Black crickets – Gryllus bimaculatus
Brown crickets – Gryllus assimilis
Banded crickets – Gryllodes sigillatus
- A cheap plastic bin from a DIY store, must be atleast 2ft tall. Don’t spend more than £3 on it. This is what your cricket breeding colony will live in.
- Egg crates, Atleast 5, go ask your butcher for them.
- Food (see below)
- Cheap sand, bird sand or childrens play sand works well
- A small lidless tub or jar
- Heat mat or heat lamp, optional buy recomended
- A fairly large ammount of adult crickets
Crickets eat nearly everything, this is probably what makes them so successful in the wild. When breeding crickets you will want to provide a nutritionally complete diet in order to gutload them properly, and try to minimize agression between eachother (hungry crickets = angry crickets). There are a number of food options, a bran based diet seems to work well. Use bran as a base for this diet, it should be available at all times. Bran is high in fibre and will absorbe moisture to a certain extent. To this you want to offer dry dog biscuits (these provide protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates). This will provide a basic diet from which you can build upon, adding anything you like such as bread, cereals, nuts, etc.
You can also find a very good gutload recipe from The Gecko Spot, here.
You will need to provide moisture, you can do this in the form of fruit and vegetables. Items such as carrots, lettuce, apples, celery and peppers seem popular. If the crickets are thirsty enough they will eat anything so just provide them with whatever you have. Make sure this is removed/replaced daily.
I would recomend making a new lid for the bin, ventilation is the key if you want to avoid mould and mites. This can simply be a wooden frame with mesh in it, or something more eleborate, your choice.
The crickets don’t require a substrate, all that is required is an egg laying site. The size of this will depend on the number of crickets in there any how big a culture you intend to have. The larger cultures will take cat litter trays, the smaller ones will simply need coffee jars or small tubs without lids. In this you should place about 2in of slightly damp sand, nicely compacted down. You should aim to keep this damp at all times, without letting moisture build up in the culture (its easy if you have enough ventilation).
To successfully breed crickets you need to make them stress free. To do this you should add egg crates to the culture. Add 6-7 crates (more for larger cultures, make sure they aren’t over crowded) , all stacked ontop of eachother. The crickets live (and breed) on/in this, it will need to be replaced when it gets soiled. How long this will take is dependant on how many crickets you have, temperatures (warmer crickets grow faster, to do so they eat more and thus produce more waste).
The dry food can either be provided in a dish/tray or just scatted around, the crickets will find it, its what they do best (asside from breeding maybe). The moist food should be provided on a tray. It means it cannot come into contact with the dry food (and cause mould to form), providing it on a tray also means you can easily remove it when it goes bad.
If you choose to heat the culture, you are beter off providing a hot area (a light shining onto some slate or a heatmat under the eggcrates for instance) rather than heating the whole tub/bin.
Now its time to add the crickets. I’d suggest having at least 2 tubs of adult crickets to get things started. Some online companies offer bulk bags of different sized crickets, these are ideal for starting a colony. You can just add them to the culture and let them get on with it.
Care of hatchling crickets
The young crickets should be kept seperate from the adults (they make nice bite sized protein bundles for adults). You should have more than one egg laying site so you can cycle them. I like to have the egg laying area in for a week, then I move it into a seperate hatchlings tub and wait for them to hatch. You should put a fresh egg laying site in with the adults and repeat the process.
The eggs should hatch quite quickly and produce tiny hatchling crickets. They are very easy to raise providing you do one all important thing. You need to provide fresh water every day, if you forget to do it for one day you will loose babies. Provide moisture by taking some tissue, soaking it and putting it in with the babies. This must be replaced daily or else young crickets will start to die. Keep them seperate from the adults until they are 3rd instar or so (feed off as required while they are small) then you can add to the adult enclosure.
Maintaining the culture
I’d recomend leaving the culture to its self for a few months. By this I mean maintaining it as you usually would be keeping it clean and changing the food, just don’t take any crickets from it. Once it is thriving, you can see crickets of all sizes in there and you are happy with the population you can start harvesting the culture. Just remove the crickets as and when you need them. Don’t let the population drop too much or else you’ll have to wait for it to repopulate.
If you need alot of crickets, then it might be worth having more than one culture, so you can cycle them, while you harvest one the others have a break to repopulate.