A waxworm is the larvae of the wax moth. They get their name from the habit of eating beeswax. These insects act as parasites for bee colonies, as they will chew on the wax used by bees to construct honeycombs.
If you want to care for waxworms, whether because you are using them to feed a pet or simply because you appreciate these insects, this guide will give you all the information you need to know.
This care sheet details information about the diet and habitat of this creature (see also “Cricket Care Sheet“).
Waxworm Care Sheet
Waxworms are small or medium-sized caterpillars that typically have a white or yellowish hue. The feet of these insects will be tipped in black.
The head of this worm tends to be darker than the rest of its body, often being brown.
During the larvae stage, you will not need to give any food to your waxworm. The reason for this is that the insects will survive on their fat reserves.
At this stage of their life, a waxworm will no longer eat food. The longer you keep the insect, the smaller it will become.
Waxworms will appreciate temperatures between 55°F and 60°F/ 13°C and 15°C. This temperature will keep these waxworms alive for a few weeks.
The general room temperature will likely be too warm for keeping waxworms. Yet, you cannot place these insects in the fridge, as this will be too cool.
However, a wine cooler can be a phenomenal place to keep these insects.
Another important factor to consider when constructing a habitat for waxworms is the humidity. Namely, they should be kept in low-humidity environments.
If you notice any dead worms in a habitat, you must remove them as soon as possible. Deceased waxworms will become a darker hue, often turning black.
You will need to find a suitable container for these worms. Mostly, plastic tubs are used as habitats for these insects. Just make sure that there are plenty of air holes for the waxworms.
Moreover, you should provide wood chips to create a more natural habitat for the insects.
Generally, it is best to keep waxworms in the container that you were first given when collecting them.
If you notice any cocoons in the habitat, it is best to remove them. This is because the worm will start to turn into a wax moth.
Typically, waxworms will only survive for a week or two weeks. If they make it to this stage, they will transform into wax moths.
One of the main uses of the waxworm is fishing. These insects are commonly sold in fishing stores, where they can be used as bait. These larvae are regularly referred to as “waxies”.
It’s worth noting that these worms will only attract certain types of fish. Namely, they can be used to catch certain types of sunfish, green sunfish, or panfish.
Gut loading is a process that is regularly used by pet owners who are caring for reptiles, such as geckos and chameleons.
Essentially, it is the process of ensuring that the live prey of a pet eats nutritious food so that these nutrients can be absorbed by the pet.
Gut loading will not be necessary for waxworms. As mentioned, these worms do not eat during this stage. As a result, you can simply feed the worm directly to your reptile.
Though many reptiles will happily consume waxworms, it’s important to note that this is not a nutritional option. Waxworms do not offer much nutritional value and tend to be high in fat.
This could cause your reptile to put on fat, potentially leading to obesity.
Not to mention, reptiles can become spoiled if they regularly consume waxworms. They will happily eat these fatty and juicy insects, meaning that they may refuse to eat other sources of food.
As a consequence, it’s advised that you reserve waxworms as occasional treats for your reptile. If you want to increase the nutritional value of these worms, you can dust them in a calcium supplement.
To feed these insects to your reptile, grab a pair of tongs. Then, carefully grab the worm using the tongs and slowly place it into the habitat.
You may want to place it in a specialized bowl with curved edges, which will prevent the worm from escaping. If you feel comfortable, you can use your hands to handle the worms, but this is not recommended.
If your reptile does not eat the worm, you should remove it from the container after a while. It’s best to do this daily.
If you need to dispose of a live waxworm, you should refrain from releasing it into the natural wildlife. This Is because it could disrupt natural food chains.
Instead, it is recommended that you freeze the worm in a bag and then place it in a garbage bag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Waxworms Bite Humans?
Though waxworms have small mandibles, they will not bite humans. These weak mandibles are unable to do any real damage to humans or any pets.
What Are Waxworms?
The two main purposes of waxworms are to act as bait in fishing or be used to feed other pets. Specifically, these insects are often used as live bait.
They will not only feed reptiles but these worms can also be served to amphibians and birds.
Can Leopard Geckos Eat Waxworms?
Yes, these worms are suitable for leopard geckos. Due to the high-fat content of waxworms, gecko owners should not regularly feed worms to their reptiles.
If you want to feed your reptile live waxworms, you will need to know how to properly care for these creatures. The good news is that waxworms are fairly easy to care for, as they won’t require any food.
Regardless, you will need to follow the above advice to ensure that your waxworms are well-kept and healthy!