If you are tired of regularly visiting a pet store for more crickets, raising your own is an option. With some preparation you can create a self-sustaining colony that requires little upkeep and a limitless supply of crickets.
Two or more containers for the crickets’ home is required. One will be used for adults and the other for rearing the young. Ten or twenty gallon aquariums with wire screened lids or plastic storage containers with lids work well.
If you use plastic containers, holes will need to be cut for ventilation. Cover the holes with metal screens and secure them with duct tape. Do not use fiberglass screens since crickets are able to chew threw it.
Having an escape-proof enclosure is important. You do not want crickets escaping and hopping around your home. You also don’t want other insects getting in and preying upon them.
When choosing the containers, determine how many crickets you want to raise. The larger the colony, the larger the containers needed. Fifty crickets are fine in a small tank, but once they reproduce a thousand of them won’t fit as well. Overcrowding can cause unwanted deaths and cannibalism.
Stack a bunch of cardboard egg flats or trays, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, or crumpled cardboard over 2/3 of a tank. These will be the hiding places for the insects.
On the other side of the tank there should be a nesting container. It should be a few inches deep and filled with a damp substrate for egg laying. Suitable substrate can be sand, peat moss, coconut fiber (reptile bedding), or vermiculite.
The crickets’ home also needs food and water dishes. The food dish should be a couple inches deep. The water dish can be a chicken feeder/waterer, mason jar waterer, or a shallow dish. Inside the dish place plastic mesh scouring pads to prevent the crickets from drowning.
Alternatively, you can use commercial cricket gel instead of water. A slice of potato or fresh fruit can also be used as a temporary or additional source of water.
Substrate is not recommended for the floor of the housing container. It should only be in the nesting container. Not using a substrate will reduce the possibility of unpleasant odors.
A source of heat may also be necessary. Crickets will survive at room temperature but will thrive between 80 and 90*F. If you need additional heat for the tanks, heat pads or heat emitters can be used.
Crickets do have an odor, but with the correct maintenance it can be kept to a minimum. Keep the containers and dishes clean, replace overly soiled hide areas, do not use substrate, and keep their home dry.
About every other month you will want to move all the insects and housing to another tank. The empty tank can then have any accumulated waste removed and be washed.
Breeding crickets is a fairly simple process. Once the crickets are in the tank, they will quickly find the nesting container. Since there is no other substrate they will mostly lay their eggs there. As long as the nesting container remains damp, it should be full of eggs after about a week.
Remove and replace the egg-filled container. Cover the container full of eggs and place it in a warm location. Near the heat pad or emitter is usually fine. Make sure the substrate remains damp and in about ten days the eggs will hatch.
Once you see a bunch of tiny pinhead crickets, the nesting container can be moved to the new rearing tank and the lid removed. Larger crickets will eat smaller ones so moving the pinheads to the rearing tank is important for maximum output.
If you only have two tanks, once a month move all remaining crickets to the rearing tank. Clean the adult tank and make it the new rearing tank.
Feeding your crickets a nutritious diet that is high in protein is important. If well fed, the crickets will thrive and reproduce. They will also pass along important nutrients when eaten by your pet.
Their diet should consist of a dry feed supplemented with raw fruit and vegetable scraps. Commercial cricket chow is available or you can make your own feed with dry cat food and other items from your local grocery.
Combine mostly dry cat food with the other items on the list. Grind the mixture in a blender or food processor until you have a crumbly feed. Store the feed in a resealable plastic container.