If you own a insect eating reptile and your sick and tired of buying crickets, then this post is for you. I own six leopard geckos and a Jackson chameleon and I was spending a fortune in money and time feeding them. At Petco and PetSmart the average price of a large cricket is .14 cents, buy 3 dozen and your over five dollars. Now three dozen crickets is a quick snack for the geckos. Plus the crickets stink and are loud at night.
What you will learn:
Another common name for the dubia is the orange spotted roach. These roaches are originally from Central and South America and can be found scavenging in the leaf litter on the forest floor. The males and females look very different which makes sexing easy. The males are a lot thinner and have fully developed wings on their back. The females are broader and lack the full wing.
Dubia’s are ovoviviparous which means they give birth to live young as opposed to laying eggs. The female will have 15-40 young a month if conditions are right. They have on average 9 broods a year so it’s not quite a monthly breeding cycle. It takes the young around six months to mature into breeding adults. The life span under ideal conditions is around two years. I started my colony exactly a year ago and it’s growing every day.
Roaches have such a horrible reputation around the world due to the German cockroaches infesting homes and spreading disease. Escaped dubia’s are not going to reproduce and infest your home. You may understand this but other family members or roommates may not so my advice is to not call you insects roaches or better yet keep your colony a secret.
Starting a roach colony does not require any expensive equipment and all supplies can be bought at your local hardware store. My situation was a little more challenging because the temperature in my basement were around 60 degrees. So what I did is I purchased a heat mat that is used for staring seeds and I placed that on the bottom of a large Rubbermaid container. I then placed the container that houses the roaches on top of the heat mat. This solved my temperature problem and also eliminated escapes having dual tubs.
Dubia roaches need to be kept at temperatures in the 85-90 F range to breed. So the use of a artificial heat source is generally needed to achieve these temperatures. Heat mats work best because they are inexpensive and they don’t get to hot. You can use the heat mats used for reptiles but I found they are cheaper at the lawn and garden store. You want to stay away from heat lamps or using light bulbs as a heat source. Your roaches like it dark and having a light on them 24-7 stresses the colony.
I use paper towel and toilet paper rolls as well as empty egg cartons in my breeding tub. Adding the tubes increases the surface space and allows you to keep more dubia’s. The roaches also love to hide and climb around the tubes. It makes feeding my reptiles really easy. I just grab a roll that’s full of roaches and place it in the lizards cage.
Your dubia’s can be fed a large variety of foods but I’ll just touch on what has worked best for me. I use fish food flakes and the roaches love it. I love it because you can buy it anywhere and you can keep it on the shelf and you just have to shake in some flakes. You can crush up dog or cat food and that works great too, just requires some labor.
I also have three pet chickens and they eat a pellet that is designed to give them extra protein for laying eggs plus extra vitamins and minerals. The bottom of the bag is full of pellets that were crushed to dust almost. I save these crushed pellets and dust and feed it to my roaches. My chickens also love eating the young dubia nymphs.
You also want to provide vegetables and fruit because this is were they get their moisture. I have a huge garden so in the summer I just pick spinach, lettuce, mustard greens and throw the whole leaf in the tub and by the next morning it is completely gone. I also feed them sliced carrots and sliced apples and oranges. Just be careful that the fruit does not begin to rot also be mindful that having the fruits and veggies in the tub really increases the humidity and sometimes the tubs start to sweat inside. You don’t want that.
That’s really all you need to know to breed your own dubia roaches. If the temperature is around 85 F and they have fish food and fresh greens you will have success but it takes time. After about four months your roach colony should have a good mixture of adults and nymphs. I hope you enjoyed this post.