Frequently Asked Questions

Insectary Tours



Due to recent budget cuts, the Insectary facility at NC State University ended operations effective April 17, 2009.  


  1. Can I visit the NCSU Insectary?

    The Insectary Manager routinely provides tours of the facility for various sized groups and individuals. Please e-mail Beverley Cash for more details, or to schedule a tour

Rearing Questions

  1. What should you consider in rearing insects?

    When you are rearing a species of insect you have to recreate its natural environment. If you know the natural history of an insect, you can adjust your rearing technique. For example, the Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta) is a leaf feeder that moves into soil to pupate. To recreate the leaf, common plastic drain gutter guard is used to support diet. A wooden block with individual compartments is adapted in place of soil. However, not all insects thrive well in generalized settings. 

  2. What are common environmental settings for rearing insects

    Photoperiod of 14 hours light, 10 hours darkness. Temperature of 80°F (27°C). Relative humidity of at least 60%.

  3. What are the most common errors in rearing?

     Generally most problems come from improper humidity, lighting, temperatures or diet. Most insects have a small "comfort" zone where these conditions are concerned. Humidity is listed first because it is often the hardest element to monitor and control. It can affect not only the survival of the individual insect but can also induce mold growth on the diet or cause the diet to dry out quickly and become inedible.

    Some insects need very specific temperature and lighting conditions to induce metamorphosis or breeding. In addition, many will go into diapause (insect hibernation) if exposed to short day lengths (12 hours or less).

    If you have a thriving colony where the first three items are well controlled, then the diet is going to be the prime suspect. Always note the quality of your diet materials when you weigh them out and prepare the diet. If any appear to be questionable, use with care due to spoilage. Be very careful to follow the recipes because even some of the most common components of the diet may be toxic if consumed in the wrong proportion.

Diet Questions

  1. What is the main ingredient of the diet for Tobacco Budworms (Heliothis virescens), Corn Earworms (Heliocoverpa zea), and Tobacco Hornworms (Manduca sexta)?

    The Tobacco Budworm and Corn Earworm both eat a corn-soy blend based diet. The Tobacco hornworm's diet is wheat germ based.

  2. How do I get a copy of diet recipes?

    Email Beverley Cash for a copy of diet recipes.


    Request Time Table

    Days lead time required to receive specimens


    Days lead time for: Helicoverpa zea and Heliothis virescens*

    For requests greater than/equal to

    Days lead time for: Manduca sexta

    For requests greater than/equal to

    Egg 1 3000 1 200
    Neonate 2 2000 3 150
    L1 2 200 4 100
    L2 2 150 7 20
    L3 5 100 10 15
    L4 7 70 13 10
    L5 10 50 16 8
    Pupa 14 50 28 6
    Adults 21 15 45 4
    Diet 1 1 batch 1 1 batch
    *L1 to L4 Helicoverpa zea are typically set up as multiple larvae in diet cups (10,8,6, and 2 larvae per cup, respectively).


    Insect Shipping Questions

    1. How are insects shipped?

    Insects are placed in sytrofoam coolers with padding and cold packs to help keep them cool and are shipped overnight delivery.