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Syrphid Rearing Help

I recently acquired a plant with some aphids on it, so I decided to try and get rid of them naturally. I captured a female Syrphus/Eupeodes hover fly and held her in a bag over the plant for about a minute. She laid several eggs on the plant, and I released her. The eggs hatched within three days, and several larvae are now eating the aphids. Unfortunately, it seems that I will now run out of aphids before the larvae can reach maturity. Right now, they each eat one or two aphids per day, but according to a study about rearing syrphids I found online, they can eat hundreds per day when they are larger. If this is true, there are nowhere near enough aphids to rear them all. As there are very few aphids outside now, I can't release them either. Is there any alternative food I could feed them, such as other hemipterans or dead insects? Can they mature with less food or will they cannibalize? Thanks for helping!

Tricky situation here
Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure they only eat aphids, and only alive aphids at that. My suggestion is to round up as many of the outside aphids as possible and put them with you larvae. You could also try start a separate breeding tank for the aphids, and have a pretty much never ending supply of them.

 
Thanks, I'll try that.
Thanks, I'll try that.

 
Tell me how it goes!

 
Ok, turns out I have a bigger
Ok, turns out I have a bigger problem, some other flies came in and laid more eggs. Now I have at least 5 larvae and only around 30 aphids left.

 
Wow!
Now you definitely have to try to get a breeding group of aphids to conserve them. Good luck!

 
I have a bigger problem now!
I have a bigger problem now! Nature decided to be unhelpful, we had really strong wind, and all but about 10 aphids blew away. Unfortunately and fortunately, syrphid larvae have better grip, and they didn't blow away.

 
Update
The remaining aphids are really spread out, and the syrphids were having trouble finding them. Some of them starved or crawled off to find food. I managed to save two larvae and the last ten aphids. I now have the syrphid larvae in a container with some aphids in it. Somehow, one has already quadrupled in size! The presence of the syrphid larvae also apparently stressed out the aphids, so they stopped breeding. I had to move them to another plant so they could breed. Now, I have to feed the larvae aphids individually.

 
Things somehow get worse
All of the remaining adult aphids were attacked and parasitized by mummy wasps, so I just have a few nymphs left. I am keeping the syrphid larvae in the fridge to slow their development and reduce their food needs. Hopefully, I will find more aphids soon.

 
Jeez...
Well, if you do manage to rear the remaining two, keep one and post it into the guide. You never know - it may be something special.

 
Unexpected
It turns out that syrphids aren't just limited to aphids. I tried feeding the larvae leafhoppers today, and one of them ate. However, they would only eat the abdomens of dead leafhoppers, and not the whole thing. Hopefully this will keep them alive until I find aphids.

 
very interesting thread!
I'm just seeing this very late -- quite interesting. Please let us know what happened.
If I need aphids, I use a four-inch or one-gallon potted plant that they like (plant depends on type of aphids you want) and just keep the plant indoors and protected in a cage where the aphids are quite prolific.
At a good nursery (where they don't use pesticides), you can generally find plants with aphids and just buy a small one to "manufacture" your own supply of the creatures. I wish I could give you some of mine -- I have no shortage of Uroleucon verbesinae and Capitophorus and Aphis nerii. If I were close to you, I'd just bring you a potted plant with a supply. I sure hope things worked out with your Syrphidae.
I have raised a few different species of Syrphidae with my Labidomera clivicollis because the Asclepias plants I use generally have a lot of Aphis nerii. The Syrphidae are always especially beautiful when they first eclose.

 
Unfortunately, I don't think
Unfortunately, I don't think the larvae will make it. I couldn't find aphids anywhere, and the larvae would only try other foods once and stop eating them. They did eat leafhoppers, scale insects,and psyllids, but only once. There are flying aphids all over the place in the fall, but they're gone for the rest of the year. There are lots of syrphid flies, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps in my yard, and even though we have a big vegetable garden, the problem is that there simply aren't any aphids to be found. They all get eaten or blown away in bad weather.

 
so sorry
I'm so sorry to hear this. If you're wanting to raise some Syrphidae, I hope you will get another chance a bit later in the season when there's a good food supply. I would keep the larvae protected in one cage and rear aphids in another cage. Since I've raised the Syrphidae larvae alongside Monarch/Queen larvae and Labidomera clivicollis larvae, I know that none of these harm the others. I've also raised Syrphidae with Black Swallowtails whose fennel plants usually get plenty of aphids. You probably just need a bit warmer weather there for a good supply of the flies and their food.

 
The aphids are the problem, e
The aphids are the problem, even in summer, we almost never have aphids, they all get eaten within days.

 
Your attempt at rearing
looks like it did not end as you would have liked but good for you for trying! Please, don't let this experience keep you from continuing to (try and) rear. My success rate is pretty bad (and I consider getting parasitoids a success even if that's not what I was trying to rear). If you continue to (try to) rear, you will get some success and some real delights.

 
And I've had much better luck
And I've had much better luck with with other groups. Orthoptera almost always go well, and I got a batch of 40+ polyphemus to pupate. Podisus was also a cool one to try, and they're long lived too. The female Podisus I had got to see her offspring mature.

 
About Orthoptera...
I just saw this discussion and thought I might ask what you do to raise Orthopterans (though it is a little off topic). I have had several species of crickets that I had kept for feeding to my Carolina mantis lay eggs in the earth that I provided for them, but they never hatched! Do you know the conditions they need?

 
The eggs of most native crick
The eggs of most native crickets need diapause to hatch, with the exception of early-season species such as the spring field cricket. Putting the dirt in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 months gets them to hatch. For crickets, I just have a plastic container with dirt in it, a few areas with mesh for ventilation, and some rocks/branches/leaves/other decor. Also, crickets seem to prefer laying in moss more than dirt, so you could try that. I feed them grass, weeds, vegetable scraps, and dead insects or spiders. I also keep grasshoppers, katydids, and mantids, if you're interested in those.

 
Interested
I already know a bit about mantids but if you could give me the basics on grasshoppers and katydids that would be great! Do the grasshoppers and katydids normally sing in captivity?

 
My captive crickets and katyd
My captive crickets and katydids all sing pretty well. I've been keeping them in a big plastic storage bin, with plant cuttings in water. I also occasionally offer protein or vegetables. Every year, I also let one or two meadow katydids free range in an empty room.

 
Raising Crickets
I have an article up on raising Gryllus field crickets (and Acheta domesticus):
here.
and other rearing articles with several more to come as I work on processing photographs.
What kind of crickets are you interested in rearing?

 
Doesn't matter
I don't really care as long as they are small ground crickets.

 
The small ground crickets are
The small ground crickets are probably Allonemobius, Eunemobius, or Neonemobius, they need diapause. Otherwise, they're really easy to breed, and aren't very cannibalistic.

 
Somewhat random, but I have a
Somewhat random, but I have another big batch of Microcentrum eggs from two adults I paired last year. I barely missed seeing them mate, but I did see the female eat the spermatophore. I also have a bunch of Concocephalus eggs in grass stems this year. Hoping for another good season...

 
I did end up getting a Syrphi
I did end up getting a Syrphid on accident later that summer, I took in some brussels sprouts for some caterpillars, and there was a syrphid larva on them that matured and got away. As for parasites, those can be interesting. I got hundreds of Copidosoma out of a soybean looper caterpillar, and a Trichopoda from a Leptoglossus.

 
Very cool.
You're doing great! Oh would I like to get a Trichopoda. I don't even see them very often.

PS. Your biography says you are "just" a high school student. You're way ahead of the game and you've got your whole life ahead to perfect this stuff.

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