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As a relatively all purpose kind of pet store, we sell insects. For those who have never had a reptile, it’s hard for them to imagine keeping bugs in the house. Though there have been many advancements in “bug technology” that is keeping dead bugs in containers, EXO TERRA is a wonderful example of a company doing such a thing, many people prefer live bugs over the dead ones.

This article is to explore the world of insects, their life spans, their purpose and their importance.

Insects are fed to a variety of animals, typically these are other forms of arachnids and insects that people keep as pets, but also for reptiles. However, some people will also feed insects to their mammals and birds, a good example of this is the hedgehog, which is an insectivore by nature.

It’s a fact that many cultures outside the Western world eat insects, not only is it healthy and good for you but the chances of getting sick from a bug (other than one you shouldn’t be eating of course) is incredibly rare!

The first insect we will explore is the cricket!

CRICKETS

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Crickets are the staple diets for a variety of animals kept as pets. They’re sort of like clothing however, the various kinds of species fall in and out of season. One year a particular species will be more popular than others. Right now, it’s the banded cricket for us that has fallen into season. The most commonly found crickets in pet stores are the house crickets (Acheta domesticus), the banded cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus) and the black field cricket (Grylus bimaculatus) though there are other varieties that do exist.

There really isn’t much of a huge different between the three species mentioned above, in general black field crickets tend to be more aggressive, house crickets are often times louder and banded crickets tend to be faster.

Many people don’t like having crickets in their house because of the stigma that they are loud, and when they are fully grown adults searching for a mate this is certainly true. However, crickets in general have a 9 week life span, and it isn’t until they’ve reached sexual maturity that they make the noise that people often despise.

Due to their popularity as a staple diet there are a variety of cricket pens that one can purchase which are wonderful if one decides to keep crickets in bulk.

Crickets are inexpensive, easy to find and full of protein.

SUPERWORMS

1374356222_2549_super2Next to crickets, superworms (sometimes called mealworms in other stores) are the next most commonly kept insects. These worm like insects are actually not worms, but beetles, we they’ll eventually turn into beetles. They are often fed as good treats as they are full of fats, proteins and other goods. The Zophobas morio, the Latin name for superworms, are the larvae stage of the black beetles that will eventually emerge.

Considerably larger than crickets, these make good snack items. They are also popular because they have less of an exoskeleton, making these treats especially and considerably easier for reptiles to digest.

Superworms will turn into a pupae in 1 or 2 weeks, and in another 1 to 2 weeks you’ll get the beetles.

The beetles aren’t especially dangerous, but we recommend to get rid of them.

MEALWORMS

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Often confused as superworms, and vice versa, mealworms are not the same as superworms. Where superworms are Zophobas morio, mealworms are Tenebrio molitor. Though like superworms they do eventually become beetles as well.

Mealworms are also considerably alot smaller than superworms.

Mealworms are often kept in fridge, making them perfect for storage.

They are often fed to smaller reptiles who cannot eat superworms.

HORNWORMS

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By far one of the prettiest of the worm species, the hornworm (or Manduca sexta) is another popular choice but they are often considerably more expensive than the other worms. They do not turn into beetles like the previous two, instead they turn into a beautiful moth if given the chance. Thus, hornworms are the larvae stage of the Manduca sexta.

They are quite low in a few areas like protein and fat (hornworms are much better for that), but they are decent for calcium and water intake. Thus they are good to help a reptile maintain their weight, but also provide good calcium and water.

These particular worms have a shorter life span than others, living up to 50 days. During that time they’ll turn from larvae, into pupae to eventually a gorgeous moth.

SILKWORMS

20130215silkwormcloseupThe Bombyx mori, or more commonly known as silkworm, are similar to hornworms in that they are a caterpillar or larvae. They will eventually also become a moth.

Out of all the insects this one might be the hardest one to find, however they are growing in popularity and in demand.

They are beneficial for many reasons, the first is that they’re a non aggressive insect, which might come to a surprise to people who may not have considered that insects can be particularly defensive or aggressive. Where the hornworm will generally mock an attack,silkworms don’t seem to respond at all.

They are also highly nutritional.

Unlike hornworms that are often just high is moisture and water, silkworms actually have a wonderful balance of calcium, magnesium protein and vitamins.

WAXWORMS AND BUTTERWORMS 

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Two different species, waxworms or Achroia grisella and butterworms or Chilecomadia moorei are well known as they are often kept in the fridge similarly tWaxwormso mealworms. Both are  a good source of protein and source of calcium.