a home grown cricket project

The Cricket Project,
Narrative Form

(note: click on a photo to see it enlarged)

Project began Feb 14 2020 when I picked up 500 crickets,

they were 19 days old, donated by Henderson Cricket Farm of Lancaster, Kentucky.

Henderson Cricket farm laying tub
Laying Tub

the first thing you see and hear when you enter the building is the cricket laying tub with mature crickets singing. I was surprised it did not have a lid. It seems crickets don't fly. Owner Jeff Collins raises crickets as feeders for reptiles or for bait. The House Cricket, Acheta domesticus, originated in Southeast Asia. They live two to three months.

House CricketHouse Cricket, Acheta domesticus

Jeff's crickets are hatched in tubs and raised in wooden bins. But my goal is to raise some cricket on a small scale as a learning experience. Why? Because I believe crickets could be a protein source for hungry people. I think anyone in the tropics should be able to raise crickets for food even if they have very little space and resources. The only way to know for sure is to try to raise some myself. The far right picture is of my tub size cricket farm. Crickets need warmth, humidity, food, water, and shelter.

Commercial Bin
Commercial Bins
Commercial Tub
my tub
Commercial Water Device
my tub

For the majority of the project time I made a complete time lapse video of each day so you can see the growth and the environment and the various food sources. The videos for each day are below this text. Take a look at humidity, temperature, and the various food sources I used.

18 feb 2020 23 days old
19 feb 2020 24 days old
20 feb 2020 25 days old
21 feb 2020 26 days old
22 feb 2020 27 days old
23 feb 2020 28 days old
24 feb 2020 29 days old
25 feb 2020 30 days old
26 feb 2020 31 days old
27 feb 2020 32 days old
28 feb 2020 33 days old
29 feb 2020 34 days old
01 mar 2020 35 days old
02 mar 2020 36 days old
03 mar 2020 37 days old
04 mar 2020 38 days old
05 mar 2020 39 days old

House crickets are from Asia and are tropical. They can survive at room temperature but thrive at about 85 to 90. I live in Kentucky and my house was about 70 degrees in the area of my cricket tub so I used a small heating pad under the tub to raise the temperature some. It did not have a thermostat and thus you can see the thermometer fluctuate a lot on the time lapse videos. Cricket grow slower at 70 degrees but they do fine at that temperature. If you watch all the videos you will see the tub temperature fluctuated from 70 to 90.

Crickets are very sensitive to humidity. They can dry out quickly and need a water source but standing water can kill them. I used a vegetable sponge and kept it moist. To my surprise the crickets ate part of it. They can also get their water from their food if you are using fresh fruits and vegetables. I tried to keep the humidity between 50 and 75 percent by using a mister but it really was not necessary. I later learned the cricket farm controls their humidity to about 40 percent except for the laying medium. For cricket eggs to grow they need high humidity, near 100%. We will discuss that more in later in Part 2 of the project. The cricket farm uses a commercial watering supply device which they manually fill daily.

Henderson Cricket Farm uses an organic, cracked corn meal. I used slices of bread and scraps of fruits and vegetables. I tried some corn bread mix which contained fine white flour and leavening but that killed a small percentage of them. Generally speaking they eat anything and everything including the sponge. I was doing a hydroponics experiment at the same time and had a few small fish die. They ate them in less than 8 hours every time I gave them one. There was nothing left!

Cardboard egg crates make the ideal shelter. Just stack a few together. They are escape artist so a plastic tub with a lid and some screen wire for ventilation makes an ideal environment.

On day 42 of their life I took the remaining crickets outside into 40 degree weather and let them go to sleep. I then roasted them and stored them in the freezer for later. I had previously harvested about half of them to see if I like the taste and to experiment with making some cricket powder cookies. The use of the crickets is beyond the scope of this project but to satisfy curiosity I will tell you they have a pleasant, nutty flavor when roasted. They are also easy to dry and grind into a powder. I used the powder to make some cookies and I liked them.
tub w crickets
tub w crickets
48 degrees

It was my intention to let them lay eggs but I failed at that on this first trial because they had not matured enough. I was eager to harvest before they died off and did not realize they were growing slower than at the commercial farm with controlled temperature and high calorie. feed. Jeff at Henderson Cricket farms was kind enough to send me some more mature crickets which had already laid eggs twice.

Part 2, In progress, laying eggs

march 23 received mature crickets from HCF, already laid twice
march 24 put in laying medium
march 25 took out laying medium and put in experimental medium
march 26 took out experimental medium, placed in incubator


hunger facts