Rearing and Long-Term Maintenance of Eristalis tenax Hoverflies for Research Studies

Sarah Nicholas, Malin Thyselius, Karin Nordstrom

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    With an estimated 6000 species worldwide, hoverflies are ecologically important as alternative pollinators to domesticated honeybees. However, they are also a useful scientific model to study motion vision and flight dynamics in a controlled laboratory setting. As the larvae develop in organically polluted water, they are useful models for investigating investment in microbial immunity. While large scale commercial breeding for agriculture already occurs, there are no standardized protocols for maintaining captive populations for scientific studies. This is important as commercial captive breeding programs focusing on mass output during peak pollination periods may fail to provide a population that is consistent, stable and robust throughout the year, as is often needed for other research purposes. Therefore, a method to establish, maintain and refresh a captive research population is required. Here, we describe the utilization of an artificial hibernation cycle, in addition to the nutritional and housing requirements, for long term maintenance of Eristalis tenax. Using these methods, we have significantly increased the health and longevity of captive populations of E. tenax compared to previous reports. We furthermore discuss small scale rearing methods and options for optimizing yields and manipulating population demographics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere57711
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
    Issue number135
    Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2018


    • Entomology
    • Environmental sciences
    • Eristalis tenax
    • Hoverflies
    • Insect maintenance
    • Insect physiology
    • Insect rearing
    • Issue 135
    • Pollinators


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