Category Archives: Research

Texas honey production tops 7.4 million pounds

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Texas remained sixth in the nation for honey production in 2019, and is home to thousands of overwintering hives that contribute to the nation’s agricultural economy each growing season, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Bexar County, said Texas beekeeping falls into three categories – hobbyists, sideliners and commercial. Hobbyists are backyard beekeepers who keep bees, typically less than 10 hives, to meet Texas’ agriculture exemption for… Read More →

Research shows insects evolved pathways for acoustic communication

Sound-making, hearing mechanisms in crickets date back 300 million years by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Songs produced by crickets, katydids, grasshoppers and other orthopteran insects are hundreds of millions of years in the making, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist’s research published in Nature Communications. Hojun Song, Ph.D., AgriLife Research entomologist and associate professor in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, Bryan-College Station, said there have been many changes to the way insects within the Orthoptera order hear and create… Read More →

New institute to study behavioral plasticity in locusts

Multi-university collaboration funded by a 5-year, $12.5 million grant by Olga Kuchment, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Locusts have a reputation of biblical proportions. Certain species of grasshoppers that are typically solitary and harmless can suddenly swarm and consume entire crops, including plants that support livestock. Large swarms can destroy livelihoods for farmers and entire communities’ food supply. That is why researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife, Baylor College of Medicine, Arizona State University, Washington University in St. Louis and University of California, Davis, have created the Behavioral… Read More →

Honey bee nutrition might be key to healthy populations

AgriLife Research, USDA project looks to honey bee diets to reduce population losses by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications A newly funded Texas A&M AgriLife Research project seeks to slow population losses among more than 2.6 million managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. Honey bees provide pollination services that uphold $16 billion in U.S. agricultural crops. However, managed colonies have seen annual declines. Those include a 40% decline as recently as 2018-2019, said Juliana Rangel, Ph.D, AgriLife Research honey bee scientist in the Department… Read More →

Texas A&M research to examine mysteries of armyworms

Texas A&M graduate student awarded grant to research fall armyworms by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications A Texas A&M University graduate student received a research grant to better identify, understand and ultimately mitigate fall armyworm populations in Texas and the central U.S. Ashley Tessnow, a doctoral candidate in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology, said armyworms have long been a pest that agriculture producers throughout the central U.S have tried to manage. But despite the long-standing battle against fall… Read More →

Texas A&M research project identifies COVID-19 positive pets in Brazos County

Sampling dogs, cats whose owners tested positive to understand how pets may be impacted by SARS-CoV-2 The transmission of COVID-19 to pets has been the source of much discussion within the scientific community. Reports have confirmed a small, but growing, list of positive cases among companion animals and exotic cats in the U.S. Now, new efforts within The Texas A&M University System are beginning to shed additional light on the topic. A team led by Sarah Hamer, Ph.D., DVM, associate professor of epidemiology at the Texas A&M College… Read More →

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 →