Wisdom from The Wizard of Oz–an American classic movie (adapted from a series of books by L. Frank Baum):
If you did not recognize the play on words in the title, they come from the phrase, "lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!". Briefly, this was an expression chanted by characters in the aforementioned movie who feared that they may come in contact with these animals as they journeyed through a forest to visit the "great and powerful Wizard of Oz" who allegedly could solve all of their problems.
So how does this relate to rearing edible insects? Well, if you have not already, there is a good chance you will experience a disease outbreak. Some may even say it is inevitable. I pray that if you haven't faced this challenge, that you never have to deal with it. But for those who have, you probably felt or understand the frustration in losing some or all of your colony. Not to mention the lurking challenge of executing a solution (identifying the pathogen, deciding how to save the colony, properly cleaning the equipment and facility, and deciding what protocol needs to be implemented) to avoid an outbreak again.
Unfortunately, unlike in the movie, chanting against these pathogens will not be helpful and there is no wizard that can make them disappear. To make matters worse, little is known about specific pathogens in BSF and other edible insect systems. But knowledge, according to the Wizard of Oz, comes from experience. So, as this industry grows, we will learn more and more about the infectious agents that threaten our colonies.
Fortunately, I found two recent publications that focus on this issue. The first is a review by Maciel-Vergara et al. (2021). This paper discusses various pathogens, abiotic and biotic conditions that foster the development of diseases, and measures to control outbreaks. The second paper, by Lecocq et al. (2021), focuses on the susceptibility of adult BSF (survivorship and egg-laying capacity) to one fungal pathogen. Both papers are well-written and informative, and hopefully, we continue to see more publications like them soon.
For more detailed information regarding the content of the papers discussed above, please see the references below.
Happy reading until next time!
Maciel-Vergara, G., Jensen, A. B., Lecocq, A, and Eilenberg, J. 2021. Diseases in edible rearing systems. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed. 7(5), 621-638.
Lecocq, A., Joosten, L., Schmitt, E., Eilenberg, J., and Jensen, A. B. 2021. Hermetia illucens adults are susceptible to infection by the fungus Beauveria bassiana in laboratory experiments. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed. 7(1), 63-68.
Chelsea Miranda, PhD
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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