Commonly referred to as superworms, giant mealworms, zophobas, or darkling beetles. Zophobas morio is eaten at the larval stage and is 1.5 to 2 times larger than regular mealworms, at up to 2.25 inches long. The larvae are tan with dark stripes at the end and a dark spot on their head.
The adults are black and have a fused wing plate. Their abdomen is pointier compared to that of regular mealworms.
Superworms occur naturally in the tropical regions of Central and South America, but have spread across the world for use as food for reptiles and other insectivorous pets. They are often found amongst rotting logs and leaves.
Superworms are traditionally fed potato, apple, or carrots as a water source in the pet trade, since these are easy and cheap to find. Keeping them in bran flakes or rolled oats as substrate is acceptable for keeping them fed, and also allowing them to burrow and feel safe. Superworm larvae and their adult form have both been known to accept protein sources like dog or cat kibble and even dead fish, leaving nothing but tough skin and bones behind. They don't do well with pure fat or highly fatty foods like avocado. jjjj
Obtaining fully grown worms form a pet store can be the cheapest, easiest way to start a colony. Separating the worms into individual isolation containers will ensure they pupate into beetles. Any worms that haven't curled into a "C" shape or that don't pupate within 7-13 days may need to be fed and grow more before being able to pupate. Once your beetles have emerged you may place them into a container of some kind, possibly a storage tub or glass tank with a fine mesh top or many small drilled holes (to let the worms breathe and to let out excess humidity). You'll also need to pick a substrate like Eco-earth, rolled oats, bran flakes, or even regular soil baked at 350°F for 30 minutes to kill any other organisms living there as a safety precaution. The worms will also need things to climb on and under. Anything made of cardboard is suitable, and is cheap enough to discard when it becomes soiled.
Once the beetles have gone from brown to black, feed them and provide moist food, then wait for them to mate. Once the male has climbed onto the female and fertilized her eggs, he'll climb off and she will go lay them in the substrate or in a hard-to-reach place (e.g. between two pieces of cardboard or up against the wall). The mating and egg-laying process can take a few hours to complete for a single pair of beetles.
After about a week or so, the larvae will start to emerge from their eggs, nearly too small to notice in the substrate. Once they are grown to your liking, you can sift them out away from the beetles, using a colander or mesh box with holes the beetles won't fit through. The beetles will continue to produce offspring as long as they aren't too old. Place the beetles back in their container with fresh substrate and repeat the process. Store and let your worms grow out in another container, regularly feeding them oats or bran along with potato or apple for moisture. Use for eating or for feeding whatever you are breeding the superworms for.
Disclaimer: If you are eating them yourself, it is unknown if feeding the beetles protein-rich food affects the gut-flora of the human body. All that is known is the super worms themselves enjoy the protein. Also, housing them in anything but bran flakes or oats may be undesirable if the larvae are being used for entomophagy as the larvae themselves will eat their bedding. This farming information comes from experience of breeding superworms for use in feeding reptiles. Eat at your own risk.
There are no known legal issues with the import, export, or sale of superworms.
Superworms are widely available in pet stores or from herpetological supply stores. There are no known sources of pre-prepared superworms, but they are available live from the following sources.
- HealthyCrickets.com (http://www.healthycrickets.com/buy_superworms/buy_superworms.htm)
- New York Worms (http://www.nyworms.com/superworms.html)
Rainbow Mealworms is the world's largest farm: Superworms in bulk