Department of
Entomology

Entomology News

Interview with Cariad Williams, paleontology PhD student

Cariad Williams joined the Prairie Research Institute Center for Paleontology as a graduate student in August 2019. She's pursuing a PhD in the entomology at the University of Illinois and is advised by Sam Heads.

Illinois is ‘kind of the place to be with periodical cicadas,’ researchers say as 17-year brood’s coming out party expected in one corner of the state

It’s not a nightmare. It’s a summer preview for a sliver of eastern Illinois and swaths of Indiana. And you can think of it as a warmup for what’s coming to Chicago in 2024.

Sometime in May, maybe after a light rain around Memorial Day, one of the largest groups of periodical cicadas will head above ground in Illinois for the first time in 17 years. They’re called Brood X — the cohorts are numbered by Roman numerals — and they’re expected in more than a dozen states in the Midwest and eastern United States.

The People’s Scientist: Dr. Esther Ngumbi Makes Science Accessible

Dr. Esther Ngumbi began her life’s work as a child alongside a river in rural Kenya.

At just seven years old, Ngumbi wanted a hand at farming, so her parents gave her a small strip of land near the river that she could plant cabbage on. Though her parents were both passionate educators, their incomes from teaching alone could not sustain her immediate and extended family, so her parents supplemented their earnings through farming.

College of LAS announces teaching award winners

Honorees will be celebrated in April along with last year's winners

The College of LAS has selected winners of this year’s teaching excellence awards. Twelve professors (including Wendy Yang from Plant Biology), graduate student teaching assistants (including Nicholas Anderson from Entomology), and an advisor (to be announced) are honored for their service.

Congratulations, Kim Leigh Recipient of the 2021 Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts

The Graduate College is proud to announce that Kim Leigh (Department of Entomology) is the winner of the 2021 Graduate College Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts. The award is given annually as part of the Graduate College’s Annual Workshop for Directors of Graduate Study and Graduate Contacts, which takes place virtually this year, March 9-11, 2021.

Ngumbi receives AAAS award for public engagement with science

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign entomology professor Esther Ngumbi is the 2021 recipient of the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, an annual award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented to scientists and engineers in recognition of their contributions to public engagement with science.

Women in Ecology Spotlight – Alex Harmon-Threatt

As much of the United States and countries around the world shelter in place this year, the ability to be out in nature is even more precious. Access to clean open spaces should be a right for all; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Even among scientists who study the environment, there is an inequality of access to nature, especially for women, and even more so for women of color. We discussed this issue and what can be done about it with Dr. Alex Harmon-Threatt, associate professor of entomology at the University of Illinois School of Integrative Biology.

50 million-year-old fossil assassin bug has unusually well-preserved genitalia

The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice. It is remarkable, scientists say, because the bug’s physical characteristics – from the bold banding pattern on its legs to the internal features of its genitalia – are clearly visible and well-preserved. Recovered from the Green River Formation in present-day Colorado, the fossil represents a new genus and species of predatory insects known as assassin bugs. The find is reported in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.

Latch, load and release: Elastic motion makes click beetles click, study finds

Click beetles can propel themselves more than 20 body lengths into the air, and they do so without using their legs. While the jump’s motion has been studied in depth, the physical mechanisms that enable the beetles’ signature clicking maneuver have not. A new study examines the forces behind this super-fast energy release and provides guidelines for studying extreme motion, energy storage and energy release in other small animals like trap-jaw ants and mantis shrimps.

Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage

A dramatic decline in bees and other pollinating insects presents a threat to the global food supply, yet it’s getting little attention in mainstream news.

That’s the conclusion of a study from researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, published this week in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was based on a search of nearly 25 million news items from six prominent U.S. and global news sources, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press.