Zophobas morio

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Zophobas morio
Zophobas morio larva - top (aka).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Tenebrionidae
Genus: Zophobas
Species: Z. morio
Binomial name
Zophobas morio
Fabricius, 1776

Zophobas morio is a species of darkling beetle, whose larvae are known by the common name superworm or zophobas. Superworms are common in the reptile pet industry. They should not be confused with giant mealworms, which are tenebrio molitor larvae sprayed with juvenile hormone.

These insect larvae resemble very large mealworms, about 1.7 to 2¼ inches long (50-60 mm) when full size. They have 6 small legs and two rudimentary hind prolegs. Once they reach adult size, the larvae pupate, and later emerge as large, black beetles. The larvae will not pupate if kept in a container with many other larvae and plentiful food, where they receive constant bodily contact.[1] Keeping superworms this way is commonly used to hinder pupation. However, if you would like to mature the superworms into darkling beetles, you will have to separate each one individually for about 7-10 days. After the given amount of time, they will emerge from their pupae stage as darkling beetles.[2] Contrary to popular belief, the adult does not have fused elytra, since the beetle occasionally attempts to fly as an emergency measure against starvation.[3]

Superworms are accepted by lizards, turtles, frogs, salamanders, birds, koi and other insectivorous animals. Their hard chitin may make them less suitable for arachnids and some predatory insects. Their nutritional values are similar to those of mealworms, so it is possible that supplementation with calcium is necessary if they are used as a staple food item. The larvae are odor-free (but the beetles possess a pungent chemical defense that may be released when overprovoked), and can be easily contained, making them ideal for raising at home to feed a collection of captive insectivores.

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