One of the most common questions we’re asked relates to Dubia roach diet. Simply put, people want to know what to feed Dubia roaches. This makes sense because along with environment, dietary choices are among the most consequential and complicated roach-keepers make.
To thrive, Dubia need all the usual tropical roach accommodations like heat, humidity, and darkness. However, these elements are more or less binary. Roaches either get what they need, or they don’t.
But nutrition is different. While it is a matter of providing roaches with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive, this is vastly more complicated than simply adding or subtracting darkness, humidity, and heat. Dietary options are infinite. There are as many ways for things to go wrong as right – perhaps even more! The point is that these decisions matter. What you feed your Dubia can mean the difference between healthy & unhealthy, productive & unproductive. Even alive & dead.
But have no fear. We’ve done a ton of work on Dubia roaches and diet, and we’ll show you what we feed our Dubia roaches over the course of a week. It’s about time we address the culinary questions we get, which are usually some variation of “What do you feed your Dubia roaches?” or “What should I feed Dubia roaches?”. Our personal favorite is: “Your Dubia are the most healthy and enormous I’ve ever seen – what on earth do you feed them?!?”
Slight rhetorical embellishments aside, we thought we’d address these questions by creating a Dubia roach food diary of sorts. A “What Our Roaches Eat in a Day” post, if you will, where over the course of a week we upload what we fed our roaches each day. We’ll start with yesterday.
Dubia roach diet: “nature” vs. captivity
Like most cockroaches, Dubia can survive on a range of food and food-like substances. They are generalist feeders. There are even reports suggesting they can survive on paper and cardboard glue. However, how long and how well they can live eating such things is an open question. We don’t recommend feeding that stuff to your Dubia. They’re obviously not normal fare for roaches in captivity or in the wild. Dubia roaches evolved eating plant matter in various stages of decay, fungi, and probably dead insects and small mammal carcasses they happened to stumble upon. Their “natural” diet probably varies a lot in the wild.
We put “natural” in quotes because to some degree, cockroaches have lived and evolved alongside humans for many thousands if not millions of years. This is less true of Dubia and other exotic cockroach species than it is for roaches considered pests in many parts of the world, but it is generally true that tropical roaches tend to thrive in and around human activity. This is partly due to food access, so the “natural diet” for many cockroaches is actually our diet – or at least what we discard into landfills.
In captivity, people feed their Dubia many foods. On one end of the spectrum are highly processed substances like dog food, cat food, cereal, fish flakes, etc. Sometimes people “dust” these foods with vitamin or mineral powders (like vitamin A or calcium) before offering them up to their roaches. On the other end of the spectrum you have fresh, raw foods like those found in the supermarket produce aisle. Knowing how many people keep Dubia roaches, there’s probably no shortage of dietary variations in-between.
In the end, whatever you choose to feed your roaches is fine by us. We aren’t here to judge. However, we’ve done a ton of research and experimentation on the ideal Dubia roach diet with respect to growth and productivity. This is our business, after all. And we’ve found that some foods (and feeding strategies) work better than others. While we won’t give away all our secrets, we will try to give you a sense of what Dubia roaches eat generally, what our roaches eat specifically, and what you can (and probably should) feed your Dubia roaches to achieve and maintain good health, vitality, and of course, their superior nutrition as feeders.
Dubia roach food diary (December 11 – 17)
(AKA: What our roaches eat in a day)
Ripe bananas make great Dubia food. And the riper, the better. Bananas are relatively inexpensive, they’re available year-round in the United States, and they’re high in the sugars Dubia roaches love. Their natural diet includes fruit, but often only if they’re lucky. There is little doubt that fruit contributes to good roach health. In fact, the more fruit the better – to a point, of course. Dubia roaches don’t reach their full potential on fruit alone. More on that below.
We prefer organic produce for our roaches when possible and practical, but when it’s not, we wash all produce thoroughly or peel it (if applicable). We recommend you do the same. On the other hand, our organic roaches always get organic food, by definition.
We has potatoes!
Potatoes (particularly sweet potatoes) are a nutritious source of calories for humans and animals alike. Roaches are no exception. If sweet potatoes are good enough for NASA (external link), they’re good enough for our roaches! Even plain white potatoes are themselves nearly a “complete” food, believe it or not. They have most of the nutrients both humans and Dubia roaches need to not just survive, but thrive. Did you hear about the guy who ate only potatoes for a year? Not that we recommend it, but apparently it can be done.
And of course, we have potatoes for our organic roaches…
Beets & Carrots
Carrots and beets contain a range of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, fiber, sugars, and moisture. They are an important staple of our Dubia roach diet for several reasons.
First, our roaches like them…a lot. Second, they’re among the dozen or so foods that may actually improve Dubia roach health and vitality, based on our experience. We’ve experimented with many dozens if not hundreds of foods over the years to find the ideal Dubia roach diet. In the fresh produce department, beets & carrots are strong favorites.
And we also have a little culinary love for our organic colonies…
As you may have guessed, fruits and vegetables are important components of the Dubia roach diet. They aren’t the only important thing, as you will see tomorrow, but they are significant – both in volume and effect.
Apples contain many of the nutrients Dubia roaches need for good health. Natural sugars, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients among them. Like much of the fresh produce we feed our Dubia, apples are convenient roach cuisine because they’re available year-round.
Some noteworthy advice about apples: Peel them before feeding them to your roaches. They’re high on the “Dirty Dozen Produce List” (external link), so we peel & core them to avoid pesticides, wax, and whatever else might be lingering on their skins. Remember that pesticides applied to produce are often designed to kill insects, often by rendering them sterile or disrupting their reproductive processes in some other way.
And as usual, we have organic fruit for our organic roaches.
Today’s entrée: Super Secret Roach Chow
AKA: This is where the magic happens.
OK, so fruits and vegetables are important parts of the Dubia roach diet, but we’ve found that they do better with more. And by “more”, we mean other foods.
Pictured is our Dubia roach chow mixed with some super secret ingredients to form about 45 pounds of “special sauce”. Actually, the rest is in a big bucket off to the side. We took certain artistic license for presentation because as it turns out, huge buckets-o’-roach-slop aren’t very photogenic. Who knew?
It’s a good thing roaches live in the dark and lack the usual human dietary sensibilities. Once you move beyond its unsightliness, our roach chow concoction is a beautiful thing. And Dubia roaches love it. They eat up the entire batch in just minutes. Apples…meh. Bananas…OK. But MNERR? Our roaches go so thoroughly crazy for it you can hear their stampeding feet from the next room at feeding time with the door closed. This is actually true.
And they better love it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing our job. We’ve spent a ton of time over the years researching, developing, and experimenting to find “the best roach chow”. We have adapted our creation to not just their needs, but also their tastes. We believe MNERR is a big part of our (and our roach’s) success.
So after gorging on our roach chow creation, we move on to the next day…
Don’t worry. You aren’t missing anything. It’s OK to skip feedings. It may even be productive, depending on your goals, what and how you skip, and how much you feed your roaches. All things equal, many animals in the wild don’t have constant access to food. As a result, they may have evolved certain beneficial coping mechanisms (pdf) (external link).
And these adaptations may serve you, too. Some people may want their roaches to live longer. Others may want them to grow faster, or produce more. Whatever you goals, these things are all within the realm of possibility.
However, we don’t recommend going off and starving your roaches. There are trade-offs with general nutrient-withholding strategies, and going beyond just occasionally “giving your roaches a break” from food can be counterproductive if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trust us on that…
So for us, some days without feeding our Dubia roaches at various stages of development is by design, so to speak. However, the how, why, and how often we do it is a trade secret!
And naturally, we spare no expense or effort to accommodate our organic roaches.
Oranges and Greens (tangerines, actually)
We usually feed our roaches oranges, but on this day we got a great deal on tangerines. Organic tangerines, no less. We also picked up some mixed greens because that’s just how we roll! Dubia roaches love oranges specifically, but they are often picky about citrus generally. They like it sweet, not sour, and some citrus fruits more than others. Our general rule is to feed citrus no more than twice in a week. This is probably a good rule for most feeder insects because some reptiles get upset stomachs after eating roaches and other insects loaded with citrus fruit. Once a week is fine. Any more and you should keep a close eye on your animals for ill effects – especially the sensitive ones. Chameleons come to mind, and maybe geckos too.
And there you have it – a typical dietary “week in the life” of our Dubia roaches. Of course, we change things up all the time. We choose seasonal fruits and vegetables when possible and are always on the lookout for sales and local specials. We offer our roaches “snacks” if we come across something awesome at the farmer’s market, a distributor, or wherever. And, we’re not afraid to experiment. With a few exceptions, we aren’t rigid about what we feed our Dubia. We do consider some food items staples, and we insist on some things we think Dubia roaches shouldn’t do without, but we’ve also had reasonable success with variety, and we urge you to give that a try!