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Impact of density, reproduction period and age on fecundity of the yellow mealworm Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae)

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The impact of adult density, reproduction period (days in the same container) and age on reproduction of Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) were studied. Data were analysed as total number of larvae in each container (38 cm2) and as daily reproduction per capita. The study was divided in two experiments. Experiment 1 examined the influence of four densities (0.11, 0.21, 0.42 and 0.84 beetles/cm2) and five reproduction periods (1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 days) on reproduction. Experiment 2 examined the effect of age (30-92 days) and three densities (0.11, 0.21 and 0.32 beetles/cm2) on reproduction. The total number of larvae per container was significantly affected by reproduction period and adult density, attaining the highest output at the longest reproduction period of 6 days (214±101 larvae) and highest density of 0.84 beetles/cm2 (215±112 larvae). Daily per capita reproduction, however, was highest at the second lowest density of 0.21 beetles/cm2 (8.58±3.82 larvae/female/day) and shortest reproduction period of 1 day (8.34±4.68 larvae/female/day). In experiment 2, age had a significant effect on reproduction both as total number of larvae per container and number of larvae per female per day. The highest reproduction was found when beetles were 30 days old, but reproduction was in general highest for 13-29 days old females (experiment 1). For production context the highest density of beetles provides highest output of larvae, and beetles are not expected to be stressed under these conditions.

Keywords: common mealworm; entomology; feed and food; insects; production

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1Life Science, Danish Technological Institute, Kongsvang Allé 29, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark. 2: 2Department of BioScience, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark. 3: 3Proti-Farm R&D, Harderwijkerweg 141B, 3852 AB Ermelo, the Netherlands.

Publication date: March 2, 2018

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  • The ‘Journal of Insects as Food and Feed' covers edible insects from harvesting in the wild through to industrial scale production. It publishes contributions to understanding the ecology and biology of edible insects and the factors that determine their abundance, the importance of food insects in people's livelihoods, the value of ethno-entomological knowledge, and the role of technology transfer to assist people to utilise traditional knowledge to improve the value of insect foods in their lives. The journal aims to cover the whole chain of insect collecting or rearing to marketing edible insect products, including the development of sustainable technology, such as automation processes at affordable costs, detection, identification and mitigating of microbial contaminants, development of protocols for quality control, processing methodologies and how they affect digestibility and nutritional composition of insects, and the potential of insects to transform low value organic wastes into high protein products. At the end of the edible insect food or feed chain, marketing issues, consumer acceptance, regulation and legislation pose new research challenges. Food safety and legislation are intimately related. Consumer attitude is strongly dependent on the perceived safety. Microbial safety, toxicity due to chemical contaminants, and allergies are important issues in safety of insects as food and feed. Innovative contributions that address the multitude of aspects relevant for the utilisation of insects in increasing food and feed quality, safety and security are welcomed.
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