Rearing Container Preparation - Breeding Crickets
The rearing container can be set-up exactly as the breeding container has been set-up, so long as the screening in use does not have openings large enough for the pinheads to escape through. If the holes are indeed too large for use with the pinhead crickets, which they likely will be, you can use an alternate method for creating air flow.
On the end of your container you should draw 2 circles using any spherical object as a pattern. Now take a tack, or 1/16 inch drill bit and fill the pattern with random holes. Since these holes are significantly smaller than the screening, you should also draw the same pattern on opposite end of the rearing containers cover and do the same thing. This will offer 4 different locations for air to enter and exit the rearing container.
Rearing Babies - Breeding Crickets
Caring for the newly hatched crickets is almost exactly the same as caring for the adults. Unlike the adults however, supplemental heat should be in use with baby crickets. The added heat makes digestion easier, which promotes growth. If you do not use any supplemental heat, your crickets will not grow as fast as they should be growing.
You do not need to supply the hatchlings with an incubation tray.
Tip: If you have more crickets than you can use, turning the heat off will cause their metabolism to slow down and they will not grow as fast. This will give you an opportunity to maintain specific sizes for as long as possible.
Colony Jump Start - Breeding Crickets
Now that you know how to breed and raise the crickets, as well as their offspring, it is time to jump start the colony.
I prefer to jump start a breeding colony with at least 36 crickets (3 dozen) adult crickets. This will give you plenty of females and males, and will be adequate even with die-offs.
I prefer to add the crickets directly on top of the incubation tray. If the females have been breeding during transport, or where previously housed, they will start using the tray almost immediately.
Within 2 weeks from the time the crickets have been added to the breeding container, you will begin yielding baby crickets. If you keep up with the colony, you can eliminate the need for the petstore and have a constant supply of feeders.
Cricket Removal - Breeding Crickets
If you have cut the egg crates as described, cricket removal will be extremely easy. Take a large Ziploc bag, or similar bag product, and grab one of the egg crates. With the open (cut) end of the egg crate inside the bag, give it a quick shake. The crickets should fall into the bag without you having touched them.
Once in the bag, use whatever supplements are required for the day, lightly toss the crickets in it, and then feed them to your reptile.
General Maintenance - Breeding Crickets
Each day you should lightly mist the incubation tray in the breeding container. This will prevent the eggs from drying out. You should also remove any dead crickets you come across. Make sure that the water dispenser isn't empty and that there is food.
Every 30 days you should completely empty the container, wash it out, and replace everything. This includes cleaning the water dispenser and food trays, as well as replacing the egg crates. If you maintain this type of scheduling, daily maintenance will fall under 5 minutes per day and the monthly cleanup should be no longer than 15-30 minutes.
Tip: If you buy 2 water dispensers, one could be used for food. This would help cut down on maintenance.
Final Notes - Breeding Crickets
The above process initially appears to be a lot of work. Let me assure you that it is not. Once you have successfully setup your breeding colony, the process takes minimal maintenance and dedication. Supplying food, water, and the regular cleaning is all that is required to keep a successful colony. Your first hatch will provide you with hundreds to thousands of crickets. Use what you need. If you have an excess amount of crickets, sell some to your local pet store or keep them in cooler temperatures to prolong their lives.
The life span of the house cricket averages 3 to 5 weeks.
You may have noticed that you have some containers you have not used yet. These containers are for additional breeding. It takes only 10 days for eggs to hatch. Before those crickets are completely grown, you should have another batch of eggs to incubate. Use the additional containers to repeat the process for a constant supply of new crickets. Each container will eventually house various sized crickets. You can always stop breeding when all the containers contain crickets and begin again when the last batch of eggs has matured.
It is extremely important to re-add crickets to the breeding group. Without fresh crickets to continue the breeding cycle, you will lose the colony.