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Care Guide: Darkling Beetle

Living Care Information

Zophobas morio

commonly known as
darkling beetles (larval stages are known as Superworms, King Worms, or Morio Worms)

Quick Start Information

  • Darkling Beetles are the adult stage of over 20,000 species; however, we use the term, darkling beetle to refer to the adult life stage of the Superworm (Zophobas morio).

  • The larval stage of Zophobas is known as the Superworm and has its own care guide.

  • The adult beetles ship in plastic container, moist paper towel and some bran meal for a food source.

About the Organism

  • Darkling beetles are native to the tropical regions of Central and South America but can now be found across the world.
  • Adults can fly, but rarely do so unless they are dispersing or malnourished and seeking new sources of food.
  • Zophobas larvae are raised around the world as a source of food for insectivorous pets.
  • The adult beetles emit a foul odor when disturbed.
  • There are 1,300 species of darkling beetles in North America alone.
  • Domain: Eukarya
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Family: Tenebrionidae
  • Genus: Zophobas
  • Species: morio


You will need a housing container for your beetles. Make sure that the container is high enough so that the beetles cannot climb out. Usually tubs with 5-inch sides are high enough. Keep the beetles in an environment between 70 to 75° F (21 to 24° C).


A terrarium makes a good habitat for this beetle. The terrarium should provide enough space for the beetles to move around. Put 1 ½ to 2” of potting soil in the bottom of the terrarium. Cover the surface with paper towels, leaf litter, or bran meal/oat flakes. Darkling beetle adults prefer places that are dark, cool, and dry.


Adult darkling beetles are scavengers that eat both fresh and decaying vegetation. In nature, they feed on dried or rotting plant matter. In captivity, they feed on bran meal, apples, oranges, potatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, and pears. Remove uneaten food before it molds.

Maintaining and culturing

These beetles extract water from their food. Additionally, their hard carapace is covered with a wax-like substance that prevents water from evaporating from their bodies. If you wish to give supplemental water, place a moistened sponge or cotton wick into the habitat.

Darkling beetles are active both during the day and at night. With simple care, they can live from three months to over a year.


Darkling beetles are considered an agricultural pest and should not be released under any circumstances. We strongly recommend giving any unwanted organisms to another individual if you do not wish to keep them. As a last resort, place unwanted organisms in a sealed container and freeze for 48 hours. Dispose of the organisms in the regular solid waste.


Wash your hands with soap and water before and after working with any living organism.


No video available for this organism.


Can these beetles bite?

No, they are completely harmless. Their only defense mechanism is to release a mildly offensive odor.

Can darkling beetles be held in a refrigerator?

No, temperatures below 15.5° C (60° F) may kill the beetles.

Can these beetles be released?

No, they are native to South and Central America. They have the potential to survive and establish themselves in the wild in the southern United States. Unwanted darkling beetles should be frozen or fed to a pet reptile or amphibian.

Need help?

We want you to have a good experience. Orders and replacements: 800.334.5551, then select Customer Service. Technical support and questions: caresheets@carolina.com

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