I don't trust petsmart or petco with their crickets That's why I raise my own, same for their fruit fly cultures. The hidey cultures are just pathetic for 5 bucks, and the melanos are half the size you get if you ordered them from mantisplace.com or other of our fellow members for the same price. Don't trust the crickets there. do you know what they feed them? wonder why there are such high cannibalism rates? yeah it's because they don't give a ###### about them. If you do buy crickets from there I would gutload them for at least a week to get whatever crappy food they were fed out of their system. A decent high protein gut load is cheap to make yourself. I'm not saying rear your own crickets (I do and I don't think its' a big deal, but I think it's fun too....besides I don't remember the last time I had to go to a pet store for feeders. I tell all my friends "my 14 lizards, 2 frogs, 20 fish and 8 mantids are free to feed for me. That's cheaper than your single dog or cat". )
either way petco and petsmart crickets usually are half dead. I give petsmart a little more credit than petco because the one that's here has cricket bins on display, so you can see they are rearing their own. Not sure if this is just for display for people or if they actually use them. I don't trust that semi dry blue cube of whatever it is that they put into the plastic enclosures with the crickets all crammed in there. Honestly even for 20 or so they need more room than the little boxes they put them in. Overcrowding leads to cannibalism. They also dry out more quickly. I would recommend to never buy crickets from prepackaged boxes. find a reputable feeder store that counts them for you from a bin, or just order online. I'm only saying all this because I do have experience with rearing crickets. Everyone tells me that my crickets are the fattest crickets they have ever seen (the adults) and they are feisty! they are more active than your standard grey or brown cricket at petco/petsmart and I know they are nutritious for my animal...heck I rarely ever have to dust them since The multivitamin and the calcium is in the cricket chow and that's all I feed them so they are constantly gutloaded. bottom line for petco/petsmart crickets....would you really want to feed your pet a feeder without knowing what that feeder ate? we want to make sure our feeders get the best nutrition so we can transfer it to our pets. Also you never know they might be giving them carrots for moisture instead of water gels, and we all know carrots are bad for mantids.
back to the fruitfly cultures, I know petsmart has the small hidey vials, and I used to be a sucker and got them. For 5 bucks and how small the vial is, and how long hideys take to reproduce and cycle, that's a total ripoff. The melanos come in a 32 OZ container, with a screen cap on top. These are okay, and you can make more cultures out of them....but why when you can order them online from someone on here? The ones you find here again are twice as large and have a much higher production, and you can make tons of other cultures (you can do that with the petco one too, but it might take longer as the sizes are smaller) upside for the petco one, is once washed it can be doubled as a mantis enclosure. I could do that with Rebeccau's cultures as well but I would have to order a new top because the culture tops get funky. that's no biggie though.