Location: Biological Control of Pests Research
Project Number: 6066-22000-092-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Nov 2, 2020
End Date: Nov 1, 2025
1. Expand studies on discovery, culturing, production and evaluation of natural enemies for biological control and insects as animal feed. 1.a. Behavior and evaluation of black soldier fly as feed and fertilizer. 1.b. Characterization of traits for high efficiency of food conversion and development of Tenebrio molitor for mass production as animal feed. 2. Develop improved rearing methods and artificial diets to reduce costs of insect mass production. 2.a. Test of prey recognition and consumption rate of lady beetles reared on artificial diet or factitious food for multiple generations. 2.b. Determine the effect of diet on the nutritional value of Tenebrio molitor produced for animal feed.
The invertebrate predator Coleomegilla maculata De Geer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) will be used as a model invertebrate in this test. It is an omnivorous predator that has the capacity to utilize microalgae and synthetic pollen as food to obtain essential nutrients not present in unsuitable prey (Riddick and Wu, 2015). This colony has been in continuous culture without any addition of wild type individuals for more than 50 generations in a climate-controlled room (24°C, 50%–60% RH, 16 h photophase). Individuals originating from the colony and used in this experiment have been mass-reared for more than 10 consecutive generations on a proprietary mixture of freeze-dried, powdered brine shrimp eggs Artemia franciscana Kellogg, freshwater microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris Beijerink), and fatty acids, stearic acid (18:0) or myristic acid (14:0) (Riddick, unpublished data). Larvae and adults have no prior exposure to H. illucens. Yet, published work using larvae and adults from this colony, indicated that the eggs of the common housefly Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae) were suitable prey in experimental trials (Riddick et al. 2014). All life stages have been maintained in separate cages in the same climate-controlled room (24 °C, 50%–60% RH, 16 h photophase) for more than 10 years at the National Biological Control Laboratory (NBCL), USDA, ARS, in Stoneville, Mississippi. Cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananessa Duch. cv. Chandler) will serve as model plants to test the effects of H. illucens larval frass, as a fertilizer, on plant health. Approximately 1,000 bare root individuals will be purchased from a commercial nursery in Redding, CA, as mentioned in previous research (Riddick et al. 2019). All individuals will be removed from cold storage in NBCL, then transplanted into “flats” over the course of several consecutive days. Excess dead roots will be trimmed away, using stainless steel scissors. Once in flats at a spacing of approximately 6 cm between individual plants, a light covering of peat soilless media will be applied over the roots; then watered using tap water. All plants will be setup on metal benches in a temperature-controlled greenhouse (20-22°C, natural lighting) in Stoneville, Mississippi, USA. One month later, the healthiest plants will be transferred to plastic (1.3 L) pots, one plant per pot, containing the same quantity of soilless media in each pot.