Complete nutrient content of four species of commercially available feeder insects fed enhanced diets during growth

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Mark D. Finke
Zoo Biology
, , , , , ,

Commercially raised feeder insects used to feed captive insectivores are a good source of many nutrients but are deficient in several key nutrients. Current methods used to supplement insects include dusting and gut-loading. Here, we report on the nutrient composition of four species of commercially raised feeder insects fed a special diet to enhance their nutrient content. Crickets, mealworms, superworms, and waxworms were analyzed for moisture, crude protein, fat, ash, acid detergent fiber, total dietary fiber, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, taurine, carotenoids, inositol, and cholesterol. All four species contained enhanced levels of vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids when compared to previously published data for these species. Crickets, superworms, and mealworms contained β-carotene although using standard conversion factors only crickets and superworms would likely contain sufficient vitamin A activity for most species of insectivores. Waxworms did not contain any detectable β-carotene but did contain zeaxanthin which they likely converted from dietary β-carotene. All four species contained significant amounts of both inositol and cholesterol. Like previous reports all insects were a poor source of calcium and only superworms contained vitamin D above the limit of detection. When compared to the nutrient requirements as established by the NRC for growing rats or poultry, these species were good sources of most other nutrients although the high fat and low moisture content of both waxworms and superworms means when corrected for energy density these two species were deficient in more nutrients than crickets or mealworms. These data show the value of modifying the diet of commercially available insects as they are growing to enhance their nutrient content. They also suggest that for most insectivores properly supplemented lower fat insects such as crickets, or smaller mealworms should form the bulk of the diet. Zoo Biol. 34:554–564, 2015. © 2015 The Authors. Zoo Biology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Back to Resources