home about

January 15, 2021

Faculty and Staff News

Urban Entomology, our legend…

The University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department has a long and rich tradition of research, teaching and Extension programs in Urban Pest Management and has been instrumental in serving the needs of the Pest Control Industry in our state. This commitment to serving stakeholders is ongoing, and it is my sincere hope that we can grow our programs such that UF is situated as the premier institution in the country for expertise in urban entomology and pest management.

In March 2020, just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent disruption of our activities, our faculty members with urban programs as well as representatives of industry and regulatory communities came together to establish a strategic plan for UF Urban Pest Management programs. The day-long event was led by a skilled facilitator, and while the plan is still evolving, building on the foundation of existing programs allowed us to develop a number of recommendations.

First, we requested that Dr. Phil Koehler’s position be replaced upon his retirement. We are currently in the process of recruiting candidates. While it is impossible to replace a legend such as Dr. Koehler, based on our strategic planning, there is a consensus that this position should have a research and teaching focus that will complement our existing programs and will work closely with industry to better understand the challenges and complexities of managing pests in an urban environment. This position will complement the well-established extension programs (Fume School, Pest Management University, Southeast and Southwest Pest Management Conferences). Second, more stable funding was secured for Dr. Roberto Pereira who will continue to share in Extension responsibilities in support of the industry. These changes along with new faculty hires in public health pests have allowed us to maintain our strengths in management of structural, lawn and ornamentals pest while opening new opportunities to work toward solving industry problems.

The investment that UF IFAS is making in Urban Entomology is significant especially during these uncertain times and budgetary constraints. I believe strongly that our Urban programs serve an important role in providing a direct linkage for IFAS to work with industry and impact the lives of the majority of Floridians. Urban pest management is a high priority for our department and for IFAS.

Our Department has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from the generous support of pest management industry for many years. The commitment on the part of industry leaders such as Chuck Steinmetz, the Sapp Family and organizations such as Florida Pest Management Association and the Rollins Organization, have been instrumental to our development and we look forward to continued cooperation and in developing programs that support the industry with sound research, education and extension.
-Dr. Blair Siegfried, Professor and Chair.

Dr. Ted Burgess, Veterinary Entomologist, joins our Gainesville faculty. Welcome Ted Burgess!

ABOVE: Dr. Ted Burgess, Veterinary Entomologist, joins our Gainesville faculty. Welcome Ted Burgess!

The Dale Lab is excited to welcome Dr. Bernadette Mach to the team! Dr. Mach joins us after recently completing a Ph.D. in Dr. Dan Potter's lab at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Mach will be working in collaboration with Dr. Jaret Daniels to develop environmentally friendly ornamental plant production protocols, a project funded through the UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund and the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association.


ABOVE: Jenny Carr takes on a new role as Senior teaching Lab Specialist at our Gainesville campus. Congratulations Jenny!

Dr. Christine W. Miller, Secretary-elect of the Division of Ecology and Evolution for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) served as the Chair of the Division’s virtual student award talks on January 3, 2021.

ABOVE: A photograph taken by Dr. Erin Powell, member of the Taylor Lab, will be featured in ESA's 2021 World of Insects calendar. More than 700 photo entries were submitted for the annual calendar competition. Her photo of a pair of endemic New Zealand giraffe weevils was taken while conducting nocturnal field work during her Ph.D.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion…

As a committee, our initial focus has been on gathering information and feedback on the current departmental environment, through a climate survey and UF Counseling and Wellness Center-facilitated listening sessions, as well as compiling resources and trainings. After an unprecedented and turbulent 2020, we are now looking forward to a year of meaningful change at several levels, through implementation of concrete measures to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion principles within our own department.

These measures are encapsulated in a strategic plan mandated by UF IFAS Vice President, Scott Angle, which the committee has been working on for several months. The strategic plan offers an exciting opportunity to be ambitious and take a multi-pronged and long-term approach to DEI progress. The broad goals of the departmental strategic plan are three-fold:
1. to increase recruitment and retention of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff in under-represented groups,
2. to improve the Gainesville campus climate by providing a more welcoming and inclusive environment, and
3. to continue to promote awareness of, and involvement in, efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the department.

Each goal includes specific actions, ranging from outreach and hiring changes to hosting guest speakers and providing training and educational opportunities. Stay tuned for more on this as the plan is finalized.
One established opportunity is DEI committee member James Brown’s “Making a Minority” (https://makingaminority.weebly.com/) podcast club, which is set to resume January 25th, 2021 after a successful first semester. The 2021 Spring semester’s playlist will feature podcasts that focus on the experience of poverty in the United States and how to lift people out of poverty. Each week members of this club meet to learn about the origins of labels given to minoritized people, to share their perspectives of the assigned podcast, and to unlearn the negative stigma assigned to these groups. Please visit the website or reach out to James Brown directly if you’re interested in joining.

As a DEI committee we believe that all the members of our department deserve a space where they can feel welcomed and trust that their voice and opinions are valued and respected. On Wednesday, January 6th, the Capitol Building in Washington, DC was attacked and the imagery from those moments will have a lasting impression in our hearts and our country. In the wake of the events in Washington and the many unprecedented events of 2020 there is an opportunity to build a stronger, closer community for all of us here in the Entomology and Nematology Department. The DEI committee invites anyone impacted by the events in Washington to contact any of our DEI committee members for support or opportunities to express themselves.

As a reminder, there is now a webpage dedicated to DEI initiatives on the departmental website (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/diversity-equity-and-inclusion) containing valuable resources about UF DEI events for students, staff and faculty and links to UF HR web pages. As always, the DEI committee welcomes feedback and input on how to improve the department’s climate. Please reach out to any committee members or visit the DEI webpage to submit anonymous thoughts via a Qualtrics link.

There is no doubt that 2020 disrupted our lives in ways previously unimaginable but it also reaffirmed the importance of our DEI committee. As we continue our work, we hope that you continue to support us and each other as we move towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community in 2021.

-Respectfully, ENY DEI committee


As we turn the page to a new year with hopes and aspirations for better times in 2021, we would be remiss in not acknowledging the passing in late 2019 and in 2020 of several long serving and cherished retired faculty colleagues. 2019 saw the untimely passing of Jim Maruniak, a beloved teacher and mentor to many entomology and virology students, and Freddie Johnson, an extension-focused professor with a larger-than-life personality. 2020 brought additional sadness as we said goodbye to nematologist and former graduate coordinator, Grover Smart, and the “firefly doc”, Jim Lloyd. Finally, we were shocked to hear of the untimely passing of Eminent Scholar Emerita, Marjorie Hoy, unexpectedly and so recently into her retirement. Please keep a warm thought for our departed colleagues’ family, friends, and colleagues.

- Dr. Heather McAuslane, Professor, Associate Chair, and Graduate Coordinator

Student and Alumni News

return to top

Welcome new graduate students!

Our new Ph.D. students are:
Amely Bauer—Vero Beach,
Kai Blore—Gainesville,
Sagnika Das—Homestead, and
Cleveland Ivey—Balm.

Our new M.S. students are:
Jean-Yves Berisse—Immokalee,
Jeff Berta—distance,
Stephen Drury—Gainesville,
Kylene Homan—distance,
Esnai Munthali—Balm,
Julio Silva—distance,
Yasmin Tavares—Vero Beach,
Caitlin Taylor—Gainesville,
Daniel Tuzzolino—Vero Beach, and
Joshua Weston—Gainesville.

ABOVE: Michael Vickers a former Ph.D. student in Dr. Lisa Taylor's lab recently accepted a postdoctoral researcher position from the lab of Dr. Charles Haddad at the University of the Free State in South Africa. His work will focus on the taxonomy and systematics of spiders in addition to examining the mating behavior of local jumping spider species. He will begin the postdoc at the University in Bloemfontein, South Africa in June 2021. Congratulations Mike!

Several undergraduates of the Miller Lab presented their research (virtually) at the 2021 meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) on January 3rd to the 7th.

• Tessa Ricker presented a poster titled “Juveniles do not use adult feeding sites in the leaf-footed bug, Narnia femorata

• Kaylin Kleckner presented a poster titled “Behavioral strategies of juveniles: Attraction to adult feeding cues"

• Amberlika Guruvadoo presented a poster titled “Reproductive trade-offs in the Soapberry Bug Jadera haematoloma (Insecta: Hemiptera: Rhopalidae)”

• Sara Zlotnik gave an oral presentation titled “Morphological plasticity, not social behavior, may maintain diet breadth in leaf-footed bugs”

• Dr. Ginny Greenway gave an oral presentation titled “How does variation in the resource landscape influence mating dynamics in the insect Narnia femorata?"

• Dr. Christine Miller gave an oral presentation titled “Adult nutrition affects the structural integrity of an insect weapon"

ABOVE: Amberlika Guruvadoo presented a poster entitled “Reproductive trade-offs in the Soapberry Bug Jadera haematoloma (Insecta: Hemiptera: Rhopalidae)”

ABOVE: The Natural Area Teaching Lab’s (NATL) operations committee and the Entomology and Nematology Student Organization (ENSO) came together to plant native foliage on December 14th. Pictured from left to right are Ph.D students Gage LaPierre and James Brown, and undergraduate student Brittany Evans.

Lab News

return to top

Need to name that bug? A host of experts are available to help Floridians identify any insect or related arthropod. If a mystery creature has six or more legs, the UF Insect ID Lab is the place to call.

The family Delphacidae is the largest family of planthoppers, with 128+ species in Florida. The species Megamelus palaetus (VanDuzee) can be found in the wetlands of the UF Natural Area, feeding on pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata L. Adults come in both short- and long-winged forms.

Megamelus palaetus male on pickerelweed, (left) and Megamelus palaetus adult on pickerelweed. (right)
ABOVE: Megamelus palaetus adult on pickerelweed, (left) and Megamelus palaetus adult on pickerelweed. (right)

If you need insect images for a publication or presentation for your UF/IFAS Extension or teaching work, you can go to this direct link, pictures are copyrighted material and intended for official UF use only. Log onto the website using your Gatorlink credentials.

Lyle Buss is the UF/IFAS Insect ID Lab manager.

Think it might be a nematode problem? The Nematode Assay Laboratory serves Florida and other states by providing nematode assays and expert advice regarding nematode management.

For more information on the Nematode Assay Laboratory, please contact the lab manager Dr. Billy Crow.

New Publications

return to top

Allen PE, Miller CW, Dale AG. 2020. From conception to submission: Integrating the scientific process into the undergraduate classroom. American Entomologist 66(4):24-27.

Crow WT, Habteweld A, Bean T. 2020. Mist chamber extraction for improved diagnosis of Meloidogyne spp. from golf course bermudagrass. Journal of Nematology 52:e2020-96.

Giordano BV, McGregor BL, Runkel, IV AE, Burkett-Cadena, ND. 2020. Distance diminishes the effect of deltamethrin exposure on the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 36(3):181-188.

Just MG, Dale AG, Frank SD. 2020. Gloomy scale (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) ecology and management on landscape trees. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 11(1):24. https://doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmaa028

Keller O, and Skelley PE. 2020. New family record for the West Indies and two new species of Glaresis Erichson (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea: Glaresidae) from Hispaniola. Insecta Mundi 0839: 1-6.

Killiny N, Gonzalez-Blanco P, Gowda S, Martini X, Etxeberria E. 2021. Plant functional genomics in a few days: Laser-assisted delivery of double stranded RNA to higher plants. Plants 10:93.

Lee SB, Tong RL, Kim Sh, Im IG, Su NY. 2020. Potential pest status of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Blattodea: Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), in response to climate change in the Korean Peninsula. Florida Entomologist 103:431-337.

Lee SB, Chouvenc T, Patel JS, Su NY. 2020. Altered mobility and accumulation of inefficient workers in juvenile hybrid termite colonies. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8:589762.

McGregor BL, Giordano BV, Runkel AE, Nigg HN, Nigg HL, Burkett-Cadena ND. 2020. Comparison of the effect of insecticides on bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) and mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus) by standard mosquito research methods. Journal Economic Entomology 1-9. doi: 10.1093/jee/toaa282.

Mendes ML, Dickson DW, Crow WT. 2020. Yellow and purple nutsedge and coffee senna as hosts of common plant nematodes in Florida. Journal of Nematology 52:e2020-94.

Powell EC, Taylor LA. 2020. Intraspecific variation in responses to aposematic prey in a jumping spider (Phidippus regius). Ethology 126:1089-1097.

Powell GS, Schnepp KE. 2020. Review of Carpophilus (Ecnomorphus) Motschulsky, 1858 (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae: Carpophilinae) in the West Indies. Insecta Mundi 0840: 1-8.

Schnepp KE, Ashman KL. 2020. A new species of Ataenius Harold (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Aphodiinae) from the southeastern United States, with a lectotype designation. Insecta Mundi 0841: 1-7.

Skelley PE, Frank JH. 2020. In Memoriam: Michael C. Thomas May 5, 1948 – October 4, 2019. Insecta Mundi 0829:1-32.

Tong RL, Lee SB, Patel JS, Chouvenc T, Su NY. 2020. Methods for collecting large numbers of exuviae from Coptotermes (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) termite colonies. Florida Entomologist 103:484-491.

Vickers ME, Taylor LA. 2020. Aversive hemipteran odors trigger predictable color biases in jumping spider predators. Scientific Reports 10:21898. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78952-5

Vickers ME, Taylor LA. Using the scientific method to understand the brilliant colors of male jumping spiders. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science In press.

New on Featured Creatures:

A mosquito, Mansonia titillans (Walker) (Insecta: Diptera: Culicidae: Mansoniini) written by: Diana Rojas-Araya and Derrick Mathias.

Do you have a favorite creature? Learn how to make it into a Featured Creatures!

Meetings and Presentations

return to top

Dr. Billy Crow, professor of Nematology in Gainesville, gave a webinar “Understanding nematodes” for the World Tree Empressive Farmer Webinar series on November 20th.

Dr. Sriyanka Lahiri, Assistant Professor at The Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, and Ph.D. student Gagandeep Kaur presented a virtual outreach event for 3rd graders of Galion Intermediate School in Galion, Ohio on December 15th. Many students are in quarantine and are going to receive this recording as educational material.

Dr. Thomas Chouvenc provided a workshop session during the CPCO Field day on December 4th in Davie, Florida to raise awareness to the landscaping industry about the impact of invasive termites on the local urban tree canopy.


return to top

From the outreach coordinator

Hi everyone and Happy New Year! Here’s to 2021 being a terrific year. Don’t forget the Entomology and Nematology Education and Outreach Program is available and can accommodate with virtual presentations; and we are doing approved in person presentations now.

Cheers – Jennifer Standley, Outreach Coordinator.

Past Outreach events:

December 17 - Alachua County Schools. Melody Bloch volunteered with a virtual presentation to fourth graders.

What’s better than a live show and tell of some really cool arthropods?! Our live petting zoo consists of tarantulas, scorpions, vinegaroons, bess beetles, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and native insects when in season. With a short training program, they are available for you to check out should you be leading an outreach event, even if it is virtual. The critters are always popular with both youth and adults and are used as a tool to expose the public to STEM disciplines. We have doubles of our most popular critters, as well as various native insect species depending on the time of year. We have large wood and Plexiglas cages for viewing our native orb weaving spiders. There is one travel cage and one larger static cage. We also have activity kits and lesson plans that are available as well. Please be sure to contact us and review the protocol on transportation and handling of the animals. If you lead an outreach event, be sure to fill out a documentation form so your event can be included in the newsletter and we can log all outreach events. Also note, that volunteering to assist with outreach events will count as departmental service for ENSO travel grants. (Please note that some venues require background checks or additional screening.) If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please email us.

Getting social!

Use #UFBugs so our department can find and share your social posts easily!

We have several social media sites for the Entomology & Nematology Department. To make them easily searchable, all three (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) have the same page name: UFEntomology. Please share these links with past students or colleagues who may have an interest in departmental activities.


return to top

Want grant writing tips? Check out the UF Libraries Grants Management Program


return to top

Our Virtual Open House for prospective graduate students is coming up January 21st and 22nd! This two-day event will introduce our most competitive graduate-student applicants to our graduate programs. We will highlight current and former students, discuss teaching, discuss outreach and mentoring opportunities, share recent research, provide a virtual tour of Gainesville and REC facilities, and spotlight faculty from across the state. Faculty are welcome to invite prospective students that they are actively recruiting. Questions can be directed to Dr. Christine W. Miller, cwmiller@ufl.edu.

Want to stay up to date? Check out our website home page for a link to our Google calendar.

About this Newsletter

return to top

Suzy Rodriguez is the newsletter editor and does the HTML coding. Newsletters usually are published around mid-month. Submit items for an issue by the seventh of the month.

We like to share news when it happens using our social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Follow us on these sites for daily updates! When you send news, we will post it on one or more of these sites and again in the monthly newsletter. Please be sure you have permission from people in photographs you submit for publication.

UF-Bugnews-L listserv subscribers receive notices when issues are posted. Our home page has instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing.

Special thanks to James Brown and Nancy Sanders for reviewing the newsletter for errors, and to Jane Medley and Don Wasik for webpage build and design.

Give Back
Want to support the UF Entomology & Nematology Department? Consider making an online gift today! Questions can be directed to Cody Helmer at (352) 392-1975 or chelmer@ufl.edu.