Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? (2022)

Can bearded dragons eat black soldier fly larvae? Are black soldier fly larvae for bearded dragons OK? Bearded dragons can eat black soldier fly larvae regularly as part of a balanced diet. Black soldier fly larvae are also known as Calciworms because they are a significant source of calcium – which as we know is essential for healthy bones and staving off metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons.

In this post we’ll use the following terms interchangeably – Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Calciworms, BSFL.

What Are Black Soldier Fly Larvae For Bearded Dragons?

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? (1)

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? (2)

The Black Soldier Fly is a common fly with the Latin name of Hermetia illucens. It’s approximately 1.5cm long when an adult and is common across much of the world. Before becoming an adult fly it is, of course, present in it’s larval stage – which is the form of a worm or grub.

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(Video) MY REPTILES TRY BLACK SOLDIER FLY LARVAE | GRUBTERRA REVIEW

The worms emerge from eggs laid by adult black soldier fly, approx 4 days after being laid. At this point they are tiny and would not be of any use to a bearded dragon at all, measuring only approx 1mm in length. They feed on decay matter of many different organic varieties but commonly on manure or compost. Over a period of about 3 to 4 weeks they will grow to up to 2.5cm in length, after which they’ll pupate and become adult black soldier flies.

Black soldier flies are not considered a pest to humans, and they don’t appear to carry any significant pathogens which would cause disease in humans. This is largely because, unlike blowflies and other houseflies, they do not regurgitate digestive enzymes onto food – indeed they only consume sugary water or nectar as adults. They’re smaller than most normal house flies and certainly smaller than blowflies and the like. They have an almost wasp-like look about them. Aside from being used as reptile food, the larvae also make excellent composting creatures, breaking down food scraps or agricultural waste quickly and efficiently.

(Video) The Truth about Black Soldier Fly Larva from GrubTerra - GrubTerra Review

Although many might consider BSFL to be maggots, they are significantly more sanitary than the larvae of other flies. They’ve been proven to break down Salmonella and E.Coli in chicken huts and don’t smell bad like the larvae of other flies.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae?

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? (3)

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? (4)

Black Soldier Fly Larvae are an excellent bearded dragon insect food due to their fantastically high calcium content. They’re easy for even the laziest bearded dragon to catch and their soft bodies make them perfectly suited for babies and adolescents too. Calciworms have a good moisture content which will help keep your bearded dragon hydrated. Their only downside is that they are quite small and you’ll need a fair amount of them to satisfy an adult.

But even as a mixer meal they’ll go down well and they don’t need to be dusted with calcium because they’re already rich in it. Which is why Black Soldier Fly Larvae are also known as Calciworms.

Advantages Of Black Soldier Fly Larvae For Bearded Dragons

  • Relatively small – easy to swallow
  • Easy and hardy to keep
  • Eat compost and decaying foods
  • Amazing Calcium levels
  • Good for babies as well as adults

Disadvantages Of Black Soldier Fly Larvae For Bearded Dragons

  • Quite small meaning an adult will want lots!
(Video) Feeding Bearded Dragons with Black Soldier Fly Larvae (黑水虻)

How Should I Feed Black Soldier Fly Larvae To A Bearded Dragon

BSFL are easy to feed to a bearded dragon because they’re really quite slow. They are however quite adept at climbing out of almost any bowl should they so desire. They are often also covered in the dirt substrate they’re kept in. This dirt substrate is usually a compost type formula specifically chosen for the black soldier fly larvae.

Your bearded dragon is unlikely to come to any harm from ingesting the calciworm substrate, but it’s not necessarily all that pleasant tasting. We tend to advise brushing as much of it off as possible before feeding. BSFL don’t appear to do very well after the dirt has been washed off with water, in our experience. But maybe we used too much water or water that was too cold.

Place the black soldier fly larvae in a large plastic tub into which you can also place your bearded dragon. You’ll want to keep the feeding area supervised because the larvae will climb the walls if your beardie doesn’t eat them quick enough. But an active bearded dragon will pick off the wiggly little critters fairly quickly once they decide they’re good food.

If any should escape the worst that will happen is that in a few days / weeks they may pupate and turn into a black soldier fly. As we’ve talked about above, black soldier flies are quite sanitary and pose no infection risk to humans as they don’t eat the nasty things that other flies do. If you find an escapee that has converted you can feed the black soldier fly to your bearded dragon instead if you like.

How Many Black Soldier Fly Larvae Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

Black soldier fly larvae can be fed very regularly to adult bearded dragons, as they contain an immense amount of calcium for their size and weight. You may find though that their size makes it difficult to feed enough to an adult dragon to keep them satisfied. Indeed, one of our fussy girls won’t even entertain the idea of calciworms because they’re too small and insignificant. She looks at us questioning why she should waste her time on something so trivial.

But you can generally use the principle of feeding as much as they’ll eat in 10 – 15 minutes. You can give them this once or twice a week on average. That’s the normal feeding regime we’d recommend for an adult bearded dragon, but when it comes to BSFL, they’re that small that you can pretty much feed them any time you want.

BSFL should be given to babies every day if possible. Baby bearded dragons will require insects 2 to 3 times per day and black soldier fly larvae are highly recommended on every occasion. You can mix the insects up so they’re not eating the same old thing every day. Mixing in this way also means you can feed things like mealworms because the chitin poses less impaction risk if it’s mixed in with softer bodied insects too.

It’s worth remembering when asking about how much one should feed to a bearded dragon that the ultimate test of whether they’re being fed enough is whether they are thriving without becoming fat. Weighing them regularly can help and for babies, making sure they’re gaining weight at the expected rate means you’re feeding them appropriately.

(Video) Bearded Dragon eating BSF Larvae

Can I Feed Dried Calciworms To My Bearded Dragon?

We recognise that many new bearded dragon owners are squeamish about feeding live insects to their dragon. Many people don’t like the ‘creepy crawlies’ that are needed. This can be further exacerbated when people think about the black soldier fly larvae because, fly larvae are generally known as maggots.

However, we would say that it’s much better for your bearded dragon to feed live insects, not dried. The nutritional value of dried insects is far less than those of live insects and the water content is important for maintaining your bearded dragon’s hydration.

It’s worth remembering that BSFL calciworms are significantly more hygienic than blowfly larvae, and are much cleaner and less smelly. Handling them is a simple matter of washing your hands afterwards. They’ll be in a compost substrate which does not involve them eating other animals poo – merely some composting vegetable material.

So our answer to this question is no, preferably don’t feed any dried insects to your bearded dragon. However, if you really must feed dried calciworms to your bearded dragon then it would be better than nothing. Mix the dried food in with some other insects if possible and remember you’ll need to help hydrate them by encouraging them to drink while having a bath or by dropping little drops of water onto their noses periodically so they lick it off. Or if they’ll eat watery vegetables then they’ll be fine too.

Nutritional Data For Calciworms For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Moisture (%)61.2
Fat (%)14.0
Protein (%)17.5
Ash (%)3.5
Calcium (mg/kg)9340 (0.93%)
Phosphorus (mg/kg)3560 (0.36%)
Potassium (mg/kg)Unavailable from source

It should be noted that, like every other insect nutritional data table, the Calciworm data does depend to some extent on the substrate on which the insect being investigated was fed[2]. The difference though isn’t all that significant for the items we’re interested in. Finally, one other beneficial nutrient of the Calciworm is the level of Lauric Acid which is known to be a strong antibiotic and anti-viral substance[2][3].

Summary

In answering the question of “Can bearded dragons eat black soldier fly larvae?” we’ve looked at the nutritional details and other aspects and decided that Calciworms are an excellent insect for bearded dragons to be fed for a variety of reasons.

For this reason, we consider calciworms to be a staple insect suitable for babies and adults alike.

Frequency: Babies – staple / Adults – staple.

(Video) Bearded Dragon eats Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) for the first time

References

1: Live feeder nutrition facts and Exotics nutrition info (thewormlady.ca)

2: Cíntia Almeida, Patrícia Rijo and Catarina Rosado, Biomolecules 2020 10(7) 976. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10070976

3: The Silkworm Store, fetched 24 January 2021 from Calci Worms Nutritional Info – Silkworm Store

FAQs

Can bearded dragons eat black soldier fly? ›

Yes! Although they may look like wasps, black soldier flies don't have any stinging or biting parts, and are unable to harm your reptile. And when the larvae are raised in hygienic, disease-free facilities, the flies should be disease-free as well.

Can bearded dragons eat black fly larvae? ›

Black Soldier Fly larvae make a great staple food or treat for Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, Poison Dart Frogs, Crested Geckos, Day Geckos, turtles, and any other bug loving critters out there!

Are soldier fly larva good for bearded dragons? ›

Soldier Worms are a naturally nutritious, protein-packed, and rich in calcium making them a great supplemental feeder for bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons, turtles, and just about any pet reptile or amphibian.

Are black soldier flies harmful? ›

Are they poisonous? No, the black soldier fly is not a poisonous insect. They are also not harmful or dangerous to humans. However, research indicates that they cause rare myiasis in people.

Are Bsfl good for bearded dragons? ›

The study demonstrated that our BSFL could provide sufficient protein and calcium for faster growth of bearded dragons, without any additional supplement. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) have recently been accepted as the best staple feeder insect for many reptiles, because of their naturally high calcium content.

Can Beardies eat maggots? ›

Nutritionally, they are not too bad - a bit like waxworms. Hence, not too good as a staple, but won't hurt occasionally. Their skins are not so different to many other insect larvae, either.

Can you put black soldier fly larvae in the fridge? ›

Soldier Fly Larvae can be kept at room temperature, but keeping them at 50-55F will keep them in the larval stage much longer. DO NOT keep black soldier fly larvae in the fridge – this will kill them!

How long do black soldier fly larvae live? ›

A: The shelf life of small BSF larvae is between 1-2 weeks, while the shelf-life of large BSF larvae is between 5-7days.

How many Bsfl feed leopard gecko? ›

How Many Black Soldier Fly Larvae Can Leopard Geckos Eat?
AgeNumber of BSF Larvae
Juvenile Leopard Geckos (4 to 10 months)5 to 10 BSF larvae (½ inches) – 5 to 6 days a week
Mature Leopard Geckos (10 and more months)5 to 15 BSF larvae (¾ inches) – 2 to 3 times a week
1 more row

What can black soldier fly larvae eat? ›

The BSFL feed on many kinds of organic waste such as table scraps, composting feed, and animal manure. They can also survive off of coffee grounds for a few weeks, but coffee grounds are not a sustainable diet. The caffeine from the coffee grounds helps to boost the metabolism and makes the grubs more active.

Are black soldier flies good feeders? ›

Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae are a great feeder for a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates. They are native to North America and act as decomposers - in the southern United States, it's common to find them in and around compost piles, where their larvae help…

How many Superworms should I feed my bearded dragon? ›

Two or three superworms once or twice a week should be sufficient for your adult bearded dragon. Juvenile. A juvenile dragon who can handle the aggressiveness of the worms might be able to eat more superworms in one feeding than an adult.

How do you take care of black soldier larvae? ›

Soldier Worms are extremely easy to care for and do not require feeding or watering. And because they are naturally high in calcium, there is no need for dusting. To store, keep them in their lidded cup at room temperature.

Can bearded dragons eat grasshoppers? ›

Aside from grubs and mealworms, grasshoppers are among a bearded dragon's favorite bugs to eat. Here's what nutrients your reptile friend can obtain from eating just a single serving of grasshoppers. As you can see, grasshoppers can provide plenty of amazing nutrition.

Do black soldier flies carry diseases? ›

They are one of the most beneficial flies in existence and are considered non-pests. The adult black soldier fly does not have mouthparts and does not feed upon waste. They do not bite, and as only the larva feed, are not associated with transmitting any diseases.

What are the benefits of black soldier fly larvae? ›

Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), Hermetia illucens have proven to convert organic waste into high-quality nutrients for pet foods, fish and poultry feeds, as well as residue fertilizer for soil amendment.

Do black soldier fly larvae turn into flies? ›

The larvae begin feeding on the waste immediately. They grow over about 14 days and then all but 10 to 20 percent are harvested into feed. The remaining BSF perpetuate the colony. Within two weeks, they pass through the pupae stage before becoming flies.

Is black soldier fly larvae high in calcium? ›

The black soldier fly larvae's high calcium level is due to an abundance of calcium carbonate impregnated within the exoskeleton [8].

Are silk worms good for bearded dragons? ›

Best of all, these are not another treat insect – silkworms have what it takes to be a staple feeder insect for your pet's diet! These worms are great feeders for bearded dragons, leopard geckos, water dragons, chameleons, Pac Man frogs, and many other insectivorous reptiles and amphibians.

How do you feed bearded dragons Superworms? ›

Feed superworms to your bearded dragon just like you would any live insect. You can use tweezers and place them in their feeding bowl or place them a few inches away from your dragon so they can try and chase them.

Can Bearded dragons eat house fly maggots? ›

So, can bearded dragons eat house flies? House flies can be safely consumed by your bearded dragon; however, they offer little to no nutritional value, especially when compared to other much tastier insects.

Can I feed my lizard maggots? ›

Housefly larvae, or maggots, are eaten with gusto by terrestrial salamanders, frogs, lizards and turtles. They are also worth trying on hard-to-feed serpents such as Ring-Necked, Green, Worm and DeKay's Snakes.

Can a bearded dragon have mango? ›

Slice the mango into very small pieces to prevent choking. You can serve mango pieces alone or in a salad, maybe with some kale or strawberries—your bearded dragon will love eating mango either way!

Do black soldier fly larvae need bedding? ›

Your black soldier fly larvae will arrive in a small plastic cup along with a substrate that can be made from walnut bedding but also other materials, depending on where you get them. Keep them in the container with their substrate, no need to feed them, no need to gut-load or supplement them either.

How long can Bsfl last? ›

With a temperature of 10 – 15 degrees C, you can storage black soldier fly larvae cold for 2-3 months. Some people even store them for 6-8 months and they are still alive after taking them out of the freezer, even though they die more than half, but the nutritional quality of dead larvae is unchanged.

Are black soldier fly larvae maggots? ›

The larvae and pupae of the soldier fly are distinctive in appearance. They are key in identifying this type of fly. These larvae (maggot) are usually seen under or around dumpsters, garbage cans, or compost piles.

How long do black soldier fly larvae take to turn into flies? ›

Depending on the feed provided, the larvae will grow for about 10 to 28 days. Then they will enter the pupae stage and transform into adult flies.

How many eggs does a BSF lay? ›

Starting the cycle from laying eggs, a female black soldier fly can lay around 500-800 eggs (0.0125-0.02 grams) in her lifespan. After laying the eggs, the female will die. From these little eggs, a new life cycle of black solider flies will begin.

Does Bsfl need substrate? ›

You can use a variety of substrates to include: Shredded paper towels, coir fiber, aspen shavings, raw oats, etc. Feeding: While not necessary to feed or water BSFL, some may want to gut load or feed their larvae to obtain a larger size. Larvae can consume almost any food based items with the exception of bone, etc.

Why is there blood in my leopard geckos poop? ›

Bloody leopard gecko poop can occur because some parasites eat the lining of the digestive tract. Regular stool tests are recommended if you suspect your lizard has parasites. Your vet will take a sample of your leopard gecko's poop and then perform a fecal float to detect any parasite eggs.

What is a Phoenix worm? ›

Phoenix Worms is the original BSFL feeder. Researched at UGA for more than 30 years, and tested by breeders of bearded dragons, crested geckos, leopard geckos, and dart frogs for 5 years before going to market, Phoenix Worms were introduced at the National Reptile Breeders' Expo in Daytona Beach in 2005.

Can leopard geckos eat adult black soldier flies? ›

Can leopard geckos eat black soldier flies? Your gecko can eat the adult flies, but there's a catch – there is a large volume of research on the nutritional value and digestibility of the larvae in leopard geckos and very little information to be found concerning the adult fly.

How much should I feed my BSF larvae? ›

[47] that 100 mg of the feed per larva per day is the best diet for organic waste reduction using BSF larvae.

How much can black soldier fly larvae eat? ›

BSF larvae can eat up to 5-10 times their weight. You can feed them a ratio of 1:1, 1:5 or 1:10. Most people who raise BSF to get the eggs or their castings for resale would feed them with a lower ratio, for example, 1:1 or less to manage the food costs.

How can I increase my BSF? ›

All you need to do is put a bucket with holes in it inside the container in which you are raising them. Put some food scraps inside, and wait. Eventually, the larvae will wiggle their way into the bucket to get a snack. Then, you can feed the larvae to your chickens.

How do I clean my Bsfl? ›

How to Wash Black Soldier Fly Larva - YouTube

What is the best substrate for black soldier fly larvae? ›

Black soldier fly larvae come in their self-contained habitat cups, the substrate used is a corn/rice blend which is easily shaken off the grubs using a sifter or a colander and easily saved to add back to the cups.

Can you feed bearded dragons flies? ›

Bearded dragons are enthusiastic omnivores. Their diet in the wild includes both plants and animals, mostly insects. In captivity, feed them a mixture of half plant and half insect materials. Fruit flies can certainly make up a part of this balanced diet.

Are black soldier fly larvae good for leopard gecko? ›

Black Soldier Fly Larvae, also called Nutrigrubs or Calci Worms are good feeder insects for leopard geckos. The larvae are high in calcium and protein, are easily digestible, and have a good size for adult and juvenile leopard geckos to eat.

Are black soldier flies good feeders? ›

Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae are a great feeder for a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates. They are native to North America and act as decomposers - in the southern United States, it's common to find them in and around compost piles, where their larvae help…

Can I fly with a bearded dragon? ›

To sum up: most airlines don't allow reptiles in cabin. Some allow them to travel in cargo, but this can be dangerous. Never, never ship your bearded dragon as a checked luggage. Only take your dragon on a plane if you can have it on board, which isn't possible in many cases.

Can bearded dragons eat fly maggots? ›

They can feed on rotten meat, but aren't rotten themselves. In fact, they secrete a mildly antiseptic fluid and are even used to clean up wounds. Nutritionally, they are not too bad - a bit like waxworms. Hence, not too good as a staple, but won't hurt occasionally.

Can I feed my bearded dragon dead bugs? ›

All bearded dragons, regardless of age, need part of their diet to be live insects. Younger dragons need 80% live protein in their diet, while adults only need 20% live protein in their diet; your dragon will never stop needing to eat live bugs. Dead insects do not have nearly as much nutritional value as live insects.

What happens if my bearded dragon eats a dead cricket? ›

You should not feed dead crickets to your bearded dragons. If you choose to feed your dragon dead crickets, your pet could get very ill. Parasites and bacteria could attack your bearded dragon from within when it consumes dead crickets.

Do you refrigerate black soldier fly larvae? ›

Soldier Fly Larvae can be kept at room temperature, but keeping them at 50-55F will keep them in the larval stage much longer. DO NOT keep black soldier fly larvae in the fridge – this will kill them!

How do I get rid of black soldier fly larvae? ›

The larvae themselves are harmless and can be picked up by hand, or with a tissue, and discarded. Adult soldier flies can be killed with a fly swatter. If flies become numerous, an aerosol insect spray containing pyrethrins will kill most adults.

Will black soldier fly larvae turn into flies? ›

Will my BSFL turn into flies? They can, if kept at room temperature they can pupate and turn into flies in a week or two. Kept at cooler temperatures they will take less time but eventually they will all turn.

Should I gut load black soldier fly larvae? ›

Black soldier fly (BSF) larvae have been marketed as an excellent choice for providing calcium to reptiles without the need of dusting or gut loading. However, previous studies have indicated that they have limited calcium digestibility and are deficient in fat soluble vitamins (A, D3, and E).

How long can you keep black soldier fly larvae? ›

With a temperature of 10 – 15 degrees C, you can storage black soldier fly larvae cold for 2-3 months. Some people even store them for 6-8 months and they are still alive after taking them out of the freezer, even though they die more than half, but the nutritional quality of dead larvae is unchanged.

How long does black soldier fly live? ›

Keep in mind that black soldier flies only live for about 5-8 days.

Can I leave my bearded dragon alone for 3 days? ›

How long can you leave a bearded dragon unattended? Generally speaking, leaving a bearded dragon alone for one to two days is never a problem. Even three days is a viable time frame. Anything over 3 days with no human care is probably too long and you may be risking problems.

What is the lifespan of a bearded dragon? ›

Their lifespan is usually 10 to 15 years or more, so they're quite a commitment. It's important to replicate their natural habitat as best you can. Learn more about how to care for your bearded dragon and how to keep them healthy and happy.

How long can bearded dragons go without heat? ›

How long can bearded dragons go without heat? Bearded dragons can survive for up to 24 hours without heat when the temperature is at the least 65°F. If the lizard goes too long without an external heat source, it will become inactive and its digestion slows down significantly.

Videos

1. Bearded Dragon Feeding on Hermetia Crawlies (Live Black Soldier Fly Larvae) from Protein Products
(The Black Soldier Fly Show - Hermetia Protein)
2. GrubTerra Review & Unboxing! Black Soldier Fly Larvae Feeding Frenzy!
(Professor Herp)
3. Bearded Dragon eating Black Soldier Fly Larvae Australia
(Black Soldier Fly Larvae Australia)
4. Dragon eating Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL)
(Walking With Dragons)
5. Bearded dragons eating BSFL
(Bay Marine Scapes)
6. Bearded Dragon eating Black Soldier Fly Larvae 03
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