Crickets have a high nutritional value (See table) and have further-more, due to their hard armour, the quality to clean young birds intestines by dragging along the surplus of mucus in the intestines during the intestinal transit. This is especially of importance to purely insect-eating birds.
Topinsect generally uses house crickets, banded crickets and field crickets. Our farms breed crickets on a mixture of grains without any added growth promoters or chemicals.
Due to the boiling and shock freezing process on our equipment, the crickets are disposed of all bacteria and become virtually sterile. The remaining fraction of bacteria and fungus is well below the standards which apply to human and animal food. This is frequently verified through analysis. The double process makes the crickets also better digestible for animals.
Crickets are a part of the Gryllidae species of the Orthoptera order (grasshoppers and crickets). The females have a long ovipositor which they use to lay eggs in the ground or in cracks. The famous chirp is produced by males when rubbing their wings. Crickets are especially found in warmer countries (about 1.100 species). In Holland, several indigenous species like the wood cricket (Nemobius sylvestris) and the black field cricket (Gryllus campestris) can be found. The first species are found on the ground under trees or bushes, and particularly in places with a thick layer of humus. The black field cricket is (a lot harder) to be found in little holes in meadows. In Holland and Belgium, the total number of these crickets has heavily diminished, which is why they now appear as rare on the Red List of endangered species. Wood crickets can still be easily found in a lot of forests in East Holland.
The life-stages of this insect differ from most other insects:
1. cricket - 2. egg - 3. embryonic and nymphalid development
The development of the fertilized egg implies a couple of phases. Orthoptera are insects with an incomplete transformation. The young insects highly resemble to the full-grown insects and are usually called nymphs. From the egg hatches a ´cricket which is packed in a thin covering (embryonic membrane) and is called vermiform (wormlike). This covering soon bursts open after which the nymph of the first phase appears. The larva has a compara-tively large head and no wings. Besides these differences, this animal highly resembles to its parents. During each sloughing, the wings grow a bit and the genitals develop (the latter are only functional once the insect is full-grown). The number of nymphal phases differs depending on the species. West European field grasshoppers generally have 4 phases while crickets have about 10. The insect will be full-grown after the last sloughing. This animal will hold itself on to a blade of grass or twig using his legs, often with his head downwards. The insect which crawls out of his skin is colourless and soft. By pressing blood in their soft, wrinkled wings, they can stretch them and get them to dry. The drying process takes a couple of hours while the complete colouring and hardening process could take a few days.