Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Guest Bloggers

This semester, we will be featuring a few guest bloggers from the Management of Horticultural Insects class. They will be discussing their interests in entomology or other related insect topics. Our first guest is Ross Barr. Please enjoy hearing about some of the career choices our students are already in or are exploring as they pursue their Entomology or related degrees!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Introduction and Entomology

Hey everybody.  I just wanted to give a quick introduction about myself.  My name is Ross Barr, and I grew up on a diversified grain and livestock farm near Liberty, Nebraska.  I graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2012 with a B.S. in agronomy.  I am currently a pilot in the Air Force and am working on my M.S. degree in agronomy.  My goal is to eventually return to the family farm after my military service commitment is complete and farm with my brother.  After I graduated with my bachelor's degree, I was stationed at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma for pilot training for about a year and a half.  I am now stationed at Offutt AFB in Nebraska, flying the RC-135.  I wanted to come back to Nebraska, and I am fortunate to have been stationed close to home.  I enjoy going home on my weekends off to help my dad and brother on the farm. 

I only took one entomology course as an undergraduate at UNL, and have only taken a couple of entomology courses for my graduate degree, but the more courses I take, the more amazed I am with insects.  I'm not sure what interests me most about them…maybe their biology and life cycles.  I'm hoping to be able to apply some things I learn from my entomology courses in the future.  Like I mentioned before, I really want to return to the family farm after my military service is complete to farm with my dad and brother.  I honestly haven't thought of doing anything else besides that.  If I can't do that for some reason, I would probably try to get a job in the agriculture field somewhere in Nebraska.  I haven't thought too much about flying for the airlines, but that could always be an option for me as well.  I've considered joining an Air National Guard unit after my active duty commitment is up so I can continue to fly, but that's too far in the future to see.  In the back of my mind, I've always thought it would be fun (and scary) to be a crop duster.  I've done a little bit of research on it recently, but I don't know too much about how to get started in that business.  Anyway, I hope to continue to learn about insects and apply what I learn in my future career.  I am looking forward to everyone else's posts. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Happy New Year! Every semester, the undergraduate students in the Insect Biology class here in the Entomology Department are responsible for rearing a tobacco hornworm "pet." They receive their hornworms as an egg or first instar larvae, and record their observations as the hornworm goes through its life cycle from egg to adult (although by the end of the class, most have reached the pupal stage and will likely emerge in the spring or summer)

 Tobacco hornworm Larva 

                         Tobacco hornworm prepupa (olive green), and newly pupated hornworm

This activity is a great way for students to experience an insect that goes through complete metamorphosis first hand. Also, since this is a pest species, students often comment about how much the hornworm eats the larger it gets, which is why they can become such pests! In the "lab" or "home" setting for the student experiments, the hornworms are fed an artificial diet, so no tobacco, tomato, or other plants are harmed in this process!

To learn more about rearing hornworms, check out this great video. This shows the supplies that the students use with their hornworm pet. All in all a very interesting project, although since I am a mantis, I wish they were being reared for my lunch!