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Michael Skvarla, Ph.D.

How a Childhood Project Inspired a Life-Long Career

Meet Michael Skvarla, Ph.D., extension entomologist and director of the Insect Identification Laboratory at Penn State University, whose career path began with a Cub Scout insect-collection project. Skvarla is the subject of the next edition of our "Standout Early Career Professionals" series.

millet field

Millet Production Is On the Rise, and So Are the Pests That Eat It

Millet is a staple crop in Africa and Asia and increasingly common elsewhere, as demand for whole-grain products continues to rise. At least 150 insect species are known to feed on millet, and a new profile in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management highlights the biology and management options for several of the most significant ones.

Japanese barberry

Impact of Invasive Japanese Barberry Cascades Through Local Food Webs

Dense thickets of invasive Japanese barberry significantly reduce the diversity and numbers of insects and arthropods in forests, according to new research. The ripple effects can extend upward throughout local ecosystems, even affecting human health via an increased presence of Lyme disease.

Japanese beetle on hemp

IPM in Hemp: Managing Pests in a “New” Crop

With hemp recently legalized for commercial production in the United States, growers are in need of integrated pest management (IPM) guidance. A new profile in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management offers a current synopsis of existing research on insect and arthropod pests of hemp and notes where future research is needed.

Schistocerca cancellata locust - gregarious phase

Swarm Shift: How Locusts Switch Phases When Numbers Swell

After swarms of the South American locust Schistocerca cancellata reappeared in 2015 for the first time in 60 years, a study on what drives their swarm behavior finds the insects' population density acts as a trigger for a slew of biological and behavioral changes at the individual level.

blacklegged tick - Ixodes scapularis

Soil Ecology: Critical But Understudied in the Fight Against Ticks

In many tick species, more than three-quarters of their lives are spent off-host in the soil or among the leaf litter. A research team at Cornell University highlights an important opportunity for tick researchers and soil ecologists to collaborate to better understand what happens when the ticks aren't in contact with hosts.

tracking tagged mice

Bad Roommates: Study Tracks Mice to Nests, Finds Ticks Aplenty

In the first field study of its kind, researchers confirmed Peromyscus mouse nests as understudied habitats for ticks, including blacklegged ticks and American dog ticks. Researchers are hoping to better understand the role of mouse-tick interactions within nests in the spread of tick-borne disease.

Mexican fruit fly - Anastrepha ludens

For Mass-Rearing Sterile Fruit Flies, Fewer Males Means More Efficient Mating

Sometimes, less is more. Case in point: the mass-rearing program that produces millions of sterile Mexican fruit flies (Anastrepha ludens) for managing wild populations. Scientists refining the effort find that a lower ratio of males to females in mating cages leads to higher fecundity and fertility in the females—and higher cost-effectiveness for the operation.

Heriades bee on Erigeron speciosus

Wildflower Strips Bring Farmers Extra Money While Helping Native Bees

Planting strips of wildflowers next to crops is a boon for native bees, but few farms adopt the practice. A new study, however, shows farmers can turn an immediate profit by selling wildflower seeds retail, while the long-term benefits of increased pollination and crop yields materialize over time.

Hetaerina americana damselfly

As a Watershed is Urbanized, Damselflies Show Declines

A study along a river in Central Mexico finds Hetaerina americana damselflies in reduced numbers after a decline in vegetation the addition of wastewater outlets. Researchers say the decline illustrates the impact of human land use on natural ecosystems.

Amazing Insects ›

European paper wasp - Polistes dominula

You Can Thank Insects for Many Human Inventions

Even in this digital age, we continue to extract ideas and materials from insects and their relatives. However, the challenge of today may be to avoid a strictly utilitarian view of other organisms, whereby a species is expendable if it cannot demonstrate economic value that can be measured in dollars.

honey bee and stewart platform

How a Honey Bee’s Waggle is Inspiring Aerospace Design

Engineers may recognize the internal muscle structure of a honey bee abdomen for its resemblance to a Stewart platform, a mechanical device that enables six degrees of freedom in movement. Researchers who have found its natural equivalent in bees say the discovery is already informing their work in designing articulating nose cones for rockets.

yellowjacket - Vespula squamosa

Yellowjackets: A Look at Opportunistic Raiders of Honey Bee Hives

Yellowjackets are nuisance predators of honey bees, preying on them and pillaging their honey. But bees fight back, and healthy hives are rarely at risk. Learn more about yellowjackets, their interactions with bees, and what sets yellowjackets apart from hornets and other fellow wasps.

Toxorhynchites rutilus mosquito larva feeding

Meet the Mosquito With a Big Appetite—for Other Mosquitoes

The mosquito species Toxorhynchites rutilus is harmless to humans but is a voracious predator of other mosquitoes. Researchers in Houston, Texas, are hoping the "mosquito assassin" could be put into action as a tool for controlling mosquitoes that carry human pathogens—if they can find an efficient way to raise the predator mosquitoes in the lab.

Science Policy and Outreach ›

Research News ›

millet field

Millet Production Is On the Rise, and So Are the Pests That Eat It

Millet is a staple crop in Africa and Asia and increasingly common elsewhere, as demand for whole-grain products continues to rise. At least 150 insect species are known to feed on millet, and a new profile in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management highlights the biology and management options for several of the most significant ones.

Japanese barberry

Impact of Invasive Japanese Barberry Cascades Through Local Food Webs

Dense thickets of invasive Japanese barberry significantly reduce the diversity and numbers of insects and arthropods in forests, according to new research. The ripple effects can extend upward throughout local ecosystems, even affecting human health via an increased presence of Lyme disease.

Japanese beetle on hemp

IPM in Hemp: Managing Pests in a “New” Crop

With hemp recently legalized for commercial production in the United States, growers are in need of integrated pest management (IPM) guidance. A new profile in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management offers a current synopsis of existing research on insect and arthropod pests of hemp and notes where future research is needed.

The Entomology Profession ›

LeafByte on phone

How a Team of Grad Students Built a Mobile App for Entomologists

LeafByte is a free, open-source mobile app for quickly measuring leaf damage caused by herbivorous insect pests. If you've ever considered building a mobile app to aid in your research, here's a first-hand account from the Cornell entomology student who took LeafByte from idea to action.

blacklegged tick - Ixodes scapularis

Soil Ecology: Critical But Understudied in the Fight Against Ticks

In many tick species, more than three-quarters of their lives are spent off-host in the soil or among the leaf litter. A research team at Cornell University highlights an important opportunity for tick researchers and soil ecologists to collaborate to better understand what happens when the ticks aren't in contact with hosts.

Japanese barberry

Impact of Invasive Japanese Barberry Cascades Through Local Food Webs

Dense thickets of invasive Japanese barberry significantly reduce the diversity and numbers of insects and arthropods in forests, according to new research. The ripple effects can extend upward throughout local ecosystems, even affecting human health via an increased presence of Lyme disease.

newspapers

How to Advocate for Entomology by Writing an Op-Ed

The op-ed traces its roots to the guest columns opposite the editorial page, but such opinion essays are still important advocacy tools in the post-newspaper era. For entomologists who want to speak up for their science, here's a quick guide to writing an op-ed and getting it published.

western conifer-seed bug - Leptoglossus occidentalis

Not a Kissing Bug: Invasive Western Conifer-Seed Bug Causes Undue Alarm

As the western conifer-seed bug has arrived in South America, its resemblance to kissing bugs has caused a stir, as members of the public have readily mistaken the two. Researchers in Chile recommend accessible identification keys and educational materials to better inform both health professionals and the public.

Buprestid larva.

When Forest Fires Flare, Woodboring Beetles Rush In

Woodboring beetles make good food for woodpeckers, and researchers studying how forest fires affect bird populations have studied the patterns of woodboring-beetle colonization of forests after fires. Their findings offer clues and raise new questions about the impact of fires on forest ecosystems, in a time of increased fire activity and longer fire seasons.

Morrison Lab hike

Entomology Students: Do You Maintain Healthy Work-Life Balance?

Our own well-being is not something that many entomology graduate students sit and think about, but it goes hand-in-hand with our scientific careers. Promoting our own well-being is an element of self-care. When we care for ourselves, we make time for activities that are necessary for complete health and wellness—emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and physically.

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