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What Do Cricket Eggs Look Like?
Table of Contents
A fun and sometimes challenging project, raising crickets can save you money in the long run. Assume that you have great breeding stock from Critter Depot. What now? You’re going to need an incubator!
How to Set Up a Cricket Incubator
Most experienced and successful breeders use a Rubbermaid type of plastic product. A container that is 12"x 8"x 3" (3 inches high) is sufficient for 250 - 500 crickets. Some cricket breeders like using a lid. Lids are okay as long as around 18-20 small holes are drilled into the lid for ventilation. 1/16-inch holes should do the job. We don't use lids on our bins because it allows more air flow to enter the bins, which helps control odor and prevent die-offs in the bin.
Provide upside down cardboard egg cartons within the layer box. The cartons should be on top of ½ inch of potting soil or orchid mix. Mist the layer box twice daily, while letting the humidity of the outside area drop. This will encourage the females to seek out the more humid environment in which to lay their eggs and prompt the egg laying response once they are under the cartons.
How do I know when I have cricket eggs?
The females should be allowed access to the egg-laying box for no more than 8 hours. Remove all adults after that time. Next day, gently lift the cartons and examine the substrate. You should see tiny, shiny, grains of rice. If you do, celebrate, because those are your future livestock. Here is a picture of a cricket egg:
Temperature & Humidity
Temperature and humidity control are critical for successful hatching. The temperature can be as low as 82 degrees F or as high as 92F. The higher the temperature, the faster the hatch will be. A steady temperature of 82 F will produce babies in 12-16 days. At 92 F the first instars (babies) will emerge in 9-10 days. A steady temperature is critical. An incubator box that drops below 80 at night may be a total hatching failure. To prevent this, reptile heat tape around the box is recommended. The tape itself is safe and reasonably priced, however, the cheapest products do not come with a thermostat. The smart breeder will examine all of the products on the market and decide whether to get a cheap tape setup and ad a thermostat later, or splurge on a more expensive set-up with the thermostat built in.
Coco fiber, Exoterra Jungle Earth, potting soil, vermiculite, or orchid mix are all good choices for substrate. Do not use garden soil, far too much potential for a bacterial explosion with a temperature and humidity regime that high. A bonus for using potting soil, or other commercial substrate mixes, is that then the cricket raising is done, or the substrate seems to be getting a little ‘ripe’, it can be used on house plants or in the garden for as a turbo charged humus application.
Adult Crickets are Cannibals
Since crickets are cannibals, tiny crickets need to be protected from adults. If raising multiple broods, age mates can be kept together with no problem. Do not just dump small crickets in with larger ones, unless you want to provide a feast for the adults. If space is an issue, a box within a box setup can be used. A fine screen mesh will be needed on the nursery box to keep the adults out and keep the juveniles safe. Since these creatures mature extremely quickly, and by 7 weeks of age are usually sexually mature (depending upon the temperature of their enclosure), breeders should be able to produce a new crop of crickets in just over two months.
Food and Water for Cricket Bins
Juvenile crickets will need something to eat and drink pretty quickly. A damp sponge that is moistened daily will be sufficient for hydration. Place this sponge in a jar lid to keep the moisture from coming into contact with the bottom of the enclosure.
Some keepers like to give their juveniles table scraps. I personally advise against this. Scraps will attract pests and bacteria, and may not contain the proper nutrients. Instead, I recommend, as many professionals do, using a dry gut-load mix. It is dry, well-balanced, and incredibly high in protein. I further recommend either non-medicated chick starter, or, if you can’t find that, then gamebird starter, which is never medicated. This way, you can be sure you are not accidentally causing a build up of a medication in your target pet (beardie, leo, etc.) over time through a process known as biomagnification. These products are not cheap, but you can often find a 2-pound bag at your local feed store that will last a year or two, unless you are a commercial breeder, in which case you are probably not reading this guide.
An easy way to get your baby crickets started is to place their brooder inside a larger container. The floor of the larger enclosure should be sprinkled sparingly with the poultry starter. Be sure to keep the humidity up during this time by misting the brooder, not the larger enclosure, twice a day. If you mist the whole enclosure, you will have a horrid mess of soggy starter that will mold overnight. If the humidity is too low, you will have a juvenile die-off.
New hatchlings will not be terrific jumpers, so provide a ladder for them by taking the cartons that have now served their purpose and propping them vertically against the sides of the egg-laying enclosure. And remember, once they are out and eating, they will need the temperature to remain constant. They will not go back into the incubator for the night. Transfer the heat tape to the outside of the larger enclosure and monitor the temperature carefully. The larger area to heat will behave differently than the small incubator box, and will respond to ventilation (screen vs. solid top) differently as well. It is best to experiment with this before the young crickets are set free, so as to avoid an adjustment mishap that costs you your entire brood.
Some experimentation may be needed. Many keepers have commented that their first stab at this endeavor was not a success in any way. Make adjustments and keep at it till you find the right combo of equipment, feed, and husbandry and you will surely be rewarded with tons of tiny hoppers!