A review of the McMorran diet for rearing lepidoptera species with addition of a further 39 species


Hervet, V.A.D., R.A. Laird and K.D. Floate. 2016. A review of the McMorran diet for rearing Lepidoptera species with addition of a further 39 species. Journal of Insect Science (http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/iev151)

Plain language summary

‘Cutworms’ is the common name for the larvae of a group of moths in the taxonomic family Noctuidae (Owlet moths, cutworms, and armyworms). In Canada, several species of cutworms feed on different types of crops and cause economic damage. Because they are plant-feeders, raising cutworms in the lab requires fresh plant material. However, growing plants during winter months in a greenhouse is expensive. Also, different species of cutworms feed on different species of plants. These requirements make it almost impossible to maintain multiple species of cutworms in the lab for research.
To address this problem, we explored the use of an artificial diet (the McMorran diet) to rear cutworms in the lab. Although there are different types of artificial diets, the McMorran diet is favoured because it can be used to rear many different species of insects. It also is inexpensive, easy to prepare, and can be stored for extended periods. Ingredients of the McMorran diet include water, agar, casein, sucrose, toasted wheat germ, salt, linseed oil, vitamins, and other components. In our research, we documented the development of 103 species of butterflies and moths on the McMorran diet, including 39 new species not previously known to develop on the diet. Our findings highlight the practicality of using the McMorran diet to maintain different species of insects in the lab throughout the year to facilitate research on methods of pest insect control.


© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2015.Research on cutworms led us to explore the use of the McMorran diet to rear lepidopteran species, mainly Noctuidae, under laboratory conditions. We documented the development of 103 lepidopteran species, including 39 species not previously reported in the literature, to be reared on this diet. Given its low cost, ease of preparation, and wide species' acceptance, this diet provides a powerful tool for facilitating Lepidoptera and other insects rearing and research in the laboratory.

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