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. crickets  Updated 16 August 2007

Common name:  BROWN CRICKET

Scientific 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.

Visual characteristics:

  • 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 continually breed!!

"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 supplements":
"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 summer.

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 humans".

Breeding boxes:
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 interior walls.

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 easily walk up the wall of a box that has lost its shiny surface from over use of chlorine based cleaners or other harsh cleaners.

Dry Foods:
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 infrequently.
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 source in 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 disease outbreak.
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 accredited 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. 

Egg collection:
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 eggs.
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.

Growth rates:
Assuming 30 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.

Feeding out:
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) 9363 6841

Storage of small quantities:
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:
Absolute 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 room.

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 amazing rate.

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 never).  The 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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