What is Field Plankton?
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What is Field Plankton?

What is field plankton? Can I catch wild insects and feed them to my reptile pets? Can bearded dragons eat houseflies? Can anoles eat grasshoppers? Are lubber grasshoppers poisonous? What insects can I feed my herps? What things should pet lizards not be fed. How to catch field plankton? Is it safe to feed wild insects to my pets?

A herp, for those who do not know, is a reptile or amphibian. Some of these animals eat insects; when we keep them as pets it is possible to buy live food from a pet store, but what about collecting your own insects from your house or yard, to feed to your reptile or amphibian?  Some birds, such as the softbills, also eat insects and prefer them live.

What is Field Plankton?

Field plankton are the insects and plants that you can collect from your yard. For this article we are talking about insects rather than plants.

There are many things to consider if you are thinking of catching field plankton (insects from outside) for your pet. It is also called pasture plankton, meadow plankton, or garden plankton.


If you are in the city catching your own field plankton, or insects, to feed your pets is risky. Even if you do not use insecticides your neighbors might, and insects can travel quite a distance. This is one of the biggest risks. Even being exposed to other chemicals, herbicides, and fertilizers, can be a problem. If you know a farm where you can collect free insects (and you know no chemicals have been sprayed) you should still stay out of the road side ditches as very often these areas are sprayed by road maintenance crews.  Houseflies are fine to feed to your pets as long as you know you have not used any insect sprays.


There is sometimes a risk of field plankton having parasites, although these may not always pose a threat to your pet it is a risk you should be aware of.

Right Insects for your Pet

You should not feed your pet insects that are too large for it, or ones that it might not normally eat, some herps swallow their food whole, and live, which is some cases is not too good when feeding certain kinds of insect.

If you have a small pet reptile such as Anole, or small snake, catch only small grasshoppers, if you have a larger lizard you can catch larger grasshoppers for it. Other popular insects for your pets to eat include crickets, aphids, flies, earthworms, stick insects, moths, and mosquito larvae.

Some insects that reptiles and amphibians rarely eat, or should not be given, include sow bugs, spiders, lady bugs, Eastern lubber grasshoppers (black with yellow stripe), wasps, and bees.

Also do not overdo it, if you put several ants into a vivarium with only a few mantillas (tiny frogs) they might actually end up killing your frogs.

Collecting Field Plankton

For most things, such as grasshoppers, catching with your hand is quite easy, other field plankton can be swept up using a net. Keep track of which insects your pets prefer, and which they do not eat.

Field plankton can also be fed to pet chickens, if loose they will catch their own, but you can always catch grasshoppers and toss them into 3 week (or older) chicks who are too small to be let loose.

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Comments (1)

Good information for reptile owners.