Introduction: Alternative to Egg Crate Flats for Breeding Crickets or Roaches

People who keep crickets or roaches for feeders will typically use egg flats to increase surface area inside their enclosures. Unfortunately in one of my bins, the quail waterer I use to provide water tipped over and spilled. The water mixed with the food and was absorbed by the egg flats. Because my roaches are so low-maintenance, I only need to check up on them once a week, and I didn't notice it right away. The flats had started to fall apart and stink - it was just a huge mess. I decided to find some alternative.

I wanted something with the following characteristics: non-disposable, non-porous (so that it could be cleaned), inexpensive, and able to be placed vertically so that the waste could drop to the bottom instead of piling up like it did in the egg flats. I decided to make something similar to the frames apiculturists use in their bee hives.

This is my first instructable so feel free to give me suggestions.

Step 1: Materials

  • plastic storage bin
  • plastic lattice cap or some other channel trim
  • coroplast

Step 2: Tools

  • Saw
  • Tape measure
  • Knife or box cutter
  • Glue

Step 3: Cut Guides and Stops

I purchased the lattice cap at the hardware store. It was under $6 for an eight foot section. I found it in the fencing section. There was something similar in the trim molding section that was a little less expensive, but I thought this would work better. I suppose that you could use aluminum U-channel as well.

Cut the channel into a ton of smaller pieces to use as guides for the coroplast. I made mine 1.5" long. I also used two 10" pieces as stops to keep the coroplast from touching the bottom of the bin. I did this so that the roaches could move between the panels without climbing over them, and to make it easier to collect the waste when I clean out the bins. You could probably leave out the stops.

A miter saw would have made this go a lot faster but I didn't have access to mine at the time. If you have one with a vacuum attachment, use it because the little bits of plastic sawdust go everywhere.

Step 4: Prepare Panels

In my city, with a few exceptions, signs posted on the right of way are considered abandoned property and anyone can legally remove them, meaning free coroplast. If that's not allowed where you live, or if you live an a nicer neighborhood than I do (and don't have snipe signs stuck all over the place), then you can buy coroplast sheets at the big box hardware stores. I also considered using plexiglass sheets or plastic canvas; either of those would probably work as well.

Cut the coroplast to the size that fits in your bin. In mine, 8" x 14" panels worked perfectly. A t-square makes this a lot easier. Don't try to make the cuts all at once; score the coroplast with a cutter or knife and make several more progressively deeper cuts.

My roaches can't climb smooth surfaces, so I scuffed up the panels with some sandpaper. Make sure to use something really course - I used 24 grit.

Give the panels a good cleaning with water and a mild detergent.

Step 5: Glue in Stops and Guides

Glue the stops to the sides of the bin at the bottom. Glue the guides on the side with the channel portion vertical and facing out. Make sure that the guides on the opposite sides of the bin line up with one another. I used two coroplast panels as spacers to keep the guides a consistent distance apart.

I have a love/hate relationship with my hot glue gun. It gets the job done but I always end up with burns all over my hands. I decided to use hot glue because it didn't produce fumes that could affect my roaches. I was worried about how well it would stick to the plastic but it worked great.

Step 6: Clean Up

Make sure to get all the bits and pieces of plastic and glue out of the bin.

Step 7: Finish!

I now have more than 23 square feet of surface area inside my bin. Add roaches, food and water.