Below are two methods that have been used to breed crickets in the past.
Method 1- A layer of substrate (soil) is placed along the whole bottom of a cricket breeding container. Food and water bowls are placed on top of the soil along with cartons. When I tried this method, the main disadvantage I found was that crickets drop their detritus on top of this moist soil (and ferments), which quickly becomes smelly, unhygienic and creates a hard crust that makes it difficult for the pinheads to reach the surface. This results in bad odors, high maintenance to remove detritus crust, and low productivity over time. This method is not common, and due to the issues associated with this system, we won’t discuss this method in further detail.
Method 2– Breeding Tray Method– Breeding trays (small trays with substrate in them) are placed in a breeding container where the females lay their eggs. This method has a few different variations to it, but basically the trays are removed periodically and placed into an incubation chamber. Each week all the pinheads from the incubation chamber are moved to a grow out container (where they mature). For a full life cycle (takes approximately 5 weeks for a cricket to mature), you require 7 individual containers. No substrate is placed on the floor of the breeding container. This method is the most common conventional method used however it requires a great deal of maintenance and active management.
Below is a diagram of the Breeding Tray method for breeding crickets. Labelled items are listed below diagram:
A Breeding Container– This is the engine room of the system, housing crickets for breeding. This container contains the breeding trays which are used by crickets to lay their eggs. This container contains food and water bowls/dispensers and cartons to house the crickets.
B Breeding Tray (close up)– has a mesh covered lid to prevent dirt from being thrown out.
C Breeding Tray (end of container)-shows how the breeding tray is placed to opposite end to food.
D Breeding trays in Incubation Container.
E Pinheads– that have hatched within incubation container- breeding trays removed.
F Pinheads are moved to grow out container each week. Repeat this for 5 weeks until pinheads are large in size. Typically one containers will have small crickets, two containers will have medium crickets and two will have large crickets.
G 5-10% of the crickets from the grow-out container are returned to breeding container to replenish breeding stock.
Conventional wisdom says that you place a container of soil or similar material (Breeding tray) in with a large container of crickets (Breeding container), which then lay their eggs into this material. You then move the breeding trays into an Incubation chamber and wait for the young crickets (pinheads) to hatch, which is normally around 11-14 days at 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius). To stop the eggs from dying you need to spray the soil every second day or so.
Every second day you move the crickets from the incubation chamber by tapping them to one end, and move them to a grow out container where they mature. All the crickets you collect over a week go into the same container and are from the same batch. You repeat this process every week for 5 weeks, which is the approximate time your first crickets have become adults. Of course you will need to do maintenance activities such as adding wet and dry food every second day, cleaning of containers to remove detritus etc.
Why Traditional Methods Have Failed!!
Have you ever wondered why 95% of people succeed to breed crickets for the first couple of months, then nearly all of them have given up after just 6-12 months using conventional techniques.?? The answer is simple….breeding crickets is easy, the hard bit is continuing with a laborious maintenance schedule (daily spraying, moving crickets between containers, cleaning, feeding etc.). To complete the failure cycle, most colonies then collapse from disease and pests due to lack of maintenance…aaaahhh!!
This is why most people breed cockroaches as they are more robust and have lower maintenance….but even critters can be hard to manage, smelly and work if you don’t do it correctly.
You will probably spend more time breeding your crickets than spending time with your bearded dragon. These method are best suited for large scale production, where the time and effort justifies the large numbers of crickets which can be produced this way (we have significantly streamlined commercial production, so it is much less work). Believe me I have been here…..but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
How would you like to replace all the 7 containers described above and replace it with one container…yes just a single container that needs no active management, collects waste all by itself, and food/water dispensers that do the work for you. Our methods are tried and tested and they work like a charm. Introducing the most productive and low maintenance cricket breeding system in the world….the Zega Substrate Breeding System. See our How to Breed Crickets page for further details.