Live vs. Canned Insects

Live vs. Canned Insects

 Live vs. Preserved Feeder Insects

We’re opening up a whole new can of (yummy) worms.

 At Symton, we sell all sorts of live feeder insects, not just black soldier fly larvae. You can purchase hornworms, waxworms, Dubia roaches, and silkworms in all their wriggly glory. But did you know we sell not-so-wiggly but still a little jiggly insects in a can, too? Both live and preserved bugs each have their benefits, depending on your unique needs. Here are a few differences and similarities between the two.

Nutritious and delicious.

Our preserved insects have all the same nutrients as their live counterparts (some have more than others!), and are safe to feed your animals. We can’t personally vouch for the flavors, but we do know our reptiles and chickens scarf them both up with equal enthusiasm.

It’s gettin’ hot in heeere…

As the summer temps continue to rise (and our frequency of deodorant application increases), it can be easier to purchase preserved insects rather than live ones. High temperatures can be lethal to live insects, and well, you can’t kill what’s already dead. At Symton, we require that you purchase ice packs when ordering live insects during the summer, to help them survive the trip to your doorstep.

Canned vs. Dried

Symton offers dried black soldier fly larvae as well as canned and live ones. What are the differences between the two preserved types, you ask? Well, canned larvae retain their moisture, while dried (as the name implies) do not. Reptiles and amphibians get a lot of their water from the food they eat, which means you’ll need to be more diligent about dehydration and make sure you provide sources of moist food and water for your animal.

The thrill is gone…or not!

Live insects stimulate predator animals, providing them with both mental and physical exercise. Some animals may fail to recognize preserved insects as food since they don’t move. Using tweezers to feed your reptile or amphibian preserved insects can be an effective way to mimic movement and entice your pet to gobble with gusto.

Respect your elders.

Sometimes, more stimulation is a drawback. As reptiles and amphibians age, they can have a little less pep in their step, just like humans. Providing them with preserved insects can make it easier for them to get the nutrients they need without having to chase after live insects as they shake their fists (claws?) at the young whippersnappers. 

IT’S ALIVE…under the right conditions.

When you purchase live feeder insects, you’ll need to make sure they live long enough to be of use. This obviously isn’t a problem with canned or dried bugs. Be sure to learn the best way to take care of your particular species of feeder. Black soldier fly larvae live for about two weeks at room temperature. If you want them to last longer, move their container to a cooler place, about 50–60°F. Anything below that will lower their chances of survival. Make sure they've returned to room temperature before you feed them to your pet.  

The Price is Right

Looking to save a little dough? Preserved insects tend to be more cost-effective than the live guys. Depending on your unique needs and specific pet, you’ll want to make sure your animal gets the stimulation and nutrients necessary for the best quality of life, whether it’s from live or preserved insects or a combination of both.

Expiration Dates

Preserved insects and larvae have a longer shelf life than live ones. This can be a lot more convenient for some people or for specific situations, such as when you need someone to feed your pet while on vacation, or you forgot to order larvae in time from Symton and you have canned bugs as a backup. Our canned feeder bugs have expiration dates too, so be sure to check them once they arrive. Right now, Symton is offering 70% off all canned insects that are expiring the month of June, so hurry up and order before they’re gone!


Whether you use live insects or preserved ones, you’re providing your pet with the protein and nutrients it needs as part of a complete and balanced diet. Kind of like Wheaties. But with a more satisfying crunch.

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