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August 09, 2021

Rearing Homopteran-Predatory Syrphid Larvae

My experience with rearing Syrphids is limited to aphid-eating predators. For information about rearing larvae that don't feed on aphids, refer to Rotheray, 1993 (see footnote*).


With the assistance of @edanko, I have reared three Syrphine species: Allograpta obliqua, Eupeodes americanus, and Syrphus knabi. All three of the genera predate on aphids. Here's how I went about it:

First, put the larva in a small, preferably plastic, container. You can choose to put a layer of paper towel on the bottom right now if you wish. Put a layer of paper towel covering the opening of the container, and attach with a rubber band.

Next, you'll want to find a healthy colony of aphids to harvest from. If possible, it's preferable to take from the colony you found the larva on. Every morning and every evening, depending on how fast your larva eats, take a leaf of aphids and put it in the container with the larva. This worked for me, but I'm sure there are more efficient ways of doing that.

Once the larva pupates, if you didn't already, put paper towel on the bottom of the container so it doesn't roll around. Now, all you have to do is wait. Check on the pupa throughout the days to see if the fly has emerged. Once it has, your time to photograph it is limited.

My method to photograph is to put the container in a large ziploc bag, and push the lens through the opening of the bag, leaving as little space as possible for the fly to escape. Hopefully, at this point it's recently eclosed, so it won't fly that much.

Once you have the necessary photos, you can try, if you're confident enough, to get the fly on your finger or another rigid object, and carry it outside. There, you can get better photos with nice lighting, and once the fly is ready, it can leave your finger and fly away.


Thanks for reading! I hope this is helpful. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave them in a comment or message me so I can edit this post. This is somewhat of a wiki, as I want this to be a good resource for rearing predatory Syrphids. See comments below from other people with experience in this for some more tips.

*(See p. 26: https://diptera.info/downloads/df_1_9_Colour_Guide_to%20Hoverfly_Larvae.pdf)

Posted on August 09, 2021 15:29 by zdanko zdanko | 19 comments | Leave a comment

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