Do you want to start an insect farming business and you need ideas on the most profitable insects? If YES, here are 5 best insects you can raise for profits. Insect farming is simply the agricultural process of breeding insects intentionally for a large purpose. This might include human consumption, pet food, or even textile production (as with silkworms).
According to reports, the demand for farm-raised insects has grown massively in the past two years, partly because of an increase in the popularity of bug-eating reptiles as pets, and because it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to add edible insects to our diets.
Insect farming is growing in popularity, and the benefits are impressive even for casual cultivators. It doesn’t take much money to establish a bug-based farm, and when managed correctly, you can transform it into a steady source of side income.
To start, one of the first things to do is estimate how many insects you could breed in your spare shed, garage or room. It might surprise you to realize you can fit 12 containers (70L or 18.5 gallons) in a 13.12 square foot or 1.2 m2 area. The next thing to do is work out which species you want to breed and consider your markets efficiently.
What are the Best Insects to Breed For Profit?
There are so many insects you can raise for profit, so it’s normal to be confused about where to start. Below are some common insect varieties you can begin breeding for profit.
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Crickets are an ideal form of insect livestock for both pet stores and human consumption due to their high protein. Most caged reptiles regularly eat crickets, which means a home-raised supply can be in high demand. You can also process them to get cricket flour and powder. Though this insect is notoriously difficult to breed for non-experts, you can learn the secrets for success with resources like Cricket Breeding Made Easy and setting up a cricket breeding habitat for the magic to take place.
2. Soldier Fly Larvae
The unbelievable king of fly larvae whose faeces make great compost is the black soldier fly. Unlike house flies, soldier flies aren’t attracted to houses (and are notoriously slow-moving and easy to catch if they do get inside) and their larvae actually out-compete housefly larvae in piles of organic waste.
To further market their business, black soldier fly farmers do mention that their bugs don’t transmit pathogens like house flies, and their larvae actually render compost piles odourless – even compost piles containing meat. Additionally, they are self-harvesting.
When the larvae have had their fill and are ready to pupate, they have an instinctual impulse to crawl up and away from the compost pile. Soldier fly farmers raise the larvae in special containers that direct the climbers straight into a pit from which they can’t escape, where they await their fate as food for fish, swine, chickens and a host of other livestock.
Otherwise referred to as woodies, home-raised cockroaches are a convenient treat for all insect-eating pets, and they are a hardy species to start with. As long as you can keep your roaches in a consistently dark, humid location, they should thrive and provide you with a consistent supply of offspring to use or sell.
Cochineal doesn’t produce fabric; rather, squishing the little bugs makes a deep red dye, also known as carmine, that is used to colour everything from wool sweaters to lipstick.
Cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas since antiquity, it was elevated to a global commodity in the 17th century by the Spanish, who exported nearly as much cochineal from the New World as they did silver. It went as far away as India to dye silk saris and the British used it for the infamous ‘redcoats’ worn by their soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
According to reports, production declined as artificial colourants were developed in the 19th century, though in recent years there has been a growing demand for cosmetics and food dye, as some of the artificial red colouring agents were found to be carcinogenic.
Silkworms are one farmed bug whose product definitely is always in demand. They are the larval stage of the silk moth which was first domesticated in China over 5000 years ago and, not unlike heirloom tomatoes or apple trees, have since been bred into over 1000 unique strains that produce silks of varying qualities.
In this modern age, silk farming remains a predominantly cottage-style industry employing the rural poor in many Asian countries. It is synonymous with mulberry plantations, as the leaves of the white mulberry tree are the sole food source of the silkworm.
Note there have been some attempts to tinker with silkworm genes, including the introduction of spider DNA into silkworms in hopes of engineering stronger silk for industrial applications, such as airbags and bullet-proof vests (spider silk is stronger than steel, but arachnids are tough to domesticate).
Other Types of Insects You Can Breed for Profit Include:
Mealworms, Darkling Beetle, Banded Cricket, Grasshoppers, Ladybugs.
5 Tips to Ensure Profit from Raising Insects
Although breeding insects as livestock is quite straightforward compared to other animal varieties, there are still some tips to help you get started.
Start Small and Grow
These insects are tiny by nature, so there’s no reason to scale up your operation before you’re ready. As an insect farmer, you can master the basics and get bigger over time.
Watch out for Diseases
Have it in mind that bugs often attack other bugs, and the wrong infestation can wipe out your operation. Watch out for fruit flies, and keep your operation undercover (literally) to prevent outside species from contaminating them.
Research your Market
Don’t forget to pay attention to the insect needs in your area, and you can choose the variety that makes sense for you. After all, the last thing you want if you’re the owner of thousands of crickets is to hear that your local pet store is turning down suppliers and that your region’s gardeners are desperate for more ladybugs.
Be Innovative and Experiment
Note that one advantage that insects have over other livestock is their short life spans, which means that you can try something new with each generation and continuously hone your technique. This will help you achieve better results over time.
Leverage Your Local Market
Have it in mind that if people don’t know about your bug supply, they won’t think to purchase them from you. Advertise as much as you can: on Facebook, in pet stores, on Craigslist, and in your local newspaper. The more you get the word out, the faster you’ll move your stock along.
Raising insects can benefit your diet, your wallet, and the environment. Take your time to understand the world of invertebrates, and you might be surprised at how easy the breeding process can be.