Mealworms vs. Superworms (What’s The Difference?)

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Two of the most common types of feeder worms are mealworms and superworms.

Mealworms and superworms share some common traits – like both being invertebrates – but are two different types of worms (technically, they’re both beetles larvae) that are often used to feed pet reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

  • But what’s the difference between these two types of worms?
  • And which one is better for your pet?

The difference is mealworms are smaller than superworms and they have a hard exoskeleton. Superworms are larger with softer exoskeletons. In terms of nutritional value, mealworms are higher in protein and fat than superworms. Mealworms can be stored in a dry container, while superworms need a humid environment.

In this blog post, we will discuss in more detail the differences between mealworms and superworms.

We’ll also talk about giant mealworms and how not to confuse them with the superworm!

Mealworms and superworms are both members of the beetle family, but according to scientific classification, they’re different species.

What is a Mealworm?

Mealworms have the scientific name of Tenebrio molitor.

They are the larva form of this species of darkling beetle and are more common in temperate regions of the world.

What is a Superworm?

Superworms are found in more tropical areas of the world and they have the scientific name of Zophobas morio.

This is another larval form of a species of darkling beetle.

Both species are found throughout the world, but mealworms are more common in temperate regions while superworms are easily found in tropical areas.

This is why mealworms can be refrigerated but superworms can’t (more on this below).

What’s the Difference Between Mealworms and Superworms?

Mealworms and superworms may look similar, but there are a few key differences between the two.

Size: Superworms are larger (around 5 x as large!) and have a higher fat content which makes them a good source of energy for certain animals that eat them (like a pet reptile).

Life Cycle: In terms of their life cycles, superworms take longer to reach maturity compared to mealworms.

Superworms turn into Zophobas Beetles, while mealworms turn into Tenebrio Molitor darkling Beetles, less than half the size of the Zophobas Molitor darkling beetle (25mm vs 57mm in size).

Environment and habitat: Mealworms are much more resistant to unfavorable habitat conditions.

Mealworms vs Superworms – Size and Appearance

When it comes to the size difference, mealworms are smaller than superworms (regular mealworms are around five times smaller!), and they have a darker coloration.

They also have a hard exoskeleton, which can make them more difficult for some animals to digest.

In contrast, superworms are larger and have a softer exoskeleton.

When it comes to appearance, superworms are brighter in color, which may make them more appealing to some pets.

A distinct difference between the two is that there are dark brown or darker lines around the anterior and tail parts of superworms.

Mealworms larvae grow to up to 1.5 inches while superworms can grow up to 2 inches in length.

Mealworms vs Superworms – Nutritional Facts

When it comes to feeding your pets, you want to make sure that they’re getting the best possible nutrition.

Both mealworms and superworms are high in protein, fat, calcium, and fiber.

But for comparison, mealworms have higher protein content compared to superworms.

This is because they have more meat content compared to superworms.

On the other hand, superworms have more fat and fiber content compared to mealworms.

Mealworms vs Superworms – Care

Mealworms can be kept in a container with dry substrates such as sawdust or sand.

Superworms need a more humid environment and should be kept in a container with moist substrates such as shredded paper or coconut fiber.

Mealworms prefer cooler temperatures and can be refrigerated but superworms can’t tolerate cold.

Giant Mealworms vs Superworms

You may have heard of the giant mealworm.

These large mealworms are a result of being treated with hormones that delays transition from the larva stage to the pupate stage, thus, they become “giant mealworms”.

This takes them from their regular size of 2-3cm (20-30mm) to become large mealworms of up to 1.25-1.5 inches (32-38mm) and considerably thicker!

These have become quite popular to sell as they make for heartier meals than regular-sized ones. They’re popular for anglers too who use giant mealworms as effective fish bait.

The differences between the superworm and giant mealworm is the same to that of regular mealworms, besides this size difference.

Giant mealworms are still not the same size as superworm beetles, though and are considerably smaller.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about superworms and mealworms:

Can You Keep Mealworms with Superworms?

Many people who keep pet worms assume that all types of worms can live together peacefully.

However, this is not always the case. In particular, it’s not advisable to keep superworms and mealworms together.

This is because superworms are voracious eaters and may view smaller mealworms as a tasty snack.

While it’s possible to keep the two types of worms together by providing plenty of food for the superworms, it’s usually smarter to play it safe and keep them separate.

That way, you can be sure that all of your worms will stay happy and healthy.

Supeworms also have the tendency to eat other superworms if there is a lack of food.

Do Superworms and Mealworms Turn Into the Same Thing?

Superworms and mealworms have similar life cycles and turn into darking beetles – but they are of different species (mealworms are Tenebrio molitor, superworms are zophobas morio).

A superworm can remain in its larval stage for up to 12 months before turning into a mature beetle and live for 2 to 15 years.

While the mealworm will turn into a beetle from its larval stage after around 1 to 2 months.

A mealworm beetle can only live for around 60 to 100 days.

Which Is Better Mealworms or Superworms?

When it comes to choosing the best feeder insect for your pets, you need to consider the individual animals dietary needs.

If they can eat both, feeding them a mixed variety of the two could be the way to go.

Mealworms are smaller and easier to digest and they’re also a good source of protein and fat.

Though, on the flip-side, they have a harder exoskeleton than superworm beetles, so the pet being fed must be able to crush it effectively.

And because they don’t bite, they’re harmless to your pet.

On the other hand, due to the larger size of superworms, it can make them harder to digest for small pets.

The flip-side here is that they’re softer, due to having more chitin (shell) than mealworms, which may make digestion easier for pets without a strong bite.

Speaking of biting, superworms can also bite and sting your pet, so if your reptile or other animal may struggle, it’s worth crushing the superworm’s head before including it in their diet.

Are Mealworms or Superworms Better for Bearded Dragons?

When picking the better feeder worm for your bearded dragon, consider the level of activity and age of your pet.

If your beardie is still young or older and a little less active, you can use mealworms as easy prey.

But if your pet is more active and enjoys a game of preying on its food, superworms can keep them entertained and fed at the same time.

Interestingly, some bearded dragons pet owners notice their pets getting addicted to superworms.

They can refuse to eat other larvae, so it’s clear they’re a beardies favorite.

NOTE: You should always be aware that the Zophobas morio (superworm) can bite.

For a smaller reptile or feeding birds, their heads should be crushed first.


Mealworms are smaller than superworms and have a darker coloration.

They also have a hard exoskeleton, which can make them more difficult for some animals to digest.

In contrast, super worms are larger and have a softer exoskeleton.

They are also brighter in color, which may make them more appealing to some pets.

When it comes to nutrition, mealworms have a higher protein content than super worms.

However, super worms have more fat and fiber, due to more chitin (shell) which means they’re less meaty.

When deciding which type of worm to feed your pet, consider its level of activity, preferred diet and age.

If your pet is young or less active, mealworms may be the better option.

However, if it is older or more active, superworms could be a better choice.

The best way to decide is to know your animal’s dietary needs and see which is preferable in their diet.

We hope you found this blog article about these beetle larvae informative.

Feel free to share some tips and fun facts about these feeder insects!