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Review by Dr. Pritam Singh:
Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects, John C. Schneider (ed.)
(2009, Mississippi State University, 352 pp.)

Every insect rearing facility, small or large, will benefit from Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects. It has covered all aspects of rearing. This is a manual for every insect rearing practitioner in the 21st century. The authors and editor are to be congratulated for its accuracy, in-depth coverage of content and high production quality.

Insect rearing is an ancient science. Three industries, based on insects, have employed thousands of people. For example, silk production from Bombyx mori in China dates back 7,000 years; the lac insect, Laccifer lacca formed the basis of the shellac industry in India for several thousand years; and production of honey from Apis mellifera has been mentioned in the Bible and ancient Egyptian scripts. In the twentieth century, the era of contemporary rearing began when Bogdanow from Russia in 1908 reared a blowfly, Calliphora vomitoria, on an artificial diet. Since then, many species have been produced in millions: screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax; boll weevil, Anthonomous grandis; boll worm complex, Heliothis spp.; pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella; codling moth, Cydia pomonella; cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni; several species of tropical fruit flies, house fly; mosquitoes; crickets; mealworms; and several species of parasites, to mention a few. However, in spite of these successes, there was no degree or training program available in insect rearing until the 21 century.

A formal workshop "Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects" was first held in September 2000 at the Insect Rearing Center in the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at the Mississippi State University under the leadership of Dr. Frank M. Davis. All the contributors have been tutoring at the workshop since its inception and are leading authorities in their respective fields.

This book is the result of this landmark training program. There are 11 chapters in the book starting with "Introduction" by Norman C. Leppla, Frank M. Davis and John C. Schneider; "Insectary Design and Construction" by William R. Fisher; "The Insectary Manager" by William R. Fisher; "Health and Safety Issues in Rearing Arthropods" by John R. Reinecke; "Genetic Considerations and Strategies for Rearing High Quality Insects" by Michael A. Caprio; "Environmental Biology of Insect Rearing" by John C. Schneider; "Insect Nutrition, Feeding, and Artificial Diets" by Muhammad F. Chaudhury; "Microbial Contamination and Insect Rearing" by Douglas Inglis and Peter P. Sikorowski; "Entomopathogens and Insect Rearing" by Douglas Inglis and Peter P. Sikorowski; "The Basics of Quality Control for Insect Rearing" by Norman C. Leppla; and "Insect Rearing Production Systems, A Case Study: The Southwestern Corn Borer" by Frank M. Davis.

The book has over 200 illustrations and includes an 18-page cross referenced index. This book provides an in-depth presentation of every primary element comprising professional insect rearing programs. Its scope includes the entire range of insect rearing but focuses on medium-scale rearing on artificial diets. By applying the principles and procedures discussed here, one can establish new rearing programs or improve those that already exist. In addition, procedures are presented to prevent, diagnose and solve many of the problems that may arise time to time in insect rearing.

Pritam Singh, Section Leader (Retired), Insect Rearing, Entomology Division, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Private Bag, Auckland, New Zealand. Current address: 2035 Sauvignon, San Antonio, Texas, 78258.

Editor's note: Dr. Singh is a true pioneer of insect rearing and is arguably the person most responsible for promoting the movement from in vivo to in vitro rearing. He is well known internationally for his development of artificial diets, rearing management systems, and for his many publications including the following landmark books: Artificial Diets for Insects, Mites, and Spiders (1977, Plenum Publishing, 594 pp.) and Handbook of Insect Rearing, Vol. I and Vol. II (1985, co-edited with R. F. Moore, Elsevier Science Publishing, 488 and 514 pp.).

Review by Dr. J. Howard Frank (The Florida Entomologist):
Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects, John C. Schneider (ed.)
(2009, Mississippi State University, 352 pp.)

The last book to cover this subject area thoroughly was Singh & Moore (eds.) 1985, Handbook of insect rearing. Now out of print, that book had been the standard for a quarter century. This new book, in large format (8.5 x 11), is carefully integrated to cover all aspects of rearing, and is a worthy successor. Not only that, but it provides excellent value, with printing costs subsidized by a contribution from BASF Corporation.

The concentration of this book is on medium-scale rearing using artificial diets, but it is relevant also to industrial-scale rearing and even to trouble-shooting in small-scale (tabletop) rearing. It has 11 chapters followed by an 18-page index, and it has nine contributors, 10 of them based in the USA, one a USDA employee based in Panama. Chapter 1 is a short Introduction explaining the diverse needs for reared insects, and the taxonomic diversity of reared insects (a 1987 publication claimed 676 species reared in more than 1500 cultures worldwide).

Chapter 2 is about insectary design and construction and, like so many other chapters, is essential reading. Among its many examples is that of the large-scale facility constructed near Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico, in the 1970s to read billions of screwworm flies. Chapter 3 concerns management of an insectary, the need for planning and organization, and personnel management. Chapter 4 covers issues of the health and safety of workers in an insectary, with all the hazards that occur in other factories, but also with consideration of hazards special to insectaries: allergens and pathogens.

Of course insects reared under artificial conditions will be placed under selection pressure to adapt, and of course this is a concern. Chapter 5 considers the genetics of reared insects and how the genetic quality of reared populations may be managed. Chapter 6 is titled 'Environmental biology of insect rearing' and deals of course with aspects of the environment (light, temperature, and humidity) within the insectary and how these must be regulated for the well-being of the insect occupants. It is peppered with 23 text boxes, each containing a helpful tip from the experience of the author. This chapter and its tips are helpful even to very small-scale rearing efforts outside rooms that might formally be designated insectaries.

Chapter 7 on insect nutrition, feeding, and diets, is arguably the very core of the book. Perhaps a whole book could be written on this topic alone (menus for reared insects), but this chapter does not have the space to deal with more than generalities. Although the chapter leads toward the use of artificial diets for their economy in large-scale rearing, it must be noted that artificial diets for several insects are now available commercially for purchase. Also, for those persons wishing to develop a new artificial diet, some of the basic ingredients can be purchased ready prepared, such as Wesson salt mixture, and Vanderzant vitamin mixture.

Chapters 8 and 9 together occupy 140 pages, almost 40% of the book. They are on microbial contamination and insect rearing, and entomopathogens and insect rearing. As anyone who has tried to rear insects knows, pathogens can have a disastrous effect on an insect culture. What are these pathogens? How does contamination occur and how can it be minimized? How do diets get contaminated and how can this be minimized? What is the interplay between the human employees, the insect diets, and the insect cultures in fostering contamination, and which pathogens are dangerous to humans?

Although Chapter 3 already dealt with management of insectaries, Chapter 10 takes a hard look at quality control of their product. The insects produced obviously must be healthy and fit for their stated purpose. They must also be produced on time and in the planned quantity. Monitoring and testing obviously are required as in other industrial processes. Optimization is the key word. The chapter again mentions the screwworm rearing facility at Tuxtla Gutierrez, but also one for production of Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) at Metapa de Dominguez, Chiapas, Mexico, which was constructed in 1979 and likewise has produced billions of flies.

The final chapter (11) takes a detailed look at a rearing production system for the southwestern corn borer, Diatraea grandiosella Dyar (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) at Mississippi State and touches on all the subjects (relevant to it) that appeared in the preceding chapters (relevant to insect rearing in general). This book is not something that any entomologist might pick up and skim just for pleasure, but it is something that any entomologist who gets serious about rearing insects should own and become familiar with.

J.H. Frank
Entomology & Nematology Dept.
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0630

Editor's Note: Dr. J. H. Frank is Book Review Editor for The Florida Entomologist, a position he has held for ca. 20 years. Trained as an insect ecologist, he has developed a successful biological control program against Scapteriscus mole crickets in Florida and has published extensively on bromeliad/insect interactions. The above is the text of his review, which he generously provided in advance of publication. A link will be provided to the published review, which is scheduled to appear in the June issue of The Florida Entomologist.

Chapters and Authors (Click for the full Table of Contents and Author Affiliations.)

1 Introduction

2 Insectary Design and Construction

3 The Insectary Manager

4 Health and Safety Issues in Rearing Arthropods

5 Genetic Considerations and Strategies for Rearing High Quality Insects

6 Environmental Biology of Insect Rearing

7 Insect Nutrition, Feeding, and Artificial Diets

8 Microbial Contamination and Insect Rearing

9 Entomopathogens and Insect Rearing

10 The Basics of Quality Control for Insect Rearing

11 Insect Rearing Production Systems, A Case Study: The Southwestern Corn Borer

Additional Information including Ordering

The book is 8.5x11" (21x28 cm) and contains 370 pages printed on 70-lb, coated, matte-finish paper. There are 203 illustrations of which 25 are printed using a 4-color process. An 18-page (ca. 1300 entries) and extensively cross referenced index is provided. The book is hardcover with a laminated, 4-color surface. The binding is Smyth-sewn for durability and flat opening. It was printed and bound by Thomson-Shore, Inc. located in Dexter, MI.

A generous contribution by BASF Corporation toward printing this book is gratefully acknowledged. All proceeds from sales of the book will be used to support the Insect Rearing Center at Mississippi State University. Click for ordering information.