Meck Slagle Abstracts

Meck Slagle

M.S. Candidate

Entomology & Insect Science

 

Entomological Society of America Annual Conference

St. Louis, MO

November 17-20, 2019

 

 

 

The Green Fig Beetle, ​Cotinis mutabilis, is native to the southwestern USA and is abundant during the monsoon season (July-August). The larvae stage is a grub that lives in substrates such as compost, manure, or decaying leaves. My research goal is to optimize growth rates and survivorship of the grubs through manipulation of substrate composition in order to economically, sustainably, and safely rear these grubs for human consumption. Experimental substrates are recycled waste streams, which reduces landfill loads, and will produce a novel and eco-friendly protein source. The importance of this research is to establish an industrial-scale rearing model for this beetle that can contribute significantly to global food security over the next few decades as the human population approaches nine billion.

 

Abstract for Lay Audience
Insects across the globe are facing significant declines in numbers due to habitat loss, changes in weather and climate, and overhunting. There are more than 1500 species of insects that are known to be eaten regularly; the majority of cultures worldwide utilize these six-legged creatures as a source of protein and fat, because they provide superior nutrition over livestock (i.e. cows, chickens, and pigs). However, some insects are now battling extinction, because of growing food shortages and poverty, which has led humans to gather more from the wild populations. There are major consequences that will come with insect extinctions, as they are at the base of the food webs and provide important ecological services like nutrient recycling and decomposing organic materials. The Green Fig Beetle, ​Cotinis mutabilis ​ , is native to the southwestern USA and is abundant during the monsoon rain season (July-August). The larvae stage is a grub that lives in substrates such as compost, manure, or decaying leaves. My research goal is to maximize growth rates and survivorship of the grubs by finding the ideal substrate composition. I aim to economically, sustainably, and safely rear these grubs for human food. Experimental substrates are recycled waste streams that are not suitable for humans to eat without getting sick. By using waste streams, we can reduce what goes into landfills and produce an eco-friendly protein source. The importance of this research is to establish an industrial-scale rearing model for this beetle that will help feed the estimated nine-billion people on the planet in 2050. The Green Fig Beetle is part of the Scarab family, which is an enormous group with members found all over the world.  Most scarabs are very similar and usually share eating and reproductive habits. To my knowledge, there are no rearing protocols for scarab beetles, but my rearing model could be easily adapted for the waste streams and scarab species anywhere in the world.

Last updated 27 Jan 2020