Breeding Dubia Roaches
Dubia Roach Breeding allows you to have a steady supply of food for insectivore pets such as geckos, frogs, and lizards. There are several food choices available such as dubia roaches, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms – to name a few.
However, roaches have several advantages over other feeder insects. For starters, they can’t fly, they can’t move quickly, they can’t jump high, they can’t make noise, and they can’t climb up smooth surfaces.
Additionally, they live extremely long, adults can live up to 2 years (pre-adult stage lasts for about 6 months). Lastly, they gut load very well and are extremely nutritious. All of these advantages make them an excellent feeder insect choice to breed.
What Are Dubia Roaches?
Blaptica dubia, also known as dubia roaches, Argentinian wood roach, Guyana spotted roach, or orange-spotted roach is a medium-sized roach species that grows to 1.6 to 2 inches. The males have full wings, and the females have short wing stubs.
While males are capable of controlled descent with the help of their wings (females can’t control their descent using their tiny wings), they cannot fly. Also, they cannot climb smooth vertical surfaces.
Dubia roaches won’t breed at temperatures below 68 F (20 C) and need a temperature range of 75 to 95 F (24 to 25 C) to thrive. Temperatures closer to 95 F are better. They also cannot molt successfully unless the humidity level is high enough. When breeding them, aim for a humidity level above 40 percent.
Why should you Farm or Breed Dubia Roaches?
These insects are high in nutrients. Large dubia roaches have a protein content of 23.4 percent. This is more than crickets and mealworms have. Other nutritional values include 65.6 percent water, 7.2 percent fat, 1.2 percent ash, and 3 percent fiber. They also contain 800 mg of calcium per kg.
Materials Needed to Set Up a Dubia Roach Colony
- Dubia Roaches – A 100 dubia roaches cost between $20 and $30. They are easy to find. Most local herp pet shops sell them, or you can buy them on Amazon. I recommend medium dubia roaches or large dubia roaches. These are very healthy.
- Two large opaque lidded plastic containers (at least a 25-gallon storage tote) – The Sterilite 25-Gallon Ultra Tote is an excellent container. It is strong, opaque and has a tight-fitting lid.
- Metal mesh – Here is some stainless steel mesh (so they can’t chew through it)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks – If you don’t have a hot glue gun or glue sticks, it is best to borrow one (if you can), since it will be used to simply glue the mesh over ventilation holes created. In the absence of hot glue, use duct tape to attach the mesh over the ventilation holes.
- Empty cardboard egg crate – Alternatively, you can use toilet paper rolls or any other scraps of cardboard. These provide extra dark hiding spots. You can pick some up here if you want a stock.
- Heat Mats and thermostat – This ensures the temperature in the enclosure is kept at 90 F (the ideal temperature for breeding dubia roaches). The Zoo Med Repti Therm Under Tank Heater and iPower Thermostat works great. This is only needed when temperatures are below 90 F.
- Spray bottle – You need to mist the enclosure weekly or more unless you live in a humid part of the world. Get one here.
- Water Storing Crystals – These provide insects with drinking water. Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals or the Cricket Water Polymer Crystals are good choices. Alternatively, you can use Cricket Quencher.
- Dry Foods – Choices include bird food pellets (not seeds), cereal, dry cat food, or dry dog food. You can get any of these foods at your local mall or pet shop. I recommend Nature Zone Bites for Roaches. It’s highly nutritional.
- Fruits and vegetables, preferably sliced carrots and apples.
Step Needed to Create A DIY Dubia Roach Farm
1. Housing the roaches
House the roaches
Although you will house them in just one container, get two. This way you can swap the colony when you need to clean their current housing container. I recommend an opaque container with an opaque lid. This makes it easier to keep the enclosure dark. The container should be at least 25 gallons. The Sterilite 25-Gallon Ultra Tote is an excellent fit.
Create ventilation holes
To provide adequate ventilation, make a large hole in the lid (about 14 x 14 inches in size) and glue a metal mesh over the hole to prevent the roaches from escaping. The mesh needs to be metallic as the roaches can chew through fiberglass. In the absence of hot glue, use duct tape to attach the mesh over the ventilation holes.
Provide hiding places
Use empty cardboard egg crates, newspapers, a used toilet paper roll, nor any cardboard materials. Don’t use paper/cardboard with glossy images or prints as these can contain harmful chemicals. Ideally, use cardboard egg crates the ridges provide excellent hiding spaces.
Warm the enclosure
These roaches need a warm enclosure with temperatures of 90 F to thrive. I recommend you use a heat mat. This can be placed underneath the container or to one side.
Do not place the heat mat inside the enclosure, it will burn and harm the insects. If the room within which they are housed have temperatures consistently around 90 F, you won’t need a heat mat.
Now place the roaches into the container.
2. Obtaining the Roaches
First things first, you need to buy the right roach species. The dubia roach is the best roach species for breeding. They grow quickly and they can’t fly or climb smooth surfaces. They are medium-sized, not too big and not too small, so you can feed them to almost all insectivore reptile species. This makes them ideal.
Turkestan cockroach (Blatta lateralis) and Blaberus ssp. are also other roach species used as feeder insects, but dubia roaches are better.
If you can get more females than males. A single male can mate with several females, and females produce the dubia roach babies. As such more females yield better output. The ratio should be three to seven females for every male. Males have fully developed wings that cover their body, females have very short wings.
Start with about 100 roaches. This allows you to set up a sustaining feeder colony quickly. You can start with less though, but it will take much longer before you get up to a population size that allows you to feed the insects to the reptile without causing the colony’s population going on a decreasing trend. For extremely large colonies, you can start with 200 roaches or even more.
3. Providing the Roaches with Moisture and Food
The enclosure needs to be humid. Dubia roaches need a humidity level of about 40 percent to thrive. To achieve this humidity level within the enclosure, mist it weekly.
If you live in a very humid environment, you may not need to mist the enclosure. For people who live in a very dry environment, place a hygrometer in the enclosure and mist the enclosure when humidity is below 40 percent. Allow the water vapor to evaporate between mistings. Don’t spray the food or it can mold. Remove the food then mist the enclosure.
The roaches need to drink but you can’t place a dish of water in there, or the roaches will drown in it. Instead, provide water storing crystals. Follow the instructions and fill the crystals with water.
Place these crystals in the enclosure. The roaches can drink from them. I recommend Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals. It is very affordable and works well. Alternative, you can use quenchers to provide the water needed. Crystals are much cheaper though.
Provide a bowl of dry food. The roaches eat bird food pellets (not seeds), cereal, dry cat or dog food. When the supply is low, add more food. This can take as long as several months or as short as a few weeks before you need to top up or replace it.
Place slices of fresh fruits or vegetables in the enclosure to provide extra nutrients. Apples and carrots are best since they take longer to mold. Remove fresh vegetables or fruits after two days so the roaches don’t eat moldy food. This is detrimental to their health.
4. Cleaning the Enclosure
Don’t clean the enclosure frequently as the nymphs feed on the excrement produced by adults, and the discarded exoskeleton, and the remains of dead roaches. The frass may look unsightly, but they are okay unless they start to mold and develop a bad smell. Even when you do clean, leave a nice portion of the frass behind.
Clean the enclosure every several months, when you notice bad smell emitting from the enclosure. A clean dubia roach enclosure doesn’t smell.
First transfer the roaches into the second container.
Remove excess frass dead roaches and such. Dry the bin when done.
You can invest in insects that help clean the waste produced by the roaches but don’t bother the roaches such as dermestid and lesser mealworms.
5. Maintaining the Colony
As always, try and maintain a ratio of 3 to 7 females per 1 male. This reduces aggression between males. Females give birth to about 30 live nymphs about every 5 weeks.
They don’t lay eggs. By seventh days, female nymphs would have grown into reproductive adults. Feed your pet more males and older females so as to maintain the right ratio of females to males.
The colony will replenish itself every 70 days. If the population trend is on a downward spiral, just purchase new roaches.
Pros of Raising Dubia Roaches
- High in Protein– these insects are high in protein. They have comparative protein levels to crickets.
- Less prone to escaping – Unlike crickets, dubia roaches hardly ever escape. They are much slower, and can’t hop long distances.
- Less Noise -Unlike crickets, dubia roaches are silent. This is ideal if you wish not to disturb your neighbors
- Less smell – A healthy well-maintained dubia roach colony doesn’t produce bad smells, unlike a cricket colony.
- Cost – Once the colony is established, they massively cut down costs.
- Quality – Since you feed the roaches yourself, you can ensure they are feed high-quality dry food as well as a lot of fruits and vegetables. You can feed them discarded vegetable scarps from preparing a meal such as potato and apple peels.
- Availability – With a colony, there is always a steady supply of food for your pet insectivores.
Cons of Raising Dubia Roaches
Dubia roaches cost more to acquire in the beginning than crickets cost. However, their colony smells less, they escape less, and they make less noise. For many the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Breeding dubia roaches is a clever way to ensure there is always food for your pet insectivores such as geckos, salamanders, and lizards. You don’t need to take a trip to the pet shop every time you need to feed your insectivores.
While the preliminary stages of setting up the enclosure and the colony require work, it isn’t a difficult task. Apart from the roaches, most of the materials needed are easy to come by. Most people have all the needed materials around their home already.
Also, the insects aren’t picky eaters. They eat cereals, dry cat/dog food, and any other dry food. Lastly, maintenance is simple. You only need to top up the food supply every month or so and clean the enclosure once or twice a year.
If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear (or rather, read) them. I hope this article helps you set up your very own dubia roach colony.