Department of
Entomology

Entomology News

Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states

By drawing from decades of studies, scientists created a timeline marking the arrival of black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, in hundreds of counties across 10 Midwestern states. They used these data – along with an analysis of county-level landscape features associated with the spread of ticks – to build a model that can predict where ticks are likely to appear in future years.

Brain gene expression patterns predict behavior of individual honey bees

An unusual study that involved bar coding and tracking the behavior of thousands of individual honey bees in six queenless bee hives and analyzing gene expression in their brains offers new insights into how gene regulation contributes to social behavior. The study, reported in the journal eLife, reveals that the activity profile of regulator genes known as transcription factors in the brain strongly correlates with the behavior of honey bees, the researchers said. A single transcription factor can induce – or reduce – the expression of dozens of other genes.

Unexpected similarity between honey bee and human social life

Bees and humans are about as different organisms as one can imagine. Yet despite their many differences, surprising similarities in the ways that they interact socially have begun to be recognized in the last few years. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, including Gene Robinson, are building on their earlier studies and have experimentally measured the social networks of honey bees and how they develop over time.

Professors Alison Bell and Alex Harmon-Threatt recognized for leadership and research

Four professors in the College of LAS have been named Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholars for their leadership and research.

Richard Romano (BS, ’54, chemical engineering) and his wife, Margaret, established the program, which provides faculty members with $25,000 per year for their work. This year’s scholars include Alex Harmon-Threatt and Alison Bell.

Study reveals unique physical, chemical properties of cicada wings

Scientists, including entomology professor Marianne Alleyne, are exploring the structural and chemical characteristics of cicada wings. This work, in part, is supported by a grant from the U.S. Army, as mentioned in a recent interview on NPR's All Things Considered.

Biological structures sometimes have unique features that engineers would like to copy. For example, many types of insect wings shed water, kill microbes, reflect light in unusual ways and are self-cleaning.

Amplifying expertise in the news

Four LAS faculty members receive Public Voices Fellowships

As a way to amplify voices of expertise on pressing issues, a national program called the Public Voices Fellowship will allow professors from across the country to pair up with journalists and learn more about how to discuss ideas with a broad audience. Four of the professors are from the College of LAS, to include Alex Harmon-Threatt.

Following the sounds of prairie cicadas

When I arrive at the Loda Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, Katie Dana is already out there. She’s wearing knee-high boots to ward off chiggers and ticks, and she’s carrying an insect net. Dana is on the prowl for cicadas: the loudest insects on the planet. On this hot summer day, they do not disappoint. The males are in full chorus.

Have you become obsessed with bugs or hummingbirds? In the pandemic, you’re not alone.

In the midst of the grief, confusion and anger of the past few months, many Americans have developed a new obsession with the creepy little things in life, by which I mean bugs.

I’ve never heard so many people talking about bugs as I have through this spring and summer, never seen so many social media posts dedicated to tiny critters that buzz and crawl and sting.

Building a prairie & watching for bees with ESA Fellow Alex Harmon-Threatt

Join us in celebrating Entomology's Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, elected as a 2020 Early Career Fellow by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) for her critically important research in the ecology and conservation of native bee species: training the next generation of ecologists, providing public outreach, and enhancing diversity in science. Read more about her research:

It’s early evening as I follow the researchers to their work site on the Phillips Tract, just east of Urbana. When we get there...

Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees

Researchers often study the genomes of individual organisms to try to tease out the relationship between genes and behavior. A new study of Africanized honey bees reveals, however, that the genetic inheritance of individual bees has little influence on their propensity for aggression. Instead, the genomic traits of the hive as a whole are strongly associated with how fiercely its soldiers attack.

The findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.