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Maelah Robinson-Castillo Audrey Mitchell Amanda Fasching Mayra C. Vidal Mariana Abarca Gina M. Wimp Blyssalyn Bieber Dhaval K. Vyas Shannon M. Murphy

Abstract

Standardized protocols are an essential asset for research requiring the maintenance of live organisms. Ecological studies often involve collaborations between multiple teams that are spread across locations, and these collaborations benefit from sharing successful laboratory procedures. Our research team has studied the ecology of the fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea, hereafter FW) in North America for >10 years, during which time we have established reliable procedures for starting and maintaining FW colonies under laboratory conditions. Here, we present a detailed review of the methods used to find and collect FW caterpillars in the field, house and rear caterpillars in the laboratory, handle pupae, and initiate diapause for overwintering. We also describe how to end diapause the following summer, care for emerging adult moths and mate them, and tend to eggs. Lastly, we test the effectiveness of some of our protocols related to mating adult moths to determine whether fertile eggs are produced. FW is a North American species that has been introduced to Europe and Asia where it is a major pest. FW is also becoming a model study system for ecological and evolutionary studies related to diet breadth. As more researchers begin studying the ecology and management of FW, laboratory colonies will play an important role for these projects. Our protocols will provide guidance to inform the successful study of this important insect.

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