Category Archives: Research

Researchers find gene to convert female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to non-biting males with implications for mosquito control

A collaboration between Virginia Tech and Texas A&M recently confirmed that a single gene can take the bite out of the prime carrier of viruses that cause dengue fever and Zika in humans. Researchers from Dr. Zach Adelman’s and Dr. Zhijian Tu’s labs have found that a male-determining gene, called Nix, when inserted into a chromosomal region inherited by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can convert them into non-biting males. The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the paper, the… Read More →

Blue light assists a night hunt for bugs

by Olga Kuchment, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications A blue flashlight that makes corals shine in the sea can help spot insects in nighttime forests, according to a recent Texas A&M AgriLife study. The peer-reviewed study suggests that blue light could help with pest control, natural history research and night insect collecting. A lightbulb goes on at a conference The study grew out of a chance meeting at a conference between a vendor and a former student of Hojun Song, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of… Read More →

African horse sickness on Texas A&M, industry radar

Potential insect vectors in Texas by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications African horse sickness is not in the U.S., and it is important it stays that way. Texas A&M AgriLife faculty, various state and federal agencies and the U.S. horse industry are already monitoring the situation, ensuring surveillance and determining practices to prevent the deadly horse disease from crossing our borders. African horse sickness comes out of Africa and is common from Morocco down to the middle of the continent. But it has escaped the… Read More →

Tick surveillance, control needed in U.S., study shows

First nationwide survey of tick-management programs shows clear public health gap by Olga Kuchment, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing & Communications The prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses has steadily increased in the U.S. over the past 20 years. Now, an inaugural nationwide study of tick surveillance and control describes a clear need for more funding and coordination among programs across the country. Among the coauthors is a Texas A&M AgriLife researcher, Pete Teel, Ph.D., a Regents professor in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology. Teel said… Read More →

Cattle fever tick numbers on the rise

AgriLife experts warn of ticks’ potential negative economic impact by Susan Himes, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are working to help thwart the spread of cattle fever. An announcement from the Texas Animal Health Commission, TAHC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program, USDA-CFTEP, that cattle fever tick infestations have spread outside the permanent quarantine zone prompted concern from AgriLife experts, who last dealt with a large outbreak in 2017. “The discovery… Read More →

Kaufman named head of Department of Entomology, effective July 1

Phillip Kaufman, Ph.D., will begin his appointment as head of the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, starting July 1. Kaufman joins Texas A&M from the University of Florida where he served as a professor in the Entomology and Nematology Department in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. During his 15 years at the university, he helped develop and implement research programs to support Florida livestock producers, taught courses on medical and veterinary entomology and forensic entomology, as well as provided support to Florida Extension faculty… Read More →

Research looks to beneficial insects for pest control

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications Predator insects could reduce pesticide use in commercial production A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist is studying how a combination of beneficial insects can help control the pests in greenhouses. Erfan Vafaie, AgriLife Extension program specialist in Integrated Pest Management, Overton, just wrapped up the second year of a three-year study looking at the use of predatory beneficial insects – mites and wasps – to control sweet potato whiteflies in commercial settings. Vafaie’s study is for his doctorate dissertation under… Read More →

4Ry, USDA, Texas A&M AgriLife to develop innovative spraying technology for cattle fever ticks

by Laura Muntean, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications 4Ry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research have signed a collaborative research agreement to develop a means to more efficiently and effectively spray cattle and kill cattle fever ticks, according to a 4Ry Inc. announcement. Cattle fever ticks are vectors of pathogens causing bovine babesiosis, also known as cattle tick fever, and are the focus of the U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program. Pete Teel, Ph.D., AgriLife Research entomologist, regents professor and interim department… Read More →

Tawny crazy ants’ weird genetics may help them thrive in new environments

by Olga Kuchment, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications Tawny crazy ants’ pattern of genetic inheritance may have helped the South American species spread in the U.S., Texas A&M AgriLife researchers have discovered. The results could lead to a new way to control this invasive species. “We might be able to use the mechanism to drive a lethal gene into the population,” said Dr. Ed Vargo, senior investigator of the study and professor of urban and structural entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University…. Read More →

Study abroad trip to Costa Rica leads to new king cricket species discovery

A group of four Texas A&M Department of Entomology undergraduate students took their knowledge from the classroom and put it to use in discovering a new species of king cricket during a recent study abroad trip to Costa Rica. Under the guidance of Hojun Song, Ph.D., associate professor for entomology, students Steven Richardson, Travis Trimm, Randell Paredes and Jonathan Koehl described a new species of king cricket, Glaphyrosoma stephanosoltis, (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae), from the tropical rainforests near the Soltis Center for Research and Education in San Isidro. A new… Read More →