Category Archives: Research

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 →

Symposium Showcases Top Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics Research in SE Texas Area

Scientists from across the Southeastern Texas area gathered inside the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building for the fourth meeting of the Southeast Texas Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics Symposium on July 18. The day-long symposium featured various presentations by researchers from the Southeastern Texas area, including Texas A&M, Texas A&M Galveston, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The event was hosted by the Department of Entomology and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program faculty. The purpose of… Read More →

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 →