22 Aug 03
Bug Ranching 102 – Aphids
How to breed aphids for use as amphibian food
By Ken Kulp
1) You need a suitable location that can be maintained between 65 and 80 degrees F.
Size of area is dependent on scale of operation. A 10 gal. aquarium is acceptable.
2) Aphids that escape could infest other plants and become a pest.
3) Maintenance of breeding operation takes about 10 minutes a day.
4) Initial investment is about $25 to $40.
5) Cost after initial investment is about $2 per 1000 aphids (?)
Materials and Supplies:
1) Enclosure for breeding with fine screen or glass top. A 10 or 15 gal. aquarium works.
2) Fava bean seeds. Other beans or peas may also work, but I have not tried them. Fava beans are available through Berkshire Biological Supply (see 5 below).
3) Small flower pots or peat pellets to grow beans in. If you use pots, you also need potting soil.
4) Light for enclosure to grow beans. A fluorescent plant light works well.
5) Aphids to start culture. They can be purchased from Berkshire Biological Supply at
http://www.berkshirebio.com/ on the internet or by phone at (800) 462-1382 for $17.50 per 100 aphids, or you can buy a kit containing bean seeds, peat pellets, and some aphids for $12.50.
1) Plant 3 to 5 seeds about 4 to 6 days before obtaining aphids. This will allow you to have fresh plants for the aphids to infest.
2) Place newly sprouted plants in breeding container along with aphids.
3) Place new seeds every 4 to 6 days to replace older plants. Plants normally last from 10 to 14 days when heavily infested with aphids.
4) Light should be kept on about 12 to 14 hours a day to assure good plant growth.
5) Once a substantial colony of aphids gets going (lots of aphids on the plants), you can start feeding them to your amphibians. An easy way to do this is to place an aphid infested plant in the terrarium on its side to facilitate feeding. When the aphids have been eaten, put the plant back in the aphid rearing enclosure to be reinfested.
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