Cricket Farming: The Ultimate DIY Guide

A complete guide to cricket farming including a detailed tutorial, a checklist and lots of "pro tips" that can raise your income and improve your health.

Emanuel Skrobonja
July 2, 2018
Insect Farming
A cycle showing cricket eggs, new hatched crickets, adult crickets and dollar coins (showing how cricket farming can bring you money)

Today, I’m going to show you exactly, how you can start raising crickets for food, feed and profit on a small scale.

In fact, you can start making a serious profit!

The current price tag of live crickets which lays between 15-60$ (sometimes even more) per 1000 crickets.

And, I should point something out.

This article is about SMALL SCALE (DIY) cricket farming, for animals and for yourself.

This means, it's NOT an adequate guide if you want to make a COMMERCIAL (BIG SCALE) insect farm.

Although it can help you understand some basics, if your planning on creating a legitimate business selling crickets, this guide is not for you.

Keep in mind that this is a non-technical guide.

If you’re like me and you want to have a new profitable hobby, you’ll love the step-by-step instructions in this guide.

Let’s start.

Chapter #1: Why would you breed crickets?

Chapter #2: Which edible cricket species should I raise?

Chapter #3: How to build your own DIY cricket farm? Step-by-step guide + Shopping list

Chapter #4: How to raise more crickets with less feed - hacking the conversion rate

Chapter #5: Where can I sell crickets?

Chapter #6: Common pitfalls when starting out

Chapter #1: Why would you raise Crickets?

To sum-up, there are several reasons why you should start raising Crickets:

  • If you’re having pets, breeding your own crickets can save you a lot of money
  • You can make some bucks on the side selling insects for feed and bait
  • Almost no financial risk - you can get started with under 200$
  • They are delicious, healthy and sustainable

For food

Crickster's cricket flour
Cricket flour

As weird as it sounds, crickets are tasty, healthy and more sustainable than sheep, beef or pork.

With this method, you can grow lots of crickets for yourself.

Depending on the species of crickets, fresh crickets contain around 20 percent of protein.  Whereas, dried crickets can contain up to 69g of protein!

What’s more, crickets and locusts contain more than 50% less calories than beef.

Crickets, contain about 25-30% fats including high amounts of hearth-healthy omega-3s. Besides that, they contain monounsaturated fats and saturated fats.

The spectrum of fats might be affected by the foods that crickets are eating.

Many would argue that edible insects are going to become one of the main protein sources of the future.

In fact, a forecast done by meticulous research indicates that the global edible insect market is growing by 23.8% annually.

A quarter of the world’s population is already eating insects on a regular basis.

Considering all the benefits, we, the westerners should really consider joining the bug-mania.

You can inspire or shock people by creating healthy foods that you never dreamed of eating.

In case you’d like to eat crickets yourself, there is plenty of delicious recipes that will help you get started.

For feed and bait

As you can imagine, crickets are not only good for humans, your animals can enjoy eating insects too!

You can invite your favorite turtle for romantic candle dinner with live crickets on a bed of leaves.

Joke aside...

As you know proteins are nutrients we can’t live without (essential). They are building blocks for body tissue and they can also serve as a fuel source.

The same applies to animals.

Which animals eat insects?

You can feed the following animals with crickets:

  • Birds - It is recommended to increase the birds protein intake when they molt
  • Reptiles - they love eating insects
  • Fish - Crickets are used both for bait, as well as fish feed
  • Some mammals- over 450 mammal species eat bugs including cats and dogs

Purchasing crickets for feed is quite inexpensive… Yet, it’s way cheaper to grow your own and it’s almost effortless.

For money

Illustration of a simplified dollar bill

No matter if you’re planning on making a small DIY farm, ordering a desktop hive or making a commercial scale farm, there is money to be made.

If you’re an innovative entrepreneur or you're looking for a way to increase your monthly income, Insect farming is a way to go.

In fact, you can even create a business/start-up selling insects, but keep in mind, it ISN'T as simple as buying a few plastic containers and a heating unit.

Building a commercial scale farm takes a lot of effort.

On the other hand, building a mini-cricket farm will cost you under 200$!

And, it can generate a good side income on a monthly basis.

Once you establish a small customer base and optimize your farming process, you can scale up your production.

More about this in chapter #3 where I’ll teach you how to build a DIY insect farm on a budget.

There are several markets that you can penetrate. In chapter #6, I’ll show you where you can start selling crickets.

Bottom line:

You can grow crickets for yourself to improve your health and well-being or, with some effort, you can make it a profession/small side income.

Chapter #2: Which edible cricket species should I raise?

The most common cricket species are banded crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus), house crickets (Acheta domestica) and black field crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) and Jamaican field cricket (Gryllus assimilis).

Click here to find out more about the legal status regarding human consumption, of crickets, in your country.

How do crickets taste?

It all comes down to the species, the feed and environment where the crickets were raised.

In general, crickets have a nutty and savory taste.

In Crickster, i tried all of them except the Jamaican field crickets.

My personal favorite is the house cricket followed by banded crickets.

Their taste is quite similar. I would describe the taste as a combination of mushrooms, parmigiano and nuts.

They are very tasty and they are an amazing ingredient for all kinds of dishes.

The Jamaican field cricket has been on my bucket list for a while. Apparently, it is very popular in Thailand.

Bottom line:

It all comes down to your personal preference. If you ask me, I would recommend the house cricket because of the taste.

As aside note, from all the above mentioned species, the house crickets are also the most susceptible to disease.

Now, the most exciting part.

Chapter #3: How to build your own DIY cricket farm?

Building a mini cricket farm is really easy.

All you need is a couple of items and a few hours of time, and your all set.

Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to grow crickets for yourself, for profit or both?

If you’re planning on building a small cricket farm for your pet or yourself, you’re lucky.

Crickets don’t need much to be happy.

All they need is a little bit of food, water and a small shelter with the right temperature and humidity.

If you want to make a few extra-bucks selling insects, buy bigger containers and a stronger lamp.

The shopping list

Illustrated shopping list

To start your farm, you’ll need the following:

  • Live crickets
  • Two very small food containers with lids
  • Two medium size food containers with lids
  • Two domestic storage bins with lids
  • A Lamp with a 150w bulb (serving as a heating unit)
  • A small thermometer
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • A roll of aluminum window screening
  • Egg cartons for the crickets to hide
  • Coconut fibers, vermiculite or perlit
  • Organic fruits, vegetables and leafy greens
  • Hot glue or duct tape

To make it easier for you, I created a shopping list that contains all the things you’ll need for 200$.

Note that I didn't include hot glue and egg cartons. I assume you have those items at home.

Now, let’s get started.

Step-by-step building instructions

Step #1

Make sure you got everything from the list above.

Got everything?

Good, head over to step #2

Step #2

Main Cricket breeding container

Take the lid off of the big plastic bin and cut of half of the lid. Glue the aluminum window screening on top.

Place a few egg cartons inside for the crickets to hide.

Step #3

Small egg-laying container

Take the small container and cut out a big hole as shown on the illustration above.

Use hot glue to attach the window screening on the lid.

Step #4

Heating unit above the Cricket breeding container

Place the lamp on top of the container and make sure the temperature in the container is anywhere between 85°-90° F (29.4 -32.2°C).

Avoid temperatures above 95° (35°C)  and below 80° F (26.7 °C).

Step #5

Humidity levels in the different containers

Humidity is the second most important environmental factor.

The containers should have the following levels of relative humidity:

  • The breeding container (big) - Less than 50%
  • The rearing container (medium) - 80-90%
  • The egg-laying (small) container should have close to 100%

Step #6

Feed and water for the crickets

Reduce cannibalism by providing enough food and water at all times. Make sure their diet is diverse and they get enough protein.

Soak up a clean piece of cloth and put it on a plastic lid.

Change the cloth every 2-3 days to avoid microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi.

You can feed your crickets veggies, fruits, leafy greens, meat leftovers etc. The more diverse their diet is, the better results you’ll get.

More on that later, where we will teach you how to skyrocket your cricket yield.

Step #7

Cleaning the containers

Clean the container once per week. To do so, move your whole set-up to the second plastic bin, clean the container and dry everything.

Step #8

Simple illustration showing the difference between male and female crickets

Make sure you have both males and females when starting out. If you look at crickets, you’ll soon notice that the male and female crickets are very different.

The females have a small needle-like extension (overpositer) at the back which they use to lay eggs.

Step #9

Egg laying container filled with substrate (all the way to the top)

Prepare your egg laying container.

To do that, put some coco fibers in the small size food container and put the lid on top.

The screening will protect the new hatched babies from adult crickets. And it will allow the female cricket to lay eggs through the mesh.

Crickets lay their eggs in a humid environment.

Make sure you spray water on the coco-fibers whenever the surface gets dry (once a day or so).

Step #10

Rearing container containing the egg-laying container

After about a week or two, your crickets will start hatching.

Place the egg-laying container in the rearing container and take the lid partially off. This will prevent the container from losing water, and it will allow the newborns to get out of their container to feed.

Step #11

Moving the crickets from the breeding container to the other (harvesting) container

To harvest the crickets, place both plastic bins next to each other and move as many crickets as you need to the other bin.

The easiest way is to lift the egg cartons where the crickets normally will attach themselves and then just shake them of in the other container.

P.S Keep in mind, crickets can and will jump. We recommend getting a helping hand when harvesting crickets to catch the escapees.

Bonus step

If you're farming crickets for yourself, make sure to bake or boil crickets to reduce bacteria count. The recommended boiling time is 10 minutes.

Chapter #4 How to raise more crickets with less feed - hacking the conversion rate

If you're serious about cricket farming, read on.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to skyrocket your cricket yield using lab-based methods that you can recreate at home.

In 2015. a team of researchers led by Collavo, decided to test four different diets for their lab-crickets to measure the effectiveness of converting feed into meat (cricket-meat).

It turns out, using the below mentioned human waste to feed crickets is very efficient. And the results were better than with any other diet they tested.

As a downside, baking the food requires energy and it makes the production less sustainable.

Cricket diet

From the diets tested, the crickets thrived the most on the so-called human refuse diet, which consists of food leftovers.

More precisely, the diet consisted of the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables (peel and leftover) 3,4 g
  • Rice and pasta 2,7 g
  • Pork and beef meat 1,1 g
  • Bread 1,1 g
  • Cheese skins 1,1 g
  • Yolk 0,6 g

Sum: 10 g

Besides that, you can also feed your crickets: soybean flour, lucerne (Medicago sativa), corn flour (Zea mays), wheat flour (Triticum durum), yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) , sugar beet, silo, fresh fruits and veggies (organic) etc.

As a side note, the taste as well as the nutritional composition of edible insects depends a lot on what they eat.

If you’re raising crickets for food, keep experimenting with the feed to improve taste.

You can even add some organic spices to get extraordinary results ;) But be careful because some spices can serve as insecticides and they could kill your crickets.

If you think that you can use your cricket farm as a trash bin for food, it’s not that easy. There is some work involved.

You can also bake the feed

Once your decided what you want to feed your crickets with, it’s time to grind everything and bake it on 90°C until the food is completely dry. This will help you prevent rotting and optimize hygienic conditions.

Bottom line:

Give your crickets a diverse diet with lots of protein and they will grow big and strong.

Pro tip:

If you’re serious about your new hobby, get yourself a journal, a precision scale and a few plastic containers. Write down what did you feed your crickets with and place the batches in separate containers. Later, you’ll be able to arrange a taste comparison which will help you in choosing the perfect feed.

Congratulations, you learned how to farm crickets!

Now it’s time to sell them.

Chapter #5: Where can I sell crickets… can I make money with it?

In short, yes.

In fact, you can even make a living out of this hobby if you invest into better equipment, and you start a legitimate business.

If you know how to market your crickets and you manage to create a high quality product, you can do really good.

But, keep in mind that getting a business of the ground includes hard work.

If you find the right crowd, crickets are quite easy to sell. I’ll cover some methods and market places you can use to sell insects.

Start with Your network

If you’re farming crickets for feed, you can start selling crickets to your friends and family members that have pets.

But, if you’re raising crickets for food, make a dinner and some bug snacks for your friends and educate them about the benefits of eating crickets.

Although not everyone is open towards eating insects, some of your friends will be pretty excited about it.

Pet shops

You can start by asking local pet shops if they are interested in buying your crickets.

Pet shops are usually happy to hear that there’s a local cricket supplier. Especially if you can offer them a better price than your competitors.

Online

You can also be like us, and sell crickets online. And there are several platforms you can use so sell your product.

E-commerce

Starting a webshop is probably the first thing that comes to your mind.

However, for this you’ll need to have a legitimate business. And you'll need to meet a lot of requirements.

Social media

No matter if you’re a business or a hobby insect breeder, an easy (and cheap) way to sell online is through is social media.

Make your own page, join groups and you’re good to go.

You can post anywhere at any time without paying a dime.

Look for local facebook groups about pets.

Make a post there and let the people know that you’re selling crickets for a good price.

Blog

Another almost free way to market your product is to start blogging about your new hobby.

Writing relevant content for your target audience is a great place to start.

For example, you can attract people to try bugs by writing about health benefits of edible crickets.

But, if you’re selling to pet owners or farmers, you might write something like: "Five ways to improve your chickens health." or "How to get your chicken to lay more eggs?" ...You got the point.

This process is very time consuming, but it can help you get a lot of free traffic to your site or web shop.

Craig’s List, and local yard sale pages

This is another great place to pitch your points and it doesn’t cost much.

And finally, Chapter #6: Common pitfalls when starting out

Man stepping on a banana

Learning from your mistakes is great. Learning from other people’s mistakes is better!

When starting out, there is plenty of mistakes you can make. We all learn and improve through trial and error.

But, an error could cost you a lot of time and money.

So, let’s try to keep the errors to a minimum.

In this chapter, we’re going to show you what are some common pitfalls and mistakes that people often make when starting out.

Pitfall #1. Drowning crickets and wrong relative humidity levels

It’s easy to drown your crickets in too much water. Especially the newly hatched ones.

The best way to avoid drowning is to use either a water pad, a cloth or water crystals. This way, you’ll make sure they get enough water, not too much.

What's more, measure the humidity levels in the containers. High humidity levels can kill your crickets.

Pitfall #2. Fungus and rotting

Since the environment is quite humid, it’s easy to develop a fungus inside your container. It can even kill your whole colony!

To avoid fungus and rotting, make sure you use dry feed and veggies with low water activity like carrots, beets and zucchini.

Also, avoid spraying water outside the breeding container, and make sure to clean everything once a week.

And also, change the substrate in the breeding container once in a while.

Cool fact:

The used substrate contains a lot of nutrients from cricket eggs and dead crickets. You can use the by-product for planting herbs and restoring balance in the soil!

Pitfall #3 Wrong temperature

As mentioned in chapter#3, it’s important to keep your mini-livestock on the right temperature.

Since seasons change, remember to check and re-adjust your heating unit.

If it’s too hot, move it further away, or use a weaker heat bulb.

If it’s too cold, the other way around…

Pitfall #4 Having all the crickets in the same container

Crickets are cannibals. Use a mesh to protect the new hatchlings from the adults.

Pitfall #5 Diseases

Diseases are hard to study, and there is not much information about it.

They can happen, and they can kill your colony. If you’re having lots of crickets, get more than two containers.

If some crickets get affected by a disease, you’ll still have other colonies that will stay alive.

Pitfall #6 Insecticides will kill your… insects

Insecticides keep plants bug-free. Give your crickets organic food to make sure they don’t get poisoned.

Let's wrap up

Small scale cricket farming is simple, it doesn't take much effort and it can bring in a lot of money.

In this guide, I summed up the most important information, and I tried to make it as easy as possible for you.

Now it's up to you.

You can use these methods to start your own tiny farm.

And also, head over to the comment section below and let me know if the guide was helpful.

Write down what you'd like to know more about and I'll give you a heads up.

If you have your own crickets, share your setup with the community and help us make this guide better ;)

Sources: