If you wonder if moths are a safe food for your pet tarantula, you aren’t alone! While some owners feed moths to their pet tarantulas without experiencing any issues, others are opposed to this idea. So can tarantulas eat moths? That is what you are going to find out in this article.
Tarantulas can eat moths. Moths are good sources of protein and fats, thus they are a nutritious meal. However, moths shouldn’t be the staple of your tarantula’s diet and it’s best if you offer different feeders. Also, pesticides and parasites are always a risk with wild-caught food, so be careful.
Are you planning to take advantage of the moths in your area and feed them to your tarantula? Then keep reading to find out what are the risks and advantages of doing so.
Can Tarantulas Eat Moths?
Your tarantula can eat moths. As carnivores, tarantulas feed exclusively on meat, which means that they will eat many different kinds of insects.
Furthermore, being a highly-skilled predator, a tarantula possesses clever hunting tactics and is capable of catching just about any insect. Even larger insects pose no threat and will end up being caught and eaten by a hungry tarantula.
In the wild, tarantulas love catching and eating moths which serve as a nutritious and delicious meal. However, most owners will opt to serve a variety of feeders than going out in the field to catch a moth for their tarantula’s dinner.
There is nothing wrong with feeding your tarantula moths once in a while if you have an opportunity to catch one alive and if you are up for it. Furthermore, if your pet tarantula seems to like eating moths, there is no harm in offering a few every now and then.
However, we don’t recommend using wild-caught insects as the staple of your tarantula’s diet. There are too many unknown variables, and you can’t know for sure if a moth is completely healthy or if it would pose a risk to your pet tarantula.
Are Moths Nutritious?
You may be surprised to learn that some types of moths are consumed by people! While you might not be interested in eating some any time soon, moths and especially their caterpillars are a major source of nutrients for many people in some African countries.
There are many different types of moths, so it comes as no surprise that not all of them have the same nutritional value. Generally speaking, moths are great sources of protein and fat, and also contain certain minerals that can boost your tarantula’s immune system.
Obviously, the wings and legs of a moth are the parts that contain the least amount of nutrients. However, the body is packed with proteins and healthy fats. Furthermore, your tarantula will also get a chance to ingest potassium, calcium, zinc, and iron when eating a moth.
Keep in mind that since moths are rich in fats they also contain a lot of calories and serving them to your tarantula regularly can lead to weight gain. So if you opt for feeding moths to your tarantula, find a middle ground and use them as an occasional meal.
What Types Of Moths Can Tarantulas Eat?
While some types of moths are important pollinators, most species are treated as pests. So catching and feeding them to your tarantula is, in some small way, beneficial and can help control their population.
Scientifically known as Galleria mellonella, the wax moth is well known for its parasitization of honeybees and their hives. Wax moths are brown-grey, range from 10 to 18 mm in length, and can be found from May to October.
Keep in mind that chemicals are frequently used to control the population of wax moths. Thus, you should catch and feed them to your tarantula only if you live in a rural area where these control methods aren’t used.
Lymantria dispar, commonly known as a gypsy moth is classified as a pest and its larvae consume the leaves of trees, shrubs, and plants. Ranging in size from 20 to 35 mm, male gypsy moths are brown and females are generally black-and-white.
Since larvae reach maturity between mid-June and early July, you won’t be able to find gypsy moths sooner than that. And since they are regarded as an invasive species, catching them won’t get you in any sort of trouble.
Signs That Moths Aren’t Safe To Eat
Although pesticides are still the major concern when feeding moths to your tarantula, you should also know that some species can be toxic to your pet. Signs that a moth might be poisonous are:
- Bright colors
- Red, orange, or yellow wings or markings
- Strong odor
Keep in mind that some edible moths use these colors as a disguise to stay protected from natural predators. However, you should err on the side of caution and avoid feeding any bright colored moths to your pet tarantula.
On the other hand, green, brown, and black are typically the colors of moths that are safe to eat. So always look for specimens that sport natural and neutral colors.
How To Serve A Moth To Tarantula?
When it comes to feeding moths to your pet tarantula, you should always make sure that the moth is actually alive. As a predator, your tarantula enjoys chasing its prey just as much as eating it, and it wouldn’t get a chance to do that if you serve a dead moth.
A general rule when feeding tarantulas is to feed them animals that are 1/4 to 1/2 of their length. Depending on the size of your tarantula you will easily determine which moth fits these criteria.
Smaller types of moths can also be served as meals, however, one will likely not be enough to satisfy your tarantula’s appetite. Thus, offer several smaller moths or use crickets or other feeders to create a balanced and nutritious meal.
Once you catch a moth, make sure it’s alive and looking healthy before dropping it into your tarantula’s tank. Once the moth is inside, it will create a lot of vibration due to the rapid movements of its wings, which will make it very easy to locate.
If your tarantula is interested and truly intends on eating the moth, it will attack him within the first 30 minutes. But if your pet doesn’t show any interest during this period, chances are that it isn’t hungry or it isn’t interested in eating moths.
If this is the case, you should probably stick with your regular feeders and quit catching moths in the future.
What Are The Dangers Of Feeding Moths To Tarantulas?
While wild tarantulas eat moths on a regular basis, feeding them to your pet tarantula isn’t a completely risk-free endeavor. There are several reasons why many owners stick with feeders and avoid offering wild-caught prey to their tarantulas.
The most common dangers are:
Moths are important pollinators which means that they can be often found in fields and even some flowers. However, most crops are treated with various pesticides that can be transferred to moths and consequently ingested by your tarantula.
While eating one contaminated moth probably won’t put your tarantula at risk, ingesting pesticides, in the long run, can result in illness and death.
Parasites are always a risk with wild-caught food, and not just with moths.
There is no certain way of knowing if the moth that you caught in your backyard is infected or ill before you offer it to your pet tarantula. In the case it is, there is a big chance that your tarantula will get sick as well and may even die depending on the severity of the infection.
Should You Feed Moths To Your Tarantula?
Feeding wild-caught insects to tarantulas is still a subject of much debate. Some owners feel that feeding moths and other wild-caught insects is a great way to offer their tarantulas a varied diet at no cost.
On the other hand, many owners would never risk introducing parasites or chemicals into their tanks.
Generally, if you live in a rural area with lots of forests and uncontaminated fields, you can opt for catching a moth every once in a while and feeding it to your tarantula.
Going out in the forest with a net is a great way to find some tasty moths or other insects for your tarantula to munch on.
However, if you live in a city or near a fabric or fields that you know are treated with chemicals, you shouldn’t feed moths or any wild-caught insects to your pet tarantula. In these cases, the risks are much higher than any potential gains and it’s best that you stick with breeding farms.
Ultimately, feeding wild-caught moths should be a personal decision, and only you know what is really the best for your pet tarantula. Just make sure to weigh in all the advantages and disadvantages before you grab your net and set out to catch dinner for your tarantula.