Insect Rearing Center

Mississippi State University Mississippi State University

International Insect Rearing Workshop


Dr. Louela Castrillo lecturing during workshop
Dr. Louela Castrillo lecturing during workshop

In 2000, the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University (MSU) initiated formal education for those who rear insects under laboratory conditions. The idea of a workshop devoted to insect rearing was conceived by USDA/ARS and MSU researchers who had spent many years rearing insects professionally. Not only did they recognize a need for insect rearing education in this country; but, based on their extensive international travels, they also recognized a global need for such education. Thus, an intensive five-day workshop titled "Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects" designed to cover all the major areas of laboratory rearing of insects and advertised on a world-wide basis was born.

The first insect rearing workshop was held fall 2000. Attendance was limited to 24 students primarily to allow hands-on laboratories as part of the educational experience. Because the demand for the workshop was so great, we scheduled a second workshop that same fall. We currently limit attendance to 28 students. We completed our 18th workshop in October 2015.

A total of 435 students have attended the workshop. Of these, 124 have traveled to the U.S. from a total of 29 countries. The remaining students originated from a total of 39 states and territories within the U.S. Breakdown of the attendees based on gender and on public institutions vs. private industry are as follows: 49/51% (female/male) and 41/59% (public/private).

On several occasions, the workshop has been dedicated to an individual who deserves recognition for having made significant contributions to the field of insect rearing. Those who have received this distinction include the following:

  • Dr. Peter P. Sikorowski for his outstanding research on disease and diet contamination and their management in insectaries.
  • Dr. Norman C. Leppla for his superior leadership role in the insect rearing community and for his pioneering and continuing efforts in establishing the "Quality Control Concept" for rearing programs.
  • Dr. Alan C. Bartlett for his scientific contributions to the understanding of genetic changes within colonies of laboratory reared insects.
  • Dr. Pritam Singh for his pioneering efforts in developing artificial diets and systems for rearing many insects in the laboratory.
  • Dr. Frank M. Davis for his development and dissemination of outstanding rearing technology for lepidoptera and for his primary role in the initiation of this workshop.
  • Dr. Allen Carson Cohen for his outstanding contributions to insect nutrition and development of artificial diets for both phytophagous and entomophagous insects.
  • Dr. William "Bill" Fisher for his many outstanding contributions to insectary design and management during his ca. 30-year long career with private industry.
  • Dr. Clarence Collison for his support of the MSU Insect Rearing Workshop from its inception through 2009 as Head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.
  • Mr. Carlos White for creation of the family-owned company "Insect Lore", which has reared the Painted Lady butterflies used to introduce millions of children around the world to the wonder of metamorphosis.
  • Dr. Muhammad Chaudhury for his many contributions to insect rearing including development work on diets to rear the screwworm fly for the Sterile Insect Technology programs in Central America and for his tireless contributions to this workshop.
  • Dr. Louella Castrillo for her outstanding contributions as the instructor in insect pathology for the International Insect Rearing Workshop.
  • Ms. Carole McReynolds Davis for her service as Frank Davis' helpmate and cheerleader and as an independent and indefatigable dispenser of Mississippi-style, old fashioned Southern Hospitality to all the workshop students, but especially the international students, 2000-2013.
  • Ms. Amanda Lawrence for her indefatigable assistance with the Insect Pathology Laboratory and arranging for and setting up the food at Workshop breaks.

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Images and Student Comments from the 2015 Workshop

This picture was provided by Kat Lawrence who is employed with MAFES Agricultural Communications

2015 Workshop Participants and Instructors
2015 Workshop Participants and Instructors

At the close of each workshop, students complete a comprehensive evaluation assessing strengths and weaknesses of lecturers, workshop logistics, and overall workshop effectiveness. These evaluations have been critical to the continued improvement of the workshop. We are proud of an average overall workshop effectiveness rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 for the 2015 Workshop. A few comments from the 2015 workshop attendees follow:

Comment 1: “The workshop lifted my confidence. I was surprised and pleased to realize the things I am already doing well. There were several little nuggets of information that I can use immediately. Each of these provided justification for the workshop price by itself.

Comment 2: “I am fully satisfied; happy to have had the top level lecturers at my disposal for a week. They have been always ready to answer and helpful even with my simple questions. Prof Frank Davis has built a unique group of experts at MSU and has called [in] other experts. I am very grateful to him.”

Comment 3: “Overall, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this workshop. I have learned a tremendous amount of vital information that I will take back and implement in my labs.”

Comment 4: “I have been really impressed with the staff lecturing & appreciate the breaks and meals we can use for casual conversations on entomology. Talking to you all and the other students has been as helpful to me as the information in the lectures.”

Comment 5: “This a really great experience for any entomologist, but even more so for folks that have a need for/love for insect rearing. You all do a great job of organizing and maintaining this—from the instructors, the department folks and staff, volunteers who bring in treats, etc.—and this is really to be commended. Was a great time!”

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Fall 2016 Workshop: Overview

The next MSU Insect Rearing Workshop will be held Sunday early afternoon through Thursday evening October 16-20, 2016.

The program will include a series of lectures delivered by the following instructors:

  • Dr. Michael Caprio (MSU) - Genetics
  • Dr. Louela Castrillo (Cornell U., USDA/ARS) - Diseases & Contamination
  • Dr. Muhammad Chaudhury (USDA/ARS) - Diets
  • Dr. John Schneider (MSU) - Environmental Biology
  • Dr. Frank Davis; Sen Seong Ng (MSU; USDA/ARS, retired; BioPDA LLC) - Production Systems
  • Dr. William "Bill" Fisher (BASF) - Insectary Design & Management
  • Dr. Norman Leppla (U. of Florida) - Quality Control
  • Sen Seong Ng (BioPDA LLC) – Safety and Health Issues
  • Tom Riddell (Air Filter Sales and Service) Air Filtration Specialist

This team of experts includes several who have more than 40 years experience in rearing a wide range of insect species. While presentations contain pertinent basic scientific information, instructors are encouraged to stress the applied side of rearing because problem solving is essential to successful rearing. To enhance the oral presentations, each student will receive our book "Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects", a CD containing PDFs of all of the lectures, and a manual containing a variety of additional information.

Two laboratories will be held. These "hands-on" laboratories will deal with insectary pathology. The first lab is microbiology-oriented and covers identification of various disease agents. The second lab deals with methodologies used to solve disease and contamination problems.

During the workshop, tours will be made of the MSU Insect Rearing Center and an outstanding, local USDA/ARS rearing laboratory to observe their production systems, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and standard operating procedures for various insect species.

Social events will be held during three evenings to provide opportunities for lecturers and students to enjoy some delicious Southern cooking while sharing rearing information and just relaxing. Each day, two breaks are held for snacks and additional interchange of information among participants. Networking of students and lecturers is a goal of the workshop because such relationships facilitate the long-term exchange of information and ideas.

The dedication of the 2016 workshop will be made at the final social event of the workshop-hopefully with the honoree in attendance.

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Fall 2016 Workshop Special Presentation: To be announced

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