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 →

Kaufman takes lead of Texas A&M entomology department

Phillip Kaufman

Moving forward with classes, research by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing & Communication Taking over as head of the Texas A&M University Department of Entomology is a pretty daunting task in normal times, but during COVID-19, Phillip Kaufman, Ph.D., is finding challenges and opportunities. Kaufman, head of the Texas A&M Department of Entomology, said determining how to best serve students in-house and online amid the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as staying on top of important research issues such as tick surveillance, mosquitoes and murder… Read More →

Texas kissing bug population spike could increase risk of Chagas disease in dogs, humans

Texas A&M AgriLife experts tell how to report sightings, contact by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Texas A&M AgriLife Research entomologists have seen an increase in kissing bugs collected in multiple regions of the state this year. The insects carry a parasite that can cause potentially fatal Chagas disease in humans and animals. “We have already collected over 300 adult kissing bug specimens in a location where we only collected six individuals in 2019,” said Gabriel Hamer, Ph.D., AgriLife Research entomologist, College Station. He is… 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 →

How to get rid of fruit flies in your house

Fight the pests by removing their home inside your home by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Fruit flies can be a pesky pest, especially indoors. While they can be annoying, Mike Merchant, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist, Dallas, said infestations of fruit flies and other flying pests are relatively easy to control. “Fruit flies are almost impossible to keep out of homes,” Merchant said. “They can fly in doors when we come and go, hitch rides home on ripe fruit, and are… Read More →

It’s big, but it’s not a ‘murder hornet’

Texas A&M AgriLife experts say Texans mistakenly identifying cicada killer wasps as Asian giant hornets by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Since the release of information about Asian giant hornets, Texas A&M AgriLife entomologists are being inundated with cicada killers and other lookalike insects submitted for identification as a possible “murder hornet,” which thus far has only been found in Washington state in the U.S. While the agency wants to continue to encourage Texans to be vigilant in watching for the Asian giant hornet, they… Read More →

Longtime Texas A&M leader, nationally recognized entomologist passes

Dr. Perry Adkisson

From professor to chancellor, Perry Adkisson advanced agriculture, Texas A&M by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications Perry Adkisson, Ph.D., former Texas A&M University System leader and internationally known agricultural scientist in the area of entomology, has died. Adkisson became a professor of entomology at Texas A&M in 1958, and went on to serve as the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System from 1986 until 1990, before retiring in 1994 as a distinguished professor. During his long career at Texas A&M, he also served as… Read More →

AgriLife Extension experts: Time to say ‘no’ to mosquitoes

by Susan Himes, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications Did you know there are 85 species of mosquitoes in Texas that have been identified by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s agricultural and environmental safety unit personnel?  That’s a lot of itch-inducing painful pests to worry about. Besides being a buzzing and biting nuisance, mosquitoes carry a host of diseases and viruses that can be dangerous to people, pets and livestock.  “It’s a mosquito’s world,” said Sonja Swiger, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension veterinary entomologist in Stephenville. “Whether you see them or not,… 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

Two Asian longhorned ticks atop a dime. Photo by CDC/James Gathany

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 →