Insect Rearing Center

Mississippi State University

International Insect Rearing Workshop


Peter Ebling (instructor), Carrie Crook (student), and Christopher Kerr (student) on a tour with Susan Wolf (Biological Sciences Technician, Corn Host Plant Resistance Research, Crop Science Research Laboratory, USDA/ARS, Mississippi State, MS)
Peter Ebling (instructor), Carrie Crook (student), and Christopher Kerr (student) on a tour with Susan Wolf (Biological Sciences Technician, Corn Host Plant Resistance Research, Crop Science Research Laboratory, USDA/ARS, Mississippi State, MS

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 27 students. We completed our 20th workshop in October 2017.

A total of 486 students have attended the workshop. Of these, 137 have traveled to the U.S. from a total of 30 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: 53/47% (female/male) and 40/60% (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.
  • Dr. John C. Schneider for his service to all 19 workshops (2000-to date), editing the book "Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insect", editing the MSU Insect Rearing website, and maintenance of the MSU Insect Rearing Center.

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Group Photo and Student Comments from the 2017 Workshop

This picture was provided by Dominique Belcher, MSU Ag and Natural Resources Marketing

2017 Workshop Participants and Instructors
2017 Workshop Participants and Instructors

At the close of each workshop, students complete a comprehensive evaluation assessing strengths and weaknesses of instructors, 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 4.6 out of 5.0 for the 2017 Workshop. A few comments from the 2017 workshop attendees follow:

Comment 1: "This workshop is truly one of a kind. Everyone is so welcoming and eager to share their knowledge with all of us. The amount of passion and pride that is [apparent in] all of the instructors is truly amazing."

Comment 2: "Workshop was very interesting and I learned a lot! Very nice to meet everyone and network."

Comment 3: "This has been a very eye open[ing] experience! I am going back to work knowing how to rear high quality insects!!"

Comment 4: "You are so welcoming and have treated us each like family, and have fed us too well! I will not forget my experience here and will cherish the knowledge I have gained."

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Fall 2018 Workshop: Overview

The next MSU Insect Rearing Workshop will be held Sunday early afternoon through Thursday evening October 14-18, 2018.

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

  • Dr. Michael Caprio (MSU) - Genetics
  • Dr. Muhammad Chaudhury (USDA/ARS, retired) - Nutrition and Diets
  • Peter Ebling(GC/GLFC, retired) – Quality Control
  • Dr. William "Bill" Fisher (BASF, retired) - Insectary Design; Insectory Management
  • Dr. Sen Seong Ng (BioPDA LLC) – Production Systems
  • Dr. Roberto Pereiro (University of Florida) - Diseases & Contamination
  • Tom Riddell (Air Filter Sales and Service) Air Filtration
  • Dr. John Schneider (MSU) - Environmental Biology
  • TBA - Health Safety

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 jump drive containing PDFs of the lectures, and a variety of additional information.

A student forum/round table will allow attendees to discuss their rearing programs and receive feedback from other attendees as well as from the instructors.

Special presentation by Dr. Jonas King (MSU): "Microbiome considerations during insect rearing."

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.

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 2018 workshop may be made at the final social event of the workshop.

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