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Old 01-26-2019, 10:23 PM
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Default Beetles and worms?

My daughter keeps leopard geckos and constantly finds these odd little beetles and worms in her tanks. I just plucked a bunch of them from crevices they made in a couple of her foam type hides. Not sure if the worms are the larval form of the beetles or if they are related at all. At first I thought meal worm beetles but they are smaller than that. Canít think of anything else she feeds the geckos that these may have come from.





Anyone have a clue? And can I feed them to anything else? Too small for the Leoís. Seem a bit big for the imitator darts I keep. Think red eye tree frogs might eat them?


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Old 01-26-2019, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

A bit hard to distinguish, but they are either dermestid beetles or mealworm beetles, and their respective larvae. Probably the former. A clearer pic with a size reference would help me, though perhaps someone else has a keener eye.

Not much eat either of the beetles, in my experience, but if mealworms, the larvae are apparently tasty to a wide range of herps. I've not had much luck feeding dermestid larvae, but I've not tried with more than a couple species of gecko.


Edit: just reread your text where you describe the size. They are dermestid beetles, typically used as cleaners in insect colonies. You could try feeding them off, but they are not typically a big hit at my place.
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

Ok I looked up dermestids and these do seem to be the same. I wonder where they came from. She feeds crickets mealworms super worms and hornworms. Thank you.


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Old 01-27-2019, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

They are used as a cleaner crew in insect colonies. They could have come in on the mealworms or superworms, perhaps on the crickets, but not on the hornworms.

They're quite harmless, although if you are getting a complete life cycle of them going in your leo enclosure, you are either trying to do one of those newfangled 'bioactive' things, or you really need to clean.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

She does need to clean better than she currently does. But they were burrowing Into the hides so I think they just found a place they like. Sheís grossed out by them. Maybe if I tell her itís a cleanliness thing she will keep their enclosures cleaner.


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Old 01-27-2019, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

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She does need to clean better than she currently does. But they were burrowing Into the hides so I think they just found a place they like. Sheís grossed out by them. Maybe if I tell her itís a cleanliness thing she will keep their enclosures cleaner.
Perhaps if you tell her they are living, growing, and reproducing on dead insects and the gecko's poop, she will become even more grossed out and reduce the supply of poop.

Animals in the wild generally tolerate a low load of parasites -- internal and external -- because they can run away from the crawling external ones and poop out some of the internal ones. But in captivity, they cannot run far from the external ones, and if they poop out the internal ones and then reingest those parasites either in or on a feeder insect, the parasite load can overwhelm the animal, and they die.

Keeping the enclosure clean helps both to get rid of any external parasites that are waiting to jump back on, and prevents reingestion of internal parasites though contaminated feeder insects. It is the same reason the bathroom and the kitchen are two different rooms in modern houses.

If you read this out loud to your daughter while she's eating, it will have maximal impact.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

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You could try feeding them off, but they are not typically a big hit at my place.
Just a clarification: when I wrote this, I was thinking only of palatibility issues. The dermestid larvae I've fed were from my roach colonies, but I wouldn't recommend feeding anything that's been crawling around the cage of another herp -- pathogen transmission is a real possibility.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:00 PM
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Default Re: Beetles and worms?

I had already thought of that and discarded them last night. Thank you for such a quick id.


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Old 01-29-2019, 02:38 PM
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These are Alphitobius diaperinus, or lesser mealworms. Relative of your standard mealworm as the name implies. They thrive in colonies of other insects as an excellent clean up crew, and this is their main use.

They’re just as edible as regular mealworms and are more active and less chitinous then them, which elicits good feeding responses. Only downside is a full size larvae is half the size of a mealworm.
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