Texas honey production tops 7.4 million pounds

Beekeeper looking at comb while bees flying around him

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 →

Grunseich Receives ESA Master’s Student Achievement Award

The Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University congratulates Master’s student John Grunseich as he was awarded with the Entomological Society of America’s Plant-Insect Ecosystems Master’s Student Achievement in Entomology Award. The award is given to master’s students who have demonstrated creativity and significant achievements through research, teaching and/or outreach in entomology. Grunseich joined Dr. Anjel Helms’ lab in 2019 where he is studying the chemical ecology of below ground multitrophic interactions among plants, root-feeding herbivores, and natural enemies. Grunseich is investigating the role of chemical compounds in… Read More →

Research shows insects evolved pathways for acoustic communication

Diverse singing lineages within the suborder Ensifera date back more than 300 million years. Clockwise from top left: cricket, mole cricket, grig and katydid. (Photo by Piotr Naskrecki)

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

Locusts in Yucatan, Mexico. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy of Hojun Song)

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 →

Former Ph.D. Student Receives Presidential Professor Award

The Department of Entomology congratulates former Ph.D. student Dr. Asha Rao as she was recognized with the 2020 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award. The award was announced during the September Faculty Senate virtual meeting and is the highest honor bestowed on faculty members universitywide. Rao currently is an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Biology. Rao earned her Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in 1996 and 2002 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Bradleigh Vinson’s lab and as a research associate at the… Read More →

How Texas became leader in safe public school pest management

AgriLife Extension school IPM specialist Janet Hurley leads a school IPM training for school district IPM coordinators.

Human, environmental health remain focus as AgriLife Extension makes school pest control safer by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing & Communications Anyone returning to a Texas public school this semester is safer from pests and pesticides, thanks to a host of integrated pest control practices required by the state and taught to licensed professionals by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Requirements for integrated pest management, or IPM, in Texas schools were passed by the Texas Legislature in 1991. IPM is the practice of controlling pests with… Read More →

Mike Merchant Awarded with Honorary Membership at the Entomological Society of America

Mike Merchant

Congratulations to former Professor and Extension Specialist Dr. Mike Merchant as he was named an honorary member of the Entomological Society of America in 2020. Merchant recently retired from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and was one of five entomologists in the nation that were named honorary members. The award acknowledges members who have served the ESA for at least 20 years outstanding work throughout their careers to advance the organization at an extraordinary level. For 31 years, Merchant has been serving the state as Professor and Extension… 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 →

Former Ph.D. Student Named Comstock Award Winner

The Department of Entomology would like to congratulate former Ph.D. student Dr. Xiaotian Tang as he was named the John Comstock Award winner for the Southwestern Branch. Tang received his Ph.D. in entomology recently in May under the direction of Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy. His research focused on the vector biology and vector-pathogen interactions between the bacterial pathogen, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso), and its vector, the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli). Tang’s main research areas are to identify key genes involved in the interactions between the vector and the pathogen… Read More →

Texas A&M research to examine mysteries of armyworms

Fall Armyworm. Photo by Bart Drees

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 →