Dubia roaches are one of the most sought after products of our hobby right now. The word is out about how much better dubia are than crickets. The people have spoken and dubia are superior in almost every way. The problem is still the cost; which means, directly or indirectly, that supply is the solution.
For the last 5 years or so it has been difficult, if not impossible, to buy wholesale quantities of dubia roaches in the Southern California area. Given that California weather is almost as close to dubia weather as the U.S. gets (except maybe Hawaii and Florida) it’s possible that supply has been even thinner elsewhere (though there are dubia suppliers in the US that have been shipping without purchase restrictions). I’ve even seen local stores institute buying limits to keep people from hoarding dubia. The situation has gotten bad!
Breeding cockroaches to bring home the bacon?
Breeding feeder insects isn’t the most glamorous job in the world but it’s hard to ignore where there’s genuine opportunity. And there’s a lot to be said for being your own boss, making your own hours, and calling your own shots – even if it means your garage is full of tropical arthropods.
A basic dubia breeding operation would include:
- climate-controlled shed or dedicated room with proper ventilation
- pre-made roach colony storage totes (including ventilation screens, egg carton, and food & water trays)
- heat tape with thermostats, properly rated and wired
- hardware cloth screens for sorting
- packaging materials for transmitting roaches to customers
The best environment for breeding dubia roaches is ~60% relative humidity and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 12 hour photoperiods for Blaptica dubia specifically. These ideal conditions should encourage your dubia to produce the most offspring. Expect your roaches to start declining in productivity around 20 months of age. Keep this in mind as you cycle through your colonies and develop a method for retaining younger generations. Plan to maintain around 5 adult female roaches for every 1 adult male. This ratio of females to males will ensure that your males aren’t becoming overly aggressive. For additional information about how to breed dubia roaches, check the breeding information sheet at a popular dubia roach site.
Be honest with yourself and your family and partners
Even with a modest up-front investment in roaches themselves, you’re looking at about 6 months lead time before your first sale. You’ll want to give your colonies time to establish themselves and begin to grow. If you start selling off your dubia before you’ve given them time to reach a critical mass, you will quickly run out of supply – this is NOT what we want!
Every product of this size and scope is going to require some resources up front. Let’s not beat around the bush – you’re going to need time and money. Save up before you get started or find a partner that you trust and that trusts you. Maybe you have some extra stimmy money you can use. Plan to be short on time for a while as you get started. It’s important you be honest with yourself about how much time you can commit and how much money you can afford to gamble on this venture.
Think about how you want to supply your dubias and to whom you want to supply them. Start small, by advertising to local reptile keepers and pet stores. As your reputation grows, so will your sales. Shipping nationwide is an option, but remember that there are already a number of larger operations shipping throughout the country.
Preserve your reputation
No matter how good the product is, if the producers don’t operate in an ethical way, they will ultimately fail. Spell out clearly in your publicity information or website the terms of your sales. Be prepared to replace dubias if they die due to your error. Give the customer the benefit of the doubt and be polite to customers even if they are “pushing your buttons”. Your attitude and professionalism will pay off in long run.
Watch out for pitfalls
One thing I would be remiss to not mention is the potential for allergies. Continued exposure to roach particles, dust, feces, and the like can cause your body to develop an immune reaction. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it doesn’t happen to everyone. It’s simply something to keep an eye out for. As with all work, make sure you’re using the proper personal protective equipment. In this case that would include a dust mask, gloves, and eye protection.
Other pitfalls to look out for are pretty common for any new business trying to get off the ground. Minimize your expenses, maximize your sales – easy, right? Keep your eyes on the prize. The first few years are going to be the most trying but also the most rewarding.
When you’re ready to finally pull the trigger, just remember don’t let your geckos eat your inventory!!
Have you ever considered starting a business in the pet industry? Many of us have! Would you choose roaches? Do you think you could breed dubia roaches where you live? What would be some of the perks?