written by: Eva Perry and Lindsay Barranco
At the beginning of his Entomology Department exit seminar presentation, graduate student Dylan Kutz asked his zoom-viewing audience “Who cares about spiders?” and “Why study drainage ditches?” – two questions that immediately grabbed everyone’s attention. Over the past three years Dylan has proven himself to be an adventurous and fearless researcher – sampling agricultural cropland drainage ditches for spiders in order to ascertain how they may facilitate natural pest management practices by supporting spider populations.
written by: Darsy Smith & Veronica Yurchak
Dr. Galen Dively, a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland, has become a leading figure in the effort to monitor and mitigate resistance development to genetically modified Bt corn, primarily addressing the very destructive corn earworm. At this week’s colloquium, Dr. Dively presented on his work designing a new approach for monitoring insect resistance in Bt corn, as well as how this approach is changing the way genetically modified crop technologies are regulated by the EPA.
"Assessing the impacts of seasonal leaf litter disturbance on overwintering pollinators and natural enemies" earns grad student Max Ferlauto first prize poster at AGNR cornerstone event. Watch video to see how Max's work supports the college's initiative to improve human, animal, and environmental health.
Congratulations to AGNR Enterprise Challenge winners, Krisztina Christmon and her fellow teammates.
Krisztina and her team were challenged to, in a 3 week time span, come up with an idea to turn empty poultry houses in Maryland into something else. Krisztina said, “It was a short but intense 2 weeks of brainstorming and research. We wanted something that would be easy to set up, sustainable, novel and profitable." The team pitched a plan to the judges to use the empty poultry houses to address the dark reality of the US plastic crisis. “It is such a mounting issue in Agricultural that it already has a name for itself: plasticulture.”says Krisztina. Their award winning plan, she shares “[to] turn these facilities into an agricultural plastic washing-sorting-recycling facility. In addition, we would develop a technology to neutralize the chemicals (pesticide, fertilizer etc.) of wastewater and in the end product”
The team won the competition's top cash prize and a spot in the MD and National iCorp program where they will learn more about entrepreneurship and ways to make their idea come alive.
The Song of the Lacewings: A look into the unique mating call of the green lacewing and why their larvae fake their death.
Many people are fascinated about the diversity in nature, some are attracted by cichlids with various colors, others were allured by butterflies with different patterns. Katherine Taylor, a new Post-doc in the Fritz lab, was interested in the diversity of the lacewing mating songs.
For nearly the last two decades, STEM educators, particularly those in biology, have been moving toward a more active learning model for undergraduate courses. Dr. Marcia Shofner has been at the forefront of that effort at University of Maryland. Dr. Shofner is a Senior Lecturer in the Entomology Department, teaching several sections per year of Ecology and Evolution. Not only is this course often an early undergraduate’s first introduction to college biology, but it is often a Graduate Teaching Assistant’s first foray into teaching as well. At this week’s colloquium, Dr. Shofner shared a “peer through the lens” into designing and implementing an active learning course with the Entomology community.
In the spring of 2004, millions of 17-year cicadas emerged from the ground. They crawled over trees, houses, and cars. They molted leaving exoskeleton shells on every surface. Birds feasted. Squirrels gorged themselves. Newly planted trees suffered. Children tiptoed though carcasses on their way to school. Parents scraped goo off their car’s wheels. The air vibrated with the cacophonous sound of cicadas. Then they were gone. But next year they are coming back. Whether you anticipate it with dread or excitement, they are coming again.
In his colloquium presentation to the UMD Entomology Department, Dr. Mike Raupp, an emeritus entomology professor at the University of Maryland, brought us up to speed on the coming emergence of periodical cicadas. The last time Brood X, the 17-year cicadas local to this area, emerged from the ground, entomologists were in heaven. Dr. Raupp gave numerous talks around the country even ending up on Jay Leno’s late-night show to teach about the fascinating insect. He explained how 17-year cicadas are a great opportunity to get people interested in bugs. Next year, they may be even more numerous due to recent habitat restorations and improved tree cover.
Congratulations to Entomology’s Alys Jarvela and Leslie Pick whose paper was just published in Communications Biology. Their research showed that mosquitos lost a gene that is essential for survival in other insects without ill effects. They also found that a related gene stepped in and took over the lost gene’s role. This discovery represents the first time that scientists identified a gene that naturally evolved to perform the same critical function as a related gene long after the two genes diverged down different evolutionary paths.
You can read CMNS press release on the paper here: https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/4664
Written by: Maria Cramer, PhD student, Hamby Lab
Seven months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Leslie Pick, department head of entomology, kicked off the department’s fall colloquium series in a way that’s become familiar; she muted the audience, thanked everyone for coming, and shared her screen.
Past colloquium speakers have talked about the latest research in entomology, but Dr. Pick talked about topics even more important: COVID-19 and racism. Addressing COVID, she took us back to March by reminding us that over a one-week period the department transitioned from normal research to working from home with severe research restrictions. When you’re working with live animals and cultures, however, this doesn’t mean hitting a pause button. The whole department mobilized to care for colonies of insects and live cultures on campus or bring them home. Bringing home wolf spiders, lady beetles, and mantises was a new adventure for many and even attracted the attention of Nature and NPR.
In a paper published in Genetics today (https://www.genetics.org/content/215/4/1027) Entomology graduate student Katie Reding (Pick lab) used CRISPR/Cas9 to make a genomic deletion of the white gene in the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. The white gene was one of the first genes identified in Drosophila, over 100 years ago, where it is necessary for the red eye color of flies. Interesting, in Oncopeltus, white is necessary for pigmentation throughout the body but it is also necessary for organismal survival, as animals homozygous for the white mutations do not survive to adulthood. This is the first demonstration that CRISPR is effective in Oncopeltus. Methods Katie developed will be useful for researchers to test the function of other genes in this and related species.
Entomology's Mike Raupp weighs in on enormous wasps about to emerge en masse throughout the eastern half of the U.S. to hunt cicadas—and to worry people. They are black with caution-yellow markings and the size of a USB stick.
Read the full story in the The New York Times.
[College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences]
Does spraying Listerine in your yard repel mosquitoes? That idea may be popping up in your social media, but Entomology's "Bug Guy" Mike Raupp says there's no official evidence it would work. And it could be harmful.
Learn more via WUSA 9
[College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences]
Paula Shrewsbury, Professor and University of Maryland Extension Specialist, id's three invasive insects that have yet to reach the UK but have the potential to cause widespread disruption should they cross the pond.
Congratulations to Entomology faculty member Dr. Leo Shapiro who has been promoted to the rank of Senior Lecturer!
Since joining the UMD Department of Entomology in 2014, Leo has made significant contributions to teaching and service. He teaches two of the core BSCI undergraduate courses, BSCI160 (Principles of Ecology & Evolution) and BSCI207 (Organismal Biology) and has been very involved with BSCI 161 (Principles of Ecology & Evolution Lab). These high enrollment classes have Leo engaging with several hundred Terps each semester! He is actively engaged with teaching innovation for the core BSCI curriculum and was a UMD Teaching & Learning Transformation Center Elevate Fellow in 2018, working to redesign key parts of his BSCI 160 course. Leo advises numerous Biology majors each semester, supporting their academic pursuits and often providing important broader guidance and mentoring as well. He has served on a range of departmental committees and regularly serves on Entomology and Biology Honors thesis committees, supporting undergraduate research activities.
In addition to teaching and service, Leo continues to be involved in research. Over the past several years, he has published a study on methodological and statistical considerations for large-scale sampling of bee communities and a paper elucidating the species identity of a visually striking terrestrial alga from coastal California that is regionally common but taxonomically confusing. He is currently working on a new insect biology textbook for Sinauer/Oxford University Press.
Congratulations again Leo on reaching this important, well-deserved milestone!
Shout out to Entomology faculty member Dr. Tammatha O’Brien who has been promoted to the rank of Principal Lecturer!
Tammatha has a long standing and exemplary record with the department of entomology. In 2009, shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland with her PhD in Entomology, she was recruited as a lecturer with the Department. Since then O’Brien has been teaching a variety of courses both within the College and outside – lectures, labs, online courses, many with large enrollment. In addition to O’Brien’s undergraduate teaching and advising roles she serves as the Director of the Department’s on-line Applied Entomology Master’s Program.
Tammatha has been recognized as a leader in teaching, receiving the Allen L. Steinhauer Award for Excellence in Teaching, CMNS Dean’s Outstanding Lecturer Award, Provost’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the CMNS Board of Visitors Creative Educator Award. Furthermore, Tammatha received media mentions this Spring for her expertise in delivering outstanding online instruction to students. With energy and spirit, Tammatha rallied behind the universities move to transition all courses online due to COVID. She offered sage advice and encouragement to leading instructors and students as campus moved all courses to online instruction. Her efforts have been mentioned in the Washington Post and MD Today.
Please join me in congratulating Tammatha on reaching this important, well-deserved milestone!
Congratulations to Gussie Maccracken who has been awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY2020. Starting in March 2021, she will be studying plant-insect interactions across the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
Interested in seeing bess beetles, some of mother nature's champion recyclers, at work? Now is a great time, blogs Bug of the Week's Professor Raupp. Bess beetles can be spotted scurrying across the forest floor recycling wood of fallen trees.
Moths and butterflies play a vital role in pollinating plants on wild and manged lands. So how vital are they? Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Cerruti Hooks, and Assistant Professor, Anahi Espindola pair up to respond. The two blog in Maryland Agronomy News about the efficiency of moths and butterflies as pollinators and advocate for the conservation of these important insects.
Congratulations to Dr. Marcia Shofner who has been awarded the Provost’s Excellence Award for Professional Track Faculty. This well-deserved recognition celebrates Marcia’s use of active learning approaches in her classes, her work with TLTC redesigning her introductory class and her participation in NSF-funded grants to revamp BSCI curriculum. In addition to acknowledging Marcia as a dynamic lecturer in both the in-person and online environments, she is recognized for her service. She is on various college and university committees and engaged with groups that work to promote more diverse student participation in science.
TikToks About Strawberries With Bugs In Them Are Going Viral, But Experts Say It’s Rare, reports Bustle. "When we eat any food, animal or vegetable, we are actually consuming many different types of organisms, bacteria, fungi, and yes, sometimes insects or parts of insects," Professor Emeritus. Mike Raupp, tells Bustle.
There has been much confusion about whether murder hornets are in Maryland. No, the murder hornet is not in the DMV yet but there are hornets that look similar, says UMD Professor Emeritus, Mike Raupp. He shows viewers how to ID common MD look a-likes.
Congratulations to Environmental Science and Policy major, Maggie Tan (Palmer Lab), who successfully defended her entomology honors thesis last week. Her thesis entitled, “Changes in Hydrology and Water Quality Resulting from a Regenerative Streamwater Conveyance System in Campus Creek", received honors. Under the supervision of Michael Williams, her honors thesis investigated how Campus Creek’s regenerative stream conveyance restoration project influences the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Maggie used hydrological and water chemistry data to document changes that occurred in Campus Creek, on the north side of campus, when step pools were placed in the stream in 2019. Their data provides a preliminary picture that RSC may reduce runoff as well as nutrient and sediment concentrations.
It has been wonderful having Maggie in the Entomology Honors Program. She graduated from UMD Environmental Science and Policy program this Spring with a concentration in Geosciences and Restoration and minoring in Geochemistry. Maggie has plans to start graduate school this fall in Arizona.
Despite challenges presented, Entomology kept teaching, kept learning and kept working during the spring 2020 semester. Check out research & teaching during COVID, promotions, publications, awards, defenses, workshops and much more.