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Breeding and Raising Butter Worms

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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and other exotics since 2003.

What are Butter Worms?

Butter worms are a bright yellow and orange worm that is imported from Chile. It is known for its strong fruity smell that most reptiles love.

Butter worms are common in Europe, and now in the U.S.

These worms are commonly used for bait in fishing, as well as, food and treat for animals such as birds, small animals, fish, and reptiles.

They have smooth, fat bodies, with a very soft exoskeleton, as at full maturity these worms will become Chilecomadia moorei moths.

Nutritional Value of Butterworms

Moisture- 58.54 %

Ash- 1.04 %

Protein- 16.20 %

Fat- 5.21 %

Calories/ Fat- 87.73

Calcium (ml/100 grs)- 42.90

Butter worms are exceptionally high in their calcium content, averaging about two times the normal calcium content then any other feeder insect on the market.

But, at the same time, the calories/ fat is extremely high, as well, which means that these high calcium insects should only be fed as treats.

Storing Butter Worms

When housing butter worms, you will want to keep them in the refrigerator, you will not have to feed the worms because the 42 to 45 F temperatures, their metabolism will slow to an extreme that they do not need to be fed.

In the wild, on the other hand, because all butter worms aren't kept in the refrigerator, they eat the leaves from the Tebo Tree.

You can keep butter worms in a plastic container with some kind of organic substrate such as oatmeal or wheat bran.

Because it is best to house them in the refrigerator, you do want to make sure there no excess moisture gets caught in the container because damp substrates lead to mold formation.

Check the container a few hours after you initially place them in the fridge. When you check on them, if you notice webbing amongst the substrate, where the worms are making a nest, so to speak, they'll be fine, and leave them alone. Otherwise, you will want to change the substrate to something else.

Leaving the butter worms in the refrigerator, they have a shelf life of about 1 to 4 months.

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Breeding Butter Worms

Unfortunately, butter worms are irradiated before they are shipped from Chile, which means that they can not breed once they come to the states.

The sole purpose of irradiated them is to kill off any bacteria before they leave the country.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Joe on November 26, 2019:

The real reason they are irradiated before shipping is to prevent breeding. Not because of some giant money making conspiracy, but because they would be a highly invasive species and wreak havoc on our native ecosystems.

Shay Stewart on July 13, 2019:

Ive successful turned my butter worms into moths which will be used as food for my toads i have 2 so far that are moths

Matilda on June 10, 2012:

So from what I have read here, these little worms will never turn into to anything. So supposedly I do everything to keep them alive with good care, how long could these butter worms survive before they die?

stringent on May 11, 2011:

wow i thot they were only good for fishing.

Stuart on February 09, 2011:

Stacy sounds more like a real reason to me or it could be to stop us breeding them ourself there will be big bucks involved in Butterworms

not important on April 25, 2010:

These worms are excellent bait, however, they would be very distructive to apple crops and possibly other crops if they were allowed to reproduce in this country. Do we know how many eggs just one butterworm produces? We have enough distructive insects that come into this country and need no more!!!

Fausto on December 03, 2009:

Stacy is right, they might say that, but they hide the fact that the real reason they 'irradiate' themis to prevent them from becoming invasive species, which they wouldn't do much harm as there are plenty of crittters here in the states to eat them..

Stacy on July 13, 2009:

Actually, you have some information wrong. The irradiation is not to kill of bacteria. The purpose is to sterilize the larvae to prevent it from being able to pupate and ermege as a moth, which has reproductive capabilities.

The Chilean Moth is viewed as a pest animal. As a result, importers are required to irradiate them before the butterworms can be brought into the country.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2008:

I agree. I think that if there was a different readication technique the prices of butterworms would be so much cheaper, as we could breed them in the States versus have to always purchase them from wholesalers who purchased them out of the country.

ffftrout on June 26, 2008:

i would love to see another form af anti bacterial eradication used so that we may grow our own here, butterworms are simply my favorite critter.

Butterworm Experts on December 10, 2007:

See for more information.

JazLive from Decatur on November 22, 2007:

Great graphic! It looked good enough to be on the Thanksgiving menu :)

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