Introduction: Maintaining Live Dubias for Your Gecko
I avoided it as long as I could, but finally gave in to having my 5 gallon tank turned into a Dubia colony. The tub we were using for housing the dubias we feed Sunny, the Leopard Gecko I got for my classroom, wasn't cutting it anymore. I really hate bugs and just looking at the box they arrive in makes my skin crawl. Actually, my skin is still crawling.
Dubia's are becoming known as the go-to feeder. They're less work than other insects, make no noise, very little smell, easy to maintain, they don't fly or climb, and they are not going to bite your pet if not eaten immediately.
We initially were going to feed Sunny mealworms and crickets. Both are gross (remember, I hate bugs) but seemed easier and I was familiar with them. I didn't understand why Sunny wasn't eating even though he seemed hungry. After a week of snubbing the mealworms we offered Sunny and me getting paranoid he was going to die, I gave in and placed my first online dubia order.
Sunny's a dubia man. That's why he was snubbing the mealworms.
Step 1: BoM
5-10 gal tank or large storage container (with air holes/proper ventilation)
Under tank heater (small)
Paper tubes, egg cartons
Gut load cricket water/gel & cap
Step 2: Setup
If you're using a plastic tub, you'll want to cut sections out and replace the plastic with mesh/wire screen to provide adequate ventilation for the dubias.
Dubias need things to climb, stand on, and hide in, and that's where the egg cartons and paper tubes come in handy. The tubes are also helpful for shaking a couple dubias into a container so you can easy catch and feed your gecko (with blunted tweezers). I do not touch these things with my bare hands.
An under tank heater (UTH) will provide your bugs with the heat they need to stay alive.
Step 3: The Dubias
I've ordered Dubias for Sunny from a few different places, trying to see which is best. Many feeder insect companies will send you samples to try with your pet. The company I've found the best deal and most reliable can be found here. I just appreciate that their dubias come in a closed burlap bag and are not running around willy-nilly inside the mailing box (yes, this has happened).
When your dubia home is ready, empty the dubias into it and then put the lid on. Dubia's can't fly or climb up glass, but it's still a good idea to keep a lid on.
I'm not intentionally breeding dubias, I get a new order of about 25-50 every 4-6 weeks and haven't run out yet. It's very possible the dubias are breeding on their own, which would save some money, but I hate the idea of being overrun with bugs.
If you see a random white dubia in your tank, it's freshly shed and the shell is softer---it's also apparently higher in nutrition, so when I do see them they are the first to get fed to Sunny/
Step 4: Food & Care
Commercially made dubia chow is available, we've been providing our dubias with a variety of fruits and veggies (that are changed out every 2 days or so) and a cap with Fluker's Cricket Quencher (this is how captive raised crickets/bugs get their water). We want to know what the dubias are ingesting, we want to make sure they're properly gutloaded so that when Sunny eats them, he's getting all the nutrients he needs.
Step 5: Maintenance
The dubia tank is housed under Sunny's classroom cage (he has one at my house as well).
There's almost no odor from the tank, but my students like to go in and clean out the die-offs every couple of weeks. Occasionally they'll even remove all the dubias and cardboard from the tank and wipe the inside down with water.