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My Research

As a professional Entomologist, I am interested in understanding the role of insects in crop damage and how to manage such damage. Most importantly, I am  interested in studying beneficial insects (edible insects) contribute to the well being of humans, animals, and crop plants.

My long-term goal is to identify and characterize the scientific mechanisms specific to my principal areas of research; insects as food and animal feed, crop protection, frass as plant fertilizer, insects and agribusiness, circular agriculture and sustainable livelihoods.
Ever since I can remember, I’d always wanted to be a professional Researcher when I grew up. I’ve always found many subjects intriguing and interesting, motivating me to investigate and research as many sources of information as I could get my hands on. Looking back, it’s that passion and commitment to exploration and discovery that has contributed to my research and publication success". 

Effects of black soldier fly larval meal in animal feed - growth, health and economic feasibility

Black soldier fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens) larvae are a novel protein source and suitable substitute fishmeal in animal feeds, and holds important opportunities for addressing the increasing scarcity of protein-rich feeds, which is an impediment in pig value chain. Complete replacement of fishmeal with full-fat BSF larval meal(BSFLM) in pig feed is feasible, with reduced predisposition to heart diseases associated with high total cholesterol. The inclusion of BSFLM in pig feed is a worthwhile investment for pig farmers.

  • Shaphan Y. Chia, C.M. Tanga, I.M. Osuga, A.O. Alaru, D.M. Mwangi, M. Githinji, T. Dubois, S. Ekesi, J.J.A. van Loon and M. Dicke (2021). Black soldier fly larval meal in feed enhances growth performance, carcass yield and meat quality of finishing pigs. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed: 7 (4)- Pages: 433 - 447. Read here

  • Shaphan Y. Chia; Tanga, C.M.; Osuga, I.M.; Alaru, A.O.; Mwangi, D.M.; Githinji, M.; Subramanian, S.; Fiaboe, K.K.M.; Ekesi, S.; van Loon, J.J.A.; Dicke, M.  (2019). Effect of Dietary Replacement of Fishmeal by Insect Meal on Growth Performance, Blood Profiles and Economics of Growing Pigs in Kenya. Animals: 9(10), 705. Read here


Nutritional Value of Hermetia illucens


Larvae of BSF are rich in crude protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. This information supports their use as a potential new source of animal feed ingredients to substitute expensive and scarce fishmeal and soya bean meal.

Insects, Animal Feed, Inclusive Agribusiness, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


Edible insects are viable and sustainable protein sources for animal feed. Inclusive insect agribusinesses can improve the livelihood of poor farmers at low cost. In the inclusive business value chain, the poor are producers, suppliers and customers. Targeting the Sustainable Development Goals can help businesses secure investment opportunities. Inclusive business must provide a living wage for the poor and ensure buyers profit.


Are Fish and Livestock Farmers Willing Buy Insect-based Feed for their Animals?

Farmers in Kenya are willing to pay for insect based feed. Rolling-out insect-based feed protein technologies would have a huge potential for improving poultry, pig and fish production, employment opportunities and livelihoods of the populations

On What Substrate Will Insects Feed to provide Useful Biomass?​


Larvae of BSF satisfactorily convert brewery by-products (spent grains) into nutrient-rich body biomass, while offering a promising management strategy for organic waste.

Temperature and Insect Development


​Insects are poikilothermic (cold-blooded) animals and are affected by environmental factors including temperature. The BSF developments best at approximately 30°C.

  • Shaphan Y. Chia, Tanga CM, Khamis FM, Mohamed SA, Salifu D, Sevgan S, et al. (2018). Threshold temperatures and thermal requirements of black soldier fly Hermetia illucens: Implications for mass production. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0206097. Read here

Insect Welfare

BSF welfare in commercial rearing facilities

  • Meghan Barrett, Shaphan Y. Chia, B. Fischer, J.K. Tomberlin (2022). Welfare considerations for farming black soldier flies, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae): a model for the insects as food and feed industry. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed: 0 (0)- Pages: 1 - 30. Read here


Insect Frass (side streams) as Plant Fertilizer

Legacy of Insects

In an effort to gain a better understanding of how insect farming connects crop and livestock production, I have recently begun to use a new insect frass to investigate the effects of its inclusion into the soil on soil micribiome, plant growth, resistance, defense mechanisms. I am currently looking to expand this work by collaborating with other labs who have the facilities and prior experience to investigate this project further.

Research: Research
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