Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hello all,

My name is Lauren and I am a currently a graduate student of Entomology here at The University of Nebraska Lincoln. I have my bachelors degree in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers New Brunswick with a minor in Public Health. I have always been a super environmental advocate, volunteering for NJPIRG, The Edison Wetlands Association, The Lawrence Brook Watershed Partnership, and many more. I started my career as a health inspector for a health department in NJ where they asked me to also help at their mosquito commission. I soon became their Mosquito Identification Specialist learning all about IPM, mosquito biology, control, and disease transmission. I became fascinated with mosquitoes and insects as a whole, so I decided to get my Masters in Entomology. Currently I am interested in the field of Forensic Entomology. They have a class at Montclair University in NJ over the summer that is specific to hands on forensic entomology, and I am super excited to check it out. Oh and I am totally going to go to one of those body farms this summer too. For now though I'll tell you about my career as a mosquito biologist.
I work for Camden County Mosquito Commission in NJ where we do water management to reduce mosquito larval populations (mosquito larva require water to lay their eggs in, grow, pupate, and emerge as adults). This is done by either simply dumping the container over (ex. kids toys, tarps, buckets, garbage cans, tires, literally anything that can hold water), or by treating the water with an insecticide (ex. abandoned pools, woodland pools, retention basins, etc). We also use mosquito eating fish as a biological control whenever possible (Gambusia, Sunnies, and Fathead minnows). We also do surveillance (my job!), when we collect larva in different locations and identify and monitor the species present, because different species of mosquitoes transmit different diseases. We also have several light traps throughout the county where we collect dead adult mosquitoes for the same type of species surveillance. Lastly, we have gravid traps that we set throughout the county where we collect live adult mosquitoes that I then identify, sort by species, and send to the state lab for disease testing. The field inspectors then go out and spray adulticide to kill adult mosquitoes. It has been a really fun job and I thoroughly enjoy it and am excited to learn more and more about the field of entomology!
Our Facebook page is @NJMCA if anyone is interested.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Media Short on Biocontrol of Weeds with Insects


I wanted to share this short piece of media I made for an Insects in Education class. It's not a great piece of production, but hey, I'm an entomologist not a filmmaker! (And I was able to do it for free at

Controlling Exotic Pests with their Natural Enemies: One Kind of Biological Control

Monday, December 12, 2016

Insect Ecology

Hi everyone!

I’m Stella, and I’m an undergraduate majoring in Biology here at UNL. I will soon be adding a minor in Fish & Wildlife. Once I graduate, I plan to attend grad school and focus on ecology. The intricate links between organisms and their environment is what drew me to ecology in the first place, and the sheer abundance and diversity of insects makes insect ecology especially interesting to me.

I’ve always been fond of insects, and so the decision to take Insect Ecology was an easy one. I previously took an entomology course called Management of Horticultural Crop Insects, and my positive experience with that course further drove me to take Insect Ecology.

I spent several weeks at Cedar Point Biological Station this summer, and while I was there I worked on a project with damselflies. The project involved studying factors that influence damselfly functional response, including prey type and predator size. We are currently writing up a paper on the results of this study, and I look forward to sharing it with you all once it is published.

Thanks for a great semester!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hello Everyone!!

            My name is Debora and I am a Ph.D. student. I am from Brazil and I started my “bug life” back in college when I was a biology student and this guy came to me with an Acrocicnus longimanus in a bucket asking me what was that? I haven’t seen a bug like that before and I started reading about it and how amazing and important bugs are. It was the beginning of a love history <3   
            After finishing biology I started my Masters in Biotechnology where I studied the biology of some species of Spodopteras occurring in Brazil. Spodoptera spp. are a very important corn pest, also important here in the United States, mainly in the Corn Belt. That is why I had the opportunity of studying my Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln; we have “some” corn around here. Ok, Back to the cool part of bugs, corn pests can be boring sometimes. Even though I am a Ph.D. student in Entomology, other day I saw this “ Cool Entomology Facts” that some of them I did not know about… And they are really cool. That is why I decided to write here today, to share it with you all, I hope you enjoy, have fun reading =)

Most abundant: Macroterms, an East African termite, has a queen that lays an egg every two seconds… or 4,300 every day. Termite’s queens may live 50 years!
 Fastest: Large dragonfly may reach a speed of 60 MPH… and yet their flight is noiseless because their wings beat too slowly to produce a hum.

 The largest insect that ever lived: Ancient dragonflies were the largest insects that ever lived. Some fossil specimens from Kansas had a wingspan of three feet. A reconstruction of one of these giants may be seen in the Paleobiology Gallery in Morril Hall - University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Diversity: There are about one million described insect species. Based on studies in the canopy layer of tropical rainforest, there may be as many as 10-30 million different species of insects! The entomology collection contains approximately 44,000 species or about 4.4% of the world`s insect diversity. The entomology Collection contains many more species that are new to science.

Performance: A flea can jump 13 inches high. That would be equivalent to a human jumping 275 feet straight up!

Insect discovery: Curators and students in the division of entomology collect insects and explore jungles and cloud forest every year for research. On each expedition, “Team Scarab” discovers several species that are new to science.

Economy: The annual economic benefits resulting just from honeybee pollination of plants is about U$20 billion, and it is greater than all kinds of insect damage combined, what is U$5 billion in the United States.

Nebraska insects: There are 84 species of mammals in Nebraska. Based on current estimates, there are roughly 21,000 species of insects in Nebraska, that is 250 times more insects than mammals in Nebraska!!

That is a lot of specimens: If all of the specimens in the Entomology Collection were placed end to end, they would measure 11 football fields in length!

Most Massive: The most massive specimen in the Entomology Collection is the rhinoceros beetle, Megasome actaeon, which weight about 3.5 oz (or 100 grams). It would take about 28 prairie shrews to equal the weight of one of these beetles!

Smallest: The smallest specimen in the Entomology Collection is a feather-wing beetle that measure less than 1/32nd of an inch (or 0.34mm). Feather-wing beetle are so small that they can float in the air like dust particles.

Brett Ratcliffe - University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Reference 3

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Entomology Career Hints

        Careers in Entomology extend far beyond the traditional scope of research, professorship, and laboratory work. For instance, did you know that the United States Army employs entomologists? Or that the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, due to an increase in pollinator conservation and the listing of species such as the American burying beetle, also have entomologists within their ranks? In the ever increasing competitive world of job hunting it is important as you move towards graduation to research any and all potential job options that exist.  

        For federal jobs, most positions are listed on, including positions with the United States Department of Agriculture, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, United States Forestry Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to name a few. A simple search into the database will pull up jobs all across the country, and sometimes even in outlying U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico. The key to USAjobs is to make sure that you upload your resume and all of your transcripts, as well as read through the entirety of the job posting as each job listing will be different and will ask for different requirements in order to apply. For example, one position that I applied for before being hired on as a Park Ranger with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service asked me to provide a breakdown of every job that I had worked by hours worked per week. This tiny bit of information was listed at the bottom of the job listing, in small type, but the job listing stated that without this piece of information that my application would not even be looked at!

        As with applying for any job, when applying for federal positions the hiring department will often ask for you to describe your experience in previous positions. Unlike many other agencies or companies, a large part of your application and hiring process will be done through your computer, and you may not meet face to face with your supervisor until the day you actually report to work, as the interview may even be done by phone. In fact, the timeframe in which you are asked to describe your past experiences may actually occur while you are uploading your resume, CV, and transcripts, in the form of a questionnaire. If this is the case, be thorough with how you answer the questions, and if you have had experience in a certain area then say so- however, under no circumstances lie about having experience on a subject no matter how much you want the position! Every year there are stories in which someone writes on their questionnaire that they have done a biological procedure or laboratory test only to find when they arrive on the first day of their job that their supervisor expects them to show their knowledge or hop right into their role. If you cannot perform the job description duties and you take the position under false pretenses, because it is a federal position not only can you be immediately dismissed, you could also serve time in jail as there are oftentimes moving costs and incentives rolled into federal jobs. Be honest! If you haven't had experience yet in an area, answer the question truthfully and move on. There is always another position that you are better suited for waiting for you!

        In closing, always be on the lookout for unique career opportunities and do not be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to hunting for jobs. While you are still in school, be sure to build your resume, and take internships and volunteer work to help build a network that will help you when you walk away from college with your degree in hand. If you are interested in internships, I suggest looking into Americorps as well as the Student Conservation Association, which provide awesome opportunities, a stipend, and living quarters while you gain invaluable knowledge and experience in your field. Good luck, and remember to stay positive during your searches!

Friday, December 2, 2016

My little Entomology passion!

I am Eduardo Valentin, formally the Dry Bean Breeding technician from the PHREC-UNL. I have a B.S degree in Agronomy with a concentration on Crop Protection from the University of Puerto Rico. Started my career at the Experimental Agriculture Station from UPR working with dry bean breeding, and in addition I worked with the USDA-Tropical Agriculture Research Station.
                My entomology passion begun when I was in my last undergraduate year, were I met a professor that was working on insect toxicology. We started talking about my summer practice until he mentioned what he was doing. I heard that very interesting so I asked him to work on any research about insect toxicology. That is where all begun! Dr. Gallardo quickly show me a very little friend, the Cylas formicarius or well known as the worst weevil for the sweet potato in Puerto Rico.
                My research was about searching for a lethal doses using an entomopathogenic fungus, Beauveria bassiana. As a result my Entomology passion grew. As soon I started working in my first job, I looked for any opportunity on working with insects. The breeder from the program mentioned that one of his graduated student was studying resistant of dry beans to the bean weevil Acanthoscelides obtectus and he may need help rearing the insect. So I agreed!

                Thanks for all that experience, I am currently working on my Online MS Degree in Entomology with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; were I am conducting a research on beneficial insects focusing on pollinators.