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Insects and other arthropods

Raising house crickets

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House cricket (Acheta domestica)
Photo: Larah McElroy

To start raising house crickets, first purchase several breeding pairs of adults from a pet store. Make sure you have as many males as females. You can identify the females by their egg-laying organ, which extends from the tip of their abdomen.

The vivarium

Cleanliness is essential. Use a transparent, easy-to-clean container, tightly sealed and well ventilated. A vivarium or a recycled aquarium, with a cover made of fine metal screen, is perfect. Keep the population density to one cricket per 2.5 cm². A 90-litre vivarium (about 75 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm) can hold 300 to 500 crickets.

Crickets are sensitive to vibrations and light. Keep your vivarium in a calm and stable spot where it will get from 12 to 14 hours of light a day. Don’t place it in full sunlight.

Heat, water and food

For optimal results, keep the temperature in your vivarium constant at about 30°C. Use a 40 W bulb during the day and a heating pad at night. Regularly check the temperature with a thermometer and adjust the heat sources as necessary.

Your crickets must always have enough water. Place a shallow container filled with gravel or small pellets in your vivarium and add water regularly.

Crickets need a varied diet: grains (oatmeal, wheat germ) and bits of fresh fruit and vegetables. You can add drug-free poultry feed.

Crickets may sometimes cannibalize each other. This is often due to a shortage of water or food or over-crowding.

Vivarium for raising house crickets

Shelters and nesting boxes

Crickets like to hide to protect themselves, moult and reproduce. Egg cartons make excellent shelters. Replace them when they get dirty.

For nesting boxes, you will need some plastic containers about 5 cm deep. Make cardboard ramps to allow the crickets easy access (see the diagram above).

Fill the boxes with fine sand or peat moss that you have sterilized in the microwave for a few minutes. Place two or three boxes on the floor of the vivarium. Each female can lay about one hundred eggs in the space of a few days. Keep the substrate in the boxes moist at all times, so that the eggs don’t dry out. After three days, remove the boxes and put them in another vivarium, still at a temperature of about 30°C, to allow them to incubate.

After 10 to 13 days, tiny crickets will appear. They will grow into adults in eight to ten weeks. Give the juveniles the same care as the adults, but keep the young crickets separate so that they won’t be eaten.

Adult crickets survive for two or three months. You can remove some regularly, but always make sure to keep about ten breeding pairs.

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