The Story of the Little Fire Ant, and Why Modern Medicine Can Learn From Indigenous Cultures

Wasmannia auropunctata

By John P. Roche, Ph.D. Lesions of the cornea that cause white discolorations of the eye, called leukomas or corneal opacities, have been discovered for decades in humans, domestic animals, and wild animals. Sometimes called West Indian punctate keratopathy, Florida spots, or Rice’s keratopathy, this condition was a mystery to the medical community. But a […]

Predicting Shifts in the Range of Invasive Insect Species in the Face of Climate Change

pea leafminer

By John P. Roche As average temperatures rise globally, the ranges of many species will be affected. Climate-induced shifts in the ranges of invasive species will be particularly important because of the high economic and ecological impacts of these species. And predicting the extent to which temperature increases could affect the range of invasive species […]

Designing Effective Baits for Spotted Wing Drosophila is No Easy Task

spotted wing drosophila on berry

By John P. Roche Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), is an invasive fruit fly species from eastern Asia, first seen in the United States in 2008. The species is devastating to fruit crops, causing economic losses in the U.S. of hundreds of millions of dollars. Spotted wing drosophila feeds on a wide range of host […]

What Puts the Blister Into Blister Beetles?

Epicauta chinensis blister beetle

By John P. Roche Blister beetles produce cantharidin, a 10-carbon isoprenoid molecule that is highly bitter and is toxic to most animals. Because cantharidin is so bitter, it discourages predators, and its production may have been selected for in blister beetles because of this bitterness. The molecule is found in only two insect groups: blister […]

Control of West Indian Sweetpotato Weevils Informed by Their Mating Behavior

By John P. Roche West Indian sweetpotato weevils (Euscepes postfasciatus) are costly pests of sweetpotato plants (Ipomoea batatas) in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Entomologists in the Ryukyu Islands within the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan are implementing a sterile insect technique (SIT) program for eradicating West Indian sweetpotato weevils. SIT uses […]