Current Research Projects in our Insect Rearing Education and Research Program

Two current projects are being conducted in cooperation with the USDA, APHIS.  They are 1) Development and Improvement of Diets and a Rearing System for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and 2) Development of a Diet and Rearing System for Spotted Lanternfly.

EAB larva in artificial diet

EAB larva in artificial diet


EAB in ash tree

Figure 1. Emerald Ash Borer under bark of ash tree in North Carolina

Approaches: Here are the diet/rearing system development algorithms:

  1. Emerald Ash Borer: use existing diet from the literature as starting point, and build on that using a) analysis of feeding biology, b) analysis of food eaten (phloem wood and leaves from fresh ash trees), c) using SAS, JMP Mixture Design, d) use bioassays to get feedback about the acceptability of diets, e) use texture analysis (rheology) to develop a model of the standard, f) use a continuous improvement “iteration” technique to continue to introduce new or improved components to the rearing system, g) use various presentation techniques (such as diet sandwiches made with either Parafilm or Plexiglass), and test environmental conditions to try to simulate conditions in the natural feeding system, especially with regard to EAB  inside trees, where they feed under bark (please note larva that was revealed after bark was peeled away: also note the trail of frass that characterizes successful feeding dynamics).
  2. Spotted Lanternfly (SLF or Lycorma): use diet for aphids described by Mittler and Dadd 1962) as starting point, and modify the diet and presentation system in accord with the a) feeding biology, b) modifications of the diet based on behavioral responses of the SLF to the diets, c) experimentation with the presentation system for the diets (which are liquid diets that are intended to simulate phloem sap of tree of heaven or grape plants) d) use SAS, JMP Mixture Designs to optimize the responses and support growth, e) use honeydew or exudate production (and analysis) to assess the feeding responses of SLF to different diets and presentation systems.