One of the most common things we’re asked relates to the Dubia roach’s diet. This makes sense because next to environment, dietary choices are probably the most complicated and consequential decisions roach-keepers make. Of course, Dubia need standard tropical roach accommodations: Heat, humidity, darkness, etc. But these are more or less binary choices. Roaches either get what they need, or they don’t.
Diet is different. Choices are infinite, and there are as many ways for things to go wrong as right. And, what you feed your Dubia can mean the difference between healthy & unhealthy, productive & unproductive, and even alive & dead.
The questions we get are usually some variation of “What do Dubia roaches eat?”, “What should I feed Dubia roaches?”, and our personal favorite: “Your Dubia are the most enormous and healthy I’ve ever seen…what on earth do you feed them?!?”
Slight rhetorical embellishment aside, we thought we’d address these questions by posting a Dubia roach food diary of sorts. A “What Our Roaches Eat in a Day” article, if you will. In it, we’ll upload information about what we fed our roaches each day for a week, starting with yesterday.
Like most cockroaches, Dubia can survive on a wide variety of food and food-like substances. They are generalist feeders, and there are reports that suggest they may even be able to survive on paper and cardboard glue – though how long and how well is an open question. We wouldn’t feeding your Dubia these things, of course. It’s obviously not normal fare for roaches in captivity or the wild. Dubia evolved eating plant matter in various stages of decay, fungi, and probably dead insects or small mammal carcasses they happened to come across from time to time. In the wild, their diet probably varies greatly.
In captivity, most people feed their Dubia things like dog food, fish flakes, or some other highly processed food – perhaps drenched in vitamins or minerals like calcium on one end of the spectrum….and plain, fresh, raw produce on the other. There’s probably no shortage of stuff they’ve been fed in-between.
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. That’s our business, after all. What we’ve found is that some foods (and feeding strategies) work better than others for breeding, growth, health, longevity, etc. While we won’t give away all our secrets, we’ll 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 them to achieve and maintain good health, vitality, and superior nutrition as feeders.
Dubia Roach Food Diary (December 11 – 17, 2017)
(AKA: What our roaches eat in a day)
Bananas make great Dubia food. They’re relatively inexpensive, available year-round throughout the United States, and are high in the sugars Dubia roaches love. Their natural diet includes fruit, if they’re lucky. We have little doubt that it contributes to good health. In fact, to a significant degree, we think the more fruit the better.
We prefer organic produce for all our roaches when practicable. When it’s not, we’re always sure to have something organic on hand for our organic roaches.
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 (external link), believe it or not. They contain most of the nutrients both humans and Dubia roaches need to survive and even thrive.
And of course, we have potatoes for our organic roaches…
Beets & Carrots
Carrots and beets contain a wide range of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, fiber, sugars, and moisture. They’re an important component of our Dubia 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 of foods over the years in an effort to find the ideal Dubia roach diet. In the fresh produce department, beets & carrots are strong favorites.
And also, we have a little love for our organic colonies…
As you may have guessed, fruits and vegetables are important components of the Dubia roach diet. At least in our view. 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. 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 advice of note: Peel apples before feeding them to roaches. They’re high on the “Dirty Dozen Produce List” (external link), so we suggest peeling & coring them to avoid pesticides, wax, and whatever else might be lingering on their skins.
And as usual, we have organic fruitage for our organic roaches.
Super Secret Roach Chow
AKA: This is where the magic happens.
OK, so fruits and vegetables are indeed important components of the Dubia roach diet, but we’ve found that they do better with more.
Pictured is our Maximum Nutrition Everyday Roach Ration mixed with a bunch of 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 a certain artistic license for presentation because as it turns out a huge bucket-o’-roach-slop isn’t very photogenic.
God thing roaches live in the dark…and aren’t human. Once you get past its unsightliness, our roach chow concoction is a beautiful thing. Our Dubia absolutely love it. They can’t get enough. Apples…meh. Bananas…OK. But MNERR? Our roaches go so thoroughly crazy for it that you can hear their stampeding feet in the other room at feeding time, with the door closed (this is literally true).
And they better love it. If they didn’t, we’re not doing our job. We’ve put a ton of effort into researching and developing “the best roach chow”. We’ve worked on this formula for years, and we’ve adapted it 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…
Don’t worry. You aren’t missing anything. It’s OK to skip feedings. It may even be a good thing, 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 coping mechanisms that benefit them (pdf) (external link).
And these adaptations may serve you, too. Some people may want their roaches to live longer…or grow faster…or produce more. These are all within the realm of possibility.
However, we don’t recommend going off and starving your roaches. There are trade-offs specific to individual and 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 certain roaches 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 Dubia oranges, but 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 can be picky about citrus generally. They like it sweet, not sour, and certain fruits more than others. Our rule of thumb is to feed citrus no more than once or twice a week. This is probably a good rule for most feeder insects because many reptiles appear to 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 go with seasonal fruits and vegetables when possible. We take advantage of 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 encourage you to give that a try!