ReptiFiles was provided a free sample of Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet in exchange for an honest review, whether positive or negative. The review below is our honest, unbiased opinion.
“You are what you eat!” —Your Mother
Sound familiar? This old adage was first stated by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826, in his book, Physiologie du Gout, ou Medetations de Gastronomie Transcendante: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”¹ And since then it has been used by parents everywhere to nag their kids into eating healthier.
This phrase can also be applied to reptile nutrition. When was the last time you thought about what you feed to your reptile — I mean, really thought about it? Sure, you know that a healthy reptile requires a healthy diet. And sure, you offer different types of food according to the correct ratios for the species. You correct nutritional imbalances with calcium and multivitamin supplements. You might even go so far as to take pains to offer as varied a diet as possible for your pet reptile.
But have you ever considered where your reptile’s food comes from?
After all, “You are what you eat” applies to your reptile’s food, too. So in this case, a more accurate saying would go something like this: “You are what you eat eats.”
It’s called the food chain, my friend! It starts with the sun and ends with top tier predators — or at least that’s how it works in theory. Generally speaking, it just ends wherever it ends. But it always starts with the sun! To put it simply, the sun (plus water and soil) nourishes plants. Plants nourish herbivores. Herbivores nourish predators. The end. And the nutrients that start at level 1 get carried allll the way to the top.
In other words, food that is fed a healthy diet results in lots of nutrients for a healthier pet. Food that is fed an unhealthy diet results in fewer nutrients for an unhealthy pet.
In reptile keeping, the practice of increasing the nutritional value of feeders in an effort to optimize reptile health is known as gut loading. This is most commonly practiced with feeder insects, but could (and should) be practiced with feeder birds and rodents, and can even be practiced with vegetation for herbivores.
Today, we’re focusing on gut loading feeder insects. Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia), to be exact, as they’re one of the most common feeder insects that reptile keepers will keep and breed in colonies to save money on feeding insectivorous and omnivorous lizards such as bearded dragons and leopard geckos.
If you ask for advice online on how to start a dubia roach colony, you’ll get responses that more or less amount to this: Toss ‘em in a bin with egg crates and maybe a little heat, feed them vegetable scraps and the occasional orange slice, and voila, you’ll have tons of roaches in no time. But that minimalist approach isn’t good enough. While quantity is important when breeding feeder insects, quality should not be neglected.
And so I introduce the subject of today’s product review: the famous Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet. Lugarti claims to have created a dubia roach food that is nutritious enough to double as both a general insect diet and a gutload. An ambitious goal — and a good one, too. But does their product live up to the claim? Let’s find out.
- 100% plant based formula
- nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of all roach species, specifically Dubia Roaches
- comes in a 2lb bag
- spoilage-resistant bag
- resealable top
- can be served dry or moistened
- if moistened, serve in batches small enough to be eaten within 24 hours
- Crude Protein (min) ………… 13.2%
- Crude Fat (min) ……………….. 3.5%
- Crude Fiber (max) ……………. 7.9%
- Calcium …………………………. 1.28%
- Phosphorous ………………….. 0.42%
Ingredients: Ground Maize, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Ground Wheat, Rice Bran, Ground Flaxseed, Alfalfa Meal, Strawberries, Bee Pollen, Algae Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vegetable Oil, Brewers Dried Yeast; Vitamin & Mineral Blend: (Salt, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Sodium Selenite, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfate (Vitamin K), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), L-Lysine Monohydrochloride); Probiotic Blend: (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Aspergillus niger, Trichoderma longibrachiatum, Bacillus subtilis); Calcifediol (Vitamin D3), DL-Methionine Hydroxy Analogue, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet has a very comprehensive, impressive-looking ingredient list. I like that this dubia roach food has a focus on not just producing nutritious feeders, but healthy ones, too.
Alfalfa, bee pollen, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics are the ingredients that I’m most impressed with at a glance. Alfalfa is a very nutritious plant that is arguably one of the best things that can be fed to an herbivorous feeder. Pollen is frequently found on wild insects, as they are used by plants as pollinators, so pollen is a regular part of the diet for insectivores such as chameleons. It’s even arguably a regular part of an omnivore’s wild diet, as they eat not only insects, but flowers as well. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for balancing an insect’s natural calcium to phosphorus ratio and supporting reptiles that receive UVB and no supplemental vitamin D.
I’m especially impressed by the inclusion of probiotics, as these will be passed to the reptile upon ingestion, creating a more nutritious and beneficial feeder. According to John Courteney-Smith, “The live gut flora of a reptile’s stomach is also directly linked to the animal’s immune system. If the immune system is targeted and depleted…the animal will be left with less protection from outside infections and could become more prone to internal stress and disease.”²
One of the big concerns with any feeder insect diet is protein content. It is well known that for omnivores and herbivores, eating a diet that is too high in protein can cause uric acid to accumulate and cause a painful condition called gout. But insectivores and carnivores can also suffer from gout when the animal foods that they eat contain higher than normal amounts of protein.
And in the case of dubia roach food, protein content is an especial concern because unlike most animals, cockroaches don’t excrete the excess protein that they consume in the form of uric acid. Instead, according to a 1988 study by Radha Pant, they store it in their fat for future conversion back into protein as needed³. This is a useful survival mechanism for roaches. But for the reptiles that eat them, it can be detrimental.
From my observation, it seems that the only dubia roach food that tends to result in gout is fish food. Which makes sense — from a brief survey of popular fish foods, I found that fish food tends to have a crude analysis of 43% protein or more. I haven’t been able to find any sources that confirm an ideal amount of protein for dubia roaches or roaches in general, but according to research by Dubia Roach Depot, a 25% protein diet can be considered reasonable for raising healthy roaches that reproduce normally4. In other words, there’s no reason to provide such a high protein diet, and doing so is likely to be harmful to the roaches as well as to the reptile eating them.
Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet is much lower in protein — just 13.2%. However, that may not necessarily be a bad thing, as in the same article, Dubia Roach Depot points out that while a 25% protein diet is good for the long-term health of roaches, it may encourage uric acid accumulation in the feeders, which makes it unsuitable as a gut load. Instead, they encourage “purging” feeder roaches on a low-protein diet for a short period of time before feeding to a reptile. They also point out that as long as a reptile has sufficient access to water and is otherwise healthy, it should be able to purge excess dietary protein and uric acid in the form of urate. I’m not an expert on dubia roaches or any kind of cockroach, but 13.2% seems like a safe middle-of-the-road number for creating a dubia roach food that can double as a gutload.
The other concern that I experienced when looking at Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet’s ingredients list was the fact that the first five ingredients are grains and seeds. Grain is not necessarily a bad thing when gut loading insects. Many insects will readily eat grain on their own, and grains and seeds contain many vitamins and minerals. However, the presence of so much grain raises concerns about the presence of phytic acid.
Phytic acid is found in varying quantities in seeds, grains, nuts, legumes, and some vegetation. It has its own beneficial properties, but in excess it has the strong ability to bind with metals. This includes iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc, which are essential mineral nutrients. Phytic acid reduces a reptile’s ability to digest and assimilate foods properly, which can lead to mineral deficiency. You can see how this can be a major issue when feeder insects are given foods with a high phytic acid content.
In a list of foods with a high phytic acid content, you can find rice bran, maize/corn, soybeans, wheat, and wheat bran, among others5. Bran tends to have an especially high amount of phytic acid. And according to John Courteney-Smith: “…an animal that does not have access to a correctly re-created wild UV index or adequate D3 supplementation but has a diet high in phytic acid could be more at risk from the conditions we know as MBD…”
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the amount of phytic acid in high-phytic acid foods:
- Soaking the food in question in water for at least 8 hours releases the phytase enzyme and initiates phytic acid breakdown.
- Eating foods high in vitamin C alongside high-phytic acid foods will mitigate the effects of phytic acid.
With that information in hand, I would recommend pre-soaking small batches of Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet for at least 8 hours before giving it to your roach colony. The presence of strawberries in Lugarti’s recipe — strawberries being naturally high in vitamin C — may also play a role in balancing out the grains on the ingredients list. If you are very concerned, separating roaches intended for feeding in the next 24-48 hours and giving them only a non-grain, plant-based food during this time can help clear them out.
The label is clear, attractive, and communicates to a new customer exactly what this product is and roughly how it should be used. It’s dubia roach food. *Premium* dubia roach food. I’m a fan of good graphic design, and Lugarti really nails it here.
Furthermore, Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet’s package is sturdy and unlikely to tear easily. Its material helps repel moisture and thus preserves freshness. At first I thought the bag wasn’t resealable, and I was thinking to suggest a zip closure as an improvement, but then I realized that the sticky plastic bar at the top is meant to be secured over the folded top. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I’m ashamed to admit that realization came much later than it should have.
Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet can be used dry or wet, although I prefer to avoid water crystals and simply wet down my insect foods. It mixes with water easily, and while it needs to sit awhile to absorb the water, this isn’t a problem due to abovementioned benefits for phytic acid breakdown. The odor is also neutral and nonobjectionable.
Both my dubia roaches and red runner roaches seem happy to eat this stuff (although honestly, is there such thing as a picky roach?), and they’re usually all over it within 15 minutes of serving. They also seem to be breeding as well as or better than before since I started using this product.
There are no visible contaminants in the diet, which is a definite plus considering that I’ve had problems with weevils in other diets I’ve tried.
Things I Liked About Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet
- Comprehensive and well-researched formula — A lot more thought went into this product than with most insect diets, which is something I significantly appreciate as someone with a special interest in reptile nutrition.
- Good price — As of April 2020, this product can be purchased from Lugarti’s website for $14.99 before shipping. For 2 lbs of high-quality roach chow, that’s really good. I’ve paid more for less.
- Clear, grammatically correct instructions — Instructions for how to use this product are satisfactorily clear and easy to understand, as well as educational.
- Functional packaging — The bag resists spoilage and is securely recloseable. What more can you ask for?
- Great graphic design — It doesn’t count for much, but hey, I can respect a brand that knows their marketing.
Things I Didn't Like About Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet
- Phytic acid — Although there are ways to get around it, I’m still concerned about presence of so many high-phytic acid ingredients in Lugarti’s formula.
- Needs instructions on how to close the bag — You know, for other dunces like me.
Conclusion: If You're Looking for a Roach Chow, This is The One
ReptiFiles Rating: 5.0 stars!
Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet meets the Arcadia guidelines for determining a quality insect gutload: “There are very few branded whole insect diets that would actually be of a benefit to your animal as it is in turn passed along the food chain. I would look for a dried diet that can be freshly mixed up or offered directly, and which includes a staple of dried alfalfa and natural plants and probiotics.”
It’s been a long review, and I hope you learned something in the process! I sure did. I had my doubts at the beginning, but now that I’m at the end, it’s clear that Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet is one of the best — if not the best — dubia roach foods that you can feed to your colony. If you take the precautions mentioned below under “Tips for Success,” your reptiles’ health will likely thank you for making the switch.
Our Advice for Using This Product —
- Soak the dubia roach food for at least 8 hours before serving to reduce the phytic acid content.
- Make batches no larger than will be consumed within 48 hours.
- Alternate occasionally with a low-protein food source such as fresh (nontoxic) vegetables or Repashy Grassland Grazer, or dedicate one day per week as a “fast day” to encourage the roaches to use up their uric acid stores. This is especially important if you feed off your adult roaches.
1. Martin, G. (n.d.). ‘You are what you eat’ – the meaning and origin of this phrase. Retrieved from https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you-are-what-you-eat.html
2. Courteney-Smith, J. (2014). The Arcadia Guide to Reptile & Amphibian Nutrition. United States: Arcadia Products.
3. Pant, R. Nitrogen excretion in insects. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. (Anim. Sci.) 97, 379–415 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03179946
4. Dubia roaches and dietary protein: How much is enough? (2019, May 6). Retrieved from https://dubiaroachdepot.com/guidance/dubia-roaches-dietary-protein
5. Andrews, R. (2018, March 19). Phytates and phytic acid. Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid