• insects;
  • minerals;
  • vitamins;
  • amino acids;
  • fatty acids


A variety of invertebrates are commonly fed to insectivorous animals by both zoos and hobbyists, but information as to the nutrient composition of most commercially raised species is limited. Adult house crickets, house cricket nymphs (Acheta domesticus), superworms (Zophobas morio larvae), giant mealworm larvae, mealworm larvae and adult mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), waxworm larvae (Galleria mellonella), and silkworm larvae (Bombyx mori) were analyzed for moisture, crude protein, crude fat, ash, acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins. Earthworms (Lumbricus terresstris) were analyzed for moisture, crude protein, crude fat, ash, ADF, NDF, minerals, amino acids, and vitamins A and D3. Proximate analyses were variable, with wide ranges found for moisture (57.9–83.6%), crude protein (9.3–23.7%), crude fat (1.6–24.9%), ADF (0.1–7.4%), NDF (0.0–11.5%), and ash (0.6–1.2%). Energy content ranged from a low of 674 kcal/kg for silkworms to 2,741 kcal/kg for waxworms.Using an amino acid scoring pattern for rats, the first limiting amino acid for all invertebrates tested was the total sulfur amino acid methionine+cystine. Deficiencies by nutrient (% of samples deficient vs. NRC requirements for rats on a dry matter (DM) basis) were as follows: calcium (100%), vitamin D3 (100%), vitamin A (89%), vitamin B12 (75%), thiamin (63%), vitamin E (50%), iodine (44%), manganese (22%), methionine-cystine (22%), and sodium (11%). Deficiencies by invertebrate species (number of nutrients deficient vs. the NRC requirements for rats on a DM basis) were as follows: waxworms (9), superworms (8), giant mealworm larvae (7), adult mealworms (6), mealworm larvae (5), adult house crickets (4), house cricket nymphs (4), silkworms (4), and earthworms (4). These data provide a basis for determining nutrient intake of captive insectivores, and will aid in the development of gut-loading diets to provide captive insectivorous animals with appropriate levels of necessary nutrients. Zoo Biol 21:269–285, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.