How to Breed Dubia Roaches
Why Dubia Roaches
Simply put, Bearded Dragons love Dubia roaches! I wouldn’t know personally, but my Bearded Dragons tell me that they taste delicious! Most importantly, these feeder insects offer a lot of nutritional value for your Bearded Dragon. Besides that, Dubia roaches are much more convenient for reptile owners in terms of keeping compared to feeder insects like crickets. For example, Dubia roaches do not stink, jump, climb, or fly. However, they can glide if they fall off of a high object. Regardless, these creatures are not great escape artists making them easy to keep. Even better, Dubia roaches are simple to breed and they have a long lifespan which can save reptile owners a lot of money. To get started with your own Dubia roach colony, here are a few things that you’ll need to do.
1) Provide Space
For housing, you’ll need a large sterilite tub (with a lid), preferably a dark tub to satisfy their need for darkness. It’s not recommended to include any substrate. However, it is recommended to include egg crates. The egg crates will prevent the Dubia roaches from trampling all over each other. Anyways, proper ventilation is also important, you can make small ventilation holes in the lid of the tub using a hot soldering iron or simply cut out the holes yourself. If you cut out a single large hole, then it would be best to include a screen cover to protect the colony from wild insects or to simply prevent any escapees.
2) Provide Heat
For breeding Dubia roaches, you’ll want to provide an external heat source to achieve a temperature around 90F within the habitat. There are a few ways to achieve the proper temperature. For example, an under tank heater (UTH) could be used to warm up the tub or a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) could be used to provide heat from above. Of course, there are other options as well, such as implementing the use of thermostats or lamp dimmers. Regardless of what method you choose, it is important to be safe and avoid potential fire hazards. In the end, be certain to fully understand your heat setup and experiment with it until you’re positive it is safe and will provide the correct temperature gradient without harming the colony or catching anything on fire. To check temperatures, you can use a temperature gun or digital thermometer. Last but not least, be sure that the Dubia roaches can escape the 90F temperature if they desire (include a cooler region). Overall, their habitat should range anywhere between 60F and 90F.
3) Provide Food & Water
The process of offering a nutritious diet for your Dubia roaches is known as “gut-loading”. In other words, what you feed your Dubia roaches will eventually be consumed by your Bearded Dragon when your reptile eats the Dubia roaches. Thus, keep this in mind when planning the diet for your Dubia roaches. For food, we suggest offering fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, or even apples. It goes without saying, but you should always keep fruits and vegetables fresh and never let them spoil. Besides fruits and vegetables, companies that specialize in Dubia roach breeding often have their own specially formulated food to which you can purchase. For example, roach chow (dry food that we recommend using as well). Moving on, to satisfy water requirements, we advise using a product known as water crystals, a no-spill solution for providing water. Obviously, the colony will also get moisture from fresh fruits & vegetables. In summary, feed and hydrate your roach colony well.
4) Get a Starter Colony
After providing a proper habitat, your next step is to purchase a starter colony. A starter colony can be ordered online from feeder insect companies. Once you have the starter colony, put them into the sterilite tub and the starter colony will naturally grow (breed) if all basic requirements have been met (space, heat, food, water, etc.). It is important to mention that your breeders (the adult Dubia roaches) should have a proper male to female ratio, we advise a 1:4 ratio (one male per four females). You can identify an adult male Dubia roach by the long wings on their back whereas adult females have very short wings. If too many males are present within the colony, then the males may harm each other or the colony itself. With that said, once a male successfully mates with a female, then the female will give birth to 20-35 nymphs a month after the male mated with the female. Once the female Dubia roach gives birth to nymphs, the female will not be able to become pregnant again for another month. Therefore, one female Dubia roach will give birth to 20-35 nymphs approximately once every two months. Furthermore, the younger Dubia roaches in your colony will reach sexual maturity after 5 months. So, the more adult roaches you start out with, the more babies you’ll end up with. Undoubtedly, you may have to do a bit of math to determine how large you want your Dubia roach colony to be in the near future.
5) Maintain Humidity
For breeding Dubia roaches, it’s best to have a humidty range between 40% and 60%. The humidity itself will assist the colony with shedding among other things like preventing egg capsules from drying out (infertility). Low humidity could also threaten the survival of nymphs within the colony. As a result, we recommend maintaining a humidity range from 40% to 60%. At the same time, we suggest ensuring that the humidity is not causing any issues. For instance, high humidity combined with heat and poor ventilation may cause bacteria to grow. Of course, bacteria growth within the habitat would not be good for the colony as they may get sick. To conclude, don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining a proper humidity range. Considering how sturdy Dubia roaches are, humidity is often an overlooked aspect of the colony.
6) Maintain Cleanliness
While Dubia roaches are considered to be naturally cleaner than other types of feeder insects, it is still important to maintain the roach colonies’ cleanliness. While we’ve already established that food should be kept fresh, it’s also required to clean out roach droppings (or debris in general). In fact, this is one reason why we do not recommend using substrate, including substrate would make the cleaning process much harder. Having said that, cleaning out debris is a straightforward task. First, you’ll want to have an extra sterilite tub available, you’ll use this tub to transfer the egg crates (dubia roaches). After you transfer as much of the colony as possible from one bin to the other, you can then proceed to clean out any dead Dubia roaches, as well as their droppings (also known as frass), and any debris in general whether it be leftover shed or food remains. Keep in mind, it is a good idea to wear a mask to avoid inhaling any particles that may be floating around while cleaning the colony. Also, wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands once you are done cleaning the colony.
7) Sort the Colony
Eventually, there will come a time when you’ll want to separate the young Dubia roaches from the older Dubia roaches. Otherwise, the young may become prey to the older Dubia roaches. While cleaning the habitat, it may be a good time to also consider sorting the colony. To sort a colony, you’ll want to have multiple buckets available, each bucket should have countless holes in the bottom of the bucket. To clarify, one bucket could have 1/8” holes punctured in the bottom of the bucket, another bucket could have 1/4” holes, another bucket could have 1/2” holes, and so on. Basically, it will depend on what size Dubia roaches you are trying to sort. Ultimately, the goal is to dump your colony into these buckets (while shaking them gently) so that certain sized Dubia roaches may fall through the holes into a different sterilite tub. Hence, sorting the colony.