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90 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I would like to compile a list of reasons as to why locusts might die on you, so that people can try and minimize waste etc.

As a student I find it very uneconomical to have even a small percentage dying every week, and as a soft-furnishings kind of guy I don't like seeing any living thing suffering unnecessarily. :whistling2:

I'd also like to share info on strange cases that we can't fix.

Things that kill locusts in my limited experience:
- Cold nights
- Slightly-off courgette, and also cucumber/anything related. Other veg seems to be safe when a little limp, particularly herbs which are still edible dried.
- Sultanas
- Excess protein, eg too much fish food
- Lack of water
- Fungus, particularly on fruit
- Unwashed greens such as kale, beware the dreaded pesticide
- Bad husbandry in store, eg [email protected] *hisss*
- Getting stuck in shed (What causes this?) does eventually cause death
- Starvation - some subjects just won't eat no matter what you offer them
- Being eaten by a lizard
- Being sucked on by a cat (cats don't seem to eat locusts, just nom on them :mf_dribble:)

Obviously none of this is scientific, but I have found a loss of stock repeatedly with the above. It took me a long time and several boxes of stock to realize that things like cucumber must be removed after a couple hours, and personally I prefer to remove all uneaten green food within 24 hours to be on the safe side.

My current locust feed, as already discussed here :
Dry gutload - oats, bran, dried beetroot, dried parsnip, fish flakes, hamster food, bee pollen, calcium and nutrabol
Veg - basil, spinach, courgette, cucumber, lettuce, grated carrot
(Bug Gel for water)

There are also some strange/unexplained losses...

Of course these feeder insects are produced on a vast scale and genetic abnormalities and faults can't help but make these insects weaker and less resistant to problems than their wild counterparts. The younger the locusts I have bought, the more likely for a proportion to drop dead, as I assume those too weak to survive to greater age are more likely to be sold in this age bracket. For the record I usually buy thirds and grow them on the fourths to save money.

All sudden deaths are removed promptly, but when confronted with a problem, what can you do to "euthanize" a dying locust? I wouldn't feed something with an unknown malady to a reptile, and I wouldn't leave it in with the remaining stock. Personally I tried decapitation once, and found that the head and body lived on separately for at least a minute afterwards, not nice to see. I have dumped locusts stuck in shed in oil and found that they drowned relatively quickly, but had a tendency to float in water. Complete pulverisation seems to work, but it's hard to know for sure how much of the central nervous system remains active.

Strange Cases:
- Locusts that get stuck in shed
- Locusts that spontaneously drop limbs
- Locusts that lose control of motor function, starting from the "neck" and front legs, and end up lying around twitching after lawnmowering around for a while trying to get a grip on things with their back legs
- Locusts that for no conceivable reason just go a dark colour, lie down, and die

What input does anyone else have? Any other definite things to avoid? Any ideas on how the fix the problems described above? General thoughts?

90 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'd say the main thing that kills locusts is if they're not kept hot or dry enough. They need a lot of heat to digest and humidity is no good for them.

IMO the best diet for locusts is spring greens, grass, carrots, butternut squash and bran. Watery veg like lettuce is a waste of time, as is bug gel. More than likely just raises the humidity and they can get all of their very minimal hydration requirements from the above. Introducing orange vegetables will increase the amount of carotenes and certain vitamins which are very beneficial (IMO) to colouring and health in reptiles.

Fish and hamster food will contain too much protein. It won't be stored as proteins by the insects it'll be excreted mostly and maybe stored as uric acid - which is bad for reptiles. Calcium is likely to be harming them if anything - they don't need it so won't store it and excess calcium can cause issues with their exoskeletons.
That's really interesting that you've had better results with no moisture. Before I started giving mine a little bit of bug gel every week they were dying in droves. I also think I'd find it very difficult to afford/eat that much butternut squash. I wish I'd heard from you back when I was first working out what to feed them, the diversity of opinion on these forums seems to get easily lost.

It's good to have it confirmed that heat is of the essence... my house is freezing!

the main thing that kills mine apart from my lizards is my misses with the hoover if they escape lol
Again, my cat sorts that out lol...

90 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, since increasing heat I've had more success. I now sit the container on a small heat mat. Still some dying though... and mine have never seemed so keen to eat as your ones seem to be... I've tried butternut squash recently and no cigar there either.

They die a lot less if I keep them in the box they came in, rather than the cricket keeper I bought specially. Weird.
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