My time as a cricket farmer
Last night, three friends and I ate crickets for the first time. They were crunchy and nutty. One of my friends liked them so much he continued to eat the legs at the bottom of the bowl after all the whole crickets were gone.
I have been taking care of these crickets for about a month. I bought them at Petco at 16 cents each, for a total of $8.00. When the salesperson asked me what size I wanted, I asked him what sizes they came in. Not tall, grande, and venti, it turns out. After much deliberation, I chose medium. When he asked me how many I needed, I was stumped again. “Fifty?” He looked at me suspiciously and asked me what I was feeding. I told him it was a long story and he gave me the crickets anyway.
I set my new charges up in a large, clear plastic box with old newspapers at the bottom (shoutout to the Daily Texan). I placed a cardboard egg carton in the box, along with a paper plate with some apple pieces.
I then let my crickets loose. They immediately crawled under the newspaper, abnegating its point. They flocked to the egg carton. A couple of the smarter crickets began eating the apples, their mouthparts working furiously.
Over the course of the month, I fed the crickets a half of a slice of watermelon and a bruised peach, bringing the food budget to about $3.00. At first, I placed a damp paper towel in the box so the crickets could stay hydrated, but it dried quickly and the fruit seemed juicy enough.
I liked having the crickets in my life. They chirped in the evenings, but not loudly enough for my roommate to notice. They didn’t smell. I was excited that I didn’t have to waste the peach that I dropped. They never tried to escape. They laid two patches of barely distinguishable, orange eggs on the egg carton, which I have cut out and stored in a jar. About ten crickets died.
I move out of my apartment this week and I need the large plastic box for moving, so my crickets had to go. I made a dinner party event on Facebook and steeled myself emotionally. The hardest part was gathering the crickets from the box. I felt like a savage as I caught my little friends in order to eat them, and it was also physically difficult to catch all 40 crickets. I developed a strategy of pinning them in the corner of the box. After I thought I had finished, I realized there were still about 20 crickets hiding under it.
When I finally caught all the live crickets in a plastic bag, I said a small prayer and placed the bag in the freezer. Two hours later, I dumped the crickets in boiling water for about three minutes. Then I put them on a pan, salt and peppered them, and roasted them at 350 degrees. About 35 minutes later, I tested a cricket’s crunch with a fork. It smashed (and didn’t squish) satisfactorily, and so I placed the roasted crickets in a small bowl.
Thankfully, I had also prepared guacomole, eggplant, and pineapples, because the cricket feast was disappointingly lacking in mass. Forty crickets sounds like a lot more than it actually is.
I consider my cricket experiment a success, but there are some thing I would do differently now. I would tape a layer of newspaper to the bottom of the box and add a couple more papers on top of that, so the crickets would have a dark space to crawl without pooping in the bottom of the box. I would find a place to buy crickets more cheaply and buy more, since they are so easy to feed. I would designate an egg-laying area by placing a small plate with dirt in it, as this article describes. Once my life is more settled, I am excited to restart my small, sustainable cricket farm.