Equipment Comparison: Cricket Housing (Egg Flats, Cricket Condos, etc)
Crickets need somewhere to live for several reasons:
- Increased population density: 3-dimensional housing greatly increases the yield of a farm by transforming the equation from square footage to cubic footage.
- Shelter from others, particularly while molting: crickets are cannibalistic, and will want a safe place to hide while they shed their skin. Upon molting, crickets are white, soft, and vulnerable.
Good housing maximizes the interior surface area of your container, provides crickets with hiding places from each other, is rough enough for them to securely climb and rest on, and is easy to shake crickets off when removing it prior to harvesting. Good harborage also provides some avenue for airflow through it, preventing toxic buildups of CO2 and cricket pheromones.
Chart: Typical Harborage Systems
|Egg Filler Flats
|36-egg filler flats used for bulk chicken egg sales, placed vertically side-by side
|Modified beer bottle dividers with diamond-shaped holes punched to allow air and crickets to move.
|~⅔ of Egg Filler Flats
|12”x12”x12” (30x30x30 cm)
|Egg filler flats glued or banded end to end to make easily managed cubes
|No interior housing provided
|As egg filler flats, plus
- Mesh or screen: Crickets can see each other through the screen, and they seem to find that discomforting. Additionally, their feet may get caught in the mesh, rendering them helpless against their peers. Finally, harvesting is a pain due to the aforementioned feet getting caught.
- Dirt or other substrates: Common in setups by entomologists used to working with substrate-dwelling insects, crickets will not prosper if there’s a layer of sawdust, dirt, coir, or other substance in the bottom of their containers. The substrate creates a humid microclimate that allows fecal bacteria, mold, and yeast (from frass and dropped feed) to thrive.
Inadequately Tested Substrates
- Burlap racks
- Roughened plastic egg filler flats
Tips And Tricks:
- An infrared thermometer is a good investment, as it allows you to check the temperature at the bottom and the top of the housing. If there’s a significant temperature difference (typically the bottom will be much hotter than the top), that’s a symptom of inadequate airflow.
- Avoid the temptation to overpack boxes, particularly with egg cartons. A box that isn’t entirely full of housing allows for freer airflow, resulting in faster growth, fewer fatalities, and better harvests.