Peas are good, peas are good!

This month we’re shining the spotlight on Pea Aphids, these tiny glorious green goodies make for the perfect supplemental diet for dart frogs, mantellas and in fact anything small enough see them as food.

Amazingly the pea aphid has been the focus of nutritional research for decades as it’s a species of high agricultural importance, this is good as it means we know lots about their suitability as a frog food item. Firstly they are packed with protein in fact over 50% of the dried matter when analysed together with 7% sugars and 11% fat. Well what does that mean? firstly they’re tasty! and even better they are basically designed to make your frogs grow, but then so do fruit flies and micro crickets, so what sets them apart? well they have this amazing ability to process amino acids plus they also host a symbiotic bacteria that accumulates carotenoids for them to use, this makes them jam packed full of naturally occurring carotenoids, in fact pea aphids have been shown to contain traceable levels of β-cryptoxanthin, high levels of cis β-carotene and trans α-caorotene, astronomical levels of trans β-carotene and decent levels γ-carotene making them a virtually perfect dart frog food item.

Peas are good, peas are good!
So good news we’ve found the perfect food, what’s the downside, well they aren’t that easy to culture, at least not to”keep” in culture. Over the last 25 years I’ve been keeping dart frogs (BB) I’ve tried multiple times to culture pea aphids and soaking some peas and sticking them in a pot on compost or cotton wool works ok, some of the time but sometimes they just fail and I was never sure why, other times I messed up the timings and by the time the peas had sprouted the previous cultures had died off, or worse still for a while I was culturing pea aphids every week and all I ever had enough aphids for was to make up the next weeks cultures….what was the point!  Well you have to get the timings right, and some dried peas need longer time soaking than others, also some are too dried and never recover, also the substrate can be too wet or too dry and that will kill off your peas and in turn the aphids, if fruit flies get into the peas they can be a problem and you can get mite infestations, but the most annoying thing is that what works for one person 100% of the time might not work for you as the environment might be just not quite right on your windowsill!  So sadly pea aphids are an amazing food type but their culture is often hit and miss and at times non-replicable. But lucky for you guys we have a colony that is going from strength to strength, as long as we don’t move them, so perhaps just buy them in every now and then as a treat or a breeding season supplement, or have a go at culturing them they might work out for you. but if not you know where we are 🙂

PS if you do buy some in as soon as you get them take the lids off they don’t like wet stagnant air, and probab;y sit them in a large plastic storage box so that if the peas go for a walk you can still harvest them 😉