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, not to 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. Keeping superworms this way is commonly used to hinder pupation. In order to mature the superworms into darkling beetles, they must therefore be kept away from their peers for about 7-10 days. They will then, upon maturation, emerge from their pupal stage as darkling beetles. Contrary to popular belief, the adult does not have fused elytra, as the beetle occasionally has been observed attempting to fly as an emergency measure against starvation.
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 tendency to bite may make them unsuitable for some insectivorous mammals, such as hedgehogs. 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. In some cases they are preferred over mealworms due to their softer exoskeleton, making them more digestible to some reptiles. 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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