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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05-29-2020, 10:35 PM
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Default Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Please direct yourself to the following thread to review what has already been documented for working methods:

The following will be my attempts at culturing TWO different aphids that I collected from my front yard.

Every year my Hansa rose gets clobbered with aphids, this season I decided to collect them as additional feeders. I looked into the aforementioned thread and into the advanced documents listed and want to run with one specific culturing method from: Continuous Rearing of the Pea Aphid

The paper so that everyone may benefit/follow along. I do not wish to review the paper in depth, simply points that need to be addressed.

I chose this method because I have 100mm wide Parafilm-M on hand [for other sciences] and thus familiar. The problem with the stated setup for the hobby is that is uses expensive custom glassware - and so I would like to build a comparable setup with plastic jars & funnels. One of the other papers listed mentioned the diet being similar to what is in yeast extract, and so I have the half thought of using diluted Vegemite (available to near everyone) as the only liquid nutrient source.

But first I need to establish some cultures of aphids before jumping onto something more advanced. So one week ago I soaked some sweet pea seeds for 24hrs, and then rolled them in paper towels and into a cup with water that gets wicked. I didn't exactly forget about them, but I was slow at transferring the sprouts into a cup of soil (gathered from my herb garden). I was also not in a rush because even after I got rid of the aphids on the rose, they would be back within a week. I picked today to collect because there will be a small amount of rain here tomorrow - though the bugs don't go anywhere.

This afternoon on my way to the mailbox I noticed a dandelion covered in a recognizably different aphid.. I had made two cups of pea sprouts a day or two ago - and so it was decided to collect both types. It is possible for the rose to have had more than one type of aphid, but I am sure one species will rule in a culture.

Using a paint brush (per NathalieB) I knocked off as many as I could from the rose plant into a small cup and transferred them all (~150?) to a pea cup. The same was done for the dandelion, but I was able to break it off and nearly just shake them off, maybe 300?.. certainly don't want to break my rose! .. plus the rose has thorns.

After a few simple usb microscope shots (my vintage Leitz Toolmaker's microscope does not have a camera in it, yet)..
I can presume the rose aphid is in fact Macrosiphum rosae - both the pink and green varieties were collected.
The dandelion based one may be of genus Metopolophium? Included is a top down and underside image.

That is really the progress thus far.. that today I did my first transfers of two different wild aphids to pea sprouts in separate jars - and I plan on continuing the pea sprout method for at least 2 more generations to have an established isolated culture - but the plan will be to switch over to liquid diet on a setup similar to the attached paper.

I hope to keep everyone updated as progress is made - and please suggest any thing that may help our efforts.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-04-2020, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Best of luck to you. I'm always on the lookout for alternate and supplemental feeders. Please keep us appraised of what happens.
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Old 06-04-2020, 11:51 PM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

After nearly one week..

- I did see initial active feeding from both jars, but not too much.. probably already fat on rose & dandelion - and possibly picky about what they want.
- The dandelion aphids all appeared to grow much larger wings - and soon looked like the rose aphids - this makes me think they were simply juveniles - and thus I may have only one kind of aphid (the distance between the plants was under 10ft). I did not examine them closer.
- There was a rotting sprout in the 'dandelion' container, and maybe more than one, removed what I found but still smelly - the amount of water in the jars/soil should be "monitored" closer, I did add some water about 2 or 3 days in, and the rotting occurred after.
- Most aphids did not seem to last the week. What is their lifespan? How old were they?
- The rose jar now appears to have juveniles (or "dandelion" aphids) at first glance.
- Much of the dandelion aphids appear to have died near the lid - or they molted.. do aphids molt? I know surprisingly little about these little guys.

Due to various thought patterns - Today, I added more rose aphids to the rose jar.. In part because I don't want aphids on my rose! It's not even in bloom yet. (thus no real risk grabbing more). The sprouts are certainly not sucked dry thus plenty more food for more aphids, even if more juveniles show up. I have not begun to soak/sprout more peas, yet.

Adding more will make it more difficult to track what worked and what didn't, but I figure the more eggs I can get developing inside the jar - the better, and that is the initial goal, to establish an indoor population.

Other thoughts:
Is soil necessary? Will paper towels suffice as a medium for the roots? not having soil I think simplifies a step.. If the seeds/sprouts have enough nutrients to sustain themselves for 2+ weeks and feed the aphids then is there a need to provide them with more nutrients..
Can those nutrients be delivered in water? from dissolved fertilizer added to the paper towels?
How much does temperature affect them? Current weather has been rainy - but they are out there in ~70F (it's still relatively cool here, in Seattle), and inside the house it is cooler overall. The jars are placed on a west facing window sill, in the kitchen.
How much light do they want/need.. More light would mean less vertical growth of the sprouts - and that may be beneficial as they are already touching the lid.

Attached are [crummy] photos of the juveniles in the rose jar, before adding more from the rose plant.

Also included are images from PDF, the advanced method using a liquid culture, to showcase a bit of the chamber construction.. I figure an inverted funnel smaller than a normal vented lid would be decent for hobbyists to attempt. the gasket should be viewed as very helpful - but was certainly aimed more at glass. Parafilm likes to stick to quite a lot, and after a month can be quite a hassle to get off of glass petris dishes. Would parchment paper suffice as a gasket to keep the lid in check? They also used rubber bands to hold things together.. Just some food for though.

One of my goals of posting progress and thoughts - especially this time of year - is to get others interested in trying something, even pea sprouts, themselves as collecting them is very easy this time of year [here].
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Old 06-14-2020, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Let's do one-week reviews..

I look at the jars everyday.

I appear to have no aphids alive..

The dandelion jar has shown no live bugs in over one week.
The rose jar - of which more aphids were added a little over a week ago, has begun to mold at the seeds. This is likely due to no real airflow and no drainage holes. I need to add some.
In both jars the sprouts have reached the top of the container rather quickly.

I saw active feeding in both jars, to some degree.

I forgot they call it June-uary up here, and we've had pretty constant rains and very mild temperatures, rarely getting above 70 F.

Are pea sprouts suitable for rose aphids (Macrosiphum rosae)?
Is the advanced liquid culture?
Peas grow quickly, if rose aphids have a much longer incubation time, maybe a slower growing or low growing sprout would be better contained. Apple and Pear is stated as hosts, but as sprouts?

The info (mostly wiki) I have state the eggs are overwintered, but also no breeding takes place (parthenogenesis + viviparous [no eggs [live-bearing] ) until later on in the season when males are formed and eggs are laid. At ~72 F it completes a generation in one week and lives almost three weeks - I do not think I have observed this to any noticeable degree.

Now that I have agreed with myself that the rose jar had rose-aphids, I am looking up more information and possibly specific culturing techniques, but as of yet I am not finding all too much.

It's somewhat odd... but near everybody has at least one rose plant/bush around here, much of which is flowering (mine hasn't yet, pruned on Feb 17th), and I do not notice many aphids, yet mine is always loaded.. makes collecting easy, but there must be something about my hybrid rose (Rosa rugosa 'Hansa' ) that they prefer.

Someone mentioned how mosquitoes are cultured in labs, with a screen top and putting sausage casings filled with blood up top - very similar to the advanced apparatus and should be noted as we may be able to learn from it.

.. Given both jars have somewhat molded I may be starting over with drainage holes and maybe side holes for better airflow (I am using 'standard' fruitfly plastic jars with a vented lid). given incubation time, and that the temp is commonly under 70F (even at a window that gets 'sun') I do want to wait and see if anything is born - but that would have only happened if there were males - if they were all female then no eggs would have been laid and I will be wasting time..
So I will get a few more sprouts going, and will plant them in slightly better containers.

Any input would be nice, but not necessary, this is an ongoing scatterbrained report - the main issue of species specific is dominating how 'easy' it may be with other species, such as the Pea Aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum it may simply be what I learned is that the rose aphid is not suitable to on pea sprouts in a small container in a colder indoor without real airflow.

Thanks, I will update next weekend, time to make more fruitfly cultures today.
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Old 06-14-2020, 08:01 PM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Thank you for the update..

Today is FF cx day here too!
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Week in review:

I did absolutely nothing and nothing happened..
The plants/sprouts are still alive, but zero bugs. And due to a bit of rain here there hasn't been a decent enough population on my rose to recollect, but I am sure it will have enough soon enough as it is suppose to dry out and heat up some. My rose still hasn't even begun budding, which is when I had the largest population, just a late bloomer.

So... the initial attempt did not work. Again, this was wild (residential) rose aphids on sweet peas in a small container at typically ~70F.

Maybe the advanced/liquid culture technique I want to pursue would work better for this aphid species.. maybe not! I would still like to get some going on plants first, to establish a colony. There is always the option of getting/buying some pea aphids to use instead.

That is all for now!
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Last edited by Noxz; 06-20-2020 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: Attempt at Culturing Aphids

Originally Posted by Noxz View Post
I did absolutely nothing and nothing happened.
If there is a better summation of the last 4 months, I have not seen it Keep up the good work!

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