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Live Crickets for human consumption in the US?


#1

Hello ~
First post here ~
Would you happen to know where I can buy live crickets in the US?
Can we eat crickets sold at pet stores or in bulk from pet supply shops?
I’ve searched half a dozen or more websites and while the farming part is explicit, acquiring the insects is not. Yes I did find numerous suppliers for pet consumption.

Any help - specific links - advice - is much appreciated!

Thanks!


#2

Hello, Matt.

In casting about for some guidance on the issue of purchasing live insects for human consumption, the main issue has to do with US regulation concerning when an insect can be labeled ‘food’. Currently, that only applies after the insect is dead.

This does not give guidance on whether or not it is safe to purchase pet-grade insects, only that US regulations do not deal with human-grade live insects. It is interesting how many ‘do it yourself’ appliances and methodologies are listed.

You might find this post helpful in understanding the regulatory hurdles the industry faces : https://thefutureofedibleinsects.com/category/regulations/

You might also enjoy the bugsfeed site : http://www.bugsfeed.com/north_americas_entomophagists_are_teaming_up


#3

Thank you very much for your response. The articles were helpful indeed.
It seems that most people simply purchase pet food crickets and start their colonies thusly.

Matt


#4

One other thought on this that I stumbled across online. When you purchase crickets from a pet store or bait (for fishing) shop, there is an unknown as to what they were being fed. If this is a concern, consider multiplying initially-purchased crickets and consuming the next generation of crickets. As they are growing, the new generation of crickets can be fed with a grain/bran mix that you intentionally fortify with nutrients. For example, by adding some powdered milk to the recipe, you are supplying calcium. I imagine much of what you’ll find online, as far as make-it-yourself cricket feeds, will be written from the perspective of those rearing crickets to feed to their pet reptiles. The idea is to “gut load” the crickets with nutrients before they are consumed.

I’ve tried raising some crickets at home. The Florida heat made it a challenge to keep crickets alive from the time they hatch through maturity. Nevertheless, I did have a measure of success. Some elements of what I did were:

  1. Put an initial batch of crickets into a plastic container/tub. Mine had sides that were tall enough I could have ventilation by simply leaving the top uncovered. Otherwise, you would want to cut some slots and glue some screen over the slots, on the sides and on the lid, to allow for cross ventilation. In my case, I was worried about excessive heat, more so than cold. So, I placed mine on our back porch which has a roof surrounded by screen. Their chirping is pretty intense, so keep that in mind if noise is an issue.

  2. Place the following items inside the plastic container:
    a) material for crickets to hide in and avoid overcrowding—empty toilet paper rolls or short pieces of PVC pipe—if you can stack these in two or three layers, it gives the crickets more space vertically, to spread out in the container. Egg carton material also works well. Crickets seemed to like cardboard/paper materials, but having something like PVC that can be washed could be easier to maintain.
    b) bran/grain for the crickets to eat—seemed to work well to place some on a lid of a jar, something with sides that keeps the grain in place while easy for the crickets to climb over to access the grain
    c) a water source—crickets can drown in a container of water, so use something like a moistened sponge (clean it frequently too avoid maggots); I would be careful about using gel products that absorb moisture (a jello like consistency)–they are a nice clean way to water your crickets, but you would not want to accidentally ingest the crystals.
    d) a shallow container (like a flat tupperware) of moist soil (crickets don’t seem to be picky) for the adult crickets to lay eggs in. They will eat their own eggs, so it helps to cover the soil with metal screen (they eat through fiber glass), which they can deposit their eggs through but that prevents them from disturbing the soil. When a batch of adult crickets is well fed and watered, they will begin to lay eggs almost immediately. You’ll see the container of soil literally covered with crickets.

  3. After two or three days, take the container of soil and place it into a separate container. It should be loaded with eggs by this time. This second container is where you’ll keep the next generation of crickets that hatch from the egg-filled container of soil you just placed into it. The key to success is not allowing the container of soil to dry out. At the same time, avoid flooding it. I squirted mine with a mist bottle once a day or so. Time to hatching depends on temperature, but within about two weeks you should start to see hundreds of baby crickets emerging from your container of soil. Be sure to supply the new crickets with food and water, as you did in the first container that had the adult crickets.

  4. While you are waiting for eggs to hatch in one container, you could add a soil-filled container to your original population of crickets to get a second or third batch going. Find a system that works for you to streamline cricket development and avoid having baby crickets mixed with larger crickets. I ended up having as many as three containers going at any given time.

There is a lot of info about multiplying crickets. It comes down to finding a system that works for you. If raising crickets for human consumption, it would be good to fine tune methods to allow for easy and frequent cleaning of bins.

Hope this helps.


#5

Wow Tim!
Thank you so very much for the detailed response!
I too live in Florida and have gone back and forth about where to keep them - but your point about noise has cinched it for me. The PVC point is quite good. I’d planned on large cardboard tubes and bits as well but cleaning is important as you mentioned.
I really appreciate the time you took posting this response!