BREEDING LOCUSTS | Back to Caresheet Index |

::Breeding Locusts

Many reptiles and amphibians have a variety of insects in their diet. Crickets are fairly cheap to from shops and mail order, however locusts are more expensive sometimes costing from 30p per adult. In the short term the set up will cost you a few pounds to build, and to establish a breeding colony. You will soon be able to recoup your cost and may be make a profit by selling surplus stock on to a few friends.

The basic set up can be used for both crickets and locusts, although locust will require a larger set up. I would recommend two or three ( explained later) well sealed wooden or glass vivariums of 90- 120 cm x 40 x 60, with good ventilation. It should have a light bulb suspended from the roof or sidewall to provide heat and light. For faster reproduction cycles temperatures of 85-90°F is recommended. If the bulb on its own does not achieve this then the addition of a heat mat on the outside of the tank may raise the temperature. Do not put in on the inside a locust can nibble at it.

The vivarium should have lots of branches for the insects to climb on. The more branches the greater the surface area and the more insects you can keep.For substrate Newspaper is effective, cheap and easily replaceable. For food any green leafy vegetables can be used, but make sure they are thoroughly rinsed, as any residues of pesticides can wipe out an entire colony. Alternatively wheat can be germinated on damp tissue or newspaper and allowed to grow to about 10cm then placed in the viv. This is quite a good source of protein and vitamins too. Water can be provided by placing damp cotton wool in a plant saucer. However most locusts appear to obtain adequate moisture from the leafy greens. Do not put a bowl of water in. These insects are very stupid and will fall into the water, and as they breathe through the spiracles on the side of the body they will often drown.

To establish a breeding colony of locusts it is better to by sub adult or large hopper size insects rather than adults. This is because you know that there is life in the younger animals, but the adults may be just days away from death. Buy at least 30 insects to give a good stock, as accidents do happen and it allows a good bloodstock and mix of sexes.

Laying boxes can be 1 - 2 litre ice cream tubs, filled with damp sand; bird or play sand is best. These dry out very quickly due to the raised temperature and will need regular spraying. You will notice that when the locusts become mature wholes will appear in the sand. This is where the female has bee mated and used her ovipositor to implant the eggs into the sand. Keep the box in the viv until the surface is peppered with holes, and then remove them to a second vivarium to allow them to hatch. This can take a week to a month depending on temperature but if kept at the adult temperature ten days is average. They take up to 7 weeks to mature.

Having three tanks you will have one with breeding adults, who once laid should be fed or sold on as food, one with hoppers and one with eggs, and so the rotation continues.

©K. Hollingsworth