Culturing Aphids

Every one who keeps Poison Dart Frogs knows how important is to aphidsfeed them with a good variety of different foods. We have standard foods such as small and large Drosophila, crickets, Indian meal worms etc. These insects are readily taken by frogs throughout the whole year, but during the winter frogs are fed only on these. I wanted to keep another food for them and decided on aphids, because culturing aphids is easy and frogs love them.

I will describe the culture of aphids using two colonies from which you can get a handful of aphids approximately every four days. 

In order to grow the host plants, you will need eight squat jam jars (approx. 500ml each), spruce (Picea) sawdust, beans (not common bean from your kitchen), 2 insect cages (wood or metal frames coated with a fine textile-like gauze or muslin) and a laboratory culture of aphids. Next, fill four of the bottles ¾ full with sawdust, add a handful of beans and cover them with another 2cm of sawdust.

Water each bottle with 200-250ml of lukewarm water and cover with a piece of glass.  Put them inside the insect-box near the window but out of full sun.  After 6 days add a further 100ml water in the morning. Take off the glass lid and add aphids in the afternoon.  After a further four days, water each bottle with 100ml and after another 4 days you can collect aphids for your frogs. It is simple to collect them – put a sheet of paper under the culture and blow on the aphids.  They will be dislodged and will land on the sheet of paper.   Temperature should be between 21°C and 30°C.  

It is useful to make small record labels for each culture.  For example, you might include: 
14.12. Tuesday – water with 200-250ml; 

20.12.Monday – water with 100ml in the morning; add aphids in the afternoon; start with four new bottles; 
24.12.Friday – water with 100ml; 
28.12. Tuesday – collect aphids.

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