Title

Supplementing Manduca sexta Artificial Diet with Extra Vitamins Does Not Increase Growth Rate or Final Weight

Faculty Mentor

Luis Matos

Document Type

Poster

Start Date

10-5-2023 9:00 AM

End Date

10-5-2023 10:45 AM

Location

PUB NCR

Department

Biology

Abstract

Reptiles are popular as pets, and many reptile pet owners feed insects to these pets. Many owners would prefer to feed nutritionally-dense insects to their pets. Manduca sexta (AKA tobacco hornworm) is an insect commonly used as reptile food as they are a great source of fat and protein. In an attempt to increase the overall mass of the hornworms, we hypothesized that supplementing their artificial diet with a vitamin supplement (Vanderzant’s) would improve their growth rate and final mass. We expected to observe a positively correlated dose response. To test this hypothesis, we made 3 treatments by adding increasing amounts of Vanderzant’s mix to the base hornworm diet. A control group with no added Vanderzant’s was included in the experiment. The food was poured into large plastic cups and set. The newly hatched hornworms were placed individually in the cups. Hornworms are grown at an average temperature of 81°F (27°C) with a 16:8 (L:D) photoperiod. The hornworms were allowed to feed for 21 days. During that time we weighed each worm twice each week. The shed head capsules from each hornworm were collected throughout the experiment, and their width was measured. The frass produced was collected, dried, and weighed. The growth rate and final mass of hornworms raised on the control diet or the two lowest treatments were statistically indistinguishable. The hornworms grown on the highest vitamin diet were significantly lighter than control hornworms. These results were paralleled for the head capsule width of the 4th instar larvae. The frass masses were statistically indistinguishable among the treatments. These results reject our hypothesis and suggest that the base diet being offered by the hornworm sellers already contains the optimal vitamin concentration.

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May 10th, 9:00 AM May 10th, 10:45 AM

Supplementing Manduca sexta Artificial Diet with Extra Vitamins Does Not Increase Growth Rate or Final Weight

PUB NCR

Reptiles are popular as pets, and many reptile pet owners feed insects to these pets. Many owners would prefer to feed nutritionally-dense insects to their pets. Manduca sexta (AKA tobacco hornworm) is an insect commonly used as reptile food as they are a great source of fat and protein. In an attempt to increase the overall mass of the hornworms, we hypothesized that supplementing their artificial diet with a vitamin supplement (Vanderzant’s) would improve their growth rate and final mass. We expected to observe a positively correlated dose response. To test this hypothesis, we made 3 treatments by adding increasing amounts of Vanderzant’s mix to the base hornworm diet. A control group with no added Vanderzant’s was included in the experiment. The food was poured into large plastic cups and set. The newly hatched hornworms were placed individually in the cups. Hornworms are grown at an average temperature of 81°F (27°C) with a 16:8 (L:D) photoperiod. The hornworms were allowed to feed for 21 days. During that time we weighed each worm twice each week. The shed head capsules from each hornworm were collected throughout the experiment, and their width was measured. The frass produced was collected, dried, and weighed. The growth rate and final mass of hornworms raised on the control diet or the two lowest treatments were statistically indistinguishable. The hornworms grown on the highest vitamin diet were significantly lighter than control hornworms. These results were paralleled for the head capsule width of the 4th instar larvae. The frass masses were statistically indistinguishable among the treatments. These results reject our hypothesis and suggest that the base diet being offered by the hornworm sellers already contains the optimal vitamin concentration.