Crickets Raised For Pet-Reptile Food Face Lethal Virus

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TOM BENITEZ, ORLANDO SENTINEL

Leesburg, FL – A paralyzing virus is sweeping through cricket farms in the United States and Canada, killingĀ  hundreds of millions of crickets and jeopardizing the businesses of cricket farmers in North America. First appearing in Europe in 2002, the virus has made its way to the United States and is devastating cricket farms dedicated to providing a food source to pet reptile owners and zoos around the country.

Worse yet, the virus has no known cure, and has left many farm owners desperate for a solution. Elizabeth Payne, of Leesburg, Fl, invested in multiple sterilizing operations to try to rid the facility of the virus, but even after racking up over $450,000 in debts the virus still ravaged new shipments, and now she has been forced to shut the doors to her business which has existed since the 1950’s, and layoff workers.

The void has left reptile owners and zoo operators scrambling to find a safe, secure supply of fresh crickets. The only good news is that so far there are no known incidents of an infected cricket killing an animal that eats it.

Operators have begun to make numerous changes to their procedures, including requiring employees to wear protective suits and step on chemical-saturated pads to kill viruses on their shoes prior to entering the work area. Some have even resorted to not accepting mail from other farms in the event it is contaminated.

If you are reliant on crickets or other insects for food supplies for your pet, it is recommended that you locate two or three vendors who can ship your supply to you, so that you don’t become overly-dependent on a single source. It is best to have a local source, as well as an online source with which you consistently order. When a shortage hits, don’t be left out.