Blaptica dubia, the Dubia Roach, also known as the Orange-Spotted Roach, Guyana Spotted Roach, or Argentinian Wood Roach, is a medium-sized species of cockroach which grows to around 40 – 45 mm. They are sexually dimorphic; adult males have full wings covering their body, while females have only tiny wing stubs, their tegmina (forewings) being around a fourth of their body length. Adults are dark brown to black with somewhat lighter orange spot / stripe patterning sometimes visible only in bright light. The colouration does differ slightly with the environment and diet from one colony to another. Blaptica dubia is partially ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young after eggs hatch inside the female, and can give birth to 20 to 40 nymphs per month under favourable conditions. Blaptica dubia is found in Central and South America, beginning in Costa Rica. It is common from French Guiana and Brazil to Argentina.
For keeping or breeding purposes, Dubia Roaches need to be housed in containers with smooth sides so they aren’t able to climb out of their enclosure. Although they are not known to climb, they will be able to use rough-surfaced walls as toe holds and may reach the top of the enclosure. Minimum 40-litre glass aquariums or plastic containers can be used. Although the roaches can’t climb, it’s wise to cover their enclosure so unwanted materials, pests or household pets can’t get in. Aquariums can be covered with mesh screen covers used for reptiles. Most plastic tubs are sold with heavy-duty plastic covers. In order to provide ventilation for a plastic tub, cut a hole in the cover, at least 15 x 15 cm and hot-glue some vinyl mesh over the opening.
Dubia Roaches need places to stand and places to hide. Cardboard egg crate flats provide the most surface area per square centimetre. You may be able to get egg crate flats from a bakery or store like Tesco. It’s best to stack the egg crate flats vertically so the Dubia Roach droppings fall to the bottom of the enclosure. Make sure that the cover is on tightly and that the egg crate doesn’t extend so close to the top of the enclosure that the roaches can step out.
Although Dubia Roaches can survive at room temperature, they require an ambient temperature of 32°C – 35°C to successfully breed, and do best with about 60% humidity. If you have an area of your home that naturally reaches the required temperature there is no need for an additional heat source. If heat is needed, it can best be provided by using a ceramic heat emitter, an Under Tank Heater (UTH), or coated heat cable. The ceramic heat emitter should be installed at the top of the enclosure to radiate heat downward; the UTH can be attached to the side or bottom of the enclosure. If the UTH is to be placed on the outside bottom of the enclosure, be sure to raise the tub or tank at least 1 cm to vent the heat (most UTH’s come with plastic “feet” that can be installed. Small tiles or shims could also be used. In order to control the temperature of the UTH and to prevent an overly hot UTH from melting a plastic enclosure, use a thermostat or a lamp dimmer (rheostat) to keep the temperature 32°C – 35°C. The warm temperatures and use of water crystals for hydration (see below) should lead to appropriate humidity. There is no need to use any kind of substrate or bedding at the bottom of the enclosure. Adding a substrate will only make it more difficult to keep the enclosure clean.
Good nutrition and hydration result in healthy Dubia Roaches. Healthy Dubia Roaches provide equally good nutrition to the animals that feed on them. Roaches can eat a variety of dry fruit, grain or plant-based food including commercially available Roach Chow, powdered grains, commercially available insect gut load, a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially orange ones that contain carotenoids. Low moisture vegetable parings such as potato or other parings, apple cores or broccoli stalks can also be added. Be sure to remove fruit and vegetables before they get moldy; mold is lethal to roach colonies. Avoid high protein foods such as a dog or cat food and meat, since Dubia Roaches convert excess protein into uric acid which can harm the reptiles that eat them.
The most effective way to provide water is by using water crystals, a polymer-based material that holds water. This method will minimize the chance of the roaches drowning. Be sure to put the food and the water in shallow bowls that the Dubia Roaches can climb in and out of and to keep the food and water bowls separate so the food doesn’t get wet and moldy.
Dubia Roaches produce dry droppings called “frass”. Their enclosures will need to be cleaned every 1 – 2 weeks to reduce the buildup of frass and shed exoskeletons. It’s useful to have an extra enclosure when cleaning. Transfer the egg crate flats with the Dubia Roaches and the food and water dishes (which may contain roaches as well) to the extra container. Scoop up what remains at the bottom of the enclosure and sift out the frass. The roaches that remain can then be transferred to the extra enclosure as well or put back into the original enclosure with the other materials.