Insects continue to serve as valuable research subjects, for applications such fly or worm model developmental studies, epidemiology, and plant pathology. Insects require controlled temperature and light, and may require elevated or controlled humidification, depending on the type of rearing enclosure used. General rearing parameters include:
- Drosophilia – 18-27C, 50-70% RH, low light levels, 12/12 hour diurnal cycle
- C. elegans – 15-25C, RH not required, no light specification
- A. aegypti/A. gambiae – 20-28C, 80% RH, low light levels, 12/12 hour - 14/10 hour diurnal cycles
Flying insects such as Drosophila pose a unique challenge, as they escape from their containers and excrete acidic urine that reacts with and damages standard refrigeration components. Chambers used for fly research require specially adapted or coated cooling systems, to prevent this reaction.
General cleanability is also a concern, when working with flying insects. Dead flies can rapidly accumulate, and chambers with difficult to reach areas or tough to remove components can become extremely dirty over time. This, in turn, leads to fungal and mite infestations that can contaminate fly food sources and disrupt research. Automated decontamination or sterilization processes, along with easily removable chamber components, can reduce the effort associated with dealing with this issue.
Recent studies have found that drosophila and other flying insects, such as C. pipiens molestus, are adversely affected by short-wavelength blue light between 404 and 508 nm, with lower hatch rates and higher adult mortality. The advent of highly efficient LED lighting now makes it possible to create diurnal lighting packages that omit these harmful wavelengths.