Engage with our faculty as they investigate these and other intriguing issues:
- Role of chemicals emitted by crops in attracting the aphids that transmit potato leaf roll virus and barley yellow dwarf virus
- Effectiveness of insects in controlling such invasive weeds as hoary cress
- Use of oilseed meals – byproducts that enhance the economics of biodiesel production – for the control of soil-dwelling crop pests
- Utilization of trap crops and repellents to manage insects in organic vegetable production
- How cultural methods and improved forecasting can predict and minimize the risks of plant virus transmission by aphids
- The mating behavior of female mosquitoes and how these processes help manage the diseases they spread
- How insect-resistant wheat varieties complement biocontrol agents
- Effects of various sizes of Palouse habitat remnants on the diversity of native insects
Aldrich Entomology Club: Share your fascination with insects with local elementary schoolchildren, explore insect and plant interactions in the field, and participate in the Entomological Society of America’s annual Linnaean Games Competition.
Graduate and Professional Student Association: Gain leadership, organizational and communication skills.
Learn to wield sweep nets and set pitfall traps, as well as to employ state-of-the-art techniques such as polymerase chain reactions to find out if an aphid is carrying a crop-damaging virus. Utilize gas chromatography to study the chemicals that insects emit to attract the opposite sex.
You may also participate in interdisciplinary programs in Environmental Science, Biological Sciences and the Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations.
In addition to your research, many of our students engage in outreach efforts with agricultural producers, commodity commissions and other groups that are tackling issues in which insects play key roles. If you’re interested in applied entomology, you’ll make public presentations, write grants (Ph.D. students), and get other valuable experience in land grant extension activities.
Breakthroughs & Discoveries
Graduate students contributed to each of these recent scientific advances made by our professors:
- A new subdiscipline of chemical ecology, called disease chemical ecology, was launched after our scientists confirmed that potato plants infected with potato leaf roll virus emit chemicals that attract the very aphids that transmit the disease from plant to plant.
- Green peach aphids prefer hairy nightshade – a weed – over potato crops. When these aphids visit hairy nightshade early in the season, they’re particularly likely to transmit potato leaf roll virus to the potatoes they later infest, making control of hairy nightshade more critical than anyone had previously thought.
- To maximize their reproductive success, female mosquitoes minimize their exposure to swatting by waiting until after they’ve been inseminated to seek the blood meals that are essential to egg development.
- Oilseed meals – byproducts of biodiesel production – show substantial promise as bioinsecticides that can control soil dwelling pests with less risk to the environment than synthetic chemicals. Our interdisciplinary team has learned that these meals also add nitrogen and other nutrients to cropping systems and crucial income to the bottom lines of crushing plants.
Our new biotech wing allows students to use modern molecular techniques in entomological research, while the Hubert C. Manis Laboratory offers isolated greenhouses for working with insects. The million-specimen William F. Barr Entomology Museum includes an outstanding selection of Western – particularly agricultural pests and wood-boring beetles – that students can examine at various life stages.