Cricket Husbandry

Adult Gryllodes (image from http://www.just-green.com/)
Adult Gryllodes (image from http://www.just-green.com/)
Why Gryllodes?
Gryllodes are an established laboratory organism and are widely used by labs studying insect behavior. Although they grow more slowly than Acheta (and may also be somewhat less productive), they are far less smelly and noisy.
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21 gallon tote bins used to house crickets.

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A peak inside one bin.
Housing
Simple 21-gallon plastic tubs available at places like Target or Home Depot are great for keeping crickets. The only modification you need to make involves cutting a big hole in the lid and covering it with wire insect screen. The simplest way to attach the screen is to use a hot glue gun. Place two or three 10x10 inch egg crates in each tub to serve as shelter for the crickets. We clean and sterilize our bins once every few weeks. Hatchling can be maintained in the same enclosures, just be sure that they have constant access to water and that the sides of the bin don't accumulate so much dust that the crickets are able to climb he sides and escape.
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Soil moisture crystals used to provide water to crickets

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Chicken feed is the primary diet for our crickets
Food & Water
The best way to keep your crickets hydrated is to use the moisture retaining crystals available at home and garden shops. We provide these on the lid of a small deli cup to avoid fouling the rest of the cage with moisture. You can usually re-wet dried crystals one or two times before needing to replace them. The primary food for our crickets is chicken feed purchased from a local feed supply store. We supplement this diet with left-over greens and other vegetables.
An egg laying cup.  The eggs are the narrow light-brown layer in the middle of the soil.
An egg laying cup. The eggs are the narrow light-brown layer in the middle of the soil.
Breeding
There isn't any trick to breeding Gryllodes, just put males and females together and let their instincts take care of the rest. The one thing you will need to do is to provide the females with someplace to lay their eggs. We provide a deli cups full of moist, sterilized soil for egg-laying. We replace these cups weekly, by which point they are generally packed with eggs. The eggs need only a week or so to incubate before hatching, particularly when kept at high temperatures (see below).
IMG_4995Growth and Maturation
At room temperature, Gryllodes can take three months or so to go from hatchling to maturity. You can dramatically speed this process up if you keep your crickets at warmer temperatures. We maintain an old incubator at 39C for use as a growth chamber. Keeping Gryllodes at this temperature significantly speeds up all stags of development, including egg incubation times. We don't have good quantitative records on just how much the process is sped up by this increase in temperature, but we can very conservatively say that you will get at least a two-fold reduction in growth times (in reality, we think you're likely to see growth that is three to four times faster than that at room temperature).

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