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Quiz Yourself: 2020 Entomology Games Questions

Entomology Games

Entomological Society of America’s student quiz competition, the Entomology Games, tests a wide range of entomology-related knowledge among student teams that compete, and now you have the opportunity to test yourself! The Entomology Games committee has shared the questions and answers from both rounds of the 2020 competition, which we are providing to you here on Entomology Today.

In 2020, the Entomological Society of America’s student quiz competition, the Entomology Games, took place in a virtual format in conjunction with the Entomology 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting in November.

A preliminary round of 50 questions took place on November 5, and the final round took place November 16 during the virtual conference. In the end, Auburn University’s team took first place, winning on a tiebreaker with Purdue University.

The Entomology Games tests a wide range of entomology-related knowledge among its student teams, and now you have the opportunity to test yourself. The Entomology Games committee has shared the questions and answers from both rounds of the 2020 competition, which we are providing to you here on Entomology Today. Find the questions below and links to the answer sheets at the end of the post.

If you’re curious how you measure up, the top score in the preliminary round was 37 correct answers out of 50 questions, and the top score in the finals was 27 out of 40.

In 2021, the Entomology Games will return. Be sure to check the Entomology Games page on the ESA website for news and updates on the 2021 competition!

Preliminary Round

  1. Daptolestes feminategus, a new species described in Robinson et al. (2020), was named in honor of Marvel Comics assassin Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow. The name is especially apt because this species belongs to what family of Diptera whose members are often known as assassin flies or robber flies?

    [Image copyright © 2020 The Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Australia]

  2. DBI is a biotic index developed by Uyizeye (2020) for monitoring freshwater ecosystems in Rwanda using populations of what palaeopterous insect order as biological indicators? Rwandan members of this order include the violet dropwing (Trithemis annulata) and dwarf percher (Diplacodes pumila), which are also locally known as “Flying Flowers of the River.”
  3. The compound ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate was recently discovered to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties (Iyigundogdu et al. 2019), but since it is most commonly used for protection against mosquitoes and biting flies, it is better known as IR3535. What does “IR” stand for in the name of this compound?
  4. Name any one of the three entomologists that are currently in the ESA ‘presidential line of succession’ (i.e., the entomologists scheduled to begin their terms as ESA President at the end of 2020, 2021, and 2022).
  5. After a controversial flag featuring a Confederate battle emblem was removed, this mosquito-centric image was one of the options considered for what state’s new flag design?
    mosquito flag

    [Image is in the public domain, taken from its state’s Department of Archives and History]

  6. Chasen et al. (2015) performed field trials to determine yield loss of alfalfa crops due to infestation of the leafhopper Empoasca fabae. They then used their results, in conjunction with current crop market values and control costs, to directly calculate what value for E. fabae in alfalfa?
  7. What well-known North American insect is the subject of the partially redacted article pictured here? (Click image to enlarge.)

    Green and Kronforst 2019

    Click image to enlarge.

  8. Hoy & Herzog’s (2012) book on biological control in the context of IPM contains an introductory summary of the history of integrated control in the US. In this summary, a paragraph about the classic Stern et al. (1959) IPM paper is immediately followed by a paragraph about what bestselling book, released roughly three years later?
  9. Fadamiro et al. (2005) demonstrated that newly emerged Pseudactaeon tricuspis adults lack sufficient nutrient reserves to survive more than a few days. Consequently, these parasitoid flies should be fed sugar and/or nectar in order to make them more effective as biological control agents of what invasive species?
  10. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and other blood-feeding arthropods produce the enzyme apyrase, which degrades ADP and impedes blood coagulation. According to Smartt et al. (1995), the apyrase gene is expressed specifically in what glands of adult female Aedes aegypti?
  11. The louse Lepidophthirus macrorhini has been shown to survive under high hydrostatic pressure and is one of the few insects adapted to extreme marine conditions (Leonardi et al. 2020). This particular specimen’s host was what type of amphibious mammal, which can expose its parasites to high-pressure environments by diving as deep as 2,000 m below the surface?

    [Image copyright © 2013 Frost Entomological Museum; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License – Version 2.0.]

  12. Recent ecological niche modeling (Wakie et al. 2020) indicates that what invasive fulgorid has significant potential to establish new populations in the western United States, especially in the regions of California and Washington that have an abundance of trees of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)?
  13. What prefix precedes ‘azaquin’ and ‘pyroximate’ in the names of two pesticides used by Lopez & Liburd (2020) for effective management of tetranychid mites? This prefix also has an unrelated definition as a type of wetlands habitat.
  14. The Hel-ID diagnostic test kit, developed at Agdia Inc. in the late 1990s (Bryan et al. 2000), was used to identify two native insect pests of cotton that both belong to what family?
  15. A study on disease transmission among social insects (which has particular resonance in 2020) suggests that they rely more on behavioral mechanisms (i.e., hygienic behaviors) rather than natural immune response in order to reduce the risk of transmission (López-Uribe et al. 2016). This hypothesis was tested by measuring what type of immune response, which is a common defense against pathogens that are too large to be phagocytosed?
  16. A relatively new, behaviorally-based management method called IPM-CPR (Integrated Pest Management – Crop Perimeter Restructuring) has been tested for efficacy against four key pest species in apple orchards (Akotsen-Mensah et al. 2020) and peach orchards (Blaauw et al. 2014). These four pests belong to two different insect orders. Name either one of these orders.
  17. In 2019, the international airport in what North Central Branch city unveiled its new logo, featuring a large butterfly behind the silhouette of boxer Muhammad Ali?
  18. What three-word term is defined by Barbosa (1998) as “the use of tactics and approaches that involve the manipulation of the environment…of natural enemies so as to enhance their survival,…resulting in enhanced effectiveness?” The concept explained by this term has also been called ecological engineering (Settele and Settle 2018) and is often treated as an alternative to augmentation and importation.
  19. Böhm bristles, hair plates (groups of mechanosensory hairs), and campaniform sensilla are all mentioned in Catherine Loudon’s overview of what body part’s structure and function? Her article was published in the Encylopedia of Insects, 2nd Edition, appearing shortly after the section entitled “Anatomy: Head, Thorax, Abdomen, and Genitalia.”
  20. Young & McMillian (1979) and McCord & Yu (1987) were the first entomologists to study the mechanism of fall armyworms’ resistance to what acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting insecticide? In the years between publication of these two studies, a factory that produced this insecticide came under fire for exposing thousands of people to toxic methyl isocyanate gas.
  21. This figure is from a manuscript entitled “Arthropods as __________ _________: A Review of Global Patterns” (Valdez 2020). What specific behavior is described by the two words that were removed from the title? This behavior has been observed in tiger beetles, giant water bugs, and giant Amazonian ants, although as the figure indicates, it is more frequently reported in spiders. [Note: Your answer does not have to exactly match the title, but it must be specific enough to accurately describe what the figure represents]Valdez 2020 figures
  22. Although California populations of the western fence lizard are heavily utilized as hosts by immature Ixodes pacificus ticks (Casher et al. 2002), they are not competent reservoirs of what bacterial pathogen that is vectored by I. pacificus? We are looking for the scientific name of the pathogen, NOT the name of the disease caused by the pathogen.
  23. McCutcheon & Turnipseed’s (1989) study of Chrysodeixis includens parasitoids, Knight & Gurr’s (2007) review of Nezara viridula management strategies, and Mensah et al.’s (2005) search for Aphis glycine-resistant plant cultivars are all scientific articles with the general goal of minimizing economic losses of what widely produced food crop?
  24. The colony of lab-reared parasitoid wasps informally known as the “Harris strain” was developed in Hawaiʻi in the 1980s. The Harris strain has since been used for biological control of Mediterranean fruit flies and melon flies, but according to Harris and Okamoto (1991) it was originally tested for its ability to parasitize what other invasive pest?
  25. Wóóneeshchʼįįdii (Navajo), laulukaskas (Finnish), isihlonono (Zulu), kuliglíg (Tagalog), and tatarakihi (Maori) are all words historically used in their corresponding languages to refer to members of what hemipteran family?
  26. “The X of a predator is a progressive change in the amount of progeny in relation to prey density, and female predatory mites can vary their offspring production at different prey densities. In phytoseiid predatory mites, the X is linked to the density of prey mites.” What two-word term has been replaced twice by the letter ‘X‘ in the above excerpt from an article on biological control of two-spotted spider mite (Fathipour et al. 2020)?
  27. The fictional character on the left (from a 2005-2014 CBS sitcom) and the real person on the right both share a name with what banned organochlorine insecticide, which has the chemical formula C12H8Cl6?
    insecticide name

    [Left image © 2011 Quentin Meulepas; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License – Version 2.0. Right image is in the public domain]

  28. When using transgenic plants to deliver insecticidal endotoxins to crop pests, it is important to confirm that these toxins will not indirectly harm beneficial predators of the target pest species. For example, it was determined by Riddick and Barbosa (1998) that spotted lady beetles (Coleomegilla maculata) could safely eat larvae of the pest species Leptinotarsa decemlineata that contained toxic Cry proteins. In this study, the L. decemlineata specimens had obtained Cry proteins by eating transgenic versions of what economically important food crop?
  29. “Surely no one who is acquainted with how slowly the ant-lion recovers from injuries could, for a moment, consider anything intellectual which induces it to passively submit to portions of its legs and of its mandibles being amputated. Its letisimulation may be an emotional response, but it certainly is not intellectual.”
    In the above excerpt from Turner (1923), the term letisimulation is used to describe what type of behavior, which is usually referred to as tonic immobility or thanatosis in current literature?
  30. A phylogenetic study from Evangelista et al. (2019) proposed the new name Tutricablattae for the monophyletic group that contains termites (Isoptera) and what family of cockroaches?

    [Image copyright © 2007 David R. Maddison; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License – Version 3.0.]

  31. The Kay Hagan TICK act is a US federal spending bill that funds research and treatment of vector-borne diseases. It was named after Senator Kay Hagan, who died in 2019 after getting infected with what virus, the only tick-borne flavivirus known to occur naturally in North America (Kemenesi & Bányai 2018)?
  32. Lewis (1997) divides the economically important species of North American termites into three ecological groups, one of which is subterraneanName either one of the other two groups. The termites in one of those groups are “primarily restricted to fallen logs rotting on the forest floor” whereas the termites in the other group “do not require contact with soil and moisture for survival.”
  33. According to Evenhuis’ (2020) list of the insect and spider collections of the world, the abbreviation FMNH refers to a museum of natural history located in what large U.S. city? Entomologists associated with the museum in this city include Petra Sierwald (Associate curator), Alfred Newton (Curator emeritus) and Margaret Thayer (Curator emeritus). [Note: Name the city, not the museum]
  34. Advanced microscopy techniques such as SEM and TEM have been used to study insect compound eyes since the 1950s. But Singleton-Smith & Philogene (1982) were the first to apply those same techniques to the study of what simpler insect visual organs, also known as lateral ocelli?
  35. This insect image appears on the social media pages of what indie band, self-described as an “entomological post-folk duo,” that released the singles “Tiny House” and “Black Lung” in summer 2020? Don’t overthink it; they chose this image for a reason.
    Tiny house

    [Image copyright © 2020 Becca Young and [name of band]]

  36. An invasion of human ears by Cyclocephala borealis during a Pennsylvania Boy Scout Jamboree (Maddock & Fehn 1958), a gastrointestinal infestation of Lasioderma serricone in a Chinese infant (Sun et al. 2016), and the presence of Tenebrio molitor inside a patient’s skin ulcer at a Colombian hospital (Rodriguez-Morales et al. 2018), are all examples of a relatively rare phenomenon in medical entomology that is best known by what one-word term? This term was coined by Hope (1840) with specific reference to larvae, but in some recent literature the definition has expanded to include adults.
  37. The organic insecticide marketed under the name PyGanic has been shown to effectively control pest populations of bagrada bugs (Grasswitz 2013) and whiteflies (Razze et al. 2016) via what mode of action? According to IRAC, insecticides with this mode of action are capable of “causing hyperexcitation and, in some cases, nerve block.”
  38. The recent practice of DNA-barcode-based species descriptions has proven controversial. Although it is a faster, more efficient form of description that yields better estimates of true species richness, some taxonomists have concerns about the reliability of descriptions that lack morphology-based diagnoses. Zamani et al. (2020) recently published an opinion piece that specifically discusses this matter with regards to 18 barcode-based species descriptions in Agathidinae (Meierotto et al. 2019), which is a subfamily of what species-rich insect family?
  39. The sphragis, which has been observed on the external abdomens of nearly 300 butterfly species (Carvalho et al. 2017) is a specific example of what type of structure? Internal versions of this structure have also been observed in bumblebees (Duvoisin et al. 1999) and Drosophila (Lung et al. 2001). We are looking for a two-word answer.

    [Image copyright © 2017 Ana Paula S. Carvalho; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License – Version 4.0.]

  40. The journal Apidologie has published articles by Kanga & Somorin (2012) and Neumann et al. (2018) that use the initialism SHB to refer to a specific pest that belongs to what insect family?
  41. Sallam et al. (2013) were motivated to study the distribution of the mosquito Culex tritaeniorhynchus because it caused an outbreak of what Phlebovirus disease in Saudi Arabia in the year 2000? Although this particular outbreak occurred in the Middle East, the disease is instead named after a geographic region of Africa, where the Phlebovirus was first identified in 1931.
  42. The notonectid Anisops debilis was recently evaluated as a biological control agent (Rapatsa & Moyo 2020). This was a highly unusual case of biological control because the target species, Coptodon rendalli, was not considered a pest. However, the introduction of A. debilis prevented overcrowding and allowed the surviving C. rendalli to grow larger and increase their marketability. Coptodon rendalli, and its economically important relatives in the genus Oreochromis, are best known by what common name? [Note: Coptodon and Oreochromis do not have an ESA-approved common name because they are not arthropods. Please provide the common name used in the cited article, which is also the common name most frequently used in USDA publications.]
  43. According to Peña et al. (1998), one of the key pests on mangos is the weevil Sternochetus mangiferae, which is best known for damaging what specific part of the mango plant? Although there is no official ESA common name for this weevil, the common name used by Peña et al. contains the plant part in question.
  44. In a New York Times article from August 10, 2020, public health entomologist Manuel Lluberas expressed hope that what newly registered mosquito- and tick-repelling chemical” would be accepted by people who fear synthetic repellents…and could be made cheaply enough to be bought by foreign aid programs?” This natural insecticide is a ketone that has been extracted from Alaska yellow cedar trees and was indirectly named after the Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous peoples from western Canada.
  45. What term is used by Mitcham (2002) and Mbata & Warsi (2019) to describe the type of IPM associated with management of stored-product pests and management of pathogens that damage agricultural products during storage and marketing?
  46. Alvin Simmons ends his monthly President’s Corner messages with the signature “Alvin M. Simmons, Ph.D., FRES.” Helen Roy, Sir Vincent Wigglesworth, and Dame Miriam Rothschild are other people that could include FRES in their signature. What does the acronym FRES stand for?
  47. The coin pictured here was created by Emily Damstra and Renata Gordon as part of the US Mint’s series of “America the Beautiful” quarters. What two-word midwestern ecosystem has been redacted from the top of the coin? The families Acrididae, Andrenidae, Cicadellidae, Formicidae, Miridae, and Nymphalidae all contain species known to be specialists of this ecosystem (Reed 1996).

    [Image in the public domain]

  48. “Grasshopper and Iris,” an ukiyo-e woodblock print dating back to the 1820s, was originally made by what iconic Japanese artist? This artist is arguably best known for “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” the first print in his series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.”
    Grasshopper iris

    [Image in the public domain]

  49. What word, from the Greek for ‘upon the earth,’ was used by Allen & Hagley (1990) to refer to adult carabid and staphylinid beetles that live on the surface of the ground? This word is also used by some ecologists (e.g., Pinheiro et al. 2010) to describe ants that live in leaf litter on top of soil, as opposed to ants that live in nests underneath the soil.
  50. Thomas et al. (2020) used the genera HeterobathmiaAgathiphaga, and Micropterix as outgroup taxa for their phylogeny of what insect order?
  51. Tiebreaker: According to Simmons and Leal (2018) exactly how many people attended the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando? It is still the largest gathering for an entomological event to date.


  1. In medical entomology, what type of disease transmission involves the disease agent replicating or developing inside the vector? This is in contrast to mechanical transmission, where the disease agent is simply transported by the vector without undergoing development.
  2. What four-word phrase is the theme of next year’s International Congress of Entomology?ICE 2021, Helsinki
  3. Keye Luke, Jay Chou, and Bruce Lee have all portrayed Kato, the crimefighting partner of what fictional vigilante?
  4. What is the full scientific name (genus and species) of the bacterium classified by IRAC as a microbial disruptor of insect midgut membranes?
  5. “Yoke-winged” is the literal translation of the name of what insect suborder, which can be distinguished from other members of its order by the presence of caudal gills on the aquatic immatures?
  6. The first sighting of emerald ash borer in North America occurred in 2002, when it was discovered attacking ash trees in Ontario, Canada and what US state?
  7. Colorado populations of the mountain pine beetle mainly infest limber pine, lodgepole pine, and what other pine? When Andrew Hopkins described the mountain pine beetle in 1902, he presumably used specimens collected from this same pine tree species.
  8. The majority of Lepidoptera involved in ant-caterpillar symbioses belong to Riodinidae and what other butterfly family?

    [Image copyright © 2020 Tom Murray; licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 2.0.]

  9. A worker honeybee has how many pairs of wax glands on its abdomen?
  10. The article “40 Years of IPM Highlights” lists three important events from 1970: Celebration of the first Earth Day, formation of the EPA, and the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to what American agronomist? His ‘Green revolution’ is credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.
  11. Although this year’s festivities were postponed due to COVID-19, the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, normally hosts an annual festival that commemorates the 1966 sightings of what paranormal figure?
  12. In the Old World, the disease leishmaniasis is commonly vectored by sand flies in the genus PhlebotomusWhat other sand fly genus is exclusively responsible for vectoring leishmaniasis in the New World?
  13. The parasitoid wasp Tamarixia dryi is being evaluated as a biological control agent of the insect Trioza erytreae. This insect requires control because it is one of two species known to vector what bacterial disease?
  14. Brown marmorated stink bugs, and other fruit-feeding insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts, are known for causing what type of damage, in which the growing fruit fails to expand at the site of injury, resulting in malformation?
  15. The name of what insecticide has been redacted from this IRAC diagram of neonicotinoids?neonics
  16. What taxonomist was named an ESA Fellow in 1924 in honor of her numerous contributions to the classification of Microlepidoptera? She has since had multiple species named after her, including an aptly-colored moth related to the fuscous species pictured here.

    [Image copyright © 2016 Patrick Clement; licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-ND 2.0.]

  17. A widely-publicized 2017 study reported a 75% decline in insect biomass over the past 27 years. This study was conducted across 63 protected natural areas in what European country?
  18. What striking form of structural coloration involves color changes based on the angle of the observer, and was recently shown to help jewel beetles camouflage in order to avoid bird predation?
  19. These specialty loaves of bread are labeled ‘kuwagata,’ which is a Japanese word that refers to insects in what family?kuwagata
  20. “Stimulo-deterrent diversion” was one of the earlier names for what IPM strategy that uses volatile cues from both repellent and attractant plants to reduce damage from insect pests?
  21. The megalopteran family Corydalidae is divided into two clades: Corydalinae (AKA dobsonflies) and what other subfamily, whose members are commonly known as fishflies?
  22. An October 2020 episode of Jeopardy! had a clue about the license plates of what Mexican state, which is home to many overwintering sites of the eastern monarch butterfly?

    [Image copyright © 2007 Javier Sanchez; licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-ND 2.0.]

  23. Thaddeus Harris is often called the “father of economic entomology” in the US. What other 19th-century entomologist is known as the “father of economic entomology” in Canada?
  24. Bombykol and bombykal are components of a sex pheromone emitted by certain females in what insect order?
  25. What term refers to a parasitoid that halts the development of its host shortly after the initial parasitization?
  26. Paederus dermatitis, also known as whiplash dermatitis, is a type of skin irritation caused by contact with the hemolymph of certain species in what insect family?
  27. The ESA member symposium “From Rum Stills to Cotton Gins and Head Lettuce to Head Lice” includes a talk that praises what insecticide as a “revolutionary change for IPM”?
  28. What neuroscience laboratory technique, redacted from this image, has been used to modify Drosophila so that their neurons express photosensitive proteins associated with vision? The individual neurons can then be triggered by shining a light on them, effectively “controlling the brain with light”.

    [Image copyright © 2015 Andreas Prokop, Manchester Fly Facility. droso4schools: Online resources for school lessons using the fruit fly Drosophila]

  29. Even though this new wasp species is distinctly not fossorial, LSU grad student Ilgoo Kang elected to name it after what Heisman-winning quarterback?

    [Image copyright © 2020 Ilgoo Kang; licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0.]

  30. Although it has not officially been classified as a plague, the Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a resurgence of large swarms of what orthopteran pest species? You may answer with the scientific name or a two-word common name.
  31. Bombardier beetles produce their well-known defensive chemical spray by mixing hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone with peroxidase and what other enzyme?
  32. What type of semiochemical benefits the receiver and harms the emitter?
  33. What sixteen-letter adjective is most commonly used to describe fungi and nematodes that can potentially act as biological control agents of insect pests?
  34. In 1893, Smith and Kilbourne published the first conclusive evidence of a disease agent being transmitted by an arthropod. What is the scientific name of the tick-borne protozoan they reported on?
  35. Of the three types of lobes typically found in an insect brain, which lobe innervates the labrum and foregut?
  36. What Harvard professor wrote the 1795 book The Description and Life History of the Cankerworm and is sometimes referred to as the first American entomologist?
  37. A 2020 Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to Richard Vetter for collecting evidence that many entomologists exhibit what psychological condition? This condition is also the title of a movie that won the 1990 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.
  38. This year’s conference features a memorial symposium honoring chemical ecologist Dr. Peter Landolt, who is known for studying yellowjackets’ attraction to what chemical? This chemical attractant is an ester with the formula C11H22O2 that is found abundantly in fresh apples.
  39. Most of you know that in ‘IPM,’ the letter ‘P’ stands for ‘Pest.’ But in the specific IPM strategy known as the ‘PAMS’ approach, the letter ‘P’ stands for what other word?
  40. What twelve-letter term was coined by entomologist Willi Hennig to refer to a derived character that is shared between multiple species and their most recent common ancestor?
  41. Tiebreaker: Gary Larson is known for using insects as a source of humor in his acclaimed comic strip “The Far Side.” A survey of 4,300 “Far Side” comics revealed that exactly how many contained some sort of entomological reference?


Ready to check your score? Click the links below to find the answers to both rounds—plus sources for the info in each question:

Entomology GamesLearn More

Entomology Games
Bookmark this page for updates on how to participate in 2021!

Entomological Society of America



ESA thanks Entomology Games Committee Chair Alix Whitener, Ph.D., National Gamesmaster Deane Jorgensen, Ph.D., and Committee Member David Plotkin for providing the questions and answers from the 2020 games and their assistance in developing this post for Entomology Today.

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