Bulk Dubia roaches in an egg carton

How to Breed Dubia Roaches: Starting Your Dubia Roach Colony

Dubia roach breeders can have some pretty interesting conversations. 

“So, what do you do for fun?”

“I have my own Dubia roach colony.”

Long pause... 

Pikachu meme that says Breeding Dubia Roaches, Huh? That's Kind of Weird

If you're interested in starting your own Dubia roach colony, this blog post is for you. Learn the basics so you can set your breeding project up for success. 

Why Breed Dubia Roaches?

If you’re looking for a hobby that is sure to be a conversation starter, with excellent perks such as bragging rights and the ability to turn heads and elicit gasps at parties, then breeding Dubia roaches is for you!

In all seriousness, starting a Dubia roach colony could be a time- and money-saving option if you run an exotic pet shelter or you’ve got multiple reptile pets to feed.

5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Dubia Roach Colony

Is starting a Dubia roach colony right for you? It might be! Here are five important factors to consider before you decide.

  1. Allergies. Dubia roaches are a common allergy trigger. Symptoms usually include coughing and wheezing. Even if you don't have an allergy to Dubia roaches at first, the constant exposure to the roaches puts you at risk of developing one. If you tend to struggle with allergies, breeding Dubias might not be for you.
  2. Space. Depending on the goal of your breeding project, you may need a lot of space, or just a little. It’s important to determine that ahead of time so you know where you would keep the roaches and if you have enough room.
  3. Investment. How much time, effort, and money are you willing to invest in your breeding project? Are you in this for the long haul? You don’t want to be on the fence and then suddenly be faced with ownership of 10,000 live roaches. Even if you have several reptile pets, it’ll still take a while to get through all of those!
  4. The environment. Roaches need specific conditions to thrive. Heat, humidity, and darkness are all important factors that affect breeding and the overall health of your roaches. Consider how you will provide a controlled environment for your roaches to thrive.
  5. Your breeding goal. You may have a broad idea of why you want to breed Dubia roaches, but it is also beneficial (and necessary) to think of your goal in tangible terms as well.

The Dubia Roach Lifecycle: Know What to Expect Before Breeding

Dubia roaches are prolific. They increase exponentially—which is something important to keep in mind when making the decision to breed.

Here is an overview of the breeding cycle.

  • Dubia roaches don’t lay eggs; they give live birth. 
  • Nymphs take 40 days to mature into sexually mature adults. 
  • Five days after a female becomes an adult she will be ready to mate.
  • A female will typically have 30 to 40 offspring per birth, every 2 months. (That’s up to 180 roaches in one year - per female.)
  • For the first week after giving birth, the female Dubia roach will stay near the nymphs to care for them and replenish her nutrients. After that time, she will express interest in mating again. 

Pro Tip: Here’s an easy way to tell female and male roaches apart. The males have longer, lighter-colored bodies, whereas the females are rounder with stubby wings.

Some other things to note about Dubia roaches — they are nocturnal and they won’t breed well in constant light. In fact, the more light, the more stress it causes them. They are happiest in total darkness. 

Starting a Dubia Roach Colony: Determining Your Goal 

Why do you want to breed? What do you want to use the roaches for? Decide what you want from the project before you begin. You don’t necessarily have to have every detail hashed out at first, but you should know your overarching goal.

For example, are you mainly trying to produce a sustainable supply of feeders? If so, how many do you want? 

The goal will ensure that you…

  • Get the correct amount of equipment
  • Know what to expect
  • Can prepare effectively 

If you don’t start with a specific goal for your project, you may end up with way more roaches than you bargained for, and you’ll be scrambling for a place to keep them.  

Supplies for Breeding Dubia Roaches: What Do You Need?

The enclosure typically consists of a plastic bin with a heat source, ventilation, and crawl space. Here are the items you’ll need to create your setup:

  • Opaque, airtight bins. Typically, 30- or 40-gallon plastic bins work well for breeding projects. Make sure the bins have slick, smooth sides—not matte or lightly textured, or the roaches can climb up the walls. 
  • Metal window screen. This is arguably the best option for ventilation. Roaches can chew through materials such as fiberglass or plastic, so a metal screen is your best bet. Cut multiple holes or one large space into the lid of the bin and use hot glue or tape to secure the screen in place.  
  • Egg flats. These give the roaches space to crawl and breed. You can place the egg flats vertically or horizontally in the enclosure, as long as you alternate the direction so they won’t collapse into each other and eliminate the crawl spaces. Egg flats need to be replaced on occasion since the humidity can cause them to grow mold, so keep some extra on hand.
  • Heating method. You’ll need a safe, reliable way to keep your roach environment around 90 degrees. This could be a heat mat, heat tape, ceramic heaters, heating lamp, or a climate-controlled room.
  • Climate-regulating devices. Humidity and heat are central to creating an optimal breeding environment for your Dubias. You’ll need some climate-regulating devices to ensure an optimal environment. These include a thermostat, thermometer, and hygrometer. In addition, keep a spray bottle or mister on hand in case you need to increase the humidity level. 
  • Food. It’s important to provide a variety of nutrients to your roaches so that they will be in optimal health for the best breeding results. Foods you can offer them include apples, potatoes, carrots, greens, oats, and roach chow.
  • Hydration. Dubia roaches get moisture from many of the foods they eat. You can also offer them water crystals, which are safer and less messy than actual water since Dubia roaches are notorious for drowning. 
  • Shallow dishes for food and water crystals. These are optional, but having a dish makes cleanup easier.

    Setting Up the Environment

    There are a few things to focus on when it comes to setting up a healthy environment for your roaches to breed. 

    You’ll need to ensure:

    • Consistent heat around 90 degrees
    • Humidity levels from 40 to 60% (any more or less and it will affect breeding productivity)
    • Darkness (so you may want to avoid using a heat lamp, as constant exposure to light causes Dubias to be stressed, and stress has a negative impact on their health and the health of their offspring)

    Based on that, you’ll need to decide: 

    • Where are you keeping the roaches? Depending on the size of your desired colony, you may need an entire room or shed dedicated to your project, or just a corner of your garage. 
    • How many bins (and, subsequently, window screens and egg flats) will you need?

    When choosing your heating method, consider your overall setup and budget to decide on an option. Heat mats and tape are often praised as an effective yet budget-friendly option that can be safer and lower maintenance than ceramic heaters, depending on your setup. 

    Pro Tip: Nobody wants to deal with melting bins or a roach shed on fire. It’s always a good idea to consult an electrician to make sure your heating setup is safe, especially if you’ve got a large project.

    How Many Dubia Roaches Do You Need to Start a Colony?

    If you’ve got one female and one male, is that enough to start a colony?

    Maybe. But if you want optimal results, you need more than that—we recommend starting with 60—and there should be more females than males.

    There isn’t a magic number or ratio that works in every situation for every breeder, but in general you’ll want to aim for the ballpark of 5:1 (5 females for every 1 male). You can start with 50 females and 10 males, and make adjustments from there. 

    Err on the side of too many females vs. not enough. Having an equal number of males and females, or more males, creates a stressful environment and breeding won’t be productive. In fact, the males may become so aggressive that they begin eating the nymphs if any successful breeding does take place.

    As your breeding project continues, you’ll need to occasionally separate your roaches to ensure there is a good female to male ratio. You can use scoops for this and use those extra roaches for your reptile’s next snack.

    Dubia Roach Colony Cleaning & Care 

    Keeping the Dubia roach enclosure isn’t too difficult or time consuming, but it’s an important part of giving your roaches a healthy, low-stress breeding environment. 

    There are a few main responsibilities when it comes to cleaning the cage: 

    • Remove uneaten food on a daily basis 
    • Replace egg flats when they begin to sag and deteriorate 
    • Clean the cage every few months

    You’ll need to clean out uneaten food within 24-48 hours, depending on the food. For example, foods like potatoes and carrots won’t get yucky as quickly, but foods like apples or berries will get pretty gross pretty fast in the heat.

    Pro Tip: No need to throw away the frass. You can use it as fertilizer for your lawn, garden, or house plants!

    When to Deep Clean Your Dubia Roach Colony Enclosure

    A Dubia roach colony doesn’t need a deep cleaning all that often, but you’ll notice some telltale signs when it does: 

    • Bad smells 
    • Mold
    • Dead roaches piling up 

    These signs can point to a larger issue that is affecting the overall health of the colony. Do your best to find and eliminate the cause so your roaches can thrive.

    Pro Tip: Keep a spare bin on hand to temporarily relocate your roaches during a deep clean.

    Cleaning the Roach Colony Bin

    In many cases it’s enough to thoroughly rinse the bins with hot water. You can also use a mixture of soap and water or a diluted vinegar solution if you rinse the bin out thoroughly afterwards.

    Always wear protective gloves, and avoid using harsh chemicals (although you may need to use a diluted bleach solution if you are dealing with contamination or mites). 

    Cleaner Crew for Your Dubia Roach Colony

    If you plan to have a large Dubia roach colony, you may want to purchase some cleaner crew beetles. They eat frass, exoskeletons, dead roach remains, etc. You’ll still need to clean the cage on occasion, but the cleaner crew typically does a good job doing what they naturally do.

    Takeaway: Breeding Dubia roaches is a fun, rewarding, and relatively low-maintenance project that can be immensely successful if you start with a plan and a goal. 

    Ready to start your Dubia roach colony? Shop our bulk Dubia roaches today.

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