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How to Raise Feeder Crickets


If you don’t want to eat them, any reptile, chicken, duck, turkey, or pig in your life will.  Crickets and other insects, as you may have heard, are a vastly more sustainable form of protein than livestock.  They are also an ideal protein source for urban homesteaders: unlike creatures that might disturb your neighbors with their bleating, mooing, or cock-a-doodle-doo-in, crickets are quiet, take up very little space, and won’t cause a ruckus if they escape.  Unless they escape indoors, that is – then you’ll have quite a ruckus on your hands.

Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the pastoral vibes of gently chirping crickets?

The Backyard Cricket Farming Movement, as it has been dubbed by the entomopvhagists (insects’ eaters) is not exactly on the verge of displacing the backyard chicken movement, but there are certainly more than a few dabblers out there.  If you’d like to count yourself among them, read on to find out what you need to get started.  Even if you can’t get past the “ick” factor that prevents most folks from eating bugs, you might still want to raise them as a sustainable food source for other critters that you do want to eat – they are suitable for any omnivorous livestock, including chickens, ducks and turkeys, and pigs.

Obtain Crickets and Materials

Starter crickets are easily obtained from pet stores (which sell them as food for reptiles and amphibians) or via mail-order online suppliers.  If you’re just experimenting, start with a box of fifty; if you’re ready for crickets to become a staple in your diet, purchase five hundred or more.  The folks at G&T Country Living recommend the species Acheta domesticus or Gryllodes sigillatus for their edible qualities, but other species of commercially available crickets are also suitable for human consumption.

Housing consists of nothing more than 20-gallon plastic totes: each one can support a population of 1,000 or so insects.  The smooth sides of the totes prevent the crickets from climbing up them and escaping.  You’ll need at least two totes, which will be used on a rotational basis for adult crickets and baby crickets. Other necessary materials include a selection of shallow plastic containers (1 included with kit)  (no more than 1 ½ inches in height), a window screen, a bag of Vermiculite (included with kit), a bag of potting soil (included with kit) (Make sure your potting soil has no fertilizers or chemicals in your potting soil, this can harm the eggs), water-gel (included with kit)a misting bottle (included with kit), a heat lamp, and a few empty cardboard egg Flats (included with kit).

Set up the Housing

Crickets thrive in warm, moist, shaded environments.  You can raise them pretty much anywhere – closet, barn, shed, backyard patio – that can maintain temperatures between 60- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit (the closer to 90, the faster they’ll breed) and high humidity.  A location away from wind and direct sun is best to keep them from drying out. 

Here are the basic steps:


Additional things you will need

(A 14 gallon (53 L) (53 L) Container - can hold a colony of over 500 crickets with sufficient egg crates to climb on. Smooth-surfaced tote bins will reduce the number of escapees and lastly, Extra window screen)

  1.  Cut two 6-inch diameter holes in the lid of each tote for ventilation. ( One Cricket kit works for one tub, If you require more tubs, you will need additional Cricket kits) Then cover each hole with a small piece of metal window screen stapled or glued into place. 

  2. Spread a 1 to 2-inch layer of vermiculite (Included) on the bottom of each tote.  This creates a sanitary substrate. 

  3. Fill a plastic container with damp potting soil and place it at one end of the larger totes.  This is where the females will lay eggs, so make sure, the topsoil is free of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.  Cover the soil with a piece of window screen cut to fit; this keeps the crickets from burrowing into the soil and eating the eggs (they will stick their ovipositor through the holes in the screen to lay eggs). 

  4. Position the two, round lids in the vicinity of the other to hold food and water gel crystals (after making the water gel as instructed)  Nestle each of the plastic container and lids down into the Vermiculite, so that the rims are just above the top of the Vermiculite (that way the crickets can easily crawl into them).  

  5. Fill the remaining space in the totes with open cardboard egg crates to create vertical habitat for the crickets to occupy.  These can be stacked loosely on top of each other to within 8 inches of the top of the totes.  Suspend a heat lamp above each of the holes in the lids of the totes to boost the temperature.

Feed and Care for the Adults

Crickets can eat a wide variety of foods.  There is even commercially available cricket food, (G&T Country Living carries a premium feed). Just don’t let them linger too long in the cricket tote; uneaten food should always be removed before it becomes moldy.

Water may be supplied by filling the containers with water-gel to a maximum depth of ¼ inch each day.  This will let the crickets drink, but prevent them from drowning, additionally add a moist sponge to increase humidity in the air.  Check the food and water at least once a day.  Before closing the lid spritz the inside the tote with the mister, making sure to aim it on the container of potting soil – it must remain moist for the eggs to hatch.  Adjust the height of the heat lamps as necessary to keep the temperature in the ideal range.

Incubate Baby Crickets

When heat and humidity are optimal, the male cricket will begin chirping which is the sign that mating has begun.  After 7 to 10 days, the potting soil should be full of eggs (they look like miniature grains of rice).  Place the container (without its screen) in the second tote and keep it warm and humid.  Within a week, baby crickets, called nymphs, will hatch.  The baby crickets will need the same setup as the adults – a Vermiculite substrate with lids for food and water – and the same daily care routine.

Harvest (Human consumption)

Adult crickets reach their full size within two months.  “Harvest” consists of transferring them to a freezer where they go painlessly into a stat of hibernation and never wake up.  If you have a chest freezer big enough, place the entire tote inside.  A few hours later, you can come back and scrape off all the dead crickets into plastic bags.  Alternatively, stuff the cricket-covered egg cartons into plastic bags and place these in the refrigerator.  This won’t kill them, but a few hours they’ll be too cold to hop about, and you can scrape them off into smaller bags to put in your refrigerator Freezer.  Frozen crickets may be roasted, seasoned, and eaten whole.  You may also dehydrate them and grind them into flour.

The Cricket Farming Cycle

After each harvest, discard the vermiculite and potting soil and disinfect the tote.  Once your tote full of baby crickets starts chirping, place a container of potting soil in it so they can lay eggs and continue the cycle.

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