The Cricket Paralysis Virus & Related Strains
Cricket Paralysis Viruses are small RNA-containing or DNA-containing viruses that are very similar to
the picornaviruses affecting honeybees, flies, and moths. Strains of these viruses have been observed in
New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and the United States of America. These
viruses cannot infect or harm humans and animals.
The original Cricket Paralysis Virus is an RNA virus that was first found in a few species of Australian
crickets a number of years ago. Since then, there have been many more strains of “cricket paralysis
virus” observed in various species of crickets. The latest infections are a different type of virus than the
The most recent outbreak occurred first in the European house cricket, and then spread to the United
States and Canada. In 2002, Europe’s reptile pet and zoo industry suffered a catastrophic wipeout of
crickets. Later, in 2010, the virus began its destruction across North American cricket farms.
The new “cricket paralysis virus” is a DNA-containing, Acheta domesticus densovirus. It only affects
this one particular species known as the common house cricket. Unfortunately, at the time that the virus
struck, all of the largest cricket farms in North America and Europe were raising Acheta domesticus
crickets. Many cricket farmers went bankrupt and were forced out of business. At least 5 out of the 10
major U.S. cricket farms had to close their doors.
According to an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Bob Eldredge of Top Hat Cricket Farm said:
“It moved through this factory like nothing we’ve ever seen before…We were seeing dead crickets
everywhere within a matter of weeks. We dumped 30 million crickets we had right in the garbage.”
Top Hat Cricket Farm closed up shop in 2010 after attempting to fight the virus with no success. They
decided to rebuild the business by switching to a different species of crickets. The difficult part about
switching to a new species is that the U.S. requires approval and the attainment of a permit. Also,
before the virus breakout, Acheta domesticus was the only USDA approved commercial cricket breed.
As a response to the breakout, farmers were able to receive a permit to breed and sell Gryllus assimilis.
Gryllus assimilis is a type of brown cricket that is very similar to the popular house crickets, but is
immune to the densovirus. In August of 2011, Top Hat obtained their commercial permit for the new
breed. Their website states that they will be up and running again in the summer of 2012.
Just like Top Hat, many other farmers made the decision to switch to a different breed of cricket. Sadly,
some of the farms were unable to recover. Elizabeth Payne, of Lucky Lure Cricket Farm (Florida),
ironically was not very lucky and had to declare bankruptcy as a result of the cricket wipeout.
If anything, the disastrous affects of the cricket virus teach us all an important lesson. We need to be
prepared, ready to adapt, and not too dependent on any one way of operating. Farmers need to be as
aware as possible of alternative cricket breeds, in case a similar virus should strike again. Pet owners
and pet shop owners may want to learn to raise their own crickets. This way, nobody has to panic if a
major supplier is suddenly out of crickets. Permits may be required for the commercial sale of crickets,
but not necessarily for hobbyists who want to breed crickets for their own use at home.
Symptoms of the Acheta domesticus, “cricket paralysis virus”:
Crickets will flip over on their backs, paralyzed, and die.
Note: If you receive a shipment of crickets displaying the above behavior, be sure to report it to
whomever you bought the crickets from.
Article Source: http://cricket-breeding.com/cricket-paralysis-virus