If you consider Dubia roaches fed only certified organic foods “organic” like we do, then yes!
NOTE: We combined our standard and organic roach categories for simplicity. To buy organic Dubia roaches now, visit any roach product page, click the “Type” drop-down menu, then choose “Organic”.
The saying “You are what you eat” isn’t just for people. It’s true for every animal, including the reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids we keep. And, it’s true for roaches, too. What Dubia roaches eat today is what they will become tomorrow. In our opinion, if you want the strongest, most vigorous breeders and the most highly nutritious feeders, what they eat should be pesticide-free non-GMO grains, fruits, and vegetables. In short: Organic.
What makes Dubia roaches “organic”?
There are no official guidelines for organic roaches like there are for livestock like chickens and cows. However, we go beyond what those livestock regulations require. They appear to make a long list of exceptions for time and ingredients and practices that we wouldn’t dream of. We make no exceptions. Our approach is simple: We feed our Organic Dubia Roaches only certified organic foods. We also keep them away from all chemical treatments, medications, and cleaners. Simple. If organic rules existed for Dubia roaches, we believe we would exceed them both in spirit and practice.
In addition to feeding only organic foods and avoiding added chemicals, we give our organic roaches distilled water. We do this to avoid the 100 or so chemicals in the nation’s drinking water. Pesticides and other synthetic, lab-created substances are a reality in water from snowy mountain peaks (external link) to the ocean floor (external link). We believe in a direct correlation between health and productivity. We also know that pesticides are designed to make bugs not just unhealthy, but dead. So, we think distilled water a must in keeping with our definition of “organic” – even if it’s not absolutely necessary.
For us, organic also means that we treat our roaches as described not just from the day they’re born, but from the day their parents were born. And this is at a minimum. Our organic colonies are well-established, and the wall of separation between them and non-organic food is generations deep. We believe this is a sensible policy because Dubia roaches have a unique ability to store nutrients in their fat cells for long periods of time. Because this is a component of their reproductive strategy, what they store in those fat cells is passed to their offspring (external link). A pesticide-free parent in our view is more likely to give birth to pesticide-free nymphs. And on and on…
We are so obsessed with keeping our organic roaches chemical-free that we even wash their bins without soap. We use only water…and we have plenty of “bio-friendly” soap that we probably could use but choose not to. Why do we go to these lengths for a cockroach? Again the answer is simple: We do it for the health of our herps and for the gains in productivity it provides. These things are probably a bit obsessive, but we don’t mind. It’s just what we like to do.
The health of our animals and yours
Captive exotic reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids live outside the bounds of what they would ever experience in the wild. Their environments are artificial, with light, day & night cycles, heat, humidity, and food that we provide. While the upside is that they are free from predation, the downside is that their surroundings are usually less than ideal. Providing the conditions they need for health is often difficult and requires a great deal of effort.
Many if not most amateur herpetologists fail to provide one or more of the conditions their animals need, and these failures have well-established negative health consequences (external link). Maintaining the health of captive exotic animals can be a challenge, and we think feeding them insects raised on foods that are as pesticide-free as is practical in today’s modern world can and in some cases maybe should be part of how we work to meet that challenge.
Organic roaches: productivity gains and other benefits
Initially, we switched to organic-fed Dubia roaches because we wanted our early experiments to be meaningful. We thought pesticides, heavy metals, fertilizers, and other harmful substances could be confounding factors in our tests. We were raising crickets organically at the time and we wanted accurate data about the effects of switching our animals from mostly crickets to Dubia roaches. After seeing positive changes, we started experimenting with a lot of different organic food ingredients. At some point it made sense to make these roaches available to other herp owners who may be looking for better nutrition from their feeders. And so that’s what we did.
Raising and feeding organic Dubia roaches has led to very real (but occasionally hard to quantify) benefits for both the roaches and herps. The connection between insect nutrition during development and productivity as adults (external link) is well-studied, and our observations are consistent with the research. And, perhaps more importantly, we have to remember that pesticides are designed to kill insects. Dubia roaches are insects. This seems like a bad combination to us. Pesticides approved for use on food grown for humans are, by design, deadly for insects.
So here is what we’ve found in our colonies:
Organic Dubia roaches seem to eat more than their non-organic peers. This could be due to increased breeding, physical activity, fewer harmful substances depressing appetite, increased palatability of organic foods, or other factors. We aren’t sure why it happens, but this is what we’ve seen.
The survival rate of Dubia roach nymphs in our organic colonies may be higher than their peers fed a standard diet. We see larger litters in our organic colonies, but there seem to be more nymphs at harvest time than can be explained by the larger litters. As far as we can figure, what we’re seeing is caused by either higher nymph survival in the organic colonies or increased reproduction among the adults. We suspect the cause is higher survival.
The potential for better nutrition and health
As a general concept, we believe organic produce is more nutritious than standard produce (external link). We also believe insect nutrition contributes to growth, longevity, and productivity (external link), and that these are all markers insect health status.
Peace of mind
Exotic animals can be fine one day and sick or worse the next. There is no second guessing when something goes wrong if they’re eating organic feeders. One batch of pesticide-laden fruit can wipe out an entire Dubia roach colony. We’ve seen it happen. What effects those chemicals have on herps as they accumulate in their tissues over time is anyone’s guess. Our guess is that the effects are probably not good. Feeding organic Dubia roaches offers some peace of mind.
Are organic Dubia roaches right for you?
While we pursue optimum nutrition at least in part through the reduction of man-made chemicals in our roach’s food, we understand not everyone thinks this is important. We’re OK with that. There is nothing wrong with feeding animals non-organic insects. We do it all the time with crickets and mealworms. After making the switch from crickets to Dubia roaches, we stopped breeding other insects. These days we buy them from a supplier and gutload them before feeding them off. Changing to a total organic diet would involve breeding organic crickets and mealworms on top of Dubia roaches we already raise, and that’s too much work right now. One main organic feeder and a diet that’s about 80% organic Dubia roaches is enough.
Whether or not you should make a switch will probably depend on many factors. All animals benefit from improvements in their diet. What you decide probably comes down to your situation, your views on organic foods, and what you want for your animals. It’s worth noting that some species may benefit more from an organic diet than others.
Species considered difficult or less hearty may get more from eating organic roaches. Chameleons and many arachnids, for example, are generally more prone to health problems than bearded dragons and monitors. This is not to say hearty animals don’t benefit from organic feeders. They probably do. It is to say, rather, that the effects of switching to an organic diet may be more noticeable and/or have a bigger impact on the quality of life of less hearty herps, or those prone to health problems.
There may also be more benefits to going organic for animals that live relatively long lives. All things equal, a 10 year old iguana may have five times the chemical and heavy metal exposure as a two year old chameleon. Whether that means younger or older animals benefit more from an organic diet is probably something that could be argued.
If you decide to try an organic feeder, we recommend Dubia roaches. And not just because we sell them. We made the switch to Dubia roaches specifically, and to organic feeders generally, because we saw the positive effects they had on our herps. It didn’t happen the other way around. In our opinion (and the opinion of many others) Dubia roaches are the healthiest feeder insect available. We think they’re an excellent choice for those who want the finest breeders and feeders for their animals. For us, going one step further to organic Dubia roaches makes sense.