The Luffa Insect Watering Dish is a great way to provide water to Dubia roaches, cleaner crews, and other captive insects. It’s effective, safe, easy, inexpensive, and natural. It’s also simple. It consists of just two pieces: A clear poly-carbonate dish and a fitted luffa sponge.
Insects access water two ways with the Luffa Watering Dish. First, luffa have thick, semi-absorbent plant fibers that draw and retain water. Insects can take water from the moist surface the same way they would from a sponge. Second, luffa’s rigid fibers form a scaffold system that insects can crawl in and around. They often use it to climb down to the water’s surface and drink directly.
So how well does it work? It works great, actually. The Luffa Insect Watering Dish is an effective watering method that we use in many of our colonies. It’s very convenient. All that’s required is a little cleaning from time to time and occasional replacement. While it’s good for us, it’s good for the roaches too. This is particularly important with Dubia roaches because they’re notoriously prone to drowning. While no method we’ve tried eliminates drowning entirely, this is among the best we’ve seen. It’s even better than water crystals.
And generally speaking, luffa is a good material for use around water and insects. It stands up to use and repeated cleaning. If you’ve ever used it as a bath sponge or scrubber, you know how tough they are. They break down slowly even with constant use, and cleaning is easy. Just rinse with warm water every few days or week and reuse. They need occasional replacement, but luffa remain functional for a decent amount of time even in large colonies with lots of insects.
Luffa is also 100% natural. It comes from a fast-growing vine that’s widely considered sustainable. Luffa is more environmentally friendly than sea sponges, and certainly more than kitchen sponges made with petroleum and other chemicals. Luffa contain no chemicals as far as we know, and the Luffa Insect Watering Dish has led to zero health issues in our colonies. The only downside we’ve found is that sometimes the insects need a little coaxing to come out of hiding. This can matter at cleaning time, but it’s not a major issue.
The Luffa Insect Watering Dish comes in two sizes – small and large. The small dish is 2-½ inches wide and best suited for colonies with up to about 1,000 roaches. The large dish is 3-¼ inches wide and suited for larger colonies. Either one can be used in any size colony, but the small dish will need refilling more often in larger colonies. If you keep Dubia roaches as feeders, the small size is probably adequate.
Each piece of luffa is about an inch tall and comes paired with an appropriate size dish. We also have replacement luffa if you already have a dish. While the fit is often snug, it’s OK to have a gap between the luffa and the dish. This is especially true if you have larger roaches. Luffa swell with water and shrink when they dry, and roaches can easily cross gaps at half their body size.
How to Use
Before first use:
- Run the luffa under warm water and squeeze & release 10 times or so. This helps loosen it up a bit and improves absorptive capacity.
- Allow the luffa to absorb some water and expand after you’re done squeezing.
- Place the luffa in the dish. If it is a tight fit, try to seat it on the bottom of the dish.
- Fill the dish with water. Tip it sideways a bit to lower the water level to avoid spillage in the colony.
- Dry the bottom of the dish and place it in your colony.
- Check the water level every day or so. Clean and refill as needed.
NOTE: You will need to scuff the outside of the dish with sandpaper if you have nymphs, or if you want cleaner crews or other small insects to have access to the water. You can use 80-grit sandpaper, a scouring pad, or a knife. Be very gentle to avoid cracking the plastic.