1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Raising crickets 101

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JimnJanet, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Chillin' With My Peeps

    537
    0
    159
    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    How to Raise Your Own Crickets



    StepsBuild a container. You will need a container to keep your crickets in. It's easiest to have at least 2 containers, one for breeding adults and one for maturing young crickets. Decide how many crickets you want to raise and purchase a container(s) of suitable size.


    Purchase a clear tote bin with a secure lid to keep the crickets in. High-sided plastic storage boxes are a common choice. A 14 gallon (53 L) container can hold a colony of over 500 crickets with sufficient cardboard or egg crates to climb on. Smooth-surfaced totes will reduce the number of escapes.
    Cut one or two 6" holes in lid of the tote bin for ventilation. Cover the top with a metal mosquito screen to prevent escapes (crickets can chew through plastic screen). Try a hot glue gun to secure the screen. You can experiment with variable vents if you want additional control over the heat.
    Place 1-2" of fine vermiculite in the bottom of the tote bin. This will give the crickets something to walk on that will keep the container dry to prevent bacteria and reduce the smell. Especially with denser colonies, this will need to be replaced every 1-6 months, so get some extra.
    Place a disposable plastic container filled with very damp loose top soil in the tote bin. Try to make it just slightly higher than the vermiculite so the crickets can get in the container. The females need this to lay their eggs in. Make sure your top soil is fertilizer and pesticide free. You can put screen on the surface of the soil to prevent crickets from digging or eating the eggs. Females can deposit eggs through screen using their egg laying spike (ovipositor).
    Buy 50 or more crickets. Make sure you have enough crickets to feed your pet with 30-50 extra to breed. It's important to have a mix of male and female crickets but preferably, more females than males.


    Female crickets have three long extrusions on their behind with the main one (called ovipositor) that it uses to deposit the eggs in the ground. Female crickets will also grow fully developed wings.
    Male crickets have two extrusions. They have short under-developed wings that they use to produce the familiar cricket call we hear at night.
    Assemble your colony. Place all your crickets in your completed cricket container. Place a shallow dish of commercial cricket food or substitute (crushed premium dry cat food works well) in the container away from the soil. Place an inverted bottle reptile water dispenser with a sponge in the reservoir to prevent drowning in the tote bin. A dish of water gel (also sold as soil substitute; polyacrylamide) or unflavoured jello will also suffice. You can treat the colony to fruit, potato slices, greens, and other vegetable matter to supplement their diet. Be sure to remove unfinished fresh foods before they mold or rot.
    Heat your crickets. Crickets need to be kept warm to promote breeding and incubation for their eggs. Heat can be provided by various methods such as a reptile heater, a heat pad, or a light bulb. Placing a space heater in a walk-in closet will heat the entire closet, providing heat for your crickets and incubating their eggs. Crickets do best when kept on the warmer side of 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Allow your crickets to breed. Give them about two weeks to breed and lay the eggs in the soil. Then replace the container with a fresh container of top soil. This is how you get a steady supply of young crickets. This also helps you divide the crickets based on their ages.
    Incubate the eggs. The crickets need heat to incubate the eggs until they hatch. Place the disposable container in a larger container that can be sealed tightly and place it where the temperature is 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. After about two weeks (longer at lower temps), the eggs will start hatching and pinhead crickets the size of a grain of sand will emerge by the hundreds daily for about two weeks. Collect them and place them in a container with food and water to grow until they are an appropriate size for your pet. Keep some set aside from every batch to replace your breeding crickets as they die off.
    Repeat. Following the above steps with your new crickets will produce hundreds upon thousands of crickets, which'll be plenty to feed your pet and perhaps even all your friends' pets.

    TipsRemove all deceased crickets - crickets will eat their dead, spreading bacteria, and end up damaging your cricket colony.
    A strip of clear packing tape around the inside of the tote will prevent escapes because it is too slippery for the crickets to climb.
    Foam strips that are used to seal the drafts from doors can be used to seal the lid to prevent crickets from escaping.
    Every six months, you should buy new crickets to start this process over again with. This reduces the problems that can occur with inbreeding. This is also a good time to replace vermiculite top soil with fresh material.
    Replace the cotton in the water dish once every two weeks or as it gets dirty. This will prevent bacteria from growing in the water.
    Do some extra research on cricket care and diet. This will help you provide the extra care needed to ensure you are successful in raising your own crickets.

    WarningsOnly use top soil that is fertilizer and pesticide free. This prevents your crickets, eggs, and pets from being poisoned.
    50 breeding crickets should yield 2000+ pin head crickets over their breeding cycle. You might end up with more crickets than you know what to do with.
    Male crickets can make a lot of noise when they chirp. You might want to consider keeping them where you won't hear them.
    Eventually a few crickets will get loose.
    Watch for pests that invade your crickets such as mold, mites, flies, and bacteria. Take proper precautions to prevent and eliminate such pests to keep a healthy supply.
    When eggs hatch pin head crickets are about the size of a grain of sand. Make sure they can't escape their enclosure. (They shouldn't be able to climb glass or clear plastic)
    Don't keep it too humid. Keep a water dish for drinking, but try to keep humidity low. This will reduce cricket mortality, mold, mites, and flies.



    Things You'll NeedTote bin or aquarium
    Vermiculite
    Glad disposable container (sandwich size)
    Top soil - fertilizer and pesticide free
    Metal screen
    Clay food dishes (glazed) You can also jist use plastic container or jar lids for this.Also, instead of the cotton, cut a small sponge(they come in bags of a dozen or more at dollar stores)to fit snuggly into the plastic lid, they hold more water than the cotton does.
    Inverted bottle water dispenser
    Clear packing tape
    Heat source
    Crickets

    And as with the mealworms, yer crickets are only as nutritious as what's in thier bellies.
    Have fun.
    Jim
     
  2. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

    806
    0
    159
    Nov 16, 2007
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks. This should be a sticky, along with the mealworms [​IMG]
     
  3. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Chillin' With My Peeps

    537
    0
    159
    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    What's a sticky ? [​IMG]
     
  4. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

    806
    0
    159
    Nov 16, 2007
    Southern Indiana
    It's like a "keeper" post that won't drop off the front page. [​IMG]
     
  5. K&H Chicken Farm

    K&H Chicken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    402
    0
    139
    Feb 17, 2008
    Redding CA
    Can you freeeze crickets? Our summer heat around here is always high 90 to 100 and would work great for breeding. I just have no space to breed in a heated house in the winter. I could see freezing them for winter yummys though.
     
  6. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    24,442
    46
    371
    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Do they stink?
     
  7. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Chillin' With My Peeps

    537
    0
    159
    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    K&H Chicken Farm :

    Can you freeeze crickets? Our summer heat around here is always high 90 to 100 and would work great for breeding. I just have no space to breed in a heated house in the winter. I could see freezing them for winter yummys though.

    I immagine that you could K&H. But keep in mind..a cricket is only as nutricious as what's in it's belly.I dunno how long they would retain anything once frozen.​
     
  8. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Chillin' With My Peeps

    537
    0
    159
    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    Quote:Guess that would be a yes MissPrissy. I have yet to encounter any insect that doesn't have an "aroma" in quantities. Is it offensive ? Not to me. Ya pretty much gotta stick yer nose into yer colony to smell 'em unles yer not keepin it clean.
    Come to think of it. Not as bad as the birdy poopoo in the coop.
     
  9. JimnJanet

    JimnJanet Chillin' With My Peeps

    537
    0
    159
    Jan 29, 2008
    S.W Pa.
    Quote:Thanx Badhbh
     
  10. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

    806
    0
    159
    Nov 16, 2007
    Southern Indiana
    Quote:They smell.... like crickets [​IMG] It's a hard to define smell. It's a dry kinda musty smell, but not overwhelming or offensive. Does that make sense? It's like trying to describe the smell of snakes... they don't smell like anything, but they smell like something. [​IMG] The food will smell if you don't keep it rotated.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by