Disadvantages of Superworms

While there are a few disadvantages of superworms, the main disadvantage is that they can bite your pet if left unchecked.

Also, they cannot be kept alive in a refrigerator, unlike mealworms. The lifespan of mealworms can be lengthened through refrigeration. Superworms, on the other hand, die when refrigerated.

Conclusion

As one of the feeder insects high in calcium, superworms are one of the best insects to breed. They are easy to breed and live reasonably long. If you have more than a few pet reptiles or birds, then it may be best to breed superworms than to buy them from the pet supply worms every time you need to feed your pets.

Breeding your own insects is always a better choice as you know what they eat and drink. This way you can ensure they are of the highest quality. If you have any comments about breeding superworms, we would love to hear them.

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