Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

The Rothamsted insectary is a specialised facility that maintains a wide range of both indigenous and exotic insect species.

The insectary has 41 insect rearing and insect behaviour study rooms with associated service rooms, designed to provide controlled temperature, lighting, humidity and airflow in each computer monitored controlled environment room. The rooms are suitable for rearing insects in ‘cages’ on plants grown in pots or on detached leaves in custom-made perspex boxes.

The facility holds DEFRA plant health licences for importing, maintaining and working with many exotic insect species. Most compartments are licensed for the effective containment of quarantined species and insecticide-resistant strains. It also has DEFRA pesticide safety directorate approval for undertaking crop protection product efficacy studies (ORETO recognition).

Plants for maintaining insect cultures are supplied by the Horticultural and Controlled Environment Department at Rothamsted, which produces over 500,000 plants per annum for a variety of research purposes. The facilities presently consist of 42 glasshouses with 152 compartments and a total area of 1,452 square metres of growing space. Pest and disease control is managed through a combination of good plant hygiene, biological control and the safe application of pesticides when necessary.

Work with us

We are always keen to explore links with academic or industrial partners on academic or commercial projects.

For further information and preliminary discussions contact either:

Dr Emyr Davies
Insecticide resistance, crop protection, biological control projects

Dr Mike Birkett
Chemical ecology projects

Field simulators

The insectary facility incorporates specialised field simulator cages (2m²) with adjustable light, wind-speed and chemical application facilities, housed in purpose built controlled environment rooms.


The insectary facility supports world-leading BBSRC and other grant-funded research

Insect inventory

Species that are maintained include sucking pests (aphids, hoppers, whiteflies), Lepidoptera (moths), Diptera (flies) and Acarines (mites).

Insect transgenics

The insectary facility at Rothamsted is currently exploiting advances in genome editing based on transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to make targeted changes in insect genomes and assess the effect on their phenotypes.