Updated 16 August 2007
Common name: BROWN CRICKET
name: Acheta domestica
This web page is referring at all times to the commercially
bred brown cricket. The black cricket that breeds in the wild
should never be fed to any animals or birds unless their back
legs are removed. Both back legs on the black cricket have a row of
very sharp spikes which are very hard to digest and can cause damage to
the animal's mouth, throat and / or digestive tract. So, unless you are
prepared to pull the back legs off each and every black cricket, it is
probably best to only use brown crickets.
Commercial breeders have some techniques and equipment that will not
be disclosed on this page. Commercial knowledge has considerable
value. Some pieces of equipment are very cheap and simple, but until
they are more widely and openly discussed I will maintain the
confidentiality. It will not detract from the following information as
the undisclosed information or equipment relates to time savings or
efficiency gains. The overall methodology remains the same.
- Developmental stages: Egg - non winged juvenile- winged adult.
- Size: (approx) egg 2.5 mm long, adult body length about 25-30
mm (female ovipositor an additional 15 mm).
- Colour: Brown: except at birth and just after they moult their
skin during their growth cycle when for a short time they are white.
- Weight: Hatchlings 1000 or more per gram, adults between 40 and
85 grams per 100 depending on genetic lines. Female crickets
weigh more than the males.
- Adults: Wings = Yes. Flight = Yes. Flight frequency =
Often / Rarely / Never. Sexually mature female adults are the ones most likely to fly.
Fed to: Birds - Most finches, softbills, weavers, whydahs,
waxbills, quail, doves, pigeons and some parrots. Marsupials, reptiles,
frogs, rodents, fish, spiders, scorpions, etc.
Non breeders: Cost: Between $5.50 and $8 per 25
adults in retail
packs. Upwards of $45 per 1000 adults ( about 450 - 550 gms) plus packaging, delivery and/or freight,
if applicable, when purchased from the breeders in bulk. The smaller
the insect size the higher the cost per 100 grams. Available all year
round from retail outlets and commercial breeders.
One of the most tedious and time consuming of any insect to
"Gut loading" and/or coating
crickets with a mineral and vitamin supplement.
I consider "Gut loading" and coating crickets with mineral and
vitamin supplements is a topic that should be covered by a veterinarian.
Seek advice from a suitably qualified veterinarian before adding
supplements to your birds or animals.
Extract from "feeding birds" web page, topic "mineral and vitamin
"With a good balanced
diet, mineral & vitamin supplements should not be necessary but, if used, it is best
mixed into or sprinkled over the soft food. Keep in mind with
supplements the correct dose rate should give good results, but, if
more than the prescribed dose is administered it could be toxic or
even fatal to the animals or birds and / or the babies. Seek advice from
an avian veterinarian before adding a "mineral & vitamin"
supplement to a bird or animal's diet.
The toxicity level for an adult bird could be very different to the
toxic dose for a baby or fledgling bird. What may be safe for an
adult may be toxic for a baby or fledgling bird. This can apply to
all animals including cats, dogs, marsupials, reptiles, fish and aquatic
animals. General rule = the smaller the animal the more sensitive
the animal or bird may be to additional calcium supplements or mineral
and vitamin supplements.
The varying toxicity levels apply to all animals not just birds.
Varying sizes and species of reptiles, frogs, marsupials, mammals,
rodents etc may need
varying levels so seek professional advice to determine what is required
for your birds and animals. Tell the Vet the size, species and age
of each group of animals/birds.
Exercise can help in the absorption of calcium, minerals and vitamins.
Refer to "exercise" topic on "feeding birds" web page for more details."
Preferred facilities and husbandry: For
breeders or holding large quantities.
General information: From my view point the raising of
insects is simple if some basic rules are followed. Firstly, put aside
all the ideas you currently have and review what is to come.
Insect production is no different to the production of any other
animals. Give them an environment suitable for their growth and
breeding, plus adequate food and moisture and keep them safe from
predators and minimize disease contamination.
Updated 10 June 2006
Crickets that become contaminated with bacterial infections respond
poorly to the use of antibiotics. The cricket seems to
"neutralise" or "deactivate" the antibiotic before the antibiotic gets
to the right place inside the cricket. Increasing the dose rate does
not increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Hygiene must be
strictly observed with crickets. Many insect diseases are becoming
resistant to many of the antibiotics, antibacterial products and prevention of
a disease outbreak is critical for the long term production of crickets.
Disease in crickets over the last few years has become fairly common.
Disease in a cricket colony is very hard to eradicate. Quarantine
any newly purchased crickets the same way you quarantine any new bird or
animal. Dispose of or feed off any new crickets you suspect may
carry a disease or parasite.
Only add new crickets to your breeder colony after you are 100% sure the
new crickets are disease free and free of parasites.
Apart from poor hygiene, overcrowding is probably the easiest way of
triggering an disease outbreak.
If you purchase crickets in a small container, transfer them to a larger
well ventilated container/box as soon as possible. A clear 28 litre
plastic box with a transparent lid is cheap, light and easy to clean and should
adequately house up to about 200 adult crickets. Add adequate
ventilation to the lid of the box.
Regular cleaning of the box should minimize the risk of a disease outbreak.
Purchase 2 boxes. When the first box needs cleaning, transfer the
crickets to the clean box. Clean that box and keep it dry & clean
till it is used next time.
Egg containers and cardboard in the cricket box should be placed in a
vertical or near vertical orientation. Not horizontal. Most
cricket "poo" will fall off vertical or near vertical cardboard.
Horizontal cardboard accumulates cricket "poo". When the cardboard
gets dirty, throw it out and replace with clean items.
A quality liquid dishwashing detergent is usually adequate for the
surface cleaning of the cricket boxes and plastic items.
Viruses: It is almost impossible to eradicate a viral infection
in a cricket colony. Destroy all the crickets and any cricket
eggs, thoroughly clean all boxes, equipment, racks, floors and walls.
Carefully dispose of any material in the infected boxes in the garbage
disposal collection. Do not put it in the compost or dig it into
the garden. Purchase new disease free stock. Use correct
quarantine procedures till you are sure the new crickets are
disease/pathogen free and have not picked up any contamination from the
room or the equipment.
Crickets prefer a constant even temperature of about 28-30
degrees Celsius (and that includes 4 AM in the morning in winter when
the owner is snuggled up in bed) with a humidity of about 55% R. H..
An insulated room or cabinet is required to maintain these levels. The
use of 100 mm or 150 mm thick insulated panel walls and roof for larger
breeding rooms is an excellent investment and repays the investment very
quickly with minimal heating costs. The room or cabinet should have a
fan assisted ventilation system to remove the stale air and supply clean
fresh air. Inside the room it is advisable to have a fan operating 24
hours a day to maintain even distribution of heat and humidity. Poor
air movement increases the chances of high humidity pockets and the
likely hood of mould or mildew occurring. Poor air movement increases
the chance of an outbreak of mites. The mites generally do no harm to
the crickets but mites can be very annoying after handling the boxes,
feeling them crawling up your arms, face and body.
Vacuuming the floor minimizes the build up of mites as they
generally like to spend a lot of their time at a lower temperature than
the crickets. The vacuum cleaner should be ducted externally to ensure
any pathogens that pass through the vacuum cleaner filters do not get to
contaminate the room. Externally ducted systems remove the possibility
of people inhaling allergens that get through the filters. Inhaled
allergens can , if one is susceptible, cause serious respiratory
problems including triggering an asthma attack. Vacuum the floor at
least weekly and wash the floor with household floor disinfectant.
Clean the walls with a soft cloth about 3 monthly using a mild
disinfectant or a dilute dish washing detergent. The intent of the wall
cleaning is only to remove any build up of dust and fine particles.
Remove and wash the fan grill and blades as required. When vacuuming
look out for spiders and their webs and suck them up.
Without a fan the upper level boxes/trays have a constant higher heat
level than lower boxes therefore influencing faster growth or the
possibility of heat stress on those upper level boxes.
Light: Crickets have a photoperiod regime so it is necessary
to have timer controls on the lights. Duration of light is a minimum of
12 hours per day. A reduction of hours decreases the adult's lifespan.
14 hours is the maximum recommended. Fluorescent lights for the main
lighting and incandescent lights for personal use when the fluorescent
lights are off.
Heating: A good efficient, safe, reliable heater is
essential. Preferably electric as there is no danger of noxious fumes.
Thermostat: A good accurate, reliable, thermostat is also
essential. In larger rooms the installation of double thermostats can
be considered. If a thermostat fails to turn the heater off the
crickets will start to die at about 38 degrees Celsius. With two
thermostats correctly installed it is highly unlikely both will fail at
the same time.
Externally vented extractor fans: As well as removing stale
air, externally vented extractor fans can be of immense help to rapidly
remove excess humidity especially in summer or excess temperature during
Racks: Painted or surface treated steel racks are good,
galvanized steel racks are even better. Mites do not like the zinc
coating. Timber framed racks are very hard to keep clean and provide
numerous places for mites to hide.
Feed storage: A clean dry place has to be allocated for the
storage of the pasture replacement pellets or poultry layer pellets and dry dog food if they are
purchased in bulk. If the dry feeds are kept in a cool spot too
long there is a strong chance of mites invading the feeds. Lettuces and
other moisture providing fruits and vegetables require the same storage
conditions as if people are going to consume those items.
Rubbish removal: Observe maximum hygiene when disposing of
cricket wastes. See below: "Respiratory and allergy precautions for
A convenient size for most people to use measures about 600 mm x 450
mm x 300 mm deep (24 x 18 x 12 inches) (about 55 - 60 litre) with very smooth, non scratched,
clean internal walls. The boxes should be white or un-coloured clear
plastic. Plastic boxes are easily cleaned, light weight and provided the
walls are not scratched or dirty, the crickets will not crawl out.
There is no reason to have a full lid on the breeding boxes until the
crickets develop wings. Until the winged stage is reached about 50
- 60 mm (2 inches) of
the lid can be left open. Lids with fine mesh, and the lid fully closed
may promote the build up of mites and high levels of humidity and sometimes
wet spots. Instead of using a fine mesh in the plastic lids, one can
use a more open mesh of about 5 mm or slightly less. This mesh size has
always proven to be too small for any of my adult crickets to get
through. Females are the ones most likely to try to fly out of their
breeding box. If any crickets escape from the box never return
them to any of the boxes; feed them to the birds or animals.
Apart from the crickets or egg tray, food and moisture items, the
only other item required in the box is cardboard for them to walk/climb on
and hide. A "12
egg" egg-carton cut in half to make two "6 egg" egg-cartons is ideal.
Place them upright on the cut edges. Place them at the rear of the box,
opened to about 30 degrees with the opening facing the back of the box
(the hinge part towards the front), not touching the sides of the box,
not touching each other, and make sure the top of the carton is not
within 100 mm (4 inches) of the lower side of the lid. About 8 pieces should fit
in a 600 mm x 450 mm (24 x 18 inch) box. No cardboard should be in the front
120 - 150 mm (5 - 6 inches) of
the box. That space is for the feed and moisture sources (and egg
harvesting tray when required).
Flat egg trays and apple divider trays can be used but care has
to be taken to ensure the cardboard pieces do not collapse on each other
and sandwich/squash the insects. If used, both these items should be used in
an upright position. Alternating vertical pieces of these products
minimizes the "sandwiching" problem.
The plastic boxes need only be washed out with dishwashing detergent,
well rinsed and dried with a clean soft cloth. Harsher cleaning
solutions are rarely needed. Chlorine based cleaners can destroy
the smooth surface of plastic boxes.
Sometimes the breeding boxes may need the inside walls wiped with a
clean soft moist cloth or soft moist disposable paper towel to remove
any build up of food particles or dust like particles. This is usually
required when the humidity drops and small particles may cling to the
Do not use chlorine based cleaners on
plastic as it can remove the smooth/shiny surface and the crickets may be able to crawl
up the wall. The
longer and the more concentrated you use the chlorine cleaner the
rougher the surface may become. Baby crickets may be able to
up the wall of a box that has lost its shiny surface from over use of
chlorine based cleaners or other harsh cleaners.
The ideal diet for
the continual production of crickets in a room at about 26-30 degrees C
and about 55% R.H. comprises Barastoc Rabbit Pellets, Pasture Replacement Pellets or 18% protein
Poultry layer crumbles/pellets. Some people also use dry dog food or dry cat food. The dry food is placed in
the front section of the box on one side only. If you use 2 or
more different foods, don't mix the two foods
(create individual heaps).
Add small quantities of dry food frequently rather than a large quantity
Crickets will grab hold of a piece of food, take it to the back of the
box, eat a portion of the food and then drop the rest. This may
result in a lot of food building up unseen at the rear of the box.
Adjust the amount of food placed into the box till the crickets have
eaten this often unseen lot of food. Never let the foods run out
as they will start eating each other. Fresh foods will usually be
eaten in preference to the slightly older food.
Update June 2006: I have recently changed my views on feeding dry dog or
cat food to crickets being used for breeding. I no longer feed dry
cat or dog food to any crickets. Only Barastoc Rabbit Pellets, Pasture Replacement Pellets or 18% protein Poultry layer
crumbles/pellets are used. Feeding dry dog or cat food to crickets
being held for feeding out to birds or animals is still suitable.
Update June 2006:
The provision of
moisture is probably the most important aspect of insect production.
Some articles recommend the use of raw carrot or raw potato. I do not
recommend the use of any vegetables that grow underground as a moisture
a cricket production facility. If one is breeding crickets on a continual basis I
feel it is a strong potential vector for soil borne bacterial or pathogen infection/s. For short term use
with non-breeding colonies it should be O.K. Most other fruits and
vegetables are O.K. Remove uneaten vegetable or fruit material after 24
hours or at worst after 48 hours.
Sliced apple works well. Sliced orange is the best option, they love
it. If you run out of apple and orange, use fresh water moistened
bread. In fact you can use the bread on a regular basis as they love
it. Whole grain, multi-grain or wholemeal breads are better than
white breads as they provide more nutrition both to humans and insects.
Water is cheap but difficult to deliver without drowning some of the
sizes of crickets. Supplying water also requires a very high level
of cleaning and sanitation of the water delivery system. Water in
a 30 degree C room can rapidly breed lots of undesirable
pathogens/diseases. Water should be changed daily and the
container washed each day. Cotton wool plugs should be replaced
daily in 30 degree C rooms.
If the room temperature is about 20 degrees C there should be more
tolerance in the frequency of water changes but do not leave the water
in the box for more than 3 days without changing it. The water
container will have to be thoroughly cleaned each time a "3 day water
change" is done. Daily water change is the preferred choice even
at 20 degrees C.
A range of systems that deliver water are available. Most systems
rely on a cotton wool plug to regulate the water delivery. The
main drawback of offering water is that crickets often dive into the water and
drown. It is difficult to obtain a water delivery system that
eliminates the chances of crickets committing suicide by drowning.
Adult crickets love to dive to the bottom of the container and the baby
crickets find the surface tension too strong for them and they cannot
get free of the water and drown.
Some successfully use a shallow container (e.g. Petri dish) that has
been partially filled with small pebbles or plastic spheres. The
pebbles or plastic spheres must be cleaned before being reused at each
water change. Small pebbles may be porous and be a breeding ground
for diseases/ pathogens. Boiling or heat treatment may be
necessary if these items are reused. Plastic spheres may require
cleaning with a household dishwashing detergent or a chlorine based
household cleaner (bleach).
Thoroughly rinse any products that are cleaned with detergents or
other household cleaning products.
Adults live for between
one and three months depending on available conditions and their genetic
background. Females lay
about 1200 eggs and under good conditions about 80% hatch. Females
vary in weight between 45 and 90 grams per 100 adults depending on
genetic lines. Adult males weigh less than females. Adults are sexually mature within a week of getting
their wings. Females have a long dark ovipositor used to lay the eggs. By 3
weeks of adulthood the females are past their best egg production so
feed them and the males off and start again with a fresh batch.
Some females may still lay eggs for up to 6 weeks but their productivity
is severely compromised.
A box 600 mm long x 450 mm wide x 300 mm deep (24 x 18 x 12 inches) should be able to accommodate up
to about 1000 adults depending on your skills and knowledge level and the
amount of cardboard available for them to climb on and the quality of
the foods. For beginners, start with a lot less crickets per box,
for example 250 adult crickets, and as your knowledge and skills
improve, so can the density of crickets per box. Within reason, the
more vertical cardboard surface area the more crickets can be housed in
a given space. Over crowding leads to cannibalism and a possible
The less experience you have, the lower the number of crickets that
should be kept per container.
Breeder adults can happily tolerate a temperature of about 26 degrees
C with only minimal drop off of egg production. A temperature of
26 C is a lot cheaper to maintain than 30 degrees C.
Brown crickets crickets require 12 - 14 hours of light per day for
optimal growth and survival.
Adult brown crickets crickets become infertile at about 20 degrees C.
Over 32 degrees C the survival rate decreases and the growth rate can
decrease. Over 32 C they are easily stressed and easily killed.
32 degrees C and above seems to make them more susceptible to disease.
30 degrees C for breeders seems to be the optimal for survival rates,
food conversion, hygiene, and energy consumption (heating).
Non winged juveniles:
This stage can last
from 30 days to over 2 months depending on temperature, food,
moisture availability and their genetic background. If adequate moisture levels are not maintained
they will eat any other injured crickets or those moulting. If in a box, the
young fail to thrive and it is not temperature, moisture or food related, it is generally
best to dispose of the entire contents of the box, thoroughly clean the
box and start afresh. Failure to thrive is a good indication of an
insect disease or pathogen being present. Sick insects can be sent to an
pathology laboratory for disease identification and recommendations for
the eradication of the disease.
The eggs are usually
deposited vertically and about 5-12 mm (up to half an inch) deep. Time to hatch is about
10 to 14 days depending on the room and tray temperature.
Placing a lid on the egg tray after it is removed from the cricket box
may cause the egg tray contents to develop a fungal growth. I just
add a thin layer of the moist egg tray media (grade 3 vermiculite) to
the surface of the egg tray. No lid. Many plastic lids are
very hard to remove and spillage of the egg tray contents is a
possibility. If the egg tray contents fall onto the floor, do not
place any of the fallen material back into the egg tray. Remember
if it falls onto the floor, it must be thrown out.
Updated 28 May '06
Female adult crickets
will lay eggs where ever they find a moist place. They need a suitable
low sided plastic disposable container and a suitable moist media in
which to lay the eggs. Sand and grade 3 vermiculite are the most
commonly used media and placed into plastic disposable take-away food
containers (e.g. rectangular 500 ml with 15-25 mm, or up to one inch, deep sides). The
new egg tray
is placed in the breeder box near the front ensuring the tray is level. Leave
the egg tray in the box for no longer than 24 hours. Remove the egg tray and loosely
place about 5-10 mm deep layer of fresh moist media (e.g. vermiculite) on top of the
surface of the egg tray. Then place the egg tray in a safe spot within
the breeding room. At 30 degrees C the eggs start to hatch at about the
tenth or eleventh day. Have a fresh, clean breeding box ready to put them into on
day 9. Never reuse the sand, vermiculite or other media. The plastic trays can be reused
after appropriate cleaning.
I find the vermiculite has the best results. Some people use
coconut fibre or some of the types of peat moss or sphagnum moss. Sand tends to compact
and the ovipositor on the female is often damaged when she repeatedly
forces the ovipositor into the sand. This damage may reduce her
ability to lay her optimal number of eggs.
The vermiculite, coconut fibre or sand etc must NEVER be reused.
The use of chlorine based cleaners on the plastic egg trays can be
beneficial for the baby hatchlings as the smooth surface on the tray has
been roughened and that may allow the babies better grip on the tray wall
and that makes it easier for them to get out of the egg tray.
The eggs are usually deposited in a vertical orientation. Many
eggs can be seen through the clear tray wall. A magnifying glass
or hand lens may be necessary for some people to more easily see the
As the baby develops within the egg, the dark coloured eye can be seen.
Remove the egg tray from the newly set up box after about 4 or 5 days.
Dispose of the contents of the egg tray. Removing the egg tray
after about 4 or 5 days will ensure the crickets will be of a similar
size and this will minimize predation of the smaller crickets. The
smaller, slower to develop crickets will usually be eaten by the older
larger crickets. If
you need to salvage the few remaining slowly developing baby crickets in
the egg tray, place the egg tray into a new cricket growing box.
Discard the egg tray by day 6 or 7. Do not use these "slow to
develop" crickets as breeders. Feed them off to the birds or animals.
Keep the strongest, quick growing crickets as breeders.
Vermiculite as media: Vermiculite is sterile when purchased
in a sealed bag. Washed sand may contain many undesirable
pathogens. Grade 3 vermiculite usually gives the best results.
The vermiculite placed into the egg tray has to be moist for the
duration of the 10 or so egg development days. My method is to
fill the vermiculite filled tray with clean tap water. Let the
water be absorbed for about 1 minute. Drain off the surplus water.
The vermiculite will be moist and there should be no surplus water on
the bottom of the egg tray.
degrees C is maintained 24 hours per day, and the food and moisture is optimal in
quantity and quality, the following is accurate.
For each 1 degree C decrease in average temperature the growth reduces
by about 10 %. For example at 30 C hatch to adult = about 40 days; 27
C hatch to adult about = 52 days.
The day they hatch the baby crickets can easily run through household
fly wire and over 1000 only weigh 1 gram. Soon after they hop out of
the egg tray they will climb up the egg cartons and the other cardboard
material. For the first 12 days they eat pasture replacement
pellets or poultry layer pellets that have been crushed fairly fine.
Before placing the egg cartons into the box and cardboard material, sprinkle a thin layer of the crushed pellets over the floor of
the box with a thicker
layer at the front on one side only. Add more dry food as required.
For the first 12 - 15 days the only moisture source needed are the tender
inner leaves of iceberg type lettuces (the outer leaves are tough and
may contain pesticide residue). Place some lettuce leaves on top of the egg
cartons and some on the box floor. After day 12 - 15 they are big enough to
eat un-crushed pellets can be added and
graduate to pieces of orange. At the age of about 18 - 20 days the growth is
very fast and most attain adult size at about 35 - 42 days.
Never add smaller crickets to a group of larger crickets as they will only
be eaten when they moult by the bigger crickets.
Providing adequate food and moisture are available, the higher the
temperature (up to about 33 - 35 degrees C) the faster they may grow. An ideal
temperature is about 26-30 degrees C. This will allow a good growth
rate with minimal problems. At about 30 degrees C the cycle (hatching
to adult) should take no more than about 6 weeks.
Above 30 degrees C the growth rate is increased, but the down side is
the death rate increases. 28 to 30 degrees C is the optimal
temperature to maximize growth rate and survival rates.
Adults can be kept at a lower temperature if they are not to be used
as breeders. All crickets should be kept above 20 degrees C to
minimize death rates and optimize their health.
If the half egg-cartons are used, harvesting of large quantities is
fast and easy. Just grasp the top of an egg carton, gently lift the egg
carton, quickly place the egg carton above or in a suitable wide escape proof container, shake the egg carton and the crickets will fall out.
Replace egg carton into the cricket box and repeat till the desired quantity has been
obtained. Keep in mind the crickets run very fast and in every
direction when they are warm. Cooling the box slows them
down and makes their capture easier.
For birds, most
insects are usually offered in a smooth shallow tray. A layer of sand or bran can be placed into the tray
to give the birds a more secure footing when they land in the tray. Some people place the insects in a deeper smooth sided tray (e.g.
600mm x 450mm x 200mm deep) which has been partially filled (20 or 30 mm
deep) with clean leaf litter, dry leaves or a material such as dry peat
moss or sphagnum moss. Most insects dislike light so they will move to the bottom of
the tray. This allows the birds to "hunt" for the insects and can
provide them with entertainment, activity and exercise as well as
preserving some of their natural hunting instincts. If the crickets jump out, use a deeper container. If a plastic
or metal tray is used such as the 600mm x 450mm (24 x 18 inch) size, place it on some
strips of timber or other material to raise it off the ground and allow
air to circulate under the tray. Escapees will not flourish outside a
heated breeding room and all outside escapees usually die over winter.
Do not bring the aviary insect tray to the insect room as the same type
of mites that colonize the aviary floor can also infect insect breeding
boxes and breeding rooms. Bring the insects to the birds or animals in
a container and give the container a wash before returning it into the
insect production area.
If woodroaches are to be fed to birds an additional step has to be
taken. Add a non sticky escape proof barrier (Fluon) of about 50
mm (2 inches) wide all around the top of the inside wall of the tray
(otherwise the woodroaches will all run away).
Fluon (250 ml.) is available from The Herp Shop (Melbourne, Vic.) (03)
Storage of small
The same principles apply as per breeders
but the temperature can be lowered to no less than 20 degrees C.
Crickets quickly die or get very distressed under 15 degrees C. This
species of brown cricket occurs naturally in a
tropical Asian environment. The usual mistake most people make is to
use small containers in which to hold commercially purchased crickets.
The minimum size container should be about 15 litre and clear plastic
with lots of ventilation for 100 adults. Don't forget, crickets
require about 12 hours of light per day if they are to stay in optimal health. The more crickets
you have, the bigger
the box required and the better the ventilation has to be. Excess
humidity may allow the rapid build up of pathogens or mites and may soon
stress or kill a
colony of insects.
Disease and infections:
Rule - If any crickets fall onto the floor they must NEVER be placed
back into ANY boxes!! Throw them out or feed them out!! The disease
contamination risk is far too high!!
Cricket colonies can very easily be wiped out by a variety of
diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. Moulds, fungi, internal and
external parasites can quickly wipe out a colony. Mites are generally
an indication of either poor hygiene or poorly controlled environmental
factors. Mites can be a vector for the spread of diseases. Government
animal pathology or veterinary laboratories and some private pathology laboratories
are able to identify insect diseases and recommend appropriate
treatments. Over crowding is one of the most common triggers for the
outbreak of diseases along with contaminated feed. Dirty contaminated
hands and equipment will rapidly spread an infection throughout the
Golden rule : If you have a colony of insects that are
breeding well, do not add any stages of the crickets from any
other outside source and in no circumstances allow any of the foreign
frass (insect droppings/excrement) or contaminated feed material into any of the places used for breeding your
crickets. Some commercial breeders and research laboratories have
continuously bred crickets for over 20 years without the need to
introduce new genetic lines, i.e. over 150 generations.
If it becomes absolutely necessary to introduce more insects to your
colony, make sure appropriate quarantine procedures are implemented.
Place them in a box of their own and not into a current colony. If
anything bad happens in that box, dispose of all of the quarantined lot
and implement strict disinfection procedures. A bacterial infection can
easily kill 100% of a colony and eradication can be a long arduous
task. At 30 degrees, external or internal parasites can multiply at an
My philosophy is: prevention of disease outbreaks is better than
having to cure the disease or parasite outbreaks (It's also cheaper).
Respiratory and allergy precautions for humans:
The following is applicable to all insects.
As stated above, the dusts in the breeding room and any fine insect
tissues, when inhaled, can cause reactions requiring medical
intervention. The longer one inhales the contaminant the more severe
the reaction can be. The effect can be cumulative and the longer you
breath it in, the longer it may take to cure (sometimes years, sometimes
main contaminant is the (4) proteins in the insects frass (droppings/
excrement). When this material is inhaled into a susceptible persons
lungs, they may react badly. General rule is never keep a breeding
cricket colony in a residential house.
While handling crickets or locusts, do not rub your eyes as the fine material can
have an adverse reaction and cause strong eye irritation. Wash hands
and any exposed areas to minimize the risk of skin irritation after you
finish your tasks.
It is unwise to use a broom or similar cleaning product in the
breeding room to clean the floor as it is likely to stir up dust which
can be inhaled or settle in a breeding box or on other equipment
resulting in a disease outbreak.
When it comes to disposing of the frass (excrement) from the cricket
cage/box, take every conceivable measure to minimize the inhalation of any
dust or material and to prevent its spread to others. A wise precaution
is to shower and wash your hair if you get contaminated. Pop the cloths/towels
into the washing machine for a good wash before using them again. Never
go to bed with "bug dust" in your hair as you will inhale it throughout
the night from on your pillow.
Locusts cause more health problems than most insects, both skin
rashes and inhaled respiratory ailments. Crickets can also cause
both skin rashes and inhaled respiratory ailments. Most people tolerate some
degree of contamination but if you exceed the "trigger point threshold"
and get a bad reaction, seek medical attention and tell the
medico what you have been inhaling. Medical respiratory allergy
specialists are available in Capital cities.
My philosophy is: prevention of possible health problems is better
than having to cure a real health problem (It's also cheaper).
- Australian Birdkeeper Vol 7 Issue 3. Jun-July 1994 Page
136-137 (Jurong Bird Park)
- Australian Aviculture Vol 48 No. 9 Sept 1994 Page 205-208
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