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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research » Research » Research Project #426388

Research Project: Use of Fluctuating Thermal Regimes During Storage to Improve the Quality of Mass Reared and Stockpiled Insect Species (IAEA Agreement No. 18324/R0)

Location: Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research

Project Number: 3060-21000-041-02-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 19, 2014
End Date: Feb 13, 2019

Many programs that use mass reared insects employ cold storage techniques at some point in their process. Short-term cold storage can optimize the insect’s life stage with the environment in which they will be released, and can be an important tool for improved insect shipment protocols. Long-term storage can be used to stockpile insects for release at a particular time. However, recent data indicates that static temperatures, which are the most prevelant approach to insect storage, is suboptimal. Using the alfalfa leafcutting bee as a model, our research group has demonstrated that using a fluctuating thermal regime (FTR) during storage greatly improves the shelf-life of both developing and quiescent bees when compared to their counterparts stored under static conditions. When quiescent bees were stored under an FTR, shelf life was essentially prolonged for an additional year. Additionally, bees stored under an FTR the quality of the resultant adults was substantially improved. These results have the potential to greatly impact bee producers, and also has broad implications for other mass reared insects including those reared for Sterile Insect Technique programs and the commercialization of natural enemies of pest species. Among other benefits, optomizing FTR protocols for other mass reared insects could greatly enhance the ability to stockpile insects to synchronize insect supply with seasonal demand.

Using the alfalfa leafcutting bee as a model, we will work to optimize both short-term and long-term storage conditions. Microenvironmental conditions that will be optimized for short-term storage include thermal conditions, atmospheric compositions, and the synergistic relationship between the two, with successful storage being assessed in terms of length of bee survival as well as the quality of adults after storage. Long-term storage optimization will follow, with key parameters chosen based upon the results of the short-term studies.