Culturing dubia roaches – dutch oven style

I’ve been keeping dart frogs for over a decade, so we are used to culturing insects, but of a much smaller variety. I have experience with various species of fruit flies, as well as bean beetles. When we added Green Tree Monitors (Varanus prasinus) to our household, we had to expand our insect culturing to include larger feeder items. We didn’t like the noise and smell of crickets, so we decided to give dubia roach culturing a go.

I researched a variety of methods for culturing dubia. There are lots of sites and videos out there on a variety of approaches. I made some mistakes, and tried some new approaches that I will share here, for better or worse.

First attempt: male dubia die-off

I initially picked up 25 females and 5 males to start a colony. Within a week or two all but one of the males died. All the females were fine, so I was not sure what caused the die off.

Second attempt: lots of nymphs

For my second attempt I decided to go with a longer term plan and I picked up 200 3/4 inch nymphs, and 500 1/2 inch nymphs. I planned on feeding off some of the smaller nymphs and letting the larger ones grow out. I combined these with my existing females.

I also decided to add a substrate to increase the humidity. I used a 1/2 inch layer of a mix of ground sphagnum moss and vermiculite that I had laying around. This holds a decent amount of moisture – I typically mist the soil once a week. Here’s a shot of the substrate, and the feeding station and water crystals:

This strategy worked out for me, as I have quite a few females an males maturing in the colony, which seems to now be pretty robust.

Experimenting with dubia enclosure designs

I’ve experimented with a few container approaches over time. I started with a large sterilite tub and cut a hole in it with a utility knife. I then hot glued solar screen to the outer perimeter of the lit forming a large ventilation area:

I was having trouble keeping the colony heated with just the sterilite bin on a heat mat. I decided to try a double-bin approach to heat a mass of water under the main colony, which in turn should heat the colony to the target temperature. I placed about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the first bin, then placed the colony bin inside the water bin.

This created a tight seal with the top – you can see the condensation on the wall of the colony bin from this inside shot:

I use a heat mat under the colony to get the internal temperature up to a target of about 85 to 90 degrees, which is supposed to be an ideal temperature for breeding…I have seen some females carrying egg cases so we’ll see how it goes!

Egg cases

After a short time holding the internal temperatures in the low 80’s, I started seeing more females with egg cases. Here are photos of a female dubia roach with an egg case.