How to set up a basic Dubia Roach colony.
1. You will need someplace to keep them.
Your Dubia can be kept in a 40 to 60 quart Sterilite box. We started all of our colonies in a 54 Quart Sterilite Gasket box because we liked the fact that the seal was very tight. Dubia don't climb the sides but things do get knocked over from time to time. We have since upgraded to much larger enclosures but for home hobby use we think these are ideal.
2. You will need a source of heat,
Dubia roaches produce best when kept at approximately 90 degrees F. This can be accomplished with a simple under tank heater or a ceramic heat emitter. Be sure to use a thermostat with the heater so you don’t fry your roaches or melt your plastic container.
3. Your Dubia need a place to crawl around.
The easiest solution is egg crate standing on end to give them little "apartments" and allow them room to grow. This also has the benefit of keeping them up out of their frass.
Stack the cartons in the enclosure, making sure that they don’t go all the way to the top so they don’t end up allowing them to escape to freedom. Egg crates can be purchased online or a cost saver would be to go to your local breakfast restaurant and ask for the ones they discard.
You will need to provide adequate ventilation for your Dubia. This can be accomplished by drilling holes in the lid or screwing a screen to the lid. We choose to use a screen and screw it to the lid mostly because it looks better and we don't have to worry about babies escaping if it should be knocked over. Your local hardware store can make small screens similar to your window screens very reasonably. (We paid about $5 to have ours built.) Or you can build them out of a wood frame if you are handy.
4. Food and Water
FOOD: Along with fresh organic veggies like Collard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Escarole, Apples, Bananas, Mangos, Sweet potatoes, Squash, Avocados, Carrots, and Oranges for our breeders we always allow our Dubia to have access to our homemade Bug Food.(See recipe on our blog) There are also many commercially available bug foods available.
WATER: Roaches will drown in a dish of water. There has been much debate on whether or not the use of water crystals is necessary. Our take is that if you use fresh veggies at least every other day they probably aren't necessary as they can hydrate simply by eating fresh fruits and veggies. If you dont want to check on your colony as often or you need to leave them unattended while you are away, you may find that dry roach chow and water polymer crystals are easier.
5. You are now ready for your roaches.
People often ask how many Dubia to start with. The simple answer is start with as many as you can afford. A minimum of 10 Adult Females and 5 Adult males if you want quick results. I always suggest to our customers to buy a group of adults and 100 large Dubia 3/4" to 7/8" and as many small and medium sizes that are in your budget. Remember it can take 8-9 months for the colony to be numerous and stable enough for you to be able to use it exclusively for feeding your reptiles. A baby Dubia nymph can take up to 6 months to grow to a medium size (1/2" to 5/8") An adult female can have up to 250 babies a year. If you do a little math to figure how many Dubia you feed your reptile, you should be able to come up with a pretty good idea of how many adult females you need. A quick estimate might show that if you feed your reptile 10 Dubia every day you would need 3650 Dubia a year to feed your reptile. That would mean you would likely need at bare minimum roughly 15 adult females to provide that number. Figure in the fact that it takes 6 months for babies to grow to a feedable size and you can see that it may take hundreds of adults to attain that quantity.
Put the enclosure in a quiet, dark place. Provide food and water regularly, clean out the enclosure every few weeks, then comes the hardest part. Waiting for them to produce and grow.
Producing your own feeders can be fun and rewarding, not to mention save a few dollars. Have fun don't be afraid to try new fruits and veggies and as always feel free to contact us with any questions.