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Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions
#1
Some Terms:

Culture or Culture Cup - This is the clear plastic, usually 32oz cup with a vented (holes covered by fabric screening) that contains the insects - Fruit Flies, bean beetles ect. They not only live in the culture cup, but they breed and reproduce in there as well.  The word "Culture" is often abbreviated as CX or cx .

Dusting Cup- This is a clean clear plastic cup identical to a culture cup, only it is used to hold superfine powdered supplements- vitamins and calcium. For example, a "Culture Cup" gets opened and the feeder insects inside get tapped out and into the dusting cup to be swirled around and coated with superfine powder (dust) and then fed to frogs so that the frogs can acquire (eat) the powdered supplement.

Powder or Superfine Powder - Using this is referred to as "Dusting" and the powder coats the fruit flies and then the frogs eat the coated flies. This is the commercially available vitamin and calcium powders that are 100% necessary to use for raising and breeding poison dart frogs. Dart frogs absolutely must have it.

What type of fruit flies to buy ? melanogaster is the best choice for beginners. They have a 1 week (roughly) lifecycle (from egg to fly) and are far easier, forgiving of mistakes and predictable to produce than the larger and longer to produce- hydei. Both wingless and flightless flies are fine. Wingless tend to be better for those who worry about escaped flies, since at higher temps the "flightless" flies can, in rare instances, mutate and become "fliers". Flightless flies retain the wings but not the ability to actually fly and hold more vitamin supplement because of the larger surface area of the wings.

Hydei are larger and usually darker colored / black, and will eventually be the staple of larger frogs like auratus, leucomelas, and tinctorius. They take twice as long to cycle to adult, as the melos and their cultures can sometimes smell a little worse (stronger). These flies come in both gold and black morphs as well, which makes no difference for feeding out. These flies are climbers and a little more of “escape artists”.

D. melanogaster lifespan and ideal temperaturesFrom Wikipedia:

The D. melanogaster lifespan is about 30 days at 84 °F.

The developmental period for Drosophila melanogaster varies with temperature, as with many ectothermic species.

The shortest development time (egg to adult), 7 days, is achieved at 82 °F.Development times increase at higher temperatures (11 days at 86 °F) due to heat stress.

Under ideal conditions, the development time at 77 °F is 8.5 days.

At 64 °F it takes 19 days.

At 54 °F it takes over 50 days.

Under crowded conditions, development time increases, while the emerging flies are smaller.Females lay some 400 eggs (embryos), about five at a time, into rotting fruit or other suitable material such as decaying mushrooms and sap fluxes. The eggs, which are about 0.5 millimetres long, hatch after 12–15 hours (at 77 °F).The resulting larvae grow for about 4 days,while molting twice (into 2nd- and 3rd-instar larvae), at about 24 and 48 hours after hatching.During this time, they feed on the microorganisms that decompose the fruit, as well as on the sugar of the fruit itself. Then the larvae encapsulate in the puparium and undergo a four-day-long metamorphosis, after which the adults eclose (emerge).

Where to buy ? Try to buy your Fruit Flies locally and pick-up yourself if you can. This saves shipping costs and you get to meet your valuable local hobbyists. If you must mail order, use a site sponsor or a reputable / recommended fellow forum or board member.As a last resort, Petsmart and Petco have recently started carrying small vials of fruit flies, but the amounts and productions are suspect and the cost is prohibitive for such a small amount.

Media – Buy or Make your own ? I make my own media and I don’t have problems with smell, mold, or mites (other than the normal issues) Most media will produce a substantial amount of flies, and they all consist of pretty much the same main ingredients available at any given grocery store - a powdered confectionery sugar, a protein like brown powdered brewer’s yeast, a “base” of potato flakes, a mold inhibitor and some active yeast. Making your own media is at least 50% less expensive than buying it. When you are new to the hobby, however, you should just purchase ready made Fruit Fly media from an online sponsor / vendor or at a local Reptile show.

A simple recipe is this modified "Carolina" mix.

4 parts dried potato flakes (the base part)
1 part powdered (fluffy) confectionery sugar (the sugar part)
1 part BREWERS yeast (the protein part) available online, or at a nutritional store, like GNC
a dash of cinnamon (some say it helps the culture smell better as well as prevent mold)

Some white vinegar added to hot water (the liquid part). Methyl paraben is the scientific substance (both prevent mold)

This should be mixed with hot water to form a semi-firm mixture (not soupy or runny -think a little more solid than applesauce) then add excelsior (or other similar material like coffee filters) should be added to increase surface area for the flies. Finally add a dash of active baker’s yeast. Flies are then added after the mixture is cool.

Culture Containers / Cups ? glass or plastic containers are fine, some of us use glass (mason jars with the metal lid removed and a coffee filter inserted) while most use plastic 32 oz large "deli-type cups" which can be ordered online. Both can be used and cleaned continually even after many years. I have plastic culture cups and lids that are well over 5 years old. Most glass jars can be obtained free, from different sources or used food items and the popular 32 oz plastic “deli” cups with screen lids only cost @ 50-70 cents apiece. I personally find that the commercial fruit fly 32 oz cups are by far and away easiest to use. The LIDS MUST BE VENTILATED....us the FABRIC coated lids not the lids with the tiny holes that allow mites and other flies to walk right in. The FF and larvae need to breathe.

Culturing tips: when making a new culture pour flies into a small container (like another clean 32oz plastic deli cup) and shake with dust. This will allow you to easily transport the files to a new culture.
Make new CXs (cultures) once a week when the newest flies emerge. (Use these flies)
label your culture lids with dates in sharpie or similar way help prevent mites by keeping old (older than 5-6 weeks) CXs out of the culture/ frog-room area. Mites can decimate even the best cultures. Try to make your new cultures on the same day of the week and do not forget or skip a day. This will allow proper overlap and ensure continued proper production.

When should I make new cultures? This is one of the most important questions to ask. To ensure continual fly production, I find it best to make at least one new culture EVERY WEEK - and more depending upon how many Frogs you are feeding. Pick a day of the week and STICK TO IT. Don't put it off or make excuses or blow it off, as it will come back to hurt you and you will have a "gap" in your FF production. This is referred to as a Culture ROUTINE and it's one of the most important bits of advice I can offer - to go by that routine, no matter what. New cultures should be made from more than one boom from separate cultures. Try to take flies from at least three different booming cultures, and make separate NEW cultures from these - thus maximizing your chances of success with the new culture and production. NEVER mix flies from different cultures. You will breed fliers that way.

How long does the "standard" wingless Melanogaster Fruit Fly live ?  - About 30-35 days


Two Kinds of Yeast ?!!?

Yep:

1. Baker's Yeast. The small, off-white-ish grains or sometimes little balls found in little foils packets or small dark coloured glass jars. This yeast is ACTIVE, or alive. It gets sprinkled on top of the freshly made culture and allows for the breakdown of the FF media. The maggots can then consume and process the media more easily, this way. FF that you transfer or "seed" a new culture should also have some active yeast on their legs and this can help the breakdown process as well. I always use some baker's yeast though, and don't fully rely on the FF's to drag some over with them. This is the yeast that you sprinkle a bit on the top of the freshly completed culture.

2. Brewer's Yeast .This is a fine brown powdery substance that adds protein to the culture and is an mixed-in ingredient that should be in every media mixture. It's usually found in health food grocery store aisles and comes in a small tub with a pop top. This is the most expensive ingredient and some people tend to skimp on it, which results in markedly decreased FF production.

Culturing fruit flies is very easy and only takes practice and confidence to master.

Good luck and remember to start culturing before you get your frogs, don’t let them suffer due to your inability to maintain their food properly.
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#2
How much FF media should we be putting into the deli cup or mason jar?

How many FFs should we seed the new culture with?
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#3
itskris Wrote:How much FF media should we be putting into the deli cup or mason jar?

How many FFs should we seed the new culture with?


I add about 1/2 inch of the dry media - enough to cover the bottom of the cup thoroughly. When you add hot water to the dry media, it will expand in volume. Seasonal (ambiant room humidity) and geographic variables also come into play and will effect final size and consistancy - too wet or too dry. A little experimentation will allways be in order here - another reason to practice culturing prior to obtaining your first frogs.

Seeding seems to work best with @ 50 or so flies. Be sure to count them (kidding).
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#4
Another fly I've really come to love is the Turkish Gliders. I picked up a culture at the Hamburg show in Feb, and those things reproduce like mad. I haven't had any bad experiances with them, and just use a recipe that is similar to the modified "carolina mix".

I did have a question about the mold inhibitor. Has anyone ever tried using LorAnn Oils Preserve-it Mold Inhibitor? You can get a 4fl oz bottle for @$10, just wondering if it would be safe for cultures.
Preserve-It Mold Inhibitor
Product Number:6070-0500
Contains: Water, Potassium sorbate. Kosher Certified.
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#5
try to ask the more experienced keepers about that mold inhibitor. The guys that have been into this the longest can probably advise you. I'm the play it safe type guy.

i use only natural ingredients in my fruit fly cultures and always make more cultures than i need. for the dry ingredients i use high quality nutritious ingredients as to ensure healthy flies for my frogs. my media consists of potato flakes, powdered sugar, brewers yeast, a teaspoon of spirulina. i use a water and vinegar mixture for the wet ingredients. it works very well for me.

assuming you are what you eat stay away from methyl paraben or any other mold inhibitor but i do know that frog keepers use it. i think the key to deciding would be to ask the most experienced guys on the forum. if they've been using it or if they stay away i would trust their opinion.

I'd be curious if there was ever any study or research on the subject but i doubt it.i just choose not to use it myself. i want to food items that the frogs are consuming to be nutritious and feel the frogs will be as long as i play it safe. hopefully the old timers to the hobby find your question and reply what they feel about mold inhibitors.good luck
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#6
^^ Agree. Use a natural mold inhibitor if you must. Cinnamon, white vinegar...that type of thing.

90% of the time, the mold is something unique to some excelsior or the area of your basement where you keep the cultures and can easily be corrected without chemicals.
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#7
any other natural mold inhibitors ? Blueberries ?
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#8
I know a guy who used to sprinkle blueberry powder on the surface as a mold inhibitor. It seemed to work well for him.
Glenn
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#9
Would it damage a growing culture to spray or otherwise put some white vinegar in to stop mold on the surface? Not the black mold. White/bluish "fluffy" kind.
I read that it works while preparing the culture, and will do that from now on, the recipe I was using didn't mold, but new media I'm using molded on day 3 after starting it.
Lisa
In central NY

R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' 2.3.0
R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' Froglets 8 and counting.
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#10
Sure...I would experiment with adding some vinegar - a tablespoon to start with and then maybe more. Not a problem.

There's a TON of trial and error for everyone's FF culturing and no two hobbyists methods and production are the same !
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#11
Dart Frogs are more than ok eating small flies. Tiny flies. Heck, they eat mites and smaller stuff in the wild. The biggest dart frog, teribillis, breeds just fine on a staple of small melanogaster.

Some people think they need a bigger fly - like hydei and that's just incorrect.

Hydei are so much harder to culture...new people should first get melanogaster down pat. Much easier.
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#12
D. melanogaster lifespan and ideal temperaturesFrom Wikipedia:

The D. melanogaster lifespan is about 30 days at 84 °F.

The developmental period for Drosophila melanogaster varies with temperature, as with many ectothermic species.

The shortest development time (egg to adult), 7 days, is achieved at 82 °F.Development times increase at higher temperatures (11 days at 86 °F) due to heat stress.

Under ideal conditions, the development time at 77 °F is 8.5 days.

At 64 °F it takes 19 days.

At 54 °F it takes over 50 days.

Under crowded conditions, development time increases, while the emerging flies are smaller.Females lay some 400 eggs (embryos), about five at a time, into rotting fruit or other suitable material such as decaying mushrooms and sap fluxes. The eggs, which are about 0.5 millimetres long, hatch after 12–15 hours (at 77 °F).The resulting larvae grow for about 4 days,while molting twice (into 2nd- and 3rd-instar larvae), at about 24 and 48 hours after hatching.During this time, they feed on the microorganisms that decompose the fruit, as well as on the sugar of the fruit itself. Then the larvae encapsulate in the puparium and undergo a four-day-long metamorphosis, after which the adults eclose (emerge).
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#13
Just an interesting article on the subject of fruit flies.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17...fruit-fly/
-Dan
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#14
Check out the 5 year University study that found carotenoids added to the fruit fly media has health benefits to the frogs eating them.
I like blue frogs!
Tom
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#15
By Nikki Sigmon

There are many ways of creating fruit fly cultures, with pros and cons of each.
This is by no means the only way to culture fruit flies, but it is the most common and popular at this time.


Fruit fly Culture Example

Components of a fruit fly culture


Container & Lid - Something to hold the flies, media, and preferably easy to harvest from.
32 oz Insect culture cups with fabric-covered plastic lids are often used and are easy to wash and
reuse after washing. Hole-punched lids without some sort of screen do not have a good track
record of keeping maggots in, or of keeping wild fruit fly eggs out. Glass mason jars or plastic drink cups with a paper towel secured with the ring or rubber band are also used.

Media - It’s the mash at the bottom of the culture, and it’s what the fruit flies and their maggots eat.
It is sold and stored as dry ingredients, and liquid is added upon creation of new cultures. There are many DIY recipes and a number of pre-mixed medias are available online.

Mold Inhibitor - Methylparaben (AKA: Tegosept), Cinnamon, and white or apple vinegar are all mold
inhibitors. Each media recipe has their own preference as to which to use. Methylparaben and cinnamon should be used in small amounts - there is evidence that too much can reduce production, amounts vary upon the recipe. 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar per culture is usually enough to hinder mold. Many diy types do not use Methylparaben, relying on vinegar instead.

Baker’s Yeast - Baker’s yeast is a live yeast that is sprinkled on the top of cultures to help reduce mold
growth by allowing the yeast to outcompete the undesirable molds. Also called instant yeast.

Climbing Medium - This is added to increase the climbable surface area which increases the longevity
of the adult fruit flies. Natural aspen wood wool (usually called excelsior) is commonly used. A second favorite to use is multiple bunches of 3+ coffee filters folded up into triangles. Other options sometimes used by hobbyists include  decorative (undyed) spanish moss, dried luffa, strips of window screening, cardboard, paper plates, and the list goes on.




How to Create Fruit fly Cultures:

*(Note, there are variations and amount differences for doing this. Go by package/diy instructions)
Heat up some water to boiling (some diy instructions don’t recommend this step)
Add measured amount of media to a clean culture cup
Add measured amount of warmed water
Add a splash (~1-2 tablespoons) of vinegar
Stir the media mixture. In general, you want a thick applesauce.
Drier climates may require more liquid, humid climates may do better with less liquid.
Sprinkle a pinch of active baker’s yeast on top of the mash
Add your choice of climbing medium (excelsior, coffee filters, etc)
Cap with the lid and let cool, or put in fridge for a few minutes. Capping reduces contamination.
Harvest fruit flies from another culture to seed the new culture. Swirl them in supplement dust to make it easier to handle and to reduce grain mite transfer. Add approximately 50-100 flies (or 1/2 - 1 teaspoon) to each new culture.
Cap with the lid and store out of direct sunlight. Keep cultures in the mid-upper 70s*F/21-27*C.

How to Harvest Fruit flies
Get a clean culture cup or other container and add a bit of supplement powder.
Take the harvestable ff culture (~2-4 weeks old) and tap the flies down to the bottom.
Open the lid, tap some ffs into the supplement cup, recap the lid, and set aside. This may take some practice, but if you keep tapping the cups you can greatly reduce any escapees. Harvesting over a sink makes it easy to wash escapees down the drain. And placing the culture in the fridge or freezer for a minute or so can slow them down for easier harvest.
Swirl the ffs in the supplement cup to ensure good coverage of the supplement powder used. Different types of supplements have different weights and may require more frequent tapping to keep the ff from crawling out.
Feed off from the supplement cup, and/or to seed new cultures.

Video Examples
These are just a small number of helpful youtube videos on how to culture fruit flies:


Dart Frog Queen:
How to harvest:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9PkDXLK13A&t=238s
How to culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBz9pZuB1oc&t=258s

Joshsfrogs:
How to culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpFL8GsqJfA

Dendrozone:
How to culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8tHID3fJ8A

Troy Goldberg:
How to culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7jiNxSlqw
Potential Pests & How to Manage

Grain Mites:
There are a few species that these mites could be, but the dart frog hobby all calls them “grain mites,” and they can all be handled the same way. Grain mites are tiny, white or amber-colored, slow moving mites. They eat the fruit fly media and can hinder production if the population is not controlled. Thankfully, these mites are not parasites. Other than being irritating in large numbers, they will not harm the flies, frogs, or other herps such as snakes. Some people have a sensitivity to them if not controlled.

Grain mite populations can be easily controlled and kept from contaminating clean cultures by setting the cultures on anti-mite paper or a dusting of diatomaceous earth and not allowing the cultures to touch each other. Dusting the fruitflies before starting (or “seeding”) a new culture not only makes them more manageable, but it also helps reduce the number of mites that are transferred into the new culture. A product called BugBlade can also be used to kill mites by dusting on the flies before seeding new cultures. Culture cups should be “tossed” and cleaned out every 30 days to mitigate high population pressure.

Grain Mite (unknown source)    Mold Mite(Oregon state extension)              Storage Mites (fera.co.uk)


Flying Fruit flies:

Flying fruit flies in your ff cultures are caused by 2 things, potentially 3:
1) Contamination from wild sources. Fliers can lay eggs on the media if not covered immediately after creating new cultures. If using the hole-punched lids instead of fabric-vented or waffle-fabric-vented, they can also lay eggs in the holes.
2) You are using a temperature-dependent fruit fly. Hydei, flightless melanogaster, and Turkish glider melanogaster flightlessness is based on a temperature-dependent protein that when temps are high while pupating, the protein folds correctly and allows for proper wing development, producing fliers. If you never want issues with that again, keep wingless melanogaster. They are not temperature-dependent, though if you are feeding a lot of larger frogs like Dendrobates tinctorius or larger, you will need a LOT of cultures.
3) Mutations can occur, though I personally doubt this is the cause of the vast majority of reversions. People have kept the same lines of ff for many many months and years and have not experienced a flight-enabling mutation. Fliers are more often a problem for newer froggers, leading me to further believe that the first two causes are more common.
Potential Pests & How to Manage (Continued)

Fungus Gnats, Phorid Flies, Scavenger Flies
Basically, other flying creatures that  you don’t want in your cultures that occasionally pop up. These can also be found in isopod and springtail cultures, which can be a source of recurring contamination. The best line of defense against these creatures is to keep your cultures lidded when not harvesting/seeding, and to use fabric-vented or waffle-fabric-vented culture lids. The hole-punched lids or diy paper towel lids can allow for these fliers to lay eggs through the lid and contaminate the culture with their offspring.

Fungus Gnat (unknown source)        Fungus Gnat (BugGuide.net)        Fungus Gnat Larvae (BugGuide.net)



Phorid Flies (BugGuide.net)              Phorid Fly Maggot & Pupae (afbini.gov.uk)


                     
Minute Black Scavenger Flies (BugGuide.net)                    Minute Black Scavenger Fly Larvae (padil.gov.au)
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