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Entomology

Winter 2014

The Scrambled Natural World of Global Warming, A Travelogue

Jesse A. Logan ’77 PhD is hiking up a mountainside in Yellowstone National Park and walking back in time. He starts at 8,600 feet above sea level, in a forest thick with the scent of fir and lodgepole pine, and with almost every spry step, the scenery changes. There’s an understory of grouse whortleberry, then accents of mountain bluebells and higher still, the whitebark pine, one of the oldest organisms of the Interior West.

Finally, the vegetation gives way to large swatches of scree. Logan’s 70-year-old legs have gone up 2,000 feet and back more than 10,000 years, from the lush vegetation of the twenty-first … » More …

Spring 2012

Video: The Amazing Leaproach

An insect’s small size gives it the gift of relatively greater strength. The newly discovered South African cockroach Saltoblattella montistabularis takes advantage of this fact plus several other features, as Washington State University entomologist Carol Anelli describes here:

This is very cool for several reasons.

It is a wingless cockroach, described for the first time only two years ago, and the first existing roach known to jump. It achieves this feat with modified hind legs that possess long femurs invested with enlarged muscles. These long femurs—akin to the longest bone in the human body—help give grasshoppers their great jumping ability.

Fall 2010

Cows deposit piles of diversity

Holly Ferguson knows her cow pies about as well as anyone. In the first study of flies in managed pastures in the Pacific Northwest, the entomologist has spent an unusual amount of time traveling the state and assessing its cow pies.

No matter the obvious jokes, dung dispersal in pastures is serious business. Wherever there are cows, there will be cow dung, and lots of it. A beef cow can produce nearly a ton of manure per month. And if that ton sits there untended, there will be problems.

Oddly enough, the conditions of the cow’s other major habitat, the feedlot, reduce the problem of … » More …

Winter 2001

In search of a tougher honey bee

WASHINGTON STATE apple growers have a problem. The honey bees that pollinate their trees can be a little wimpy when it comes to temperature.

Apple growers prefer to have the king, or primary, blooms pollinated, because they produce the biggest apples. But all too often, the trees bloom during cool weather. And the resident honey bees, being mostly of Italian descent and therefore partial to Mediterranean weather, hole up when the temperature dips below 55 degrees F.

Other bees do better in cool weather but often have quirks of their own that limit their usefulness as pollinators.

So Steve Sheppard—associate professor of entomology at Washington … » More …

Winter 2002

A summer job that meant something

An entomology undergrad combats the worm in the apple

When they hatch, they’re so tiny you can barely see them. Then they eat. They bore their way inside an apple and consume it from within. After two weeks, they’re half an inch long, pinkish orange, and engorged, with tiny dark heads. They’re also translucent, so if you look closely, you can see their food moving along their digestive tracts.

They’re codling moth larvae, the number one adversary of Washington apple orchard growers and the subject of her fascinating summer of research at the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Food and Environmental Quality Lab. With faculty members … » More …

Winter 2004

Unwelcome Hitchhikers

More than 30 feet above the ground, Brent Olson steers a mechanical lift across the outstretched limbs of a bigleaf maple tree. He aims his binoculars toward the trunks of two towering cottonwoods beyond, scanning for the enemy.

“They could be anywhere in there,” Olson says.

Across the street in this Tukwila neighborhood just south of Seattle, a resident swishes jump shots into a driveway hoop, while another loads children into a minivan, perhaps for a quick trip to the Wendy’s restaurant a few blocks away.

The suburban scene hardly resembles a battlefield, but Olson (’03 Entomology, ’04 M.S. Environmental  Science) is on the front … » More …

Winter 2008

Fine Specimens

Washington State University is home to three superb research collections, all begun soon after the young agricultural college opened its doors. What makes them research collections, says Ownbey Herbarium director Larry Hufford, is "sheer numbers." The Conner Zoology Museum has about 69,000 specimens, the Herbarium about 375,000, and the James Entomology Collection more than 1.25 million. These numbers make WSU's collections among the best in the nation. » More ...