Insects as Pets

Some insects make good pets. People, especially children, are fascinated by them. Insect enthusiasts collect and breed certain species because they look unusual or particularly attractive. While a lot of insects are disgusting and carry pathogens, enthusiasts make sure that the insects they raise at home are the neat ones. This list features the insects that are usually kept as pets… and some of them may even surprise you!

1. Monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies

The larva of these beautiful mottled butterflies usually feeds on milkweed leaves. If you plan on raising them, have a milkweed plant handy. But if you don’t have a milkweed growing nearby, you can use other plants such as asters, thistles, alfalfa, red clover, lilac, or goldenrod. You may also want to order the caterpillars online.

2. Silkworms


Silkworms have been domesticated by man since about 4800 years ago mainly for the production of silk. Silkworms are the larvae or caterpillars of the silk moth (Bombyx mori). Raising silkworms and making silk out of their cocoons make for a nice hobby. We all know that silkworms love the white mulberry leaves so it’s good if you have a white mulberry tree in your garden. Otherwise, you may order processed silkworm food online, along with the silkworm eggs.

When housing a silkworm, these critters love a cool, dry and quiet place with a good ventilation. Plastic containers or even cardboard boxes make a good home, as long as they’re lined with paper to prevent dampness and bad odor. Make sure you clean their homes often to remove droppings and old mulberry leaves. After feeding on the leaves, the caterpillar will spin cocoons in a matter of weeks.

3. Crickets


Crickets are also popularly kept as pets. You may find them at the grasslands outside the yard and trap them in a jar. Or if you can’t find them in nature, you may also order crickets online. Crickets are very easy to rear and feed. Their diet mostly consists of plants but these little hoppers may also eat meat as well.

4. Cockroaches


Wait, a cockroach? The common cockroach is the household pest that everyone loves to hate because people think of them as dirty. But how about cockroaches as household pets?

There are over 4,500 listed species of cockroaches in the world, and the most popular species that are kept as pets include the Madagascar hissing cockroach, death’s head cockroach, and the Cuban cockroach. Don’t worry, enthusiasts assure that these cockroaches are clean and neat, and do not carry diseases. You can hold them gently and let them crawl over your hand.

Pet cockroaches are easy to care for because they are generally low-maintenance and can eat almost anything. In Taiwan, pet cockroaches are so popular that some schools are offering classes devoted only to studying them.

If you plan to get these critters, it is important to know that some states require a permit before these insects can be kept or bred as pets. The best bet in buying pet cockroaches is to order them online. Prepare a terrarium with a tightly closed lid to prevent these insects from climbing out to their escape, since cockroaches are known to be naturally expert climbers.

5. Ladybugs


These brightly colored beetles which are the stuff of nursery rhymes are, not surprisingly, popular among children. Ladybugs are also useful to man because they feed on aphids, which are serious agricultural pests.

You can catch ladybugs at a nearby lawn or grassland, or order ladybug larvae online. As you transfer them to their new home, place a damp towel or sponge there — they need something to drink on. Grow some certain plants (like milkweed) that aphids usually dine on — ladybugs love aphids. You can also feed them some fresh fruit.

6. Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Despite their horrific appearance and reputation (females often devour the heads of the males after mating!), praying mantises are otherwise harmless to man. In fact, they are one of the popular insects kept as pets. Many enthusiasts also breed these insects, which are usually kept in terrariums. They usually feed on other insects such as flies, moths, caterpillars, etc.

There are around 2,000 species of mantis, and some of them are really huge (and they look quite intimidating!). If you are a beginner, you can start best with any of the following species: Chinese mantis, giant Asian mantis, budwing mantis, African mantis, and ghost mantis.