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Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories

The Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories building.
The Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories, Great Lakes Forestry Centre.

Our team at the Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories (IPQL) produces laboratory-reared insects that are available to purchase for research on forest insect outbreaks and environmentally responsible protection tools. The IPQL maintains a number of insect colonies that have existed since the founding of the Great Lakes Forestry Centre. The IPQL consists of an insectarium, a quality control facility, a methods development laboratory and a quarantine facility.

The precise identification of these colonies in scientific literature is important for repeatable science. Origins and history of laboratory insect stocks in a multi-species insect production facility, with the establishment of standardized nomenclature and designation of formal stock names documents the history of existing IPQL colonies and defines the standardized names for each colony and family in rearing. All clients are required to use the appropriate colony name and cite this paper in their work to ensure accurate communication and recognition.

The standardized naming convention for insects from the Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories, described below.
A detailed example of the coding conventions used at the Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories.
Text version

The standardized naming convention for insects from the Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratories: Glfc:IPQL:AglaWMA01 where Glfc is the laboratory code for the Great Lakes Forestry Centre (GLFC). IPQL represents the stock code for the Insect Production and Quarantine Lab. Agla represents the species code for the insect Anoplophora glabripennis. WMA represents the geographic origin for Worchester, Massachusetts, which is where this insect was found. 01 represents the family number.

Laboratory colonies are a crucial aspect of experimental biology and have numerous advantages over wild-caught organisms. Field-collected material can be highly variable in age, nutritional condition, health and genetic diversity. These differences can confound experimental results. Lab-reared insects are largely uniform and lab colonies are available to researchers all year long, thus accelerating research programs that could be limited by the accessibility of insect life stages that are transient or dormant for large portions of the year.



The IPQL is the only facility in North America that rears multiple forest insect species and the only facility in the world that mass-produces spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana). The majority of resources are dedicated to the production of diapause and non-diapause strains with an annual production of approximately 3.5 million larvae.

The insects reared are for use in pest management and related research at Canadian Forest Service facilities as well as provincial/territorial and state agencies. They are also used for public education, teaching and research purposes at a range of universities, educational institutions and high-profile establishments across Canada and the United States.

The IQPL is able to respond to the changing needs of the pest management research community by varying the inventory of species reared. New colonies can be established and for multiple clients when required.

Quality control facility

A quality control facility monitors production, process and product controls for all insect colonies. This facility consists of an analytical laboratory and office space.

The analytical laboratory contains a broad array of sophisticated equipment. The Insect Production Service (IPS) team can also access numerous other types of equipment and services within the Great Lakes Forestry Centre research complex, including electron microscopy (both TEM and scanning), fluorescence microscopy, and spectrophotometry. This accessibility to equipment allows the IPS team to undertake a wide range of activities, including:

  • pathogen production and purification
  • histological preparation, staining and microscopic examination
  • PCR detection
  • REN analysis
  • DNA hybridization assay

The quality control office space contains computers used for quality control records, including electronic monitoring and tracking of environmental conditions within the rearing rooms and chambers.

Quality assurance program

Maintaining client satisfaction and the continued availability of insects requires healthy colonies. The quality assurance program at the IPQL involves production, process and product control for all insect colonies.

Production control procedures enable the IPQL to manage the consistency, reliability and timeliness of production output for each insect colony. Diet ingredients, equipment, environments, schedules and personnel are monitored throughout production so that any performance deviations are corrected immediately.

Process control procedures ensure that unacceptable deviations do not occur in product quality. Colonies are monitored at multiple stages during production, using defined indicators to assess quality and minimize variance from predetermined standards. Continuous analysis of process control data allows the identification of causes of variability and the immediate implementation of corrective action before deviations cause problems in colonies. The rearing methods used enable the elimination of poor performers or developers at multiple stages of development to ensure the health and vigour of the colonies. Process control records let the future performance of every cohort of each colony maintained to be predicted.

Product control procedures ensure that each insect colony conforms to high quality standards that meet client requirements. Unique among multi-species rearing facilities, the IPQL conducts routine microbial screening for every mating chamber of all cohorts of the colonies. At a minimum, each lot is screened for the presence of cytoplasmic polyhedrosis virus, nucleopolyhedrosis virus and multiple species of microsporidia. Each shipment of insects includes lot identification to track client feedback against quality control records; enabling the identification of areas for product refinement or improvement.

Methods development laboratory

Our Methods Development Research program supports both the insectarium IPQL and the quality control program.

New insect colonies and mass production methods are developed in an isolated rearing facility. This isolation ensures that the quality or health of existing colonies is not compromised as new methods are developed or new species are introduced and screened for pathogens.

Techniques for detecting insect pathogens are developed or modified in the quality control facility. To ensure the integrity of the insect colonies this facility is isolated from the IPQL.

Contract research services

The Insect Production Services (IPS) team performs contract research services for clients. IPS personnel have vast experience in rearing insect species. They can also draw on the expertise of numerous forest insect researchers from within the Great Lakes Forestry Centre research complex.

The following services can be provided on contract:

  • establishing new insect colonies
  • developing specialized rearing methods
  • maintaining unique colonies to support individual needs
  • rearing quarantined insect pests

For more information on IPS contract services, please contact John Dedes.

Quarantine facility

Our insect quarantine program supports invasive alien species research activities conducted by the Canadian Forest Service.

The quarantine facility is equipped with multiple climate-controlled rearing rooms, environmental chambers and laboratories outfitted for entomological research.

Support is provided for scientific personnel conducting experiments within the quarantine facility and for insectarium personnel developing rearing methodology to establish laboratory colonies of invasive alien species.

Our staff

 Nine members of the Insect Production Services team.

The Insect Production Services team

Contact: General inquiries (email) or by phone (1-705-541-5531)


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