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The Most Obnoxious, Smelly, Filthy, Annoying, Loathsome Feeder Insect on this Entire Planet of Earth

A rant on the worst choice of feeder insect forced upon Canadians.

Since I have been asked more than once, "what's your deal with crickets?" I feel as though perhaps I should address the topic and explain.

My company motto is, "Everything but crickets!" It's true, crickets give me a raging hate-on, and my disgust and disdain for them has only grown stronger with time. Let me elaborate a little further;

To be clear - I DON'T hate ALL "crickets." Those species which had the great misfortune of getting the ignobel label of cricket put to them, even though they aren't even closely related and aren't true crickets (Jerusalem crickets, camel crickets, etc), fall in that category. They are species I'll gladly keep and even propagate, so if you see such insects for sale in the OIF SHOP hold off on the "GOTCHA!" emails.

Likewise, there are even true crickets which I hold no real animosity towards. The deep, melodic chirp of fall field cricket is a quintessential aspect of summer nights in Canada. While these crickets share SOME of the annoying aspects of their awful cousins, they are still notably different enough to get a pass (I doubt you'll see them made available in our SHOP anytime soon though). When you boil it down, my extreme stance is fully reserved for just a pair of species. While this hate is probably a lot more limited in scope than some were led to believe, make no mistake at its intensity.

The two species which have been made to be the "darlings" of the Canadian feeder insect industry are house and banded crickets. House crickets used to be the sole object of my ire, but as if fate were answering me when I yelled to the heavens, "could there be a more shitte feeder?" the banded cricket with its higher pitched chirp came on the scene. These two are, without question, the most annoying and dirty insects ever reared by human beings in recorded history. The only way to elevate them to this venerated status of 'nunber feeder insect' in Canada was to completely eliminate and outlaw any real competition for decades. Forcing the hand of reptile keepers across Canada to make use an insect whose negatives vastly outweigh any perceived "positives."

Crickets are undeniably dirty insects. Keep a group of them, doesn't matter whether it be two dozen, two hundred, or two thousand, that fact becomes glaringly apparent within less than 48 hours. The rapid buildup of their poop, cast skins, dropped food, and their dead bodies creates a toxic blackened sludge that makes one puke a little their mouth from the smell. That result is regardless of how vented you keep the colony.

Crickets aren't fussy about what they feed upon , and ingest the moldy food without hesitation, shortening their already brief lifespan. Their absolute lack of any dietary standards is actually even better illustrated in an incident I recall when I worked for a business which raised these insects for human consumption in a particularly disgusting moment. The barns these crickets were raised in had mice, as all barns do, and traps were set to try to knock off a few every night. In the mornings one of the first jobs to be completed was to empty the traps of their contents. I walk into one of the rooms to empty the traps and turned on the lights to reveal a most macabre scene. The mouse was a young one killed by a snap trap, which had closed at just the right time as to split its head open. Standing atop the mouse were more than a dozen crickets which froze in place as the lights went on. They were greedily feasting upon the mouse, having eaten its face clean off and had now started eating the brain. I gave a slight involuntary shutter and brushed them aside to get the body. What gave me pause was when later that day the barn workers set up the harvest bins right outside the room and proceeded to empty it out to send to the processing facility. The crickets were gassed during harvest and then baked in an oven, so pathogens weren't the issue for me. Rather it was knowing that with every handful of BBQ flavored cricket one ate, there was potential you were eating, through transit of property, mouse brain as well. Yum!

While I know that story must make you excited for a future where we're all eating crickets there is yet another aspect commonly noted by anyone with experience dealing with them - crickets stink! When I worked on that cricket farm one of my primary jobs was to "muck out" the rooms after a generation was harvested and cleared out. This meant shoveling up thick layers of frass, dead crickets, cast skins, mice nests, and molding food, and then cleaning the room to ready for the next brood. Remember that blackened sludge I mentioned earlier? Crickets smell like dirty feet when alive. When they die their odor becomes ripe, hot garbage. The smell of an uncleaned overaged colony of hundreds is pungent enough to make the strongest stomach turn. Now imagine a room with millions - might as well have been a dead body in there the pungent odor produced was so overwhelming and nauseating.

Speaking of dead bodies, these insects seem to have a singular goal in life: find ways to die. Crickets have literally NO capacity to deal with water. Yes, like all life they still need it to live, however, crickets to appear to drown in dishes with anything more than a couple millimeters of water in them. If humans were like crickets you would find people dead from drowning in their dog's water bowl. If you try to offer them moisture through other means, such as soaked cotton balls, the crickets quickly foul it with their poop and dropped food.

One of the few aspects which lend to this modern plague gaining any praise is the rapidity with which it grows and matures: , they are reaching adulthood in the space of 3 to 4 weeks. However what goes up must come down, and that metoric growth to maturity naturally is matched by an equally steep drop into senescence. A cricket which celebrates its 100th day from hatch is ancient! This means that should you bring home adult crickets, prepare to make use of them asap - you have a window of about 1 or 2 weeks before the dead outnumber the living. Once one dies and turns black, it apparently looks like such a good time that the others aren't far behind. Soon dying becomes the craze of the colony and their bodies melt into black ooze.

...that is l de

If all this wasn't enough then there is the noise. One cricket, particularly the deep chirp of fall field cricket, is peaceful and, perhaps to some, even enjoyable. Multiply that to hundreds, turn up the pitch, and put on continuous loop, and it becomes a clear annoyance. Multiply again to millions and it becomes a dull roar. If it was like the occasional call of a rooster it would surely be unpleasant, but it's worse - it just never stops! Day and night, rain or shine, the cricket torments his captor with incessant chirping. Here the banded crickets really crank up my hate for them since their chirp is even higher pitched and squeakier than the house cricket. It reminds me of the squeak of running shoes on a gymnasium floor, multiplied by a thousand.

In my youth I kept a collection of reptiles, and of course they required live food. The collection of animals under my care eventually grew to a size where I easily went through 300 crickets every two weeks. As a person who is always interested in DIY projects, I attempted to breed my own feeders to save on costs but came to find another crappy aspect to this insect - they are difficult to successfully rear in comparison with other available feeders. It takes a fai u6r bit of work and proper setup to get this insect from pinhead to adulthood. Newly hatched crickets are fragile and very prone to dessication. They also are very susceptible to dying from mold at that stage. So you end up with an brood of insects which require high humidity but still require food and can't really tolerate that food getting moldy. Meanwhile the adults require substrate myof some kind to deposit their eggs into which doesn't make things any cleaner in rearing operations. So their difficulty in being 6propagated is yet one more mark against them.

It is a sad state that Canadian herptile keepers were ultimately stuck using these garbage insects as their primary feeder with no legal viable alternatives until the past few years.

The lack of viable alternatives green lit by the government did eventually come to cause a serious issue and certainly resulted in some hardship that rocked the industry in the early 2000s

It was during that time a disease came to 0,the European continent which struck fear into the hearts of many a cricket farmer: there was an illness which, allegedly, emerged from China (shocker, I know) that was hitting cricket farms hard. The disease would cause the crickets to start wandering aimlessly, shake and shutter, and then flip on their backs dead. the mortality rate was, for all practicality, 100% and the disease dubbed "CPv" was 1ravaging across the European continent and shutting down & bankrupting cricket farms with hundreds of millions of crickets dying almost overnight.

Unsurprisingly the disease made it to North America, although the speed at which it did was certainly curious. In the US the same story unfolded and the disease left a series of bankrupt farms and countless billions of dead crickets in its wake. Dispite the impending disaster about to crush our cricket farms, Canadian officials still refused to budge on their stance regarding feeder roaches. The Europeans and Americans, being light years ahead in the keeping and use of invertebrates, already had alternatives to turn to when their crickets died. Canada, with its restrictive laws and overregulation, had nothing that could act as a suitable stand-in that was already present or readily available & affordable just south of the border. The Canadian government somehow believed that by banning tropical roaches it was going to somehow help solve the problem of invasive species, or at least it made it appear like "somebody was doing something." So even while hundreds of thousands of dubia roaches or other feeder species were readily available to solve this issue, the government decided they would rather approve another cricket than reverse their ban on exotics.

However I'll leave that topic for another post, this rant is already plenty long.

The CFIA finally got their ass in gear, going into overdrive testing and wading through their own bureaucratic swamp of overregulation. Meanwhile, zoos and private collectors alike attempted to meet their animals' needs as best they could, but house crickets were a feeder used so extensively by many as the main feature of their captive diet that without any alternatives to turn to they instead were forced to import crickets from the few isolated cricket farms still in business in the US. Rather than just admit that banning tropical feeder roaches was arbitrary move that made no reasonable sense at all (they're not a problem in up state New York or North Dakota but cross the Canadian border and who knows what they'll do then?!?) the powers that be searched in desperation for a suitable replacement cricket... eventually landing on the POS banded cricket as the more annoying replacement for the house cricket. There was a sizable gap between where all the house crickets died and when banded crickets had been allowed...if we had all been forced to rely those garbage insects for our food source I can promise you, there would have been people who died of starvation. We're lucky that there were alternate sources for our zoos and breeders to buy from, albeit at a greatly exaggerated cost, but what I want to highlight here is the sheer oversized, unwieldy bureaucracy paired with garbage insects = results that are no bueno. You can imagine my shock when I learnt that in 2022 the Canadian government had spent millions of taxpayer dollars (8.5 million to be exact) to buy a cricket farm as a "source of sustainable protein." For whom you might ask? I'll let you guess the answer.

For the first time in decades the government has finally decided to stop crushing the Canadian reptile keeper under thumb and give us all a break from relying solely on those vile, obxious, rank, filthy GD crickets as the primary soft-bodied feeder insect for our animals by finally relenting, and relaxing the regulations enough to allow for a single traditional feeder roach species to finally be permitted for use (after many a hoop had been jumped through). The road to free ourselves from the oppressive tyranny of the Cricket Mafia is long, but the journey of a thousand Miles begins with one step.

Besides, if it wasn't for those stupid, noisy, scummy crickets providing the need for alternatives the OIF may have never been born. After all, as our motto proudly states - we do everything but crickets! Thanks for reading everyone.

For those who actually made it this far, if you want to earn some rewards points join in on the discussion. Ten points for short answers (1 or 2 sentences) and twenty points if you engage in polite counterargument or debate

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