A heat source during cold weather conditions is an essential component to a productive breeding colony. Every person will have their personal preference when it comes to choosing their heating method. Below are various heating systems to provide you with the various options to heat cricket containers:
Heat Mats and Heat Coils
My preferred heating method for small/medium scale production is heat mats or coils. Heat Coils are a long plastic coated coil (like a long rope) which can be placed underneath the breeding container. These are the preferred heating choice for the following reasons:
- The container can be removed from the shelf to undertake maintenance without getting tangled in cords. This is particularly important with containers which are stacked above each other on shelves.
- Heat levels can be adjusted quickly by flick of a switch (purchase models with variable temperature switches).
- They are a diffused heat source which spreads heat across the whole container and moves from the bottom to top.
- Are well suited to a substrate breeding systems as they heat up the substrate evenly which then moves upwards into the cardboard containers. This will provide greater egg viability, increase productivity and breeding consistency. They are also the preferred heating method for a batch breeding system.
- As they produce localised heat they are a good option if you have a multi-use shed/room, that you do not want to heat the whole area (i.e. is used as a storage and a cricket breeding area).
- They are efficient as nearly all the energy is converted to heat and not light.
The only drawback to heat mats is that they are relatively expensive to purchase (around $50-70 Australian) and are best suited to small to medium size colonies. Heat Coils are more cost effective, approximately $15 for a 6m coil. The internet now has a range of cheap heat mats to choose from. You may be able to reduce the costs of purchasing heat pads by approaching a large wildlife rescue organisation that purchases them in bulk.
Heat Lamps/Heat Emitters
A heat lamp is an incandescent light bulb, and a heat emitter is a ceramic bulb. The advantage of a heat emitter is that it is more robust, will last longer, and more heat efficient. The disadvantage is it is more expensive.
Many people have used heat lamps successfully and they can be made relatively cheaply when compared to purchasing heat pads. For safety reasons you should purchase heat lamps from a pet store or get a qualified electrician to install larger systems. Personally I have not found heat lamps/heat emitters to be very user friendly and they are not my preferred heating method for the following reasons:
- Cords are connected to the lid which gets in the way during harvest and maintenance activities
- There is an inherent fire and electrical risk associated with making and operating them
- You need to replace the bulbs on a regular basis to regulate the heat output between seasons.
- They are a point source of heat which creates heat gradients within the container.
- Heat source comes from the top. As heat moves in an upward direction, heat does not effectively penetrate the lower sections (and substrate if applicable) of the container and heat is lost through the lid. Heat penetration to the lower sections of the container bottom is important for a productive substrate breeding system (Refer to Chapter 9.0- Substrate Breeding System).
- Are not as energy efficient, as some of the energy is used to produce light.
Need More Information…
Below is a summary of the “Heating and Storage” sections of our Cricket and Cockroach Breeding Manual:
- Tables which provide the various temperature thresholds to manage an insect colony
- Advantages/disadvantages for 4 different heating systems including free solar options. Find out the best method for productive cricket production.
- Learn the thermodynamic principles for efficient heat conservation.
- 20 methods to reduce your heating costs.
- How to estimate your heating costs and manage excessive heat.
- How to store breeding containers so they are easy to access and feeding can be done without opening the lid. This will allow numerous containers can be stored into a tight configuration, to save space or to increase the number of containers.
© Zega Enterprises 2013, © Photographs, diagrams and tables by Glenn Kvassay or as credited 2013