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The grasshopper incubation situation

Hey there everyone, I'm Martijn and I am new to open bug farm. Together with two friends, I started growing grasshoppers, Locusta Migratoria, a while back in Groningen in the Netherlands. We're trying to make entomology more accessible and affordable in our area, because the market at current is a rather closed one. Our vision in that regard is an open market where we can normalise the consumption of insects. It's a really exciting project, because it's something we've never done before. Everything is going really well, we have active grasshoppers and are doing great managing the food (grass) and keeping the temperature a constant 34 degrees. There is just one thing that troubles us; the eggs won't hatch.

We filled two boxes with sand in which eggs were laid, but according to our information sources they should have hatched in 10-12 days. The first lay was more than three weeks ago, but we haven't seen any baby grasshoppers crawl out just yet. We confirmed they exist just today, as we dug up a few tubes, but what worries us is that we really don't know what's going on. According to what we think we know, we should already be swimming in grasshoppers.

If anyone has any ideas or some knowledge to share, we would really appreciate it.




  • Hi Martijn, - There are issues where insect eggs go dormant due to getting chilled before warmed. I don't think you've experienced this & instead may have neglected to let the eggs get physical contact with moisture (even though your room may have humidity).

    Locust Schistocera eggs studied demonstrated they want substrate moisture & not just air humidity to develop; eggs should absorb water equal to their own weight. Within 3-5 days of incubation they need to get enough water to allow the embryo to realign itself in relation to the egg's poles (katatrepsis); the maximum water uptake occurs at 30*Celsius on day 4 & 5 (when quickest uptake).

    Without moisture in the incubation media eggs stall at anatrepsis; yet Schistocera locust can still develop after being delayed for at least 3 weeks until water contact again occurs. An abstract that may give you better orientation is (1963)"Studies on the development of eggs of the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria...) and its interruption under particular conditions of humidity";

    In a sense the issue is "pre-incubation" requirement of water for incubation to proceed properly. And, as far as Locusta Migratoria, these are known to take up to 40 days to hatch; although laboratory rearing reports do indicate it took place in the lab about +/- 11 days. Here's something else you might find interesting, but not specific to your question: (1936)"Studies on the Embryology of the African MigratoryLocust, Locusta migratoria"; free full text =

  • @Martijn - Perhaps @EntoJesse will have some more valuable insight from his direct experience with locusts, however a first variable to check is the humidity / soil moisture levels. I'm don't know the requirements off the top of my head for locusts, but this is a key factor for other orthopterans. Also possible that some environmental factor (like photoperiod / light dark cycle for the mother) induced embryonic diapause. Interesting discussion of L. migratoria in Japan: migratoria life cycle&f=false

  • Thanks very much for your information. We are definitely going to check on this right away. Much appreciated!

  • edited April 2015

    Hello @Martijn, first of all, nice to meet a dutch fellow on this forum (ik kom uit Noord-Brabant). Our eggs hatch in about 11 days like gringojay said. We use potting soil that we pour some water on top of at the moment we take them out of the breeding cages. We then put them (closed) in another cage (same type of cage as breeding cage), where it is ~35 degrees Celsius, 30% humidity (but this will be higher inside the closed containers ofcourse) and about 14 hours of light per day.

    We noticed that, like gringojay stated, the eggs don't really hatch when you just put them in a very humid incubator (+70% RH), but don't water the eggs directly.

    Hope it helps!

  • @EntoJesse, thanks very much. We've already started using potting soil, but our humidity levels are still at 70% so that's a great tip to help out. It's a bit early to notice results, but once we do we'll keep you guys updated.

  • Hi Martijin, - 15% water content in the sand is ideal; at temperature ideal of 30 +/- 0.5 * Celsius. Locusta migratoria eggs can still develop in anywhere from 7 - 23% water content in the sand .

  • No pleasure, if you have any more questions please ask :)

  • Hey everyone, it's been a while but I wanted to share that the advice worked out! We have a ton of tiny grasshoppers right now. Here's a picture we took when they were still just a few days old;

    They're growing very well and very quickly too.

  • Hi Martijn

    I found your post very interesting on the grasshoppers. I hope its going really well. I am soon to start a project for university and will experiment on rearing wingless grasshoppers. Just wondering what kind of building you keep your grasshoppers in as i have access to only a shed of around 40 square meters. Also i wonder about the noise when they are mass reared ? I assume a similar situation to crickets. Thanks !

  • Grasshoppers can certainly eat!!! ...

  • If we could get our hands on a few of those to breed...

  • Hi guys, I have just started to breed L.migratoria grasshopper and i have one practical problem.They dont mate!!They eat properley, i can see that they are geting bigger, but the mature ones with wings that should mate, wont! Maybe someone could help me with some advices. By the way, helpful forum.All the best

  • Hi Sead, - G.Gregory found "... stimuli from the female ... causing approach behavior to begin ... [then] ... mouthparts ... chemotactile receptors... stimulus for the next phase ...." As per (1965) " On the initiation of spermatophore formation in the African migratory locust, Locusta Migratoria Migratorioides Reiche anf Fairmaire", originally published in Journal of Experimental Biology, 42; free full pdf available on-line.

    If after reading this study you do not see the behavior of the male approaching described it probably means the chemical ("chemo-") signal, or signals, are not being sent by the females for male sampling ("...tactile"). While if you see evidence of male "approach" yet none other of the described follow up steps then presumably the females are sending their sex lure odor.

  • Dear gringojay, Big thank You for Your comment. I ll try to find publishing that You have recommended. Hopefully i ll find a solution.At this moment i am trully a begginer and i am curious about everything related to grasshoppers breeding.So all the help is welcome. All the best to all

  • Hi Sead,- Hasegawa & Tanaka's (1996) "Sexual maturation in Locusta migratoria females: laboratory vs. field conditions", originally published in Applied Entomlogy & Zoology, Vol. 31(2) is available as free full pdf on-line.

    Quote: "... oviposition ... delayed or sometimes inhibited completely under long-day conditions ... (&) ... temperature during early nymphal development ... important in determining the rate of sexual maturation ...(if) ... exposed to cool nights during first 2 nymphal instars ... oviposted rapidly..."

    Possibly your breed may also respond to 8 hours of cold (researchers dropped theirs as low as 15 Celsius) & 16 hours of at least 30 Celsius. This is what researchers did to average 25C minimum in 24 hour period; which is required for usable eggs.

    However, just timing the temperature shifts to light (photoperiod) & absolute darkness is may not be the way to arrange your attempt to improve things since : ''... long photoperiod (16 L-8D)... sexual maturation is strongly suppressed ... in the laboratory ." Unlike in the field responses might be better if you introduce 12 hours of light & 12 hours of darkness.

  • Dear gringojay, I am so grateful for Your advices.I ll try to find a way with 12*12. All the best

  • Sead, - Please understand the time ratio and temperature ratio I stated come from the researchers' data & may not be best for your breed of locust. I suggest you consided those as the farthest extremes to try that are different from what you are using now. In other words experiment with changes from what you now use that are less severe than what those researchers used. Same kinds of bugs that are from different regions can have different responses to how well they are adapted to temperature (discussed elsewhere in Forum, where the latitude where insect is naturally found is an indication of what conditions their respective eggs need).

  • Dear gringojay, I have understood Your advices.I ll definitely try untill i manage to breed them properley . All the best

  • Also, if anybody can advice me with literature that coud help me learn hor to breed L.migratoria, i would be very grateful. I wish You all the best

  • How many generations (voltinism) possible in a year relates to temperature as a function of "degree days''. See (2013) free full text:

  • edited April 2017

    Same lead author on locust migratoria line Manilensis: (2012) Tu, et al. "Growth, development and daily change in body weight of Locusta mogratoria manilensis ... nymphs at different temperatures"; free full pdf available on-line

  • edited April 2017

    Tanaka's (1996)" Effects of photoperiod on sexual maturation, fat content and respiration rate in adult Locusta migratoria"; free full pdf available on line.

    Quote: "female ... reared in short days (LD 12:12 h) developed eggs rapidly ... (vs.) ... long days (16:8 h) remained sexually immature ... sexual maturation ... suppressed by long days ... (if) ... crowded....'

  • How long it take for food to pass through Locusta migratoria is addressed by Abisgold & Simpson's (1987) "Physiological mechanisms of compensation"; free full pdf available on-line.

    Quote: "... after approximately 45 min ... food eaten has virtually cleared the foregut as well as the mid- and hindgut." The result carries through on both low & high protein diets.

  • edited April 2017

    Again Sead, - As mentioned where your variety comes from can affect life cycle. See Tanaka & Zhu' s (2008) "Geographic variation in embryonic diapause, cold- hardiness and life cycles in the migratory locust Locusta migratoria"; free full pdf available on-line.

  • Thesis (2014) by Ximonie Clark for University of Sydney titled "Size does matter: exploring the interaction between body size, temperature and nutrition in locusts" has some extra data not developed elsewhere that you may be interested in. Available on-line as free full (long) pdf.

  • edited April 2017

    32 Celsius affords best protein & carbohydrate utilization for growth, as opposed to 38 Celsius; yet weight added at faster rate at 38 Celsius. As per Miller,et al. (2009) "Speed over efficiency: locust select body temperatures that favour growth rate over efficient nutrient utililization"; free full text available on-line.

  • Data for 30 Celsius & lower locusts for several parameters is in Tu,et al's." "Growth, development and daily change in body weight of Locusta migratoria manilensis ...''; available free full pdf on-line. By the way authors determined that '' ...~62% of nymphal mass is acquired during the 5th .... stadium ...

  • edited April 2017

    Natural daily movement pattern of L. migratoria migratoides that may help designing rearing habitat is described on pg. 216 under the heading "Orientation of locusts to radiant head" by Univ. Illinois entomologist Abdullah (1961) in "Behavioural effects of temperature on insects''; free full pdf available on-line.

    Incidentally locust allergy is more common than cricket allergy. Early research in 1988 discussed this in "Occupational allergy to locusts: an investigation of the sources of the allergen" & in 1992 "Occupational rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma due to Locusta migratoria"; for example.

  • edited April 2017

    Again Sead, - "Occupational allergy in laboratory workers caused by the African migratory grasshopper Locusta migratoria" by Lopata, et al. in (2005) journal Allergy, Vol. 60 found 6 out of 10 workers exposed various symptoms of urticaria, rhinojunctivis &/or asthma. The report by Monik (1988) detailed some breeders' symptoms in "Contact uticaria to locusts".

    Andrew elsewhere in Forum advised using protective coverings for airways & skin if working with many bugs. One of the identified contact dermatitis factors for Locusta is it's faeces, so try to minimize it's dust like particles getting suspended in the air from chores.

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