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Nature and Wild Life

Zophobas morio

They are big, juicy, and kind of unsettling. Super worms, or sometimes referred to as Morio worms since they are the larvae of the Morio beetle (darkling beetle). Nutrition wise, super worms are not all that different from mealworms apart from being larger and having more fat content compared to mealworms. For tarantulas in particular, you can sort of think of them as the fast food option. It’s okay to feed them every once in a while and probably not a bad idea to feed them one before winter season, but they should not be a staple diet for your tarantula as feeding your tarantula too many super worms will lead to them becoming obese and thus, they won’t eat for you as often as you’d like them to. They are also very rich in calcium which is kind of pointless for tarantula nutrition anyways (though probably more beneficial to some insectivore reptiles and amphibians) . One of the nice things about super worms though is that they can keep a tarantula full for months with just one superworm (depending on the size of the tarantula). With that said, tarantulas seem to love eating super worms with some caveats I'll get to a moment.

My particular tarantula seems to be afraid of live superworms. That fear is kind of warranted because they do have a tendency to bite. I don’t even feel comfortable holding one with my own hand so I use bamboo tweezers to hold them. Because there is a risk of the superworm attacking the tarantula and worse, burying itself into the substrate and potentially pupating into a full size darkling beetle which will be even more trouble for the tarantula, I have to pre-kill the superworm prior to feeding it to my tarantula. I found using a pair of wire cutters to snip the head off the superworm is humane enough to put the superworm out of its misery quickly before feeding it to the tarantula. It does sound brutal but it’s the most humane way to kill a superworm in my opinion and it’s for the safety of my tarantula.

One con about keeping superworms is that they don’t pupate in a colony of other superworms. What I mean is that because there is a risk of getting eaten by other superworms in an enclosure to pupate, they are not as easy to mature as is the case with mealworms. The best method for helping your superworms pupate into darkling beetles is to separate them from the rest of the colony (though after you had gut loaded them with some food which I’ll get to in my enclosure setup). You can put them in something like a deli-cup and keep them somewhere that is well ventilated and dark. Don’t leave them any food in this deli-cup. They will then curl up into a “C” shaped curve before going into the pupation stage where it can take a week or two before they transform into a darkling beetle. Then you can either place them into a separate enclosure or place them back into the colony (I haven’t had any issues with cannibalism with adults and larvae) but keep in mind darkling beetles will only live for a few months so make sure they are several of them so they can start breeding. You probably want to do this for several superworm larvae if you want to effectively breed them. Otherwise, they can stay in their larva stage for about 150 days give or take. Some people don’t even bother breeding them as you can buy them in bulk for not a lot of money. Unlike Dubia roaches, you can even find them in big chain pet stores. They also don't smell and I never heard of anyone with a Zophobas morio allergy so keeping them won't be too difficult.

My Enclosure Setup

My enclosure setup is going to be very similar to my mealworms enclosure. I use those plastic tubs you can get from Walmart for a couple of bucks though you can also use a critter keeper or pretty much any container as long as it’s deep enough for some oats (which will be used for substrate). Some people will use coco-fiber as well though the oats can also serve as food too so there’s that. That’s pretty much it though if you plan on housing some darkling beetles, you can place some hides in there as well. Just make sure your enclosure has some ventilation. You can use a dremel, drill, or in my case, a small screw driver and a bit of hand strength to puncture some holes around the plastic tub and the top of the lid. Make sure the lid is well secured as I had instances where some the larva can climb out of the tub and escape into the room. I usually find them in the pupation stage when I find them and simply put them back in the enclosure. You can probably tape the sides or something to keep them from escaping. While the oats can serve as a source of food. They’ll also need some hydration. I found fruits and veggies are a good source for that. Apples and Carrots are my preferred choice. You can feed them around once a week and they can go without eating for about 2 weeks max. The plants in my photo serve no purpose other than for decor. I had a bunch of fake leaves and placed them in the enclosure for the darkling beetles to hide and climb on. Unlike with Dubia roaches, you may want to do some maintenance cleaning with your superworm enclosure at least by the end of each month. Check for mold or left over and uneaten food. Clean out any dead superworms or darkling beetles. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to remove the old oat substrate and replace it with some fresh oats. Some people can get away with not replacing it for a year but I live in a warm and humid environment so things tend to mold very easily. If your superworms aren’t eating any of the fruits or veggies you left for them after a week, throw it out to prevent any mold outbreaks. Usually they eat whatever you give them but don’t give them too much.

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