At 10 cents a piece, crickets can get expensive, especially when you take their mortality rate into consideration. That's why I decided to try breeding them.
Luckily, there's quite a decent amount of information concerning this endeavor online. After quite a bit of trial and error, I was finally successful.
Rather than rehash my method, I will share the modifications I made to the tried and true techniques of others.
- The crickets were allowed to lay eggs for a couple of days before being moved into the gutloading chamber. A few males were kept in the breeding chamber so they could do their business. The rest of the males were fed to Richard first because they were noisy.
- Paper cups were trimmed so they would be shallow enough for the crickets to easily climb into. One advantage of paper cups is that they can be stacked in tiers. (Please see Incubation for more details on that). The cups were positioned at the corners of the breeding container so they would be in the crickets' path as they walked the perimeter of the container. I found that doing this increased their chances of climbing in and laying eggs.
- The largest females are closer to the end of their lifespan, so I pulled those out for gutloading before others.
- The adults were provided crushed guinea pig food, gutload, and orange slices.
- Every couple of days, the paper cups were transferred to a 10-gallon incubation tank. Packing tape was placed at the corners so the baby crickets wouldn't crawl up the silicone sealant.
- The paper cups were stacked in tiers to save space. Stacking them also prevented the soil from drying out quite as quickly.
- A moistened paper towel was placed on top of the cups daily.
- To prevent other insects and spiders from infiltrating the chamber, cheesecloth was doubled over the top held down by the mesh lid of the tank. The cheesecloth was eventually replaced with a kind of filter material that my parents use for our reef aquarium. It resembles padding.
- Extra moistened paper towels were provided to help the baby crickets shed. Orange slices, gutload, and crushed guinea pig food, as well as egg cartons were made available.
- A small electric fan (purchased at Wal-Mart for around $6) was placed on top of the lid. Because ventilation decreases mortality, I thought it was more than a worthy investment.
Just a handful of the baby crickets. There's plenty more where these came from.
So far, so good. It looks like the baby crickets are thriving very well. I find that the tiny exoskeletons they leave behind are an encouraging sign. Some are growing extremely fast.
In short, for a girl with no end in hobbies, breeding crickets serves multiple purposes. It's a way to feed a growing water dragon and a hands-on approach to learning the cricket life cycle!
And it doesn't hurt to know that I'll be saving money, too.