There are a few reasons you may consider starting a dubia roach colony:
- You have many pets that need feeder roaches frequently and consistently.
- It is too expensive to buy feeder insects.
- The inconvenience of buying dubia roaches locally or online is too high.
No matter the reason, you have decided that raising dubia roaches is the right choice for you. Luckily, breeding dubia roaches is actually exceptionally cheap and easy.
How To Store Dubia Roaches
The first step to keeping dubia roaches is the enclosure. The best option is actually a basic plastic tote:
- The sides are smooth, so you do not need to worry about a dubia roach infestation from escapees.
- Much cheaper than glass or acrylic aquariums of similar size.
- The solid color blocks out light and offers more privacy, so your cockroaches will feel much safer.
- Easily carried and washed out for quick cleanup of old food and frass, the insect droppings.
However, the tote will need to be slightly adapted to allow ventilation. You have two fairly simple options:
- Replace the solid colored top with a clear version, then drill out ventilation holes. This way you can quickly see when you need to replace food and water without handling the enclosure. The holes will also increase air flow.
- Cut out a section of the top and hot glue a fiberglass mesh screen into the hole. The hot glue will slightly melt the plastic tote top and keep the screen extremely secure. This is the more favorable choice, as the screen will act as a barrier to block out pests and keep the dubia roaches contained, incase of an accidental tip.
Dubia roaches love to hide; usually, you will find them grouped closely together in a dark, cramped place. The easiest way to offer this security in the enclosure is a stack of vertical egg crate flats. When vertical, the excreted frass will fall to the floor for cleanup, and the roaches can climb all over them and hide. Make sure there is a gap between the top of the tote and the egg crate, so they cannot crawl out. If you have a smaller enclosure, you can even just use old egg cartons from the grocery store.
Easily Maintaining Humidity
Luckily, dubia roaches feel perfectly comfortable at an average room humidity. The perfect humidity is around 60%, but if you room doesn’t quite get there, it will not affect their breeding. It is recommended to place a hygrometer / thermometer combo in the enclosure, so you can double check that your feeder roaches are comfortable. If you live somewhere extremely dry, with the combination of heat pad, it may become too dry. If this is the case, you can mist occasionally, but too much water can quickly degrade the egg cartons. Though it can help with humidity, do not use any substrate; the roaches will hardly use it, and it makes cleaning the enclosure exponentially more difficult.
Raising Dubia Roach Temperature
Although these cockroaches can survive perfectly fine with room temperature, at least 85 degrees F is required to create optimal conditions for breeding dubia roaches. If you are using a plastic tote, you have to be extremely careful that your heating element does not melt the plastic. Most UTH’s, under tank heaters, are meant to stick to the bottom of terrariums. However, the direct contact with the totes can possibly melt the plastic. However, the Zoo Med Mini UTH's are rated to be used with plastic. The adhesive on most under tank heaters is weak, so I recommend securing them with foil tape. Additionally, the heat pads meant for pain relief can be placed directly under an enclosure. Just make sure that it does not have an auto shut off that will cut off the power after a few hours.
What Do Dubia Roaches Eat
Dubia roaches are frugivores, meaning they eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Particularly, they love foods with natural sugars; some of their favorites include oranges, apples, and bananas. You should also add greens, like dandelion greens, to supplement these fruits. Unfortunately, these fruits and vegetables can mold, and mold is very unhealthy for your roaches, so you must periodically cycle the food. An alternative without this pesky problem is roach chow. Generally, dubia roach chow is long lasting and made from healthy ground foods that nourish your bugs. Unfortunately, many of the online recipes and even commercially available options use cat or dog food. Cat and dog foods contain too much protein, creating an excess of uric acid, which causes gout and eventual death of the colony. Luckily, you can easily create your own using our dubia roach chow recipe.
If you are using natural fruits and vegetables, then your roaches can absorb their required moisture from the food. However, if you are using roach chow or just to be safe, you should add water crystals. Water crystals are a polymer that will gradually absorb the water, essentially turning the water into a solid. By doing so, you eliminate the chance that your precious crawlers will drown. In addition, you should also use shallow food and water dishes, so they can easily crawl in and out.
Keeping Your Enclosure Clean
After a month of breeding dubia roaches, you will notice a lot of dry droppings, called frass, and exo-skeletons in your dubia roach setup. Frass is actually beneficial for your colony; dubia babies thrive off of it. However, after you start to see a large buildup, it does need to be cleaned up. The cleaning process is extremely easy:
- Using an extra tote, transfer all the egg crates and food and water bowls.
- Sweep up some (not all) of the frass.
- Move the roaches and containers back into the original tote.
It’s as easy as that. You should not need to clean out the egg crate, but you can replace some of them, if they are soggy. Another way to keep things clean is adding some cleaner beetles, such as Buffalo Beetles; they will eat the frass and exo-skeletons dropped by your dubia roaches.
How to Breed Dubia Roaches Faster
If you are just getting started, you will need to seed your colony with some starter roaches, of course. How many dubia roaches to start a colony? It depends on how many you want to produce, but it is recommended to use a 1 male to 4 female ratio. For example, 5 males and 20 females, and you should also add around 100 - 200 small to medium dubias to replace them after your first breeders die. If your enclosure is well made and your new roaches feel comfortable, you should have at least 100 nymphs within the month. The more you start with, the faster your colony will get started producing feeder insects for your reptiles.