Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2006
Publication Date: 11/20/2009
Citation: Chaudhury, M.F. 2009. Insect diet, feeding and nutrition. In: Schneider, J.C., editor. Principles and Procedures for Rearing High Quality Insects. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State University. p. 121-143.
Technical Abstract: Insects feed on a wide variety of animal, plant and decaying organic materials. Some insects are omnivorous and others are more specific, being restricted to particular type of food or to a specific type of plant or animal. Artificial diets are developed for rearing insects for various purposes. Several terms are used to describe types of artificial diets, such as oligidic, meridic and holidic, depending on ingredients used. Oligidic diets contain crude natural ingredients; a meridic diet is composed of mostly chemically defined ingredients; holidic diets consist of entirely chemically defined ingredients. Nutritional requirements and dietary ingredients are discussed in relation to basic nutritional components, carbohydrates, proteins (amino acids), lipids, vitamins, minerals, preservatives, anti-microbial agents, water and filler substances. Importance of phagostimulants is discussed. Insect diets are chemically and physically complex. Examples are provided to emphasize the role of various phagostimulatory chemicals, enzymatic reactions, pH, temperature, and viscosity. The importance of understanding insect feeding behavior in order to develop a successful diet is discussed in relation to various types of mouthparts and feeding mechanisms. A brief account of digestion, digestives enzymes, absorption and metabolism in various species of insects is described with examples and illustrations. It is emphasized that the insect intestine is not a simple tube from mouth to anus; it is complex in structure and not only concerned with digestion and absorption of food but also has specialized function of water balance and excretion. The efficiency with which food is utilized varies from insect to insect. Importance of the knowledge of food utilization by insects for developing an artificial diet is discussed. Developing a successful artificial diet for insect species can be a challenging task. A step by step procedure for developing a new diet or modifying an old diet for a new species is described. Processing of dietary ingredients and other additives, mixing, processing and mixing equipment are described in detail. A trouble-shooting procedure for malfunction in diet or rearing is described.