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Farming in Australia


I'm a total noob to this bug farming thing but would really like to get started. Where I live in Australia it can get quite hot (30+ degrees C) and humid in summer and cool (around 5 to 10 degrees C) in winter. How do I control temperature and humidity for the herd? My garage, unfortunately, is an oven in summer so that's out. I'm guessing outside would be too hot or too cold in winter? Any ideas?


  • edited June 2015

    Outside in the summer, Garage in winter?

    Edit: Welcome by the way :)

  • Hi ZoeOz, - Consider black soldier fly if have yard where could construct a roof/tarp covered net shelter. If your winter is brief maybe could get by with side tarps when sun not out. Bin designs can be very simple & once larvae ready (to pupate) they will climb up for collection.

    Black soldier fly larvae can take up 45Celsius (113F) & will just become non-active at 10C (50F). If temperature hits freezing 0* C (32*F) the larvae can bear it for even 4 hours before most die.

    The adult flies do not bite or eat (having no mouth parts escapees won't land on your food or try to enter anyone's house) so are not a disease vector; they mate best at times of day when 28C (82F) when humidity is anywhere in the 30 - 90% range. Their larvae are actually heaviest feeders at 35C (95F) & larvae pupate most when 25C (77F) - 30C (86F). Larvae thrive when their bin substrate is moist enough to keep humidity at 70% & will do fine in kitchen/agriculuture scrap muck.

  • @ZoeOz You might consider framing in a section of your garage and insulating it, or perhaps insulating your entire garage. I don't know about hardware prices in AU, but framing and insulating a subsection (room or closet sized) can probably be achieved for just a few hundred dollars. At that point a basic fan and space heater rigged to a thermostat or a temperature relay (like one of these can maintain a pretty consistent environment year round. You can also add a humidity controlled relay and humidifier/dehumidifier if it's very dry/humid.

    The sensor controlled relays like the one linked above (available for temp and for humidity) let you program high/low switches to maintain a range.

  • Thanks guys for the ideas! I guess I'll start small with something that I can move around and have a think about a solution along the way. (I can feel a trip to the hardware store coming on for investigation.) Love this forum - have been browsing and getting ideas :)

  • @gringojay I'm definitely going to look into the black soldier fly - thanks for pointing this option out!

  • Hi Zoe, I'm also in Oz and just starting out with insect farming too. Where abouts are you? I'm in Sydney. What were you planning on raising? Would love to chat more about this to you. Are you planning to farm them for sale or just for personal use?

  • Hi guys, I am very new aswell in this, and getting as much info to start what will hopefully be great adventure. Also in Australia, also seriously getting ready to get some farming ideas to start. I am in Perth, so very warm (35 to 45 C) and dry summer, mild (can go down to 0 at night but very occasionally, and 20 during days) wet winter. My initial idea was mealworm, then quite like the idea of crickets... I would start in my garage too, so climate is indeed a concern. I have been thinking of getting a grow tent (for hydroponic) to keep the inside condition controllable and also clean. with a heating/cooling system to regulate the temperature inside the tent. Thanks gringojay for this thermostat link, that could come really usefull.

    Many many point I would like to discuss as well, such as regulations concerning food safety, and also invasive species in Australia. Yes, I cherish the idea of making a living out of that at some point, and my concern comes to what to expect if I want to sell my little bugs in terms of regulations, and if I want to explore new species possibility. Australia is different to most of the world as isolated and maybe different species could be considered.

    Great plateform, good to get ideas and sharing experiences with people around the world.

  • Hi @BriceOz I'm in a similar situation to you. I've been interested in edible insects for ages but only started experimenting with growing my own recently on a very small scale and think there could be real commercial potential. I've done a little research into the food safety side of things. I also think there could be huge potential for insects that are indigenous to Australia. I'd like to stay in touch via email and share information we find out about food safety regulations etc if you are interested?

  • @BriceOz just a tip: if it gets above 35 C, invest well in a cooler. Crickets have very high (nearly 100%) mortality rates when it gets to 38 C or higher :)

  • Hi EntoJesse, - Commercial operations that have to deal with pathogenic episodes may actually want to raise their base-line temperature.

    For example the insect pathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana can develop their hyphae (roots) 50% more when temperatures are 18-30* C. In contrast, once temperatures hit 31-32C the fungal growth rate of Beauveria bassina goes down by ~50% & the fungus has a lot of difficulty producing additional growth (hyphae) at 35 - 37C*.

    In nature crickets are able to raise their body temperature by up to 6C to fight pathogens ("Behavioral fever and therapy in a rickettsia-infected Orthoptera", published in 1986 American Journal of Physiology, 250). In comparison a beetle can only raise it's body temperature by 1.5C ; but the champion pathology thermo-regulators are cockroaches which can raise body temperature by up to 9.2*C .

  • Edit - I still can't figure out why sometimes comments come out in italic lettering; in the above post they are not intentional or pasted quotes from elsewhere.

  • Hi Gringojay, I should have mentioned that the optimum temperature for growth is at 35 C. If there is a high mortality rate at >38C, then you should be able to really control your environment to keep it at 35C and not more than 1-2 *C higher or lower. You don't want sudden raises to >40C ruining your entire operation.

    However, I didn't know about the B. bassiana having difficulties developing at 35-37*C. This is definitely useful for commercial operations.

  • Hi!

    Anyone near Townsville who is into bug farming? I`m moving there in beginning of february (from Sweden) and my interest within the subject has skyrocketed lately (a seed was planted in my mind a few years ago).

    I would really appreciate if I could join forces with someone -and maybe learn how to avoid some initial mistakes :)

  • Hi All Im in Brisbane and interested in starting a backyard or underhouse bug farm for family education and food supplementation. Although I note a lot of interest in this forum on mealworms and crickets, my vege garden / fruit trees often have large brown grasshoppers on them. There are quite a few other grasshopper varieties around the garden too. This makes me think I could create an "avery", catch a dozen or so local grasshoppers as a breeding core, feed certain household scraps to them and then prepare them for eating when sufficiently multiplied and grown.

    Has anyone on this forum grown grasshoppers and can assist with formative feeding and containing information please?

  • Hi Rowan, - There are so many different grasshoppers which have their own niche that it is tricky to just say "do this" for all. You can ask more specific questions if after what follows starts to make sense for your project.

    Grasshoppers in the wild often have parasites, these are not usually a problem for human's or our handling of them. Just bear in mind that if you collect them from your fields that you may be introducing those entities into your colony's habitat. One tell tale sign of parasites is if the 'hopper looks like it's wings don't lay out smoothly, but rather seem to stand away from the body where wings attached; a common parasite likes to shelter under that wing-pit & multiply there.

    Isolate any grasshoppers you take for potential breeding stock before mixing them together & look for the same kind to breed together, rather than cross-breeding varieties. These insects also can have different colorations even though they are the same kind of grasshoppers; so only selecting by color might be misleading, although usually will be accurate enough if are the same age or from same environment.

    A better way to start a colony is to have their pods of eggs hatch in captivity. Look for these under the surface of undisturbed soil; if where you are seasonally it is the right time for any kind of grasshopper egg pods to be around. Then take the egg pod & place it under sterile soil or sand for hatching.

    Likewise, if your wild grasshopper breeding stock proves to be parasite free & you get eggs then don't count on using random soil/sand these good eggs to hatch; because that random soil might also spawn parasites to contaminate your colony. Once you've got eggs, even if from an isolated breeder pair which has been suspected of having parasites, that were moved to a clean habitat to hatch in sterile soil then those newborn are probably usable for rearing into breeding stock that is free of external parasites.

    In terms of detrimental internal parasites: this is really something that you might as well assume is not present if grasshoppers you select from act robust & will have to down the way see if were unfortunately unlucky on. Watch what you give them to feed so as not to accidentally introduce spoilage microbes into their guts.

    Maybe your local library has the book on all Australian grasshoppers. This might be another good start -

  • Hi All, As another Australian curious about starting breeding edible bugs, i was wondering if anyone has had any luck with the black cricket ( seem to me that these would be a viable alternative for Aussies- since they are already common in Australia- particularly Sydney where i am located.

    They also seem to be bigger than the brown cricket which is the standard choice.

    The difficulty is finding some stock- I am reluctant to capture some wild stock simply because of the potential for disease (and being in an urban environment i am not sure what the success rate would be) but haven't been able to find a supplier so might have to risk it

  • Hi DrD, - Teleo-gryllus commodus cricket in the vicinity of Victoria back 1979 were about 43% suffering with cricket paralysis virus & 5% hosted Metarhizium anisopliae fungus. Study estimated only 30% of habitat did not have cricket paralysis virus; you'd do well to try & get a university entomology division to share some stock with you. As per "A survey for pathogens of the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus, in the Western District of Victoria, Australia";

    Apparently different regions of Australia have different varieties of this cricket; which either may, or may not, require a period of diapause for their eggs. Expect a consistant 9 moults for them to go through no matter where from. Queensland strains' eggs do not require diapause as much as southern strains when temperatures hit 28*Celsius.

    For this cricket there might be 20 -80 days of egg incubation needed as temperature rises from 20-30Celsius & at 35Celsius the eggs do not to seem to diapause; a spell of cold is usually a part of bringing diapause to an end. One laboratory tactic (for this cricket) is letting the eggs diapause at 20C for 2 months & then for 3 days raising the temperature to 30C, followed by again dropping the temperature to 20*C which will make for a surge in hatching of age mates.

    And, if your stock comes from a laboratory generation which has been bred for prompt production then these may have had a long diapause bred out of them even if ancestors did. If this cricket's eggs have not gone into diapause then eggs at 5Celsius for over 3 weeks will all die off; they only need 2.5 days at 0C to die if eggs are not fully in diapause. However, if their eggs are actually in diapause they can survive 5Celsius for 2 months. Expect 500 - 15,00 eggs from the female at 27-33Celsius.

  • Anybody know why italics appear in drafts when posted? Italics above are not intentionally high-lighting anything.

  • @gringojay - the italics come from asterisks in the text. the forum software interprets it as Markdown and italicizes text between two asterisks

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