Category Archives: Research

Grad Students Receive Top Awards at National Conference

The Department of Entomology would like to congratulate grad students Zanthé Kotzé and Lauren Beebe on receiving top marks for their presentations at the North American Forensic Entomology Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis on August 5- 7. Kotzé is a Ph.D. candidate mentored by Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin. She received the first place platform presentation award in the Ph.D. category for her presentation titled “Mechanisms regulating behavior of invertebrate decomposers: Deciphering arthropod succession as related to forensic entomology.” “I am humbled and honored to have been awarded the PhD… Read More →

Zero waste: Maggots as recyclers and protein sources

Texas A&M professor invents technology to harness black soldier flies for waste removal, protein for animals by Laura Muntean, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications COLLEGE STATION — Black soldier fly maggots provide a zero waste option for organic recycling, according to Jeff Tomberlin, Ph.D., professor in the department of entomology at Texas A&M University and director of EVO Conversion Systems, LLC. Despite the “ick-factor,” maggots can be helpful for the environment by reducing waste and serving as an animal feed source, he said. The larval form of the black… Read More →

New research helps hay producers manage Bermuda grass stem maggot

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications OVERTON – A relatively new pest – the Bermuda grass stem maggot – is plaguing Texas hay producers this season, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. However, new research from Texas A&M AgriLife is helping growers better manage this pest. “Previously, there was no information on how damaging this insect was to hay production and thus no guidelines on when an insecticide was needed to protect yields,” said Dr. Allen Knutson, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Dallas. “Our field research documented… Read More →

AgriLife Research looks at gene expressions in sugarcane aphid-resistant sorghum

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications AMARILLO – Gene expression in sugarcane aphid-resistant sorghum varieties at times when they are most prevalent in the Texas Panhandle were the focus of a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study. Sugarcane aphids remain the most significant threat to sorghum production, and their outbreaks can arise quickly and unexpectedly, especially in the Southern High Plains where infestations commonly coincide with sorghum bloom, said Dr. Ada Szczepaniec, AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo. Sugarcane aphid outbreaks in sorghum were first reported in 2013…. Read More →

New research gives insight into warding off insect pests by way of nematode odors

by Laura Muntean, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications COLLEGE STATION — A recent study revealed insect-killing nematodes also produce distinctive chemical cues that enhance plant defenses and deter Colorado potato beetles. Entomologists from Texas A&M University, including Dr. Anjel Helms, who led the study, and Penn State University took a look at whether Colorado potato beetles and potato plants responded to the presence of entomopathogenic nematodes, EPNs, or insect-killing nematodes. The study, “Chemical cues linked to risk: cues from below-ground natural enemies enhance plant defenses and influence herbivore behavior… Read More →

Professor Speaks on Fire Ant Research at International Conference

Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio, professor of Entomology at Texas A&M University, was the State-of-the-Art Speaker at the 29th Conference of European Comparative Endocrinologists (CECE), in August in Glasgow, Scotland. Held every two years, the purpose of the CECE meeting is to share new ideas and network with other researchers interested in the field of endocrinology. Pietrantonio’s presentation was during the “Omics and the Physiology of Insect Neuropeptides” section. Pietrantonio was invited by Professor Shireen Davis (University of Glasgow), the coordinator for nEUROSTRESSPEP. This Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme… Read More →

Study Abroad Trips to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica Bring Valuable Field Research Experience to Students

Several students from the Department of Entomology and other departments around the university spent the summer researching in a different location as they ventured to Trinidad and Tobago and at the Soltis Research Center in Costa Rica this summer for research during two study abroad programs. The two groups developed and carried out research projects in the field and learned about the local cultures in both Trinidad and Tobago, and in Costa Rica. At the end of the program, the students turn their research into a paper that… Read More →

Rise of the grasshoppers: New analysis redraws evolutionary tree for major insect family

Grasshoppers are one of the most ubiquitous groups of insects in the world, found everywhere from grasslands to tropical rainforests to isolated mountain ranges to sandy deserts. And now, thanks to a decade-long analysis of grasshoppers’ genetic relationships, scientists have the clearest picture yet of the evolutionary pathways grasshoppers have followed to attain such diversity–and the findings put the birthplace of the broadest lineage of grasshoppers in South America, not Africa, as previously thought. These findings were published in the latest issue of Insect Systematics and Diversity. Led… Read More →

Professor Uses Radio Tracking Technology to Locate Elusive Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs are about to get a lot more visible thanks to a research team at the Texas A&M Department of Entomology, and modern radio telemetry technology. In a new study published in the Journal Medical of Entomology (https://academic.oup.com/jme/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jme/tjy094/5045691), researchers led by Dr. Gabe Hamer, successfully attached miniature radio transmitters to the bugs and tracked their movements. The bugs, also known as triatomine bugs, are sucking insects that are found in Latin America and the Southern United States and are responsible for transmitting the pathogen that causes Chagas… Read More →

Entomologists, Extension Specialists Learn Latest Research at National Conference on Urban Entomology

Several members from the Department of Entomology joined more than 200 entomologists to share their research during the 2018 National Conference of Urban Entomology and Invasive Pest Ant Conference in May at the Embassy Suites in Cary, North Carolina. The four-day-long conference helps to bring urban and medical entomologists, pest control specialists, and members of the pest control industry together in a common setting to share information and search for new and innovative ways to help control pests that threaten people’s homes and health. During the conference, several… Read More →