PSH INSECTARIUM, presentation

Correspondent : Myriam Siegwart

As an entomology platform, the insectarium is mainly a breeding centre for the biological models studied in the PSH unit. Thus, arthropod pests, such as codling moth, oriental fruit moth, green peach aphid, rosy apple aphid, drosophila suzukii or beneficials, are multiplied here and are the object of various experiments.


 This platform hosts research on topics as varied as : 

  • Dispersal mechanisms of certain insects, whether beneficials or pests, in order to better understand their distribution in an agricultural landscape and determine their potential role in biological control by conservation. This concept aims to modify the environment or existing practices to protect and favour natural enemies of crop pests.
  • The efficacy and sustainability of a natural molecule as an aphicide
  • The interest of functional biodiversity through predation monitoring
  • Genetics and population regulation, spatial distribution, biology of codling moth and its parasitoids
  • Predation of codling moths by birds
  • The impact of phytosanitary practices and the resistance of insect pests and beneficials to insecticides
  • The use of companion plant to control aphids populations

 Specific equipment is required to carry out this research : 

  • An olfactometry room to evaluate the responses of insects (attraction, repulsion, etc.) to various olfactory stimuli (whole plants or volatile compounds). Thanks to this equipment, we can observe the behaviour of aphids subjected to complex odour clusters emitted by one or more potted plants. Our objective is to find out which companion plants should be associated with horticultural plants to limit pests or attract natural enemies.
  • An electropenetrography chain to evaluate the behavioural sequences related to aphid feeding on different plants or artificial environments. An electrode attached to the back of an aphid is connected by a closed circuit to the plant being tested. The different electrical signals observed in this circuit correspond to the aphid's feeding phases (salivation, test bite, sap ingestion, etc.). We can therefore measure the aphid's feeding preferences, its feeding duration, and how the presence of companion plants can disrupt its feeding behaviour.
  • A laboratory dedicated to the handling of toxic products such as insecticides or their derivatives, and to biochemical analyses. It is designed to support biological tests (insecticide tests, ecophysiology) and biochemical tests. For this purpose, a fully autonomous and equipped laboratory is attached to the insectarium, making it possible to determine the enzymatic activities associated with insecticide resistance.
  • An observation and image-taking room equipped with binocular magnifiers, which are themselves connected to cameras, is the place where the insects we study are identified. Indeed, the identification of insects can be very complex and meticulous.
  • An outdoor insectarium-shelter that allows us to work in natural climatic conditions, a necessary condition for certain breeding operations, but also for the conservation and handling of wild insects from the field.
  • Climatic chambers.
  • A room for preparing artificial media / a laundry.

The insectarium is a constantly active platform which, thanks to its equipment and modularity, can be adapted to accommodate new and often innovative research topics. Thus, one of our future projects is to set up a room dedicated to the study of insect dispersal behaviour (infrared camera system and flight mill).


Modification date : 22 June 2023 | Publication date : 25 October 2022 | Redactor : smercier