All of a Sudden, All My Crickets Die In A Matter of Hours

As those of you (who presumably have very boring lives) will recall, a few months ago I purchased a gecko, Spottie, for my kid. The standard way of feeding the gecko was of course the disgusting cricket.

So I got a cricket box and every two weeks I bought a two week supply of the vile little bastards. That went fine. There was a certain amount of loss, but it wasn’t a hgue deal.

Then four days ago I got a new batch and in 24 hours every cricket was dead. WEll, maybe two were alive, out of 50, but they did not look good. What the hell, I figured, and I went and got another batch. To ensure no immediate contamination I bought a new cricket box.

They’re all dead.

I’m baffled. I haven’t changed a thing. My setup is 50 crickets per batch in a decent sized box, with a few peices of egg carton for hidey spots (plus they can hide in the plastic tubes the cricket box includes.) I sprinkle in some of the store’s custom made cricket chow and a few sliced vegetables for water supply; the first dead batch was dining on carrots, the second on potatoes.

The cricket box is itself put inside another box. I cleaned that this time, too. The entire setup then sits in my guest bathroom.

WTF? Why were they doing dine for two months and now die so damn quick? The reptile store reports no problems with their cricket stock, and they do look lively.

Any recommendations? I’m thinking of having a thingy of baking soda in the box that the cricket box goes in just to cut down on humidity.

Carbon dioxide? Monoxide? Fresh O2 ventilation? Is the temperature/humidity sufficient? Radon Gas? Nuclear radiation?! Cricket Armageddon?!!!

have you done a proper sweep of the crime scene? maybe you should just wait for the autopsy report.

Unless he’s licensed and working for the local law enforcement, he could be on the line for disrupting the scene and destroying evidence.

In fact, he could incriminate himself.

Who gets to draw the chalk outlines?

Maybe the crickets are acting as the canary in the mine to tell you your furnace is malfunctioning? I’d worry…

Probably Acheta domesticus densovirus (cricket paralysis virus).

Nasty thing, a big problem in domestic cricket production. Your entire place is probably contaminated by it now. Bleach everything and get crickets from a differnet provider.

I discovered a similar virus in mosquitoes a few years ago. It has a lot of potential for control.

My immediate thought is that it is now too cold where you store them. Is that a possibility?

Are you freezing them on the trip from the car to the house? When I used to have a leopard gecko I had that happen a few times.

Somewhat timely article. Interesting stuff - this wasn’t yet a problem when I was keeping reptiles.

Time to switch to cockroaches.

Wait, you discover bug viruses?

How cool is that?!

Yep…new candidate for “so nerdy the nerds worship you.”

Among other things. Like most scientific discoveries, this one was an accident.

The conditions in which they are kept are unchanged. It’s usually about 72-74 in my place so that isn’t an issue. It’s a condo apartment, and invariably the same temperature.

The possibility of a virus or bacteria is a good point, and so I’m cleaned, with a bleach solution, everything. We’ll see how today’s batch goes. Circulation and humidity was never a problem before, but just for the hell of it I got some baking soda boxes to soak up a little humidity from the box I put the cricket box into. (It’ll cut down on the smell, too, so bonus.) We’ll see.

As to getting the paralysis virus from the provider, their crickets seems happy and jumpy. I buy midsize crickets, so if they had an outbreak you’d wonder where all their full size crickets come from, right? In any case CrPV is unusual in this part of North America; it’s typically a West Coast thing.

Hmmm. I want an answer too. This happens to me about 4 – 5 times a year. Dump ‘em in the Kricket Keeper, and the next day they’re all dead. There’s usually an unpleasant smell associated with it, similar to stale watermelon rind, and a certain dampness about the entire enclosure; sometimes the egg carton feels wet. I have to go get some today; I’ll ask about the virus thing and see if anybody knows what’s up with that.

I don’t know anything about crickets, other than they seem to be plentiful in summer, and completely absent in winter. Could these crickets be a variety that needs to do something this time of year (like hibernation), and by not being in their natural habitat, they simply die? Or perhaps it’s their mating time, and something’s preventing this, so they die?

In the past, did they make cricket sounds? Did they this time, before they died?

Ask someone at the reptile store about these possibilities, also whether they’ve changed suppliers recently.

Went to store today. Every six week or older cricket in the store was as dead as a turd this morning. So it was a disease outbreak.

“How often does this happen?” I ask the guy. “Every three months,” he says, so that might answer your question, Washoe. It just seems to be a bacterial thing, in their opinion, that hits the odd batch. They report the same thing you do, as I noticed; there’s a weird smell (not the usual cricket smell, a different one) and a dampness about them. Even the reptile/bug guy finds it gross and unsettling; “you think fifty dead ones were horrible, try four thousand.” So I have a bunch from a fresh batch, which hopefully didn’t catch whatever it is. Spottie got silkworms for lunch today, which is fine with her.

panache, to answer your question, they usually don’t chirp; crickets only chirp in the last 2-3 weeks of their life, and I buy them before they’re old enough to chirp. Sometimes they last just long enough for a few to chirp before they go down Spottie’s gullet.

Yeah, but they’re fine in the store. As soon as I get them home and dump them in the Keeper, it seals their fate. It just hit me—the black tubes! I clean the rest of the Keeper religiously, but I never clean the tubes. So they’ve been soaking in a strong bleach solution for a couple of hours; I’m rinsing them now and then I’ll dry them before I go to the store.

It was Jiminy, in the dining room, with the candlestick.