This care sheet describes simple steps you can take to maintain the quality of our Dubia roaches.
Every Dubia roach we sell comes equipped with excellent health and superior nutrition for your animal(s). However, these things are perishable. Our roaches need a little maintenance to preserve their quality if you plan to keep them for more than a few weeks before feeding them off.
Fortunately, Dubia roaches are very easy to care for. Feeders can live weeks or months at room temperature with just a little food, moisture, and a dark place to hide. However, this is bare-bones survival. We want to help you do more, and it’s simple with just a little knowledge and modest effort.
Table of Contents
NOTE: The following information applies to Dubia roach feeders, not breeders. While there is some overlap between the two, breeding Dubia roaches requires equipment, conditions, and effort beyond what we cover here. For detailed breeding information, please see our comprehensive Dubia Roach Breeding Guide.
Keep Dubia roach feeders between 50ºF and 80ºF. They can survive higher and lower temperatures, but they may become stressed. Maintain this range to maximize their health and longevity, and to keep stress levels low. A dark, quiet spot in your home that stays between 62ºF and 72ºF for most of the day and night, for example, would do nicely.
Temperature and growth
Keep your roaches between 70ºF and 90ºF if you want them to grow larger. The higher the temperature, the faster they will grow. However, many people buy the biggest size Dubia their animals can handle and don’t want them to get any bigger. In this case, keep them between 50ºF and 70ºF. Dubia roaches kept at 60ºF can take up to 10 times longer to complete an instar (growth cycle) than those kept at 90ºF.
Whether for growth or to maintain the health of their Dubia roaches, people often boost the holding container’s temperature with a supplemental heat source. Heat pads, tape, mats, or cable, ceramic heat emitters, and light bulbs are commonly used.
Be mindful of safety if you decide to provide external heat. Always follow manufacturer instructions and warnings. We don’t recommend placing heating devices inside Dubia roach enclosures. Nothing the roaches come in contact with should ever get hotter than 90ºF. As a rule, Dubia roaches should be able to escape temperatures above 90ºF. If they can’t, they will become stressed and their health may suffer.
With feeder roaches, the decision of whether or not to provide heat depends on (1) how long you’re going to keep them and (2) the temperature of your home. If you plan on feeding them off in the next week or two and the temperature where you keep them is a comfortable “room temperature”, they probably don’t need it.
Dubia roaches need moisture in some form. You can meet their hydration needs with fresh fruits and vegetables, water, or both.
Note that it is important to use a dish when giving your roaches food and water. This prevents moisture from coming into contact with frass. Frass wicks moisture and tends to dry slowly. If it’s deep enough, it may never dry. This can lead to mold and bacteria overgrowth.
Whatever dish or saucer you use must allow access for all the roaches – especially the smallest ones. The smaller the roach, the more vulnerable they are to starvation and dehydration. A dish that all the roaches can use is one with a short lip that they can step over, or with textured sides they can climb.
Fresh fruits & vegetables
To the extent you can, provide your Dubia roaches with fresh fruits and vegetables. They are very healthy, and they’re part of the Dubia roach’s natural diet. In addition to satisfying their hydration needs, they also provide excellent nutrition.
Remove any uneaten food remnants from the enclosure before mold forms. This is especially important with high water content foods that break down quickly. Examples include apples, bananas, leafy greens, and moistened pet foods. Carrots and potato slices are examples of foods that tend to last longer and require less frequent changing.
Nutritional Note: Consider feeding your Dubia roaches plants that contain the nutrients you want your animals to eat. For example, you might choose vegetables with lots of calcium or carotenoids if your animal needs more of these nutrients. Also keep in mind that for any animal, dietary diversity is probably better than monotony, so mixing it up is often a good idea.
Related reading: Gut loading Dubia roaches for the health of your animals »
If you don’t give your roaches a constant supply of fresh fruits or vegetables, you will need to provide supplemental water. This can be tricky because Dubia roaches are notoriously prone to drowning. It would be nice if you could give them a saucer or dish of plain water, but you can’t.
You can provide them with access to water in several ways. Some common Dubia roach watering methods include water crystals, paper towels, and sponges. These methods absorb water and allow the roaches to wick it from the material.
Once you’ve chosen a hydration method that all your roaches can access, set your water dish inside the enclosure on the floor. Don’t place it where it can tip over, or where substrate or harborage can touch it. A spot on the floor with some space around it is usually best. Clean and replace the water dish every few days before it dries out, or before mold starts to grow. Dubia roaches can go a long time without water, but it’s probably not very healthy for them.
Nutritional Note: If you plan to feed off the roaches within a few weeks, water quality may not be critical. However, if you keep them longer, consider distilled rather than tap water. There are a lot of chemicals in tap water, and we know little about the long-term effects they have on us, let alone insects, reptiles, amphibians, and the like. What’s in your water depends on where you live, but a few common chemicals include chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, copper, lead, fertilizers, and prescription drugs.
Water quality is often an unknown, so we avoid the potential risks to our roaches and animals by using distilled water in our colonies. This is something you don’t have to worry about if you meet their hydration needs with fruits and vegetables.
Dubia roaches can survive a long time without food. They also have specialized bacteria in their guts that allow them to eat items with almost no nutritional value like paper and cotton. This is certainly not ideal with respect to their health, but they can do it. Since these are feeders, and because Dubia roaches can live on almost anything, focus on supporting the nutritional needs of the end consumer rather than the roach. The end consumer, of course, is your animal. Because Dubia roaches can eat almost anything, almost anything you give them will keep them alive. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables will keep them strong, and they help keep the animals that feed on them strong and healthy too.
This goes back to the idea of gut loading, which we highly recommend.
The bottom line is that while Dubia roaches benefit from a healthy diet, they don’t need much. They are scavengers with simple, basic needs. This is great for the animals that eat them. Feed your Dubia roaches healthy foods with the nutrients you want your animals to consume, and they will live up to their reputation as superior feeders.
Examples of food for your roaches
Some common, widely available foods that are good for Dubia roaches (and probably also for the animals that eat them) are oats, whole grain breads, cereal grains, apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, sweet potato, squash, and broccoli stalks. Any one of these are good examples of healthy foods Dubia roaches like.
Experimenting with foods
You may experiment with different foods and food combinations if you want. We feed our Dubia roaches different foods depending on their growth stage, but you don’t have to worry about growth or reproduction with feeders. Your Dubia feeders have presumably arrived at or near the size you need them to be. Your concern is not their growth, but your animal’s nutritional needs. Feed the roaches based on those.
Be cautious with protein
We don’t recommend loading Dubia roaches up with high protein foods. They’re already a high protein insect, and they evolved to deal with scarcity by storing uric acid when protein is plentiful (external link) for times when it is not. Uric acid is an anti-oxidant and a natural byproduct of protein digestion, but it’s also a toxin at high levels.
Instead of providing your animals with more protein, overfeeding protein to Dubia roaches may create a situation where the animals that eat them have to remove more uric acid than they otherwise naturally would. There is no benefit to this. While probably not a big deal for most captive insectivores, protein overload is potentially bad news for those with existing health issues – particularly kidney problems – or that are otherwise on the edge health-wise. You can read our post about Dubia roaches and dietary protein if you’d like to learn more. Protein is a bit of a mystery nutrient and lots of people think the more the better, but that’s not so. A diet high in protein is known to kill cockroaches, so don’t go overboard with protein.
Naturally, you will need a secure place to house your Dubia roaches. As feeders, they don’t need much. You can keep them in any container that is (a) unaffected by moisture, (b) provides you with easy access, (c) is slick-sided, and (d) opaque. Many different types of plastic storage containers work well for roach storage, but jars, buckets, aquariums, and similar items may also work. There are lots of options when it comes to temporary storage. Perhaps the top two most important things to consider when choosing housing for your feeders are escape and air circulation.
Nutritional Note: We notice a lot of things in large colonies that may not be apparent in small ones. One of these is the importance of shelter, darkness, and community. Dubia roaches that have these are healthier than those that don’t. To maintain peak health, make sure your roaches have a dark place to hide and regular access to physical contact with other roaches. Interestingly, there is such a thing as “roach psychology”, and Dubia are particularly social roaches. They seek the company of other roaches for protection whenever possible, and they prefer to not be alone. Give them at least some shelter, if you can.
Dubia roaches favor small spaces. They will survive in large enclosures, but they do better in tight quarters surrounded on all sides by other roaches. You will find that they seek these conditions when placed in large, open spaces. Keep this in mind when choosing a container. A group of 50 Dubia will do better in a shoe box-size enclosure than a 40-gallon tub, for example. Since these are feeders, there’s no need to plan ahead for a larger colony. Find a good size enclosure for the roaches you have now and if you end up with a larger colony in the future, you can upgrade at that time.
To accommodate their need for darkness and physical contact, place some kind of harborage in their enclosure. This will ideally be something they can crawl on and hide inside. It could be paper egg cartons, crumpled newspaper, cardboard tubes from a used paper towel roll, and more. You can use anything that provides small, dark spaces where roaches can gather together. If you’ll feed them off in a few days or a week, this probably isn’t necessary. But if you keep them longer, consider giving them a place to hide.
Lids are often unnecessary because Dubia roaches can’t climb smooth surfaces. However, in addition to keeping things in, lids also keep things out. This may come in handy if you have pets or people who may want to check out your roaches. Also remember that Dubia roaches can climb lightly scuffed surfaces. With any new enclosure, make sure the sides are smooth enough to prevent escape before going lidless. Keep in mind that small nymphs are smaller and lighter than larger ones, which means they can climb smoother surfaces. Sometimes all it takes is a little dust or dirt on an otherwise smooth surface for tiny nymphs to climb right up. A container with smooth, clean sides will encourage the roaches to stay put.
If you use a lid, make sure the roaches have enough air. You can cut ventilation holes and secure them with window screen and hot glue or tape. Dubia roaches can chew through fiberglass screen, so if they can reach it, be sure to use metal. If you aren’t trying to keep anything out, you might also be able to get away with open ventilation holes.
If you have a container with walls the roaches can climb and you don’t have a lid, you can prevent escape by spreading a two to three-inch wide band of petroleum jelly all the way around the walls inside the bin. Apply it very thin, using only enough to coat the surface. Petroleum jelly loses its thick viscosity at high temperatures and tends to run down the walls if it’s applied too thick. This won’t be an issue for those who keep their roaches at room temperature.
Alternatively, you can apply a strip of clear packing tape to the upper inside surface instead of petroleum jelly. Both work equally well. All things equal, packing tape is less messy than petroleum jelly and would probably be our recommendation.
Don’t use any substrate in your enclosure. As mentioned above, bacteria and Dubia roaches thrive in the same conditions, and the two are not always a healthy mix. Reduce the potential for bacterial overgrowth by keeping the enclosure clean and dry. There is no advantage to letting a little frass (roach poop and exoskeletons) accumulate. However, in most situations there is no harm either.
The exception to this rule is with Minis that may still be in their poop-eating stage. Young Dubia roach nymphs eat feces for the nitrogen and bacteria they need to colonize their intestines. However, you don’t have to worry too much about any of this if you plan on feeding the roaches off to your animals within a week or two. In most cases, frass is a waste product and should be discarded.
Generally, Dubia roach feeders don’t have special humidity requirements. If you live in a dry climate or the air in your home is dry due to central air or heating, your roaches may appreciate daily misting. However, it probably won’t improve their health or increase longevity. Humidity aids molting, so if your air is dry and you notice molting problems, consider increasing the humidity. If you spray, allow the enclosure to dry between mistings. Dubia roaches are not a super high humidity insect. 40% to 60% relative humidity is about all they need.
Remember that these recommendations are for Dubia roach feeders. Breeders have humidity requirements that are not covered here.
Provide at least 8 and ideally 10 to 12 hours of darkness every 24 hours. This can be achieved by storing their enclosure in a dark place. Dubia roaches need darkness and they become stressed if they don’t get enough. Keep them in a dark place and that should be fine. Again though, this is probably not super critical if the roaches are going to be fed off soon.
While too much light causes stress, Dubia roaches cannot get too much darkness. There is no harm in keeping them in a place without any light, like a closet or drawer. They don’t like light and they don’t need it. Though they can see, most of what they do is guided by smell and feel.
Size Dependent Care
Our Dubia roach care sheet wouldn’t be complete without size-dependent care information. We think it’s useful to pay attention to the various differences between sizes from a nutritional perspective, though it’s up to you how deeply you want to get into caring for your Dubia feeders.
Large roaches can withstand greater environmental extremes than their smaller cohorts. Nymph Minis, for example, are particularly affected by temperatures outside the range recommended for growth. They are also more easily affected by food and water shortages. The larger Dubia roaches get, the better they can handle environmental extremes and stresses.
Young Dubia grow fast, so they use up the energy they eat quickly. They also have fewer reserves due to their small size, and because they’ve had less time to build them compared to older roaches. Basically, the larger/older the roach the better it handles adversity. The smaller/younger the roach, the more consistent care they need.
Small nymphs are vulnerable to predation within a colony. Stressed adults with inadequate protein, sporadic food availability, or poor food quality, will eat young nymphs. Adults also tend to take the young nymphs out when colonies are overcrowded and conditions are otherwise substandard. Adult males will eat the young when reproductive pressures are high, as when the female to male ratio is low. Basically, the more stressed the colony the shorter small nymphs tend to live.
Under normal conditions, Dubia are social roaches and they don’t tend to harm each other. Newborn nymphs can generally be kept with larger nymphs and adults without any issues if you follow the steps below.
- Keep temperatures within the range for “growth” listed above
- Maintain adequate food and water
- Provide adequate safe harbor and at least 10 hours of darkness in a 24 hour period
- Reduce the ratio of adult males to adult females to 1:3 or lower
Newborn nymphs get a fair amount of protective care from adult females. Captive insects probably don’t need the protection to survive in well-stocked enclosures, but it may benefit their well-being. This in turn may affect their health, which influences how long they survive, how much they eat, how fast they grow, and ultimately how nutritious they are as feeders. Dubia roaches need physical contact and their growth can be stunted to the degree they don’t get it.
As previously mentioned, newborn Dubia roaches eat frass. This generally applies to roaches ¼-inch or smaller. If you have roaches this size, consider leaving at least some frass in the enclosure. On the other hand, neither frass nor its absence seems to have an affect on adults.
What’s important to remember while reading this information is that maintaining Dubia roaches is not an all or nothing proposition. There are some things they can’t live without, but once their basic needs are met, any marginal step you take to support their physiological (and in some cases psychological) needs will help maintain and even boost their health. And remember: healthy feeders are nutritious feeders.
To figure out what kind of care to provide your Dubia roaches, first determine their purpose. If they will be fed off in a week, there is nothing wrong with storing them in a warm, dark spot with a little food and water and leaving it at that. If you will be keeping them longer, or if you want to gutload them or grow them larger, you will need to do more.
Our bottom line advice is to decide what you want from your roaches, then act accordingly. We hope this care sheet has provided you with useful ideas as you work to accomplish those goals!