What Entomologists Do?: Invasive Insects

Ash Trees

Ash Trees in Decline Due to Emerald Ash Borer
Inset: EAB D-Shaped Exit Holes
Entomologists work to find solutions to EAB and other problems.

Careers in Entomology rarely command public attention and are often not understood or misunderstood. In recent discussion with colleagues, we recognize the need to better explain what entomologists do. I am in the process of making lists of jobs entomologists do. I will posts these lists occasionally and welcome additions and suggestions.

The first list: Invasive species. Invasive species can cause significant economic and environmental damage. Entomologists work in all phases of efforts to prevent entry, manage and eliminate invasive insect species

What do Entomologists Do to Manage Invasive Insects?

Keep Them Out

  • Port Inspectors. Entomologists inspect trade goods and cargo shipped to the US & intercept tens of thousands of insect pests every year before they do harm.
  • Insect Identifiers. Insect identification experts determine if a suspicious insect is a pest or a harmless species that looks similar to a novice. Proper identification ensures that management resources are used where needed.
  • Eradicate. ¬†If possible, entomologists develop and implement eradication programs to minimize harmful effects of invasive insects and attempts to control them.

Keep Invasive Insects Contained

  • Survey. Entomologists survey for invasive pests to determine their location and monitor the spread.
  • Quarantine. Entomologists devise quarantines, restrictions on movements of goods to slow the spread of invasive insects.

Manage Invasive Pests

  • Develop Control Methods. Entomologists evaluate existing insect control products and work to improve them or develop new methods.
  • Develop Survey Methods. Entomologists develop and evaluate traps and other technology to detect invasive insects as early as possible.
  • DNA Barcodes. Entomologists develop modern molecular tools such as DNA Barcodes that can distinguish invasive species from native species.
  • Explore Foreign Countries for Biocontrol Agents. Invasive species may leave behind the natural enemies that keep them under control in their native country. Entomologists evaluate potential control agents and recommend species that could be safely imported.
  • Study, Rear, Obtain Approvals and Release Insect Predators, Parasitoids and Pathogens for Management Programs.
  • Coordinate State and Federal Management efforts to fight invasive insects.
  • Educate the public about new pests and policies.
  • Produce literature, web information, videos and phone apps to communicate with the public.
  • Coordinate volunteers to help with pest management programs.
  • Research basic and applied questions to ultimately improve management.

Entomologists are hired to do many of these important tasks that protect our economy and our environment.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to What Entomologists Do?: Invasive Insects

  1. Ricardo Avila says:

    Great article! I was ignorant about so many of these practical applications. Unfortunately, it is easy to underestimate the impact that insects have in our lives.

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