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Thermocouple design for measuring temperatures of small insects

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Hanson, A.A.; Venette, R.C.

Year Published



CryoLetters. 34(3): 261-266.


Contact thermocouples often are used to measure surface body temperature changes of insects during cold exposure. However, small temperature changes of minute insects can be difficult to detect, particularly during the measurement of supercooling points. We developed two thermocouple designs, which use 0.51 mm diameter or 0.127 mm diameter copper-constantan wires, to improve our ability to resolve insect exotherms. We tested the designs with adults from three parasitoid species: Tetrastichus planipennisi, Spathius agrili, and S. floridanus. These species are <3 mm long and <0.1 mg. Mean exotherms were greater for fine-gauge thermocouples than thick-gauge thermocouples for the smallest species tested, T. planipennisi. This difference was not apparent for larger species S. agrili and S. floridanus. Thermocouple design did not affect the mean supercooling point for any of the species. The “cradle” thermocouple design developed with the fine gauge wire was reusable and allowed for easy insect recovery after cold exposure.


supercooling point, exotherm, parasitoid


Hanson, A.A.; Venette, R.C. 2013. Thermocouple design for measuring temperatures of small insects. CryoLetters. 34(3): 261-266.

Last updated on: June 25, 2013