There’s a stereotype that crickets smell. As a commercial cricket farmer I must say that crickets don’t smell if you do it right. In this post I will guide you through the reasons why people think that crickets smell, what actually makes crickets smell and how to stop crickets from smelling.
Reasons why crickets can smell:
- Dead crickets are left inside the container
- Crickets’ food starts to rot
- Wet habitat
- Insufficient hygiene inside the container
Why Do Crickets Smell?
If you have a bearded dragon and noticed that your lizard eats live crickets fast, you may consider raising live crickets yourself in order to save some money. And that totally makes sense.
Though, you should properly prepare for it. You should always remember that crickets are living beings. If not taken care properly, the container with the box may start to smell badly. When you think about it, same happens with any pet inside your house. Try not to clean your cat’s litter box for a sometime and see what will happen:)
People usually falsely assume that crickets smell. Actually, crickets themselves do not smell. The smell appears from what crickets leave behind or their living environment itself gets contaminated and then the smelly bacteria does its job.
Let’s learn with more detailed explanation why the smell can happen when crickets are raised in a container. These are the most often reasons why container with crickets start to stink.
If crickets are healthy and are kept in a hygienic environment, then usually only few crickets die out of 1000 during their living cycle. In my cricket farm I keep ~2000-3000 crickets in one container, so it would be hard even to notice those few dead crickets and take them out.
However, I assume you have less crickets in your container or terrarium. So, if shouldn’t be a problem for you to spot a dead cricket and remove it.
More than a dozen people have asked me already: do crickets smell when they die?
Dead crickets, like any other dead animal, start to stink relatively quickly. It can also become an issue because dead crickets may contain bacteria which can spread among live crickets. You don’t want that.
You don’t want to leave dead crickets laying around in a container with live crickets!
My guess is that your container with live crickets is kept in a room temperature environment. Meaning you don’t keep optimal temperature for crickets at all times (which is 80-90ºF / 27-32ºC). At night temperature maybe decreases a bit and at day time it increases again.
During lower temperatures dead crickets start smelling really quickly. Though, if you are able to keep optimal temperature at least at ~80ºF / 30ºC, then dead crickets won’t smell because they will dry out fast. Though, this will happen if humidity is appropriate. Continue reading below to learn what is the appropriate humidity inside crickets’ container.
Crickets are relatively easy to raise and don’t require special feed. Meaning, crickets can basically eat anything you will give to them. They will eat any kind of vegetables, fruit and even meat.
If you’re interested to know what is the best food diet for crickets, check out my post what do crickets eat.
The problem of feeding crickets with vegetables and fruit is that such food contains a lot of water. As we know, in a warm environment it will start to rot fast. Imagine keeping a slice of watermelon in 90ºF (32ºC) for 3 days in a room. Don’t expect good results in term of fresh air in that room after 3 days 🙂
Also, rotting food in warm environment creates food flies. This will be another problem for you to deal with if you will feed your crickets with fruits and veggies and won’t constantly change it with fresh food.
Many people feed crickets with fruits and veggies, which is totally fine, but keep in mind that to prevent crickets’ container for the stinky smell you will have to take out the leftovers and change with fresh food every day or every second day.
There’s a solution for that which is called – dry food! Below I provide the explanation how to feed your crickets with dry food properly.
In my cricket farm the main rule I have is to keep crickets’ container dry at all times.
When raising crickets, it’s essential from crickets to have enough surface to crawl on and hide in. For that reason, paper egg cartons work great.
Check out how many paper egg cartons I need for my crickets! I buy 1000 egg cartons at a time (fits 5 x 6 eggs per carton).
One of the other reasons why crickets’ container can smell is that those cartons get wet. They can get wet if you add a fruit/vegetable on the carton, or you spill some water gel of the carton and left it there.
The issue with wet cartons is that crickets love to eat wet cartons. When they do it, the leftovers of wet cartons start to smell really bad. Actually, the smell is so bad I don’t have a comparison for it. I’m not sure why it happens though. It could be that crickets’ saliva somehow reacts with carton material and the smell appears. Despite, it’s one of the reasons why your container with crickets stink.
Crickets poo a lot. If you keep +200 crickets in a container you will notice after a few days how a clean container will become black container the bottom. Crickets’ droppings are small round black dots. It’s very similar to poppy grain, only smaller.
Crickets’ droppings actually don’t smell, because it’s dry material. However, if it gets wet, soon you will start to feel the bad smell getting out of the container.
I will emphasize it once more: crickets themselves do not smell. Crickets as insects don’t have any noticeable smell at all. It’s the environment around them which makes the smell if crickets are not raised properly.
By the way, check out my other post about crickets’ frass and its benefits.
Too much of humidity will create bad smell to your crickets as well. As mentioned previously, wet materials inside the container will create bad smell (wet paper cartons; wet droppings). Humidity does basically the same job.
In my crickets’ farm I keep humidity in range ~40-50%. So, even 90ºF (32ºC) is a quite hot temperature, but with such low humidity, the air is dry and there’s no bad smell inside my farm or inside any of the containers.
If humidity raises above 50% then such habitat is sufficient for bacteria to form and create bad smell. Humidity being above 50% will make dead crickets to smell faster and fruits/veggies will start to rot much faster as well.
How to keep crickets without smell?
Seems like there are quite a lot of reasons why crickets’ container can smell.
Though, don’t you worry – there are only some basic rules you need to follow to make sure that none of the above will happen in your container with live crickets.
To keep crickets from smelling you need to:
- Remove dead crickets from crickets’ container
- Feed crickets with dry food
- Keep crickets’ container dry at all times
- Maintain a proper ventilation inside the container
- Keep hygiene in crickets’ container
Removing Dread Crickets
Hygiene basically covers it all. Hygiene means that if you spot a dead cricket laying at the bottom of the container – you always remove it from the container as soon as possible.
As a side note. In my farm I keep ~2000-4000 crickets in one container. Meaning, it would be hard to notice dead crickets in the container and ever harder to reach them out and remove without disturbing live crickets.
However, even few crickets naturally die and I don’t remove them from my containers, I still don’t have bad smell problems in my farm. That is because dead crickets dry out fast under 90ºF (32ºC) and don’t create bad smell.
So, you should also try to maintain constant and sufficiently high temperature inside your crickets’ container. Hence, even if you won’t spot a dead cricket instantly, it will not create bad smell because it will dry out fast in high temperature.
Feed Crickets with Dry Food
A good solution to avoid food rotting is feeding crickets with dry food.
Actually, in my farm I feed crickets only with dry food to avoid rotting problem (it wouldn’t be acceptable otherwise in a commercial cricket farm). The cricket feed I use is made in Finland. It is specifically created for crickets to get all the needed vitamins to be a nutritious as possible.
To get a feed in retail shops specifically made for crickets can be a challenge. Though, there’s a good workaround. You can use dry cat or dog feed for your crickets. You can also use dry fish food – you can get that at any pet shop. Such feed with have all the nutrients that you crickets will need.
If you will use cat/dog food, you should crush the granules to make it easier for crickets to eat it (no need to make it as flour, just make smaller pieces than the standard cat/dog food granules are).
Also, remember that crickets should have food available at all times.
The only issue with dry food is that it will not provide water to crickets, which is essential for crickets to live. Remember: crickets are living beings requiring food and water same as any other animal.
So, if you will feed crickets with dry food you have to provide water supply as well. There is good solution for that which is called “Water Gel Crystals”. Basically, that material absorbs a lot of water and crickets can eat it. For your low scale cricket container, it will work great. You can find it on Amazon or Ebay.
As mentioned previously, to prevent bad smell, it’s really important to maintain relatively low humidity inside the container with live crickets.
I will repeat: keep humidity at 40-50% at all times!
For tracking reasons, you can get humidity tracker online really cheaply. Simply put it inside the container so you could see humidity level at all times.
But how to keep the humidity low enough?
Ventilation is the answer. You have to make sure that crickets’ habitat has sufficient ventilation. It is hard to know exactly if crickets are provided with enough fresh air or not, but what you can do is to cut holes inside in the lid and add a mesh to prevent crickets from jumping out.
In my other post I explain in more detail how to incorporate a mesh in your container’s lid.
Also, you could use a container with walls not less than 20″ (50 cm) and don’t add lid at all. It will provide sufficient airflow. High walls will prevent crickets from jumping out even when there’s no lid. Actually, in my cricket farm all my containers are without lids to make sure there’s enough ventilation happening inside all containers (which I have in my farm over 200 units).
The more crickets there are in one container, the more humidity will accumulate inside the container.
I noticed that when my containers have 2000-4000 fully grown crickets, then it’s becoming a bit hard to keep humidity below 50%. In that case a small ventilator can be integrated at the below part of a container’s wall. Though, you shouldn’t bother doing, because you probably won’t face such issue if you keep not more than few hundred crickets in one container.
Hygiene Inside Crickets’ Container
Overall, removing dead crickets or taking out rotting food from cricket’s container is part of a general hygiene. Also, you cannot forget a general cleaning as well.
Within time crickets will poo a lot as mentioned previously. So, paper egg cartons and the bottom of the container will be full of crickets’ droppings. Let’s hope you keep the container dry at all times and it doesn’t create bad smell.
Despite, you have to clean the equipment inside the container and container itself from time to time.
You should put crickets in another box and clean crickets’ container with boiling water and a brush (be careful while doing that). You can use bleach as well to sanitize it properly, but I wouldn’t recommend it as crickets can be sensitive to chemicals.
Though, if you decide to use bleach for cleaning purposes, make sure you use enough water to remove any bleach residuals.
I have made a quick guide how to clean the container of your crickets. Check it out here if you’re interested.
To summarize: crickets are not smelly insects. The smell usually appears from the environment crickets live in because it is not taken a proper care. Simply follow my advises I stated above and you will not have stinky crickets. Remember, I run a commercial cricket farm with 200 containers and I don’t have a problem with smelly crickets, so you should at least consider to use my recommendations:)