Did you know that crickets can leap up to a distance of two feet and that males use their wings to make noise to attract and give direction to the females? What do they eat?
Crickets are omnivores meaning that, although they feed on meat from smaller insects, they also feed on plants. They eat plants at every stage, from seedlings and grown plants to decaying ones. They also feed on plant products including fruits and veggies. Both wild and bred crickets feed on plants.
This article explores what crickets feed on plants and how to feed them on plants if you intend to use them as feeder insects.
What do crickets eat?
Crickets aren’t choosy and have a variety of feeds to choose from depending on their environment and the species. Since there are hundreds of cricket species, what each group prefers to feed on could differ.
Most crickets will consume small insects such as aphids and ants when in the wild. They also feed on plants, grass, flowers, fruits, seeds, and leaves.
If they encounter insects eggs and larvae, too bad, they will feast on them unsparingly. Crickets are also known to feed on fungi and decaying matter.
They will use their long antennae to feel if their target prey is alive or if it can move. If the target remains unperturbed, the cricket will attack and eat. Their large compound eyes also come in handy as they can monitor any movement their prey makes.
Do crickets eat plants?
There are three major classifications of crickets: herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
Carnivorous crickets eat other animals, such as insects, aphids, pupae, and eggs. They also scavenge dead animals for food.
Herbivorous crickets prefer plant matter as their source of food. They will feed on parts of the plants, such as the leaves, stalks, flowers, fruits, seedlings, and produce.
These are a farmer’s dreaded species as once they infest the garden; they will reign havoc on the plants.
Omnivorous crickets are the most popular breed of the three. These can feed on both plants and animals depending on what’s available within the environment.
They will feast on plant matter, including leaves, flowers, stalks, and seedlings. They will also eat animal matter, such as insects.
Omnivorous crickets will also eat fungi and plants and carrion decaying matter when available. Examples of omnivorous crickets are the desert and rainforest crickets.
How to feed plants to crickets
Crickets adapt fast to their environment. For instance, if you have herbivorous crickets and the plant matter isn’t available, they will feast on available aphids in the environment.
If you choose to keep crickets as pets or feeder insects, evaluate their feeding patterns and what to feed them to succeed.
Here’s how to feed plants to crickets:
After identifying the plant and plant products, you wish to feed on the crickets, clean them first to get rid of insecticides and chemicals from fertilizers.
When coming up with the crickets tank, you need to position a feed container where they can crawl into and feed.
Since the crickets like to crawl around, identify strategic positions within the tank where they can comfortably spread and feast on the plants.
For instance, If you want the crickets to feast on seedlings, you can set them up on different edges of the tank.
If you’re feeding the crickets on scraps from the plant produce, place them in the designated feeding container where they are used to feeding from.
Remember to check on the crickets daily after feeding them so you can pick up the plants’ remnants before they get moldy, as this could affect them.
Alternatively, when feeding plants to the crickets, you could dry them up and grind them as they would retain the nutrients.
In this state, they will lose a bit of moisture which you’ll compensate for with the water. This will lower the chances of the plants getting moldy and affecting the crickets.
Examples of plants and products you can feed to the crickets include:
- Leafy greens
The first time you introduce plant feeds to the crickets, take time and observe how they respond. If you notice resistance, consider mixing the plants with their other favorite meals, like pet food.
Ensure you alternate the plants you feed to the crickets as a variety will boost their overall nutrient intake and encourage them to eat.
Crickets are good at self-regulating their meal intake, so you don’t need to worry about overfeeding them on the plants.
Water is critical when feeding plants to your crickets. In a shallow container, place sponges and fill them up to ¼ level to prevent the crickets from drowning.
The moist sponges also aid in regulating the humidity in the habitat, making it ideal for the crickets to thrive.
Benefits of plants to crickets
Feeding plants to crickets has several benefits, especially if you’re breeding them as feeder insects.
Some of the benefits include:
1. Nutritional value
If your feeder crickets feed on highly nutritious plants, the nutrients will be passed on to your pet once you serve, which contributes to your pet’s overall well-being.
Crickets serve well as feeder insects as once you identify the nutritional need of your pet, those are the products you’ll feed them. For instance, if you want your gecko to consume more vitamins, you would have to provide the crickets with fruits with the right vitamins you want to be passed to the pet.
As feeder insects, crickets are nutritious, so your pet will thrive on crickets. Some common nutrients found on crickets include:
- Amino acids
- Vitamin B12
- Omega 3 and 6
These nutrients are all critical in the growth and development of your pet.
2. Improves Gut Health
Crickets fed on plants are highly nutritious and will eventually boost your pet’s gut health.
Since they are high in insoluble fiber, they aid in the production of healthy bacteria in the gut system of your pet. The chitin compound in the crickets acts as a probiotic, lowering the chances of developing gut problems such as inflammation.
3. Helps Balance the Ecosystem
Feeding the right plants to crickets which in turn are used by your pets, helps balance the environment.
Some crickets will feed on the plant’s decaying matter, which helps remove the matter from the soil and lower the emission of bad gases.
When you gut load crickets to be used by other pets, you are playing a role in protecting the environment as the plants could have been fed to cattle which are responsible for an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Easy to Gut Load
Since crickets aren’t picky eaters, it’s easy to gut load them on the plants and nutrients you want to be passed to your pet.
Identify the plants and products that will offer maximum benefits to your pet and feed them to the crickets a day before you provide them to the pet. Crickets are cooperative and will munch on the plants until they’ve had their fill.
Allow the nutrients to settle for a day before you feed the crickets to your pet. The exercise ensures that your pet benefits optimally from the nutrients in the plants used in gut loading.