Online Education: Introduction to Insect Rearing (March-May of 2022)

Please note the new format for our online courses. We no longer offer the self-timed rearing courses, and instead we offer all live (synchronous) courses. In the new format students attend class meetings via Zoom, and we use the Moodle system for presentation of class notes and course enrichment documents. These courses include about 60 hours of instruction by lecture, videos, and discussion, AND we provide extra instruction and interaction with Professor Cohen through email and through video communication where the students can exchange information and questions with the instructor. This format allows provision of course information of the general concepts of insect rearing, along with opportunity to develop an enhanced understanding of the students’ specific rearing issues.

Registration Information here

Course 1: Diets Topics (emphasis on quality diets’ characteristics: palatability, nutrition, bioavailabilty, stability)
March 1, 2022 Introduction, how we study diets
March 3, 2022 Kinds of diets/ Nutrition
March 8, 2022 Nutrition Feeding biology
March 10, 2022 Feeding biology (mouth parts)
March 15, 2022 Feeding biology (gut structures, etc.)
March 17, 2022 Diet equipment
March 22, 2022 Diet error factors/ diet interactions
March 24, 2022 Diet development
Course 2: Operations  Emphasis on Structural Dynamics of Multiple Rearing Systems
March 29, 2022 Introduction, the system concept
March 31, 2022 Understanding the interplay between system components
April 5, 2022 System Case Studies: silkworms, Drosophila rearing systems
April 7, 2022 Case Studies: pink bollworm, Mass-rearing boll weevils, corn earworms, army worms
April 12, 2022 Case Studies: Gypsy moth and screwworms
April 14, 2022 Case Studies: tephritid fruit flies
April 19, 2022 Case Studies: plant bugs and predators
April 21, 2022 Case Studies: other major rearing operations
Course 3: Stress, Design, Control Emphasis on Control of Stress Factors and Reducing Error
April 26, 2022 Introduction, design of experiments and statistical process control
April 28, 2022 Quality control, process control, error
May 3, 2022 Microbial Relations Part 1
May 5, 2022 Microbial Relations Part 2
May 10, 2022 Domestication and Genetics Part 1
May 12, 2022 Domestication and Genetics Part 2
May 17, 2022 Stress, Homeostasis, and Stability Part 1
May 19, 2022 Stress, Homeostasis, and Stability Part 2
May 24, 2022 Conclusions and Discussion (extra, optional class meetings for wrap-up and clarification of students’ special issues)
May 26, 2022 Conclusions and Discussion (extra, optional class meetings for wrap-up and clarification of students’ special issues)

These classes are scheduled to be taught live (via Zoom and Moodle) from 2:00-4:20 pm Eastern Time. However, we can arrange to have different times to accommodate people from time zones that are very different from the US times. For example, last year, I taught the classes from 7:00 to 9:20 pm (Eastern Time) to accommodate people in the Asian-Pacific region. We can arrange times for Asian-Pacific, African and European participants, provided that we can get five or more participants for each time frame. To meet the needs of our world audience, we can begin lectures at times that correspond with convenient local times.

Registration Fees: $250 for each course ($750 for all three courses).

Please note that these 3 courses can be taken in any sequence (i.e., Course 1 is not a pre-requisite for Course 2, etc.) However, there are unique materials in each course, so for a comprehensive rearing background, it is recommended that students take all three courses. The courses consist of eight 2 hour and 10-minute lectures, so the 3 courses (24 lectures) provide 52 hours of concentrated learning opportunity. Also, Professor Cohen encourages students to remain online after class to ask questions or discuss issues of particular interest to them. This feature gives students a further opportunity to get advice and feedback from their instructor. The extensive interactions in these courses are further enhanced by the opportunity to communicate special questions or issues via email. Professor Cohen believes deeply in the Socratic method of inquiry, and he fosters learning by being open to students’ interacting with the materials and he encourages students to further integrate what they have been learning in class with their experiences in their own rearing backgrounds.

To register for courses, please contact Ms. Carolyn Howard (

Insect Diet Science and Technology:

Insect Rearing System Operations:

Design and Control of Insect Rearing Systems:

Carolyn Howard, CPP

Program Assistant

McKimmon Center for Extension and Continuing Education

Office of Professional Development

NC State University

Campus Box 7401

Raleigh, NC 27695

Direct Line: 919-513-2798

Fax: 919-515-7614

Please note that the extensive, detailed summary of the 3 courses follows here:

These topics are taught in an inquiry-based, scientific, rationale-driven approach to rearing. In every module, this question is always of central importance: HOW DOES THE TOPIC RELATE SPECIFICALLY TO INSECT REARING?

For example, when we talk about movement and internal communication, we use examples of how (for example) mishandling insects such as tephritid flies leads to improperly-formed muscles, thus impacting flight. Or in discussing the nature of gas exchange (CO2 release and O2 utilisation), we discuss methods of measuring the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in rearing containers AND how the low O2 or high CO2 concentrations can lead to mitochondrial and breathing tube (tracheoles) deformities.

In these courses, we cover a lot of insect biology (physiology, nutrition, biochemistry, ecology, behavior, and genetics) but ALWAYS in the context of what these concepts mean to insect rearing.

Overview (Who rears insects and why?)
1. Course Philosophy
2. Who Rears Insects? Why Do They Rear Them? Where Are They Reared?
Insectary Structure
3. Insectary Layouts/Floor Plans
4. Insectaries as Environments
5. An Overview of Rearing Containers
6. Basics of Insectary Sanitation
7. Basics of Insectary Safety
The Biological Characteristics and Requirements of Insects
8. Insect Life Cycles in Rearing Settings
9. Insect Feeding Systems I: Nutrition
10. Insect Feeding Systems II: Mouthparts
11. Insect Feeding Systems III: The Digestive System
12. Gas Exchange
13. Movement and Internal Communication
14. Rearing-related Components of Insect Development
15. Reproduction
16. Circulation and Transport
17. Social Biology in the Rearing Setting
18. An Overview of “Healthy” Insects
The Domestication Process (What are the steps in and consequences of domestication?)
19. Insect Genetics: A Brief Overview
20. Domestication: An Overview
21. Domestication: How It Affects Rearing and Insect Quality
22. Understanding Insect Feeding Systems as They Pertain to Rearing
Understanding Insect Diets (What is in diets and what do the components do?)
23. Types of Diets & Diet Terminology
24. Components of Diets & What They Do
25. More about Components of Diets
26. Interactions of Insect Diet Components
27. Stability of Insect Diets & Components
28. Water in Diets (Water Content and Water Activity)
29. Texture of Insect Diets I
30. Texture of Insect Diets II
31. Handling and Treatment of Diets and Diet Components
32. Important Issues in Diet Presentation
Essentials of Insect Reproduction (mating, oviposition, and diapause in rearing systems)
33. Mating in Rearing Systems
34. Oviposition in Rearing Systems
35. Diapause in Rearing Systems
Microbial Management
36. Kinds of Microbes Relevant to Rearing
37. Kinds of Microbial Interactions (Contaminants, Symbionts, Pathogens, and Commensal Microbes)
38. Managing Microbes I
39. Managing Microbes II
40. Managing Microbes III
The Insectary as Environment
41. Temperature and Its Biological Importance
42. Humidity and Its Relationship with Rearing Issues
43. Light (Photoperiod, Intensity, and Quality)
44. Gas Exchange
45. Noise and Vibrations: the Insectary Soundscape
46. Air Quality
47. Special Cases I (Soils)
48. Special Cases II (Aquatic Systems)
Introduction to Statistical Process Control (SPC) in Rearing
49. What Is Statistical Process Control?
50. What Are the Sources of Variation in the Rearing Setting?
51. Using Fishbone Diagrams
52. What Do You Measure and How Do You Measure It?
53. Using SPC Tools for Problem Solving and Process Improvement
54. Using Pareto Charts and Pareto Thinking
55. Using Fishbone Diagrams
56. Developing and Using Process Control Charts
Managing Processes in Rearing Systems (Instruments and Equipment)
57. Basic Laboratory Instruments for Rearing I: pH and Weighing
58. Basic Laboratory Instruments for Rearing II: Water Activity and Water Content
59. Basic Laboratory Instruments for Rearing III: Volumetric and Spectrophotometric Measurements
60. Basic Laboratory Instruments for Rearing IV: Microscopes
61. Diet Instruments I
62. Diet Instruments II
What Every Rearing Specialist Should Know: Developing Education and Academic Background for Self-Improvement as a Rearing Specialist
63. Further Coursework
64. Reading Books and Journals
65. Networking and Tapping into Other Disciplines
66. Using the Internet as a Resource
Supplementary Modules: Videos on Insectaries
Visiting an Insectary I: The Gast Facility
Visiting an Insectary II: The Pink Bollworm Facility
Visiting an Insectary III: The North Carolina State University Insectary
Visiting an Insectary IV: The Otis Gypsy Moth Facility
Visiting an Insectary V: The NC State Quarantine Facility
Visiting an Insectary VI: The NCSU Insect Rearing Education and Research Rearing Rooms

Registration Information here