9 Insects To Feed Your Bearded Dragon For Optimum Health — The Gutload

9 Insects To Feed Your Bearded Dragon For Optimum Health

9 Insects to Feed Your Bearded Dragon for Optimum Health

You may be asking, what are the top feeders for promoting your bearded dragon’s health? With so many options available, it can be downright confusing to answer this question. After researching, I found that it’s possible to spoil our beardies without jeopardizing their health.

The following are my favorite insects to offer to bearded dragons, ranked from #1 to #9. These include roaches, worms, and crickets. Offering variety is essential to having a happy and healthy reptile. Any of the choices listed below can be offered as a staple diet but be sure to use a combination when feeding.

Please remember that all choices on this list make for fantastic food items. #9 could very well be #1 for YOU and that’s the beauty of it!

#1 Phoenix worms (hermetia illucens, aka calci-worms, black soldier fly larvae, BSFL)

Whether you’re a seasoned breeder or a new dragon owner, you’ll find that most keepers prefer the black soldier fly larvae over any other feeder out there.

These have taken the industry by storm and continue to be a popular choice among most reptile enthusiast. Definitely my number one favorite insect to offer especially as a staple.

  • Soft bodied which means they are easy to digest and less prone to causing impaction
  • Contain not only high levels of calcium but also a good balance of Phosphorus which prevents issues like Metabolic Bone Disease or egg binding in breeder females
  • Do not need additional supplementation due to optimum CA:P ratio
  • Have a good shelf life and will last around 4 weeks at room temperature
  • Great prey item that wiggles and moves restlessly stimulating your dragon to attack
  • Can be stored in the fridge at 50F to last a couple months
  • Do not have a smell or odor
  • Cannot chirp or make annoying noises
  • Multiple size options available ranging from 1/8” to ¾” long
  • Provide adequate amounts of protein which boosts growth and reproduction
  • Little to no maintenance
  • Cannot transmit diseases or parasites to your Beardies
  • Easy to gutload and dust

How many times to offer per day and recommended sizing:

Hatchlings – 5/16” or “Small” worms

4” to 6.5” long bearded dragons – 7/16” or “Medium” BSFL

Juvenile to Adults – ¾ or “Large”

As a rule of thumb for all insects, be sure to feed only as much as they can eat within 10-15 minutes or whenever they stop before that. For frequency, babies fed 2-3 times per day and adults are 1-2 times per day.

#2 Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia, orange-spotted roach, Guyana)

Number two on the list are the amazing dubias. These cockroaches are a tropical species and have many benefits nutritionally that make it a quality choice above others.

Notably they are high in protein and have a great meat to shell ratio which promotes growth especially in bearded dragons.

Due to being heavier bodied, it takes less roaches to satisfy your pet’s hunger thus saving you money in the long run.

They are also available everywhere online and even in some local pet shops.

  • Docile bugs that will not bite or scratch your beardies
  • High level of protein which encourages growth and repairs cells
  • Non-climbing, non-jumping, and odorless
  • Noninvasive and will not infest your home if they escape
  • Slow growing and can live for about 2 years
  • Can be fed at and to all stages
  • More calcium and less phosphorus which is good for breeding females
  • Voracious eaters which gutload without a problem further boosting nutritional value
  • Fairly active
  • Inexpensive and readily available online and offline
  • Great for rehabbing rescues and malnourished BDs
  • Very filling

Quantity and frequency to consume:

Hatchlings – 0.25” in length “Extra Smalls”

Juvis – 3/8” to 0.5” length “Smalls”

Sub Adults – 5/8” long “Mediums”

Adults – 7/8” to 1” long “Large”

Frequency depends on overall size and age of your lizard, feeding 2-3 times per day is generally acceptable.

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#3 Discoid roaches (Blaberus discoidalis, False Death Heads)

These specimens are basically a Florida legal Dubia with the exception that they get about half an inch larger and contain more meat. I’ve also noticed that Discoids will grow faster as nymphs until their final instar which takes a little longer to mature than Blaptica.

So they actually grow quicker but breed slower in contrast to dubia roaches. Also, they are much more active and will climb or run around enticing your reptile more.

They won’t “play dead” or hide away as much as their counter parts.

Lastly, their frass (poop) is not as irritable as other roach frass in my experience. When cleaning, I do not have allergic reactions such as sneezing or coughing compared to other species.

Since they contain more meat, they will take less to feed than other bugs.

#4 Turkestan roaches (shelfordella tartara, lats, rusty reds, Turkestan red runner)

Can you say underrated and underappreciated? The only bug that’s more underappreciated would probably be the orange heads in my opinion.

One tiny downside to red runners is their sizing. They only grow to be the length of an adult cricket.

They are meatier however and a lot more nutritious pound for pound or in this instance gram for gram that crickets. Since they cost substantially less, you can feed more without breaking the bank.

  • Hardy and reproduce like crazy
  • Easy to digest due to lower chitin content
  • Move extremely fast but are easily contained in a food bowl
  • Cheap
  • Have never had any reptile including beardeds turn them down
  • Do not burrow or dig
  • Long lifespan (24 Months)
  • Grow extremely quick
  • High in protein, low in fat
  • More nutrients per body weight compared to other roaches
  • Very low maintenance
  • Will slow down considerably when dusted

#5 Orange head roaches (Eublaberus posticus)

These grow to be the same size as Discoids but are livelier. Nymphs hatch out smaller than dubia but grow to be bigger in size.

It’s hard to find a bug large enough to satisfy adult BDs and this is one of the main reasons why I prefer posticus over the competition.

They aren’t as accessible or readily available as other bugs otherwise I would place these at #3 or even #2 on the list.

Orange heads are also more aggressive occasionally nipping at each other’s wings when food is scarce or humidity is low. This does not affect them nutritionally however.

Aesthetically they are the most beautiful roaches I’ve seen as adults. I also noticed that most bearded dragons will go directly for the head possibly due to the orange pattern they display. I found that these also weigh slightly more than discoids especially during the nymph stages.

#6 Silkworms

Silkworms or silkies as known in the industry have been around for over 5,000 years! Originally from China, these worms have the highest protein content of any insect on the market.

As previously stated, protein is needed for growth and recovery. They are also easily digestible due to not having an outer shell. Packed with moisture, vitamins, and minerals these guys are great for hydrating and boosting the immune system of your pets.

They grow extremely fast reaching adulthood in 30-40 days. Really the only negative to these guys is the fact that they only eat mulberry leaves or chow.

This makes them very expensive as feeders otherwise I would have listed these as #1.

  • Naturally produce Serrapeptase which is an anti-inflammatory enzyme beneficial to all animals that consume it
  • Extremely high levels of protein and very low levels of fat
  • Juicy and very enticing
  • Do not hide or play dead
  • Good CA:P ratio
  • Can be fed to all sizes due to having little to no chitin content
  • Slow moving and terrible at escaping which makes them easy to catch
  • Do not bite or harass your BD
  • Can be fed exclusively as feeders

If you have the money to feed these guys more frequently, I would highly recommend doing so.

They are definitely a natural super food for your lizard. You can also feed larger silkies due to the low probability of impaction.

#7 Hornworms (Manduca sexta, Goliath Worms, Tobacco, Hawk Moth Larvae, Tomato Worm)

These green caterpillars are great at stimulating feeding response. Though not as high in protein as silks, hornworms are very high in calcium promoting strong bones. They are also high in water content making them great for hydrating rescues or sick reptiles.

  • Great for picky eaters
  • Good for restoring calcium after a taxing breeding season
  • Very low fat
  • Recommended for picky or finicky eaters
  • Grow very fast

#8 Superworms

A longtime favorite, supers can be fed to BDs that are sixteen inches or longer. I do not recommend feeding younger or smaller than this due to a kink in their digestive tract. After 16 inches, you can use superworms to add some variety to their diet.

Many owners will use these as treats. I also feed these regularly but wouldn’t feed them exclusively. They cannot be refrigerated and store much differently than mealworms.

My animals are infatuated with them and tend to choose them over other bugs. Place them at room temperature and you’ll have food available for the next couple of months

  • Very easy to keep and store
  • High fiber and protein
  • Move restlessly
  • Less chitin
  • Gutload very well
  • Fairly inexpensive
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#9 Crickets

Last but not least we have live crickets. One of the oldest and established bugs in the market, these guys can be fed to a wide array of animals. Very cheap and easily found at most big chain pet stores, it’s hard to pass up on crix especially when you forget to order or don’t have time to spare. They are fairly nutritious and easy to gutload. Storing is also a breeze but I recommend buying extra as they tend to die off if not cared for properly.

  • Very popular feeder
  • High protein
  • Cheap
  • Multiple sizes available
  • Gutload well
  • Easy to breed


There you have it guys! I hope you found my list of feeder insects for your bearded dragon’s optimum health helpful and useful. I felt that I needed to share content like this as I often wondered which were best for my BD.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to email me or comment in the section below. I promise I will provide an answer ASAP. Thanks again for reading!


The Cockroach Guide: Everything about Roaches

Eliminate Roaches from your Home

What Do Dubia Roaches Eat? | Dubia Roaches Diet

Dubia Cockroaches, also known as orange-spotted roach are a medium-sized type of cockroach.

Theyarequitepopularbecausetheseroaches are a great substitute feeder insect for many pet reptiles and amphibians that prefer bigger prey items. More importantly, they can be easily and economically bred providing an almost unlimited food source for your pets.

Breeding these insects is easy because of their inability to jump, climb or fly thus not making them a nuisance.

In this article, we will talk about what to feed Dubia roaches and their food lists requirements if you wish to breed them.

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Do Dubia Roaches Need Water?

Yes, Dubia roaches do need water for growth and reproduction. Dehydration can be a matter of stress for these insects since the availability of regular and reliable moisture plays an important role in their development. Dubia roaches do need to stay hydrated to grow.

How Often Do Dubia Roaches Need to Eat?

Getting enough nutrition is an important component for all living organisms and the same goes for Dubia roaches.

These roaches are hearty insects and do require regular feeding. You need to feed your Dubia cockroaches every week since they need a lot of food and water for their growth.

How Long Can Dubia Roaches Live Without Food?

Although Dubia roaches can live a long time (weeks and sometimes months) without food, it usually hampers their growth and development.

Since Dubia roaches are feeders, they need timely nutrition to grow. However, they can survive for weeks without food but it is not good for their health.

How Long Can Dubia Roaches Live Without Water?

Although Dubia roaches can sometimes survive months without food, the same is not the case with water.

You need to constantly provide supplemental water if you want them to be alive and breathing. They usually can’t survive for more than 10 days without water.

What Do Dubia Roaches Eat?

Taking care of Dubia roaches diet is one important aspect of their breeding. Dubia roaches eat anything and everything. They are scavengers with basic requirements.

Some common widely available best food for Dubia roaches are fruits, whole grains, sweet potatoes, carrots, oats, squash, etc. Some even feed them dog and cat food.

What Do You Feed A Dubia Roach Colony?

Dubai Roach Colony is a large group of Dubia roaches bred in a container.

You can feed anything to your Dubia Roach Colony as long as it is healthy since they need to reproduce quite often and quickly. Fruits and vegetables are usually the preferred choices for them since they are healthy, cheap and easily available.

How To Feed Dubia Roaches?

You can feed the Dubia roaches by putting the food inside their holders.

Like I mentioned above, these roaches are feeders and scavengers, hence you can feed them easily by just providing them with food and keeping it inside the box or the containers you are breeding them.

You can breed them in various spaces like large buckets or rubber storage tubes etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dubia Roaches Eat Potatoes?

Yes, Dubia roaches do eat potatoes but with disdain. Potatoes are high starch food and are usually given to them for their water content since these roaches need moisture to survive.

Can Dubia Roaches Eat Apples?

Yes, Dubia roaches do eat apples and it is considered as one of the ideal feed for raising Dubia cockroaches.

Apples are very nutritious and inexpensive and hence are a good option for these roaches. They are one of the most common foods for Dubia roaches.

Can Dubia Roaches Eat Carrots?

Yes, Dubia cockroaches do eat carrots in their diet.

However, carrots are one of the favorite choices of food for these roaches because of the availability of a range of nutrients in them as well as their easy availability and the fact that the roaches enjoy them as well.

See also:  German Cockroach Picture and Description and Cockroach Identification

Can Dubia Roaches Eat Strawberries?

Dubia roaches can eat strawberries but sometimes they don’t touch them at all.

A possible explanation for this is that they prefer to eat what they need in that environment and period. For example, strawberries are an acidic fruit and the roaches in question may not prefer them at that time.

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What is vital to remember here is that breeding Dubia roaches is not difficult, there are certain things they can’t live without but once their basic requirements are met, it’s quite hassle-free to maintain them and support their physiological needs.

However, if you plan to breed them to feed your pets, then you need to feed these roaches healthy food because your pets will be later eating those themselves. Always remember- Nutritious feeders are healthy feeders.

Our advice would be to figure out first why you want to breed these roaches and then act accordingly.


Feeder Insects — Crickets And Cockroaches

Maintaining Feeder Cockroaches

Cockroaches are undoubtedly one of the easiest feeder species to maintain in captivity for feeding reptiles, often thriving on benign neglect. A large Sterilite or Rubbermaid bin makes an excellent rearing container. We drill holes in the lid with a 3-inch hole saw, and then cover these holes with aluminum window screening to prevent escape.

For glass-climbing cockroach species, we maintain a 3-inch strip of Vaseline or a “roach barrier” around the upper portion of the enclosure. Roach barrier products are easier to maintain than Vaseline, as petroleum jelly will run down the enclosure’s sides when heat and humidity build, thus requiring frequent reapplication.

If you have a large number of herps, you might try raising your own crickets, but for one or two herp pets, it is more convenient to just purchase them from a breeder

For feeder cockroach substrate, use coco coir. It will maintain a low-level humidity at the bottom, which will promote cockroach molting and prevent desiccation. Egg crate is stacked vertically in the bins to increase surface area and allow the cockroaches to feel secure in their environment.

We feed the cockroaches a wide variety of dry foods, including wheat bran, oats, puppy food and commercial gut-load products. Many people provide moisture in the form of gels marketed for this purpose, but we prefer to offer a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables. We feed carrots, apples, pears, nectarines, spring mix, zucchini and yellow squash.

Cockroaches have proven very rewarding feeders for us. Rearing the species mentioned is cost-effective, and most insectivores will enjoy feeding on these often-soft-bodied insects.

How to Raise Feeder Crickets

Raising feeder crickets in captivity can be extremely difficult. Temperatures needed to successfully raise them must be in the high-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjusting temperatures can control the growth rate of pinhead crickets. Keeping a four-week old cricket at 80 degrees will slow their growth.

Crickets should be maintained in well-ventilated cages. A trash can works, but may require a ventilated lid to prevent escapes. Provide clean food and water at all times. A good strategy is to keep a moist natural sponge in the cage, and rinse it every few days. Feeding crickets is also an important parameter to proper growth and development. We have used a base of Layena chicken scratch augmented with a variety of vegetables. It works very well as a cricket diet. Red-leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, collard greens, grated carrots, grated yellow squash and other vegetables are good sources of nutrition for crickets. Keep in mind that a nutritious diet for the cricket translates to a nutritious meal for the animal feeding upon that cricket.

The actual breeding of crickets is straightforward. However, the single greatest challenge to raising feeder crickets is to get them to grow past two weeks of age. A substrate of coconut fiber is good for ovipositing sites. The cricket eggs must be maintained on a moist substrate, but do not allow the nesting container to become soggy. Once the baby crickets, or pinheads, start to grow, they should be separated into smaller groups. Overcrowding is detrimental to the overall health of the cricket colony.

Raising crickets is a daunting task. It takes a tremendous amount of time to oversee the successful production of crickets. During the summer of 2010, a virus infected many cricket colonies in the United States. It took a lot of effort to establish new strains of crickets that were either not infected with the virus or had developed resistance to the virus. In many ways, it is much easier to pay $20 to have a thousand crickets delivered to your doorstep than it is to raise the crickets yourself.

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