(Above: Acheta domestica)
Care sheet written by DamianL (2011)
An Australia Invertebrate Forum(AIF) Publication. 2011 www.inverts.com.au © Publication is copyright of the AIF – 2011 – Greg Bylund.
Index Page 1 – Prologue Page 2 – Description & anatomy Page 3 – Tools required Page 4 Breeding enclosure Page 5 Incubation & care Page 6 Feeding pinheads (day old crickets)
Prologue This caresheet is written for those who wish to undertake the fun task of breeding your own crickets, it's self satisfying and gives you assurence of safe feeding stock for your inverts and reptiles. So if you've ever had issues with shortage and ability to obtain crickets, want to save some serious cash, plan on breeding inverts and require high quantity of pinheads then this will be ideal for you to try. Breeding crickets is simple enough that nearly everybody can do it although it gets into routine soon enough that you could potentionally be breeding thousands in no time at all.
Description & Anatomy Thorax
Crickets are not unlike all instects, they are made up of three(3) sections the head, thorax and abdoman. Six jointed legs including the two(2) large hind legs. Their bodies are encased in a hard exoskeleton. The males chirp with their forewings by rubbing them together to attract females. Crickets breath through little things called spiracles located on the sides of the abdoman. I have not gone into depth in this as it's about breeding crickets and this isn't required knowledge to breed them.
Tools required A few inexpencive tools are required when breeding crickets firstly you will need a container or tank for the breeders to stay. I use a $5 container I picked up at a cheap store cut a square our of the lid in the middle and hotglue guned some metal flywire screen onto it. It's only about 30cm x 20cm and 10cm deep. You will also require, the following. Egg cartons – Usually 6 slots should be fine. Small deli cups - The kind they put olives or pasta salad in at your supermarket deli. Coco peat – you can buy this from you local bunnings or petstore (Make sure it contains NO wetting agents or furtelizers) you can also purchase them off The Green Scorpion for 100% safe coco peat. It comes in a brick form that you add water and it expands. Food – Carrot will do fine. A larger container then deli containers (I use 4-5L ones) Heatpad (optional) – depending on your location if its cold you may require a heatpad or warm surface to incubate the eggs, hotter/humid climates don't require this. Pinhead container – Somewhere to store the pinheads after they hatch is a good idea. A deli container should be ideal for this. Mature crickets – This is a must in breeding of course. You need to be sure they are free from disease and possible insecticide contaminations. Petstores are not great with these, I've found dead crickets, ant infestiations and poorly looked after crickets in packs I've brought from petstores. A safe place to buy them is The Green Scorpion they are safe as they feed the stock so they wouldn't sell you something they wouldn't use themselves. The Green Scorpion - Large Crickets 40 Pack $5.00 #FF002
In figure 2 here we see the set up for the breeding enclosure. 1. - Food you can place your carrot or gutload here. 2. - This is your egg planting container so what you will need to do is, in those deli containers put about an 1cm from the top filled with moist but not wet cocopeat don't compact it in as it's not required and if its loose its easier for the crickets. Now leave the lid off so that the peat is exposed. 3. Egg carton, you only require the half that holds the eggs now, turn it upside down and place in the selected spot this gives the crickets a hiding spot and some safety. 4. The lid. 5. Mesh that allows air into the enclosure.
Now that it's set up place your crickets inside and leave them to do their thing. You be able to hear the males chirp trying to mate with the females. A female that's ready to breed with have a nice long ovipositor(figure 1). If you sneak a peak you may see the females digging around the coco peat laying up to 200 eggs about a cm and a half down. After a day or so remove that container and replace it with another container filled with more coco peat to continue the process. If it was successful you should be able to see little clear/milky white things
about 1-2mm in length sometimes on the side of the container.
Incubation & care Now you should have a container filled with cocopeat and eggs. They will take about 3-4 days to hatch under the right conditions this is were your heatpad may come in handy. 30째c is the ideal tempreture however if you don't have a heatpad you may be able to find a warm surface (often electrical things give off some ambient heat) make sure its not too hot though I use the top of my fridge as it has a nice large surface area and the top gets pretty warm so now what you need to do is put that deli container into the larger 4-5L container in the middle preferablely now put the lid on, poke some holes in the lid and put it on your warm surface. One thing you MUST remember is that the cocopeat has to remain moist and not dry out or possibility of the eggs drying or prolonged incubation time so I just pull the peat container out and give it a spray of mist water then put it back this will prevent excess water in the 4-5L container and risk drowning your pinheads. So 3-4 days later you should notice tiny little grey things jumping around the peat or on the bottom of the 4-5L container. I like to transfer them from this by encouranging them to jump from the peat into the 4-5L container then gently taking the peat container out putting a lid on it so none escape then turning the other container on an angle facing into an empty deli container so they all slide in. (you will also require a single cup from an egg carton in this deli container.
Feeding Pinhead Crickets. From day one these guys will be pretty hungry so the best way I find to feed them is get a cheese grater and on that fine little one grate some carrot into a mush/fine grate and put a little tiny bit in the container, remember to remove it in a day or so and replace it.
By now you should be pretty happy with yourself in your ability to breed your own crickets and never risk bad batch of crickets or shortage of stock.
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