The aim of the following chapter is to show that different insect species can be used to answer many questions relevant in mammalian or human aging studies. Insects share with vertebrates, including man, many basic similarities in structural components, energy metabolism, and signal transduction mechanisms. Many insects are easy and cheap to rear in mass cultures. With few exceptions they have short life and generation times. After a short survey of the principles of insect anatomy and function, biotic and abiotic factors are considered which are responsible for modifying an insect's life span. I then describe insects that we use in our own laboratory (Phormia terraenovae, Gastrophysa viri-dula and Panorpa vulgaris) and their rearing conditions, as well as those of two other flies frequently used (Musca domestica and Drosophila species). I further present various studies relevant for aging investigations, including biodemographic statistics, examples of age-dependent ultrastructural tissue changes, and different metabolic measurements. The metabolic section raises issues of caloric restriction, studies of redox systems, trade-offs between physical activities, reproduction, and longevity and chronobiological effects.
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