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How to Breed Crickets

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Table of Contents

Intro to Crickets

House crickets, Acheta domesticus (Orthoptera: Gryllidae), make a great feeder insect for your reptiles or chickens. In fact, rearing crickets ensures that you have a constant supply for your pets, especially during the colder months. As mentioned in our article [ab1] about raising chickens, crickets have high protein levels and contain high amounts of digestible amino acids. Be sure to watch our YouTube video[ab2] for information about care of your crickets after receiving them in the mail. 

Cricket Lifecycle

Rearing insects can be a relatively easy task, but it will require maintenance and planning. To begin, it is important to understand this species. Crickets are hemimetabolous, meaning that they do not pupate, and juveniles look like smaller versions of adults. Individual crickets live for about 90 days and can weigh up to 400–500 mg, with females weighing more than males.

Crickets undergo eight to nine different instars (stages) in the 45 days before reaching adulthood. Adult crickets can be determined by the presence of wings and the female’s reproductive organ, the ovipositor. Only the females have an ovipositor, which is the long, needle-like organ on the rear of the insect used to lay eggs. Both sexes will have two needle-like protrusions on either side of their rear abdomen; although these are sensory organs called cerci. 

Eggs are laid about a week after reaching adulthood, with each individual female laying upwards of 3,000 eggs. Depending upon the temperature, cricket eggs may take 13–26 days to hatch after laying; higher temperatures ensure faster hatching. Crickets of all ages can be eaten by your pets, although the most growth occurs during the final instar (~40 days). 

Cricket Habitat

Crickets can be reared in any type of container with a top; screen tops are best to provide airflow. We would recommend having two or more containers available. To prevent escape, you may opt to use a mesh that would go directly under the lid. Others have had success by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the inside top of the container. Lining containers with vermiculite will ensure a dry environment and reduce cricket odors. 

Each cricket cage should have a few dishes for food, water, and egg-laying. Crickets lay their eggs in the ground, egg-laying dishes should contain clean and dampened sand, sawdust, or soil. After laying eggs, remove the dish and place it into a new container. Besides providing hydration, water dishes will provide humidity for your insects. We recommend using dampened cotton balls, as this will prevent drowning.

Rehydrate water dishes as needed and replace them weekly. Regarding food dishes, although food can be placed into the cage without any issues, the use of a dish will ensure an easier cleanup. 

Because rapid growth is encouraged, research has shown that habitat temperatures for crickets should be at 82–86°F (28–30°C). Avoid sunlight, as this can cause overheating. If you want to delay the growth of your colony, research suggests using temperatures of about 80°F (27°C); however, temperatures below this threshold can lead to colony collapse. It is also important to keep relative humidity high for egg containers and newly hatched crickets, as they are susceptible to desiccation. Older crickets (fourth instar) are not as susceptible and perform better when humidity is decreased to ~50%.

As a behavioral response to molting, crickets will hide. Therefore, be sure to provide paper towel tubes and egg cartons to provide hiding places for your crickets. 

Cricket Diet

Crickets are omnivorous scavengers that are known to eat vegetables, fruit, and cardboard. Crickets have also been shown to be cannibalistic following deprivation of protein and salt. Specific diets will affect the nutritional quality of your feeder insect. For example, oranges can be fed to crickets, but too many will increase the insect’s acidity. Therefore, for species sensitive to acid, such as the bearded dragon, it is recommended to avoid citrus for crickets. Be sure to always research the dietary needs and restrictions of your pets. 

Many researchers have success in using chick starter for cricket rearing, with University of Kentucky also recommending it as a food source. Although it may not be in your interest to buy starter feed, you may also consider using it to feed your insects if you are raising chickens. 

Maintenance for Crickets

Cleanliness is an important part of any insect colony, as this will prevent disease and pests. Regularly remove dead insects and old food to prevent the buildup of mold, which can destroy your colony and negatively affect your pets. We would recommend cleaning cages with soap and water on a monthly basis—be sure to transfer your insects to another cage. If you ever have pests (such as mites, ants, or gnats), immediately clean the cage, dishes, and the surrounding area. Lastly, do not worry about handling crickets, as they are harmless and will not bite. 

 Primary Sources

Article Author

Carl Bonser, Entomology PhD

 Armstrong, C. No Date. Crickets. Home and Garden IPM from Cooperative Extension: University of Maine.


Clifford, C. W., and J. Wooding. 1977. Rearing methods for obtaining house crickets, Acheta domesticus, of known age, sex, and instar. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 70: 69–74. 

Clifford, C. W., and J. Wooding. 1990. Methods for rearing the house cricket, Acheta domesticus (L.), along with baseline values for feeding rates, growth rates, development times, and blood composition. J. Appl. Ent. 109: 1–14.

Hahn, J., and M. Ascerno. 2019. Crickets. University of Minnesota Extension.


Simpson, S. J., G. A. Sword, P. D. Lorch, and I. D. Couzin. 2006. Cannibal crickets on a forced march for protein and salt. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 103(11): 4152–4156. 

Townsend, L., and R. Bessin. No Date. Rearing crickets: ENTFACT–007. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. <agrilife.org/fisheries2/files/2013/09/Rearing-Crickets.pdf>

 Secondary Sources

 The Critter Depot. 2018. How To Breed & Raise Crickets - The Critter Depot.



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