BSFL   Silkworms  |  Hornworms  |  Butterworms  |  Waxworms  |  Superworms  |  Live Crickets  |  Mealwowrms  |  Frozen Mice  

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At  The Worm Lady® , our specialty is Live feeder WORMS...

Reptile Live Feeder Insects is our business...

Live Feeders Nutrition Info Nutritional Requirement Facts

There is a huge difference between feeding ... and feeding well.  When you buy your live feeders ask yourself ... 'when was the last time those feeders had good nutrition?'  I'm not talking about an old, blackened piece of potato or other dead feeders in the container, that have been cannibalized.  I"m talking about proper, 'feeder-specific' nutrition.

At The Worm Lady we ensure that everything we ship has been raised with fresh, nutritious chow and that they receive adequate moisture every day.  Their substrate (what they live in and eat) is cleaned regularly. There is NO overcrowding and we ensure optimal ventilation for healthy insects.  It is a fact that improperly kept and improperly fed live feeders result in poor nutritional quality, and can even cause illness for your pets and added expense for you.  

We always ship your order of feeders with a little food for the voyage.  If you are ordering in bulk we can also provide the proper food loaded with macro/micro nutrients, for your specific feeders, at a discounted price.

It is our aim to deliver to you top quality live feeders at an excellent price, and to always follow through with prompt and courteous customer service.

Below we've listed our live feeders in order of nutrition - with the highest being number one - and trust that this will help you in making wise decisions when you are buying live feeders for your reptiles,

Finally, I again want  to remind you of the utmost importance of variety in your reptile's diet.  If along with your regular order you're only wanting to try one or two hornworms, or silkworms, or a dozen 'Reptiworms', please, just let us know.  We will fulfill any size order, with no minimum, and ship even the smallest order direct to your doorstep via 'FedEx Ground Overnight' Service.

We are here to serve you!

Live Feeder Insect Nutrition Chart

Annie here ... Giving 'Beastie', my bearded dragon, his weekly bath.  Cheers! 

The following Live Feeders are listed in order of

their nutritional value

1- BSFL; 2- Silkworm; 3- Horned Worm; 4- Butter worm; 5- Wax Worm; 
6- Super Worm; 7- Cricket; 8- Meal Worm

(#1 being the best nutritionally - down to #8 being the lowest in nutrition)



The Absolute Best Live Feeder Grub For Insectivorous Pets
- - - - - - - -
   125 Assorted Size for  $   8.40 (6.7 cents ea.) NOW $  4.20
   250 Assorted Size for  $ 16.00 (6.4 cents ea.) NOW $  8.00
   500 Assorted Size for  $ 30.00 (6.0 cents ea.) NOW $ 15.00
   750 Assorted Size for  $ 40.50 (5.4 cents ea.) NOW $ 20.25
 1000 Assorted Size for  $ 50.00 (5.0 cents ea.) NOW $ 25.00
 1250 Assorted Size for  $ 60.00 (4.8 cents ea.) NOW $ 30.00
 1500 Assorted Size for  $ 69.00 (4.6 cents ea.) NOW $ 34.50
 2000 Assorted Size for  $ 88.00 (4.4 cents ea.) NOW $ 44.00
 2500 Assorted Size for $107.50 (4.3 cents ea.) NOW $ 53.75
 3000 Assorted Size for $126.00 (4.2 cents ea.) NOW $ 63.00
 3500 Assorted Size for $143.50 (4.1 cents ea.) NOW $ 71.75
  4000 Assorted Size for $156.00 (3.9 cents ea.) NOW $ 78.00
 4500 Assorted Size for $171.00 (3.8 cents ea.) NOW $ 85.50

>>> ORDER HERE <<<


Special #1 - BSFL Black Soldier Fly Larvae

125 Assorted Size for  $  8.40 ( only 6.7 cents ea.)

250 Assorted Size for  $ 16.00 ( only 6.4 cents ea.)

500 Assorted Size for  $ 30.00 ( only 6.0 cents ea.)

750 Assorted Size for  $ 40.50 ( only 5.4 cents ea.)

1000 Assorted Size for $ 50.00 ( only 5.0 cents ea.)

1250 Assorted Size for $ 60.00 ( only 4.8 cents ea.)

1500 Assorted Size for $ 69.00 ( only 4.6 cents ea.)

1750 Assorted Size for $ 78.75 ( only 4.5 cents ea.)

2000 Assorted Size for $ 88.00 ( only 4.4 cents ea.)

2500 Assorted Size for $107.50 ( only 4.3 cents ea.)

3000 Assorted Size for $126.00 ( only 4.2 cents ea.)

3500 Assorted Size for $143.50 ( only 4.1 cents ea.)

3750 Assorted Size for $150.00 ( only 4.0 cents ea.)

4000 Assorted Size for $156.00 ( only 3.9 cents ea.)

    4500 Assorted Size for $171.00 ( only 3.8 cents ea.)

Special #2 - SILKWORMS

6 Small  for $3.75  ( only 63 cents ea.)

6 Med for     $4.45  ( only 74 cents ea.)

6 Large  for  $5.10  ( only 85 cents ea.)

Special #3 - HORNWORMS

6 Small for $3.90  ( only 65 cents ea.)

6 Med for   $4.90  ( only 82 cents ea.)

6 Large for $5.95  ( only 99 cents ea.)

6 X-Large for $6.95  ( only $1.16 ea.)

Special #4 - MEALWORMS

100 for   $ 2.20  ( only 2.2 cents ea.)

250 for   $ 5.25  ( only 2.1 cents ea.)

500 for   $10.00  ( only 2.0 cents ea.)

750 for   $14.25  ( only 1.9 cents ea.)

1000 for $17.00  ( only 1.7 cents ea.)

1250 for $20.00  ( only 1.6 cents ea.)

1500 for $22.50  (only 1.5 cents ea).

Special #5 - WAXWORMS

  50 for  $ 4.50 (only 9.0 cents ea.)

  75 for  $ 6.45  ( only 8.6 cents ea.)

100 for  $ 8.10  ( only 8.1 cents ea.)

150 for  $11.40  ( only 7.6 cents ea.)

250 for  $17.00  ( only 6.8 cents ea.)

500 for  $29.50  ( only 5.9 cents ea.)

750 for  $42.00  ( only 5.6 cents ea.)

1000 for $55.00  ( only 5.5 cents ea.)

1250 for $67.50  ( only 5.4 cents ea.)

1500 for $79.50  ( only 5.3 cents ea.)

1750 for $91.00  ( only 5.2 cents ea.)

2000 for $102.00  ( only 5.1 cents ea.)

Special #6 - SUPERWORMS

 100 for $ 6.00  ( only 6.0 cents ea.)

 250 for $14.25  ( only 5.7 cents ea.)

 500 for $26.50  ( only 5.3 cents ea.)

 750 for $35.25  ( only 4.7 cents ea.)

1000 for $37.00 ( only 3.7 cents ea.)

1500 for $52.50 ( only 3.5 cents ea.)

2000 for $68.00 ( only 3.4 cents ea.)

3000 for $99.00 (only 3.3 cents ea.)

Special #7 - CRICKETS

  100 for   $ 6.60  ( only 6.6 cents ea.)

  250 for  $15.50  ( only 6.2 cents ea.)

  500 for  $28.50  ( only 5.7 cents ea.)

1000 for  $43.00  ( only 4.3 cents ea.)

2000 for  $76.00  ( only 3.8 cents ea.)

Special #8 - BUTTERWORMS

 15 for   $ 8.55  ( only 57.0 cents ea.) 

 20 for   $11.20  ( only 56.0 cents ea.)

  25 for  $13.75  ( only 55.0 cents ea.)

  30 for  $16.20  ( only 54.0 cents ea.)

35 for  $18.55  ( only 53.0 cents ea.)

40 for  $20.80  ( only 52.0 cents ea.)

45 for  $22.95  ( only 51.0 cents ea.)

50 for  $25.00  ( only 50.0 cents ea.)

PRICING: Prices posted in this website are subject to change without notice.

 Nutritional Information 

TOP 7  Live Feeder Insects for Exotics

The following Live Feeders are listed in order of their nutritional value

1- BSFL; 2- Silkworm; 3- Horned Worm; 4- Butter worm; 5- Wax Worm; 6- Super Worm; 7- Cricket; 8- Meal Worm

(#1 being the best nutritionally - down to #8 being the lowest in nutrition)

 Exotic Pets Feeding Chart | Live Feeders Nutrition Facts 

Now there is finally a feeder insect that naturally provides very high calcium with low phosphorous levels, is very easy to maintain (will keep for weeks refrigerated at 50-55F), and dragons love them too!  ( See: Bearded Dragons Food List )

A regular diet of BSFL increases clutch sizes, and when fed to babies/juveniles, boosts growth rates by up to 30%.  They also have high natural levels of lauric acid, known to be an excellent antimicrobial which is very potent and guards against lipid-coated viruses clostridium and pathogenic protozoa including coccidian.

BSFL should be high on the ‘regular  feeder’ list of every reptile, amphibian, and/or exotic!


Black Soldier Fly
Phoenix wowrm

Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) 

 Incredible 1.43-to-1 Calcium/Phosphorus ratio!

Black Soldier Fly larvae (BSFL) wriggle like mad and trigger a tremendous feeding response!  They don’t smell, don’t need to be fed, won’t escape from the feed dish, can be kept cool (51 degrees or so) or at room temperature, and the only ‘care’ they may need is a couple of drops of water if their substrate begins to get dry.

ReptiWorms pack an almost perfect ratio of calcium and phosphorus, which is so very important in the diet of dragons, to provide the required daily 2-1 calcium to phosphorous ratio (which can halt, and sometimes even reverse, metabolic bone disease) without the risk of vitamin D-3 overdose.  If too little calcium supplementation is given, the dragons develop Metabolic Bone Disease; but if too much calcium with D-3 is given, they are at risk of toxicity, calcification of the liver and kidneys, and death.

( See: Bearded Dragon Diet )

BAFhave been reported to restore failing dragons back to good health. 

100 Count ReptiWorms

125 Count Small.Md $8.40  - 100 Count Large $8.95 -





The Benefits of Silkworms

Silkworm Nutritional Chart

Nutritional Content! 

Silkworms are a high source of Calcium, Protein, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, and Vitamins B1, B2, and B3.

Anole expert, A. Lanolis says, "...they're naturally the healthiest insect you can get."  

Silkworms also contain an enzyme called serrapeptase which has many beneficial properties:  it is an excellent anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, it aids calcium absorption, and it also fights arterial plaque!!  

According to many, silkworms are naturally one of the healthiest insect you can get to feed your pet.  You just can't beat the low-fat content & nutritional value of a silk worm.  Once thought to be delicate and hard to care for, silkworms are actually very hardy needing only a dry environment and a small amount of silkie food daily (which can be kept in the fridge for up to a month).  

Because of their high calcium content, silkworms are especially great  for gravid females since they help ensure strong and healthy eggs/offspring. Finally, as they are soft bodied, there is no worry of impaction in small or young exotics.  Considering their excellent nutritional value, low fat content, and ease of keeping, silkworms are building a strong demand and should be part of a regular exotic’s diet.


 Horn Worms

Horn worms

Horn worms 

Enticing and Nutritious!

At The Worm Lady we grow our own Horn Worms from eggs and have hornworms available in all sizes, from 1.5" snack-sized to impressive 4"-5" meal-sized.  Horn worms are great food items for your reptiles and amphibians.  

Since they have no chitin or exoskeleton, there is no worry about impaction.  When horn worms are fed their proper diet (tan-coloured horn worm chow), they possess a healthy nutritional content of: 9% Protein, 3.07% Fat, 46.4mg/100g Calcium, and 85% Moisture.

They are hardy, easy to keep, very low maintenance, and are a wonderful feeder to help ensure proper  hydration.

Horn worms are easily digested, and are often used to break hunger strike or for recovering reptiles and are another feeder which should be part of your exotic’s highly nutritious regular diet.  With their enticing teal colour and  black and white stripes that exaggerate their movements, horn worms will be pounced on in no time flat!

Horn worms in Feeder Pod

12 Horn worms (M/L) in 16oz. tub (with chow) : ONLY $15.95 CAD   (reusable)


Butter worms

butter worm

Butter worm **

Calcium Plus!

Similar in size and texture to wax worms, these soft grub-like worms are hands down the top feeder for Calcium with nearly twice as much as any other feeder insect!  Although high in fat content, they can be fed regularly to reptiles and exotics.  In fact, they are an excellent regular addition to the diets of juvenile exotics, those that are emaciated or suffering from poor body condition as well as gravid females.

Butterworms are an absolute favorite of Box Turtles, Bearded Dragons, Geckos, and most lizards. In addition to their colour and fruity smell, butter worms are very high in calcium...more than twice that of other feeder insects.  They are imported from Chile and can be stored for up to 4 months in a refrigerator at 50° F.

ButterWorm Nutritional Information
Moisture 58.54%
Ash 1.04%
Protein 16.20%
Fat 5.21%
Calories/Fat 87.73
Calcium (ml/100 grs) 42.90

 ** Note: When using these feeders in the regular diet of a healthy exotic, try to make sure you’ve given the healthiest foods first and save these for desert.  When you feed desert first, you’ll almost certainly end up with a “picky eater”!!



wax worm

Wax worm** 


Wax worms (waxmoth's larvae) are high in Fiber, Protein and Fat. Those little caterpillars pack a nutritional punch.  Wax worms are a common reptile/amphibian food but they should be fed as a treat since they are high in fat.  Think of them as candy bars for your critters!  Wax worms do not need to be fed, can be kept in the fridge (no lower than about 50 degrees).  Their substrate, usually wood shavings, should be kept dry.  

Female leopard geckos, and other lizards on a heavy egg laying schedule will bounce back to peak health if treated to wax worms regularly throughout the breeding season.

Wax Worms cannot tolerate high temperatures and are best maintained between 55 and 65 degrees.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for longer keeping.

 ** Note: When using these feeders in the regular diet of a healthy exotic, try to make sure you’ve given the healthiest foods first and save these for dessert.  When you feed dessert first, you’ll almost certainly end up with a “picky eater”!!





Superworms (Zoophobas Mario) are readily accepted by lizards, turtles, frogs, salamanders, birds, Koi and all other insect-loving animals.  Super worms are VERY active making them excellent feeders for animals that love to hunt and chase their prey. Super worms contain less chitin (the stuff that makes the shells hard) than meal worms, making them easier for your animals to digest.

The Superworm's hard chitin may make them less suitable for arachnids, some predatory insects, and baby or infant reptiles, since this may cause impaction (and possible death).  When feeding your smaller or younger exotics, try to feed the white or light-coloured Superworms since they have recently shed and would have a less hard outer chitin.

The substrate the Superworms are reared and kept in has a huge impact on the nutritional value they provide.  Moisture can be provided by adding cut carrot, potatoe/sweet potato or orange peel, and their bedding or substrate should be checked  daily  for mold.

Supers and virtually all other feeders should be dusted with calcium immediately prior to presenting them to your pet, and they should only represent a portion of an exotic’s daily or staple food source.

 Nutritional Analysis

Protein Fat Calcium Phosphorus Fiber
41.37% 41.00% 420mg/kg 5630mg/kg 4.00%

SPECIAL SUPERWORMS  (1.25"- 2.5" long - gut loaded) 

(most suppliers sell by weight and short you 100-150 worms/1000 count)
We know this first hand...from being shorted by suppliers all the time...

SUPERWORMS (DO NOT refrigerate)

    50 - $  4.50 - Special  ONLY  $ 3.95  ( 7.9 cents ea. )
  100 - $  8.50 - Special  ONLY  $ 6.00  ( 6.0 cents ea. )
  250 - $15.75 - Special  ONLY  $14.25  ( 5.7 cents ea. )
  500 - $23.95 - Special  ONLY  $26.50  ( 5.3 cents ea. )
  750 - $31.50 - Special  ONLY  $35.25 ( 4.7 cents ea. )
1000 - $40.00 - Special  ONLY  $37.00  ( 3.7 cents ea. )
1500 - $49.00 - Special  ONLY  $52.50  ( 3.5 cents ea. )
2000 - $58.00 - Special  ONLY  $68.00  ( 3.4 cents ea. )
2500 - $67.00 - Special  ONLY  $82.50  ( 3.3 cents ea. )
3000 - $76.00 - Special  ONLY  $99.00  ( 3.3 cents ea. )





Crickets are popular as a live food source for carnivorous pets like frogslizardstortoisessalamanders, and spiders. Feeding crickets, with other nutritious food, in order to pass the nutrition onto animals that eat them is known as gut loadingGut loading is considered most important if the primary source of nutrition is from insects, especially crickets. Because crickets are lower in nutritional value than other common insects fed, such as silk worms and wax worms. Larval insects contain more protein and digestible energy than adult insects. In addition, when gut loading larva they will gain the nutrients needed to pupate quickly and therefor will not keep as long. In addition to this, the crickets are often dusted with a mineral supplement powder (calcium) to ensure complete nutrition to the pet.

Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and several species have been known to bite humans. Crickets are composed mainly of ash and crave moisture, so you must always provide them moisture (water and sliced carrot) to avoid the crickets biting your pet in seeking moisture. Smaller crickets have less chitin so they are best fed to juvenile reptiles. Larger crickets have a hard exoskeleton and may cause impaction (sometimes resulting in death of your juvenile reptile).

Impact on the Ecosystem

Crickets breakdown plant material, renewing soil minerals. They are also an important source of food for other animals. They can increase your pet's activity in chasing them in feeding. 

Crickets may injure seedlings and large numbers can be destructive. Males songs can be quite loud. Mature adults can be very smelly.




Meal worm 

Mealworms are classified as Tenebrio molitor.  A poor staple feeder on its own because their nutritional value is low and the exoskeleton is hard.  Wait until the worm has just shed and feed your smaller reptiles meal worms no larger than one-half inch and very pale in colour.

As with Super worms, ensure that their substrate is nutritionally sound, that they have adequate moisture, and that they are dusted with calcium prior to being fed to your exotic.  Meal worms are an okay feeder, especially for juvenile reptiles with voracious appetites, but they should not be considered a main or sole ‘staple’ diet for your exotics.

Mealworms are an OK reptile, bird, and fish food source. The worms are high in protein and have an good shelf life.  Their small size makes them ideal for juvenile reptiles and young birds (as long as you feed them only the mealworms that have just shed and are still pale in color to avoid impacting due the the hard exoskeleton/chitin)

Mealworms are also used of pan fishermen, and for ice-fishing bait (see our Fishing Bait page)

Please let me know if any of the above information was helpful to you personally

by Clicking the Like button below - or - You can post a comment on Annie's Contact Us page here >> Contact Us

We love hearing from you - your thoughts and comments are really important to us...

 At The Worm Lady, our specialty is Live feeder WORMS...

One of the most important things you can do to help ensure your reptile pet has a long and healthy life is to provide a good VARIETY of healthy insects, live feeders, in order to create a good, balanced diet, similar to what your reptile pet would naturally eat in its natural environment.

At the Worm Lady our worms are bred/raised on fresh vegetables, grains and high quality specially prepared chow that is specific to each particular worm or insect species.

This is your assurance that, when you use live feeder worms/products from  The Worm Lady, you’re giving your critter the best!


To Place Your Order
Please call Annie at: (226) 787-8286
 Peter: (226) 787-8288
We ensure a 10% over-count on all your orders so you KNOW you’re getting what you’ve paid for

CALL - - The Worm Lady ® - - (226) 315-0191
If I don`t have it, I`ll help you find it!

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Nutritional Value of Commercially Raised Insects

Up until recently there was little detailed nutritional information about commercially raised insects.  However in the last 10 years the nutrient content of the most common commercially raised insects has been published in peer reviewed journals.  These analyses include house crickets (Acheta domesticus), waxworms (Galleria mellonella larvae) mealworms (Tenebrio molitor larvae),superworms (Zophobas morio larvae), silkworms (Bombyx mori larvae) butterworms (Chilecomadia mooreilarvae), soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens larvae) and several species of roaches and locusts. Some of these data are summarized in table 1.  While the food the insect consumes as it grows can modify the nutrient content of the insect, these data provide sufficient information to suggest some general guidelines regarding insect nutrient content.  These data also provide the background from which to develop appropriate gut-loading diets or dusts which can enhance the levels of nutrients that are low in commercially raised insects.

Pet owners should be careful when using insect nutrient data found online.  Much of it reviewed by this author was found to be inaccurate.  While the exact reasons are unclear, it may be that the website did not properly report previously published peer reviewed data, they had their insects analyzed by a commercial laboratory that was not capable of accurately analyzing live insects or in some cases they simply copied inaccurate data published elsewhere online.  The reader should always ask where the nutritional information found online comes from.  Peer reviewed published research articles are the best source of reliable information although some good unpublished information is available.  When in doubt call or e-mail the website and ask them the source of the information.

Independent laboratory analysis
Nutritional Value of Commercially Raised Insects
House crickets Adults 69.2 20.5 6.8 1.1 3.2 407 2,950 0,4 0.138
House crickets Nymphs 77.1 15.4 3.3 1.1 2.2 275 2,520 0,2 0.109
Mealworms Larvae 61.9 18.7 13.4 0.9 2.5 169 2,950 2.4 0.057
Superworms Larvae 57.9 19.7 17.7 1 2.7 177 2,370 0.6 0.075
Waxworms Larvae 58.5 14.1 24.9 0.6 3.4 243 1,950 2.3 0.125
Silkworms Larvae 82.7 9.3 1.1 1.1 1.1 177 2,370 3.3 0.075
Butterworms Larvae 60.2 15.5 29.4 0.8 1.4 125 2,250 0.7 0.056
Black Soldier Flies Larvae 61.2 17.5 14 3.5 3 9,340 3,560 7.7 2.624
Fruit flies Adults 69.1 21 5.9 3.1 2.2 526 4,080 0.9 0.129
Turkestan Roaches Nymphs 69.1 19 10 1.2 2.2 385 1,760 Not analyzed 0.219
Six-spotted cockroaches Nymphs 50.8 18.8 26.8 Not analyzed 1 295 1,820 Not analyzed 0.162
Madagascar hissing cockroaches Nymphs 69.2 19.5 6.3 4 2.6 771 2,870 Not analyzed 0.269
 *_ Fiber neasured as acid detergent fiber

Click for a larger version.

Summary of the Major Nutritional Components

The five major nutritional components of live insects are moisture, protein, fat, fiber and ash generally in that order; however some species of insect larvae contain more fat than protein (see table 1).  While statements like “some insects are too hard” or they “contain too much chitin” or they “have too much shell” and thus are inappropriate for some species of insectivores are commonly encountered online, those statements have little basis in fact.  Most insects contain relatively small amounts of chitin (chitin is only present in the cuticle/outside layer of the insect) and it is unlikely to be an issue for insectivores eating a diet consisting of multiple species of appropriately sized commercially raised insects.

In general insects contain very little calcium and have a calcium:phosphorus ratio of less than one.  A small number of insect species have a mineralized exoskeleton and hence contain significant amounts of calcium including black soldier fly larvae, a species which is commercially available (sold as Calciworms®, Phoenix worms® or Reptiworms).  As such soldier fly larvae can serve as a good source of calcium for insectivorous lizards (when feeding other species of insects calcium can be supplied by either dusting or by gut-loading).  When properly done with the right products both gut-loading and dusting can be effective.  Crickets and some other insect species will rapidly groom off adhering dusts so the insect must be consumed quickly.  Properly formulated gut-loading diets have been shown to increase the calcium content of house crickets, wax worms, mealworms and silkworms from 5-20 fold.  It should be noted however that many commercially available gut-loading diets failed to increase the calcium content of crickets presumably due to improper formulation.  Other than calcium most insects appear to be good sources of most minerals.  These include the macro-minerals phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride and the trace minerals iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.

Insects and Vitamins

There is only limited data available on the fat-soluble vitamin content of insects.  To date, all commercially bred insects analyzed contain virtually no vitamin A, very low levels of vitamin D and vitamin E levels that are much lower than those found in wild-caught insects.  Vitamin A deficiency has been reported in a number of species of captive insectivorous lizards and amphibians fed commercially raised insects.  Additionally most commercially raised insects contain almost no carotenoids while most wild caught insects contain a number of different carotenoids including β-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.  Some species of vertebrates can convert some of these carotenoids to vitamin A and so in the wild they may serve as a source of vitamin A for insectivores although nothing is currently known regarding the ability of insectivorous lizards to convert carotenoids to vitamin A.  Feeding carotenoids to several species of amphibians has been also shown to enhance both reproduction and animal coloration so carotenoids may play other important roles for insectivores.  Recently crickets, mealworm, superworms and waxworms with enhanced levels of carotenoids, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids have been introduced to the market (Vita-bugs®; Timberline Live Pet Foods, Marion, IL).

In contrast to the data for fat-soluble vitamins, all insects analyzed to date appear to be excellent sources of most of the water soluble/B-vitamins.  The only exception is thiamin (vitamin B1) where many species appear to contain relatively low levels.  It is important to note that thiamin deficiency has recently been reported in a colony of Puerto Rican Crested Toads fed exclusively crickets.

In summary, insects are rich in many nutrients especially protein/amino acids, most minerals (except calcium) and most B-vitamins.  Nutrients which are low in most commercial insects and for which deficiencies have been observed in captive insectivores include calcium, vitamin A and thiamin.  While deficiencies have not been reported, other nutrients of possible concern based on nutrient analysis of insect include vitamins D and E, omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids.  While our knowledge of insectivore nutrition is very limited, feeding insectivores a diet composed of a variety of different species of commercially raised insects is likely the best way to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  Particular attention should be paid to the intake of calcium, vitamins A and E, carotenoids and thiamin either through feeding a diet of mixed insect species and/or through the proper use of gut-loading or dusting.  The exact mix of insects may vary depending on the situation.  For example overweight animals may benefit from a lower fat diet (fewer mealworms, superworms, waxworms and butterworms) while sick underweight animals of the same species may benefit from a diet with more high fat/high calorie larvae.


Finke MD. 2002.  Complete nutrient composition of commercially raised invertebrates used as food for insectivores.  Zoo Biology 21:286-293.

Finke MD. 2003. Gut loading to enhance the nutrient content of insects as food for reptiles: A mathematical approach. Zoo Biology 22: 147-162.

Finke MD, Dunham SD, and Kwabi CA. 2005. Evaluation of four dry commercial gut loading products for improving the calcium content of crickets, Acheta domesticus. Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery 15: 7-12.

Finke MD. 2013. Complete nutrient content of four species of feeder insects. Zoo Biology 32:27-36.

Oonincx DGAB and Dierenfeld E.  2011.  An investigation into the chemical composition of alternative invertebrate prey.  Zoo Biology 29:1-15.

Mark Finke has worked in the area of comparative animal nutrition for more than 20 years and has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles on nutrition in insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin with a dual major in nutritional sciences and entomology. He currently is a consultant specializing in animal nutrition.

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The Worm Lady®

4 Lilac Court, McGregor, Ontario, Canada, N0R 1J0  /  TEL: (226) 787-8286


Suppliers/Breeders of high quality live feeders :

ReptiWorms . Silkworms . Hornworms . Butterworms . Waxworms . Superworms . Crickets . Mealworms . Mice & Rats . Repashy Superfoods

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