March 2022-Entomology and Nematology News
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March 31, 2022

ABOVE: Coptotermes gestroi alate (Asian subterranean termite). Dispersal flight season is in full swing in South Florida (Photo: Thomas Chouvenc)

Faculty and Staff News

Please welcome

portrait of Dr. Abolfazl Hajihassani with palm trees in the backroung

Dr. Abolfazl Hajihassani received his BS in Crop Protection, MS in Plant Pathology, and PhD in Soil Science, emphasizing nematology. He then worked at the University of Idaho as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. He joined the University of Georgia as an Assistant Professor in 2017 and joined the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida in 2022. Dr. Hajihassani’s research program focuses on nematode identification, development and implementation of chemical and biological control methods, and crop resistance screening and monitoring.

portrait of Dr. Georgette Kluiters with the UF IFAS' Honey Bee Lab in the background

Dr. Georgette Kluiters is our new Lecturer and Distance Education Coordinator. Dr. Kluiters  received a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Liverpool’s Veterinary School. Before joining our department, she was a research fellow at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council at the University of Liverpool and worked on managing insect-vectored diseases of livestock and managing viruses transmitted by Culicoides using nematodes. Dr. Kluiters is looking forward to a long career of supporting our students and leading the Distance Learning Program here at UF.

On Wednesday, March 17th, Melissa Chamblin organized a baby shower for Janice Shott! The conference room was decorated with some of Janice’s favorite things. There were green, gold, and white balloons, centerpieces with faux elephant ear plants, and miniature gold animal figurines. Janice had such a great time at the event and said that she is, “…lucky to be a part of a nice department.” Congratulations, Janice and we are looking forward to meeting baby Nolan.

Janice Shot happily surprised

Above: Janice and Linda

Guess how many animal crackers are in the jar table.

Cake and presents


Dr. Qureshi holding his plaque award

Above: Dr. Qureshi

  • Jawwad Qureshi, PhD, received the International IPM Award of Excellence during the 10th International Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Symposium in Denver, Colorado. This year's theme was IPM Across Borders and Disciplines. Dr. Qureshi presented a talk titled “Managing Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Pest Complex of Citrus Using Integrated Approaches.” He was recognized for his outstanding achievements in IPM adoption, implementation, and sustainability. Congratulations, Dr. Qureshi!
  • Emilie Demnard, Dr. Qureshi’s PhD student, was selected to receive the 2022 Early Career Researcher Award from the International Organization of Biological Control at the 2022 International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods. At this symposium Emilie will present a talk titled “Composition and Diversity of Phytoseiid Mites (Parasitiformes: Phytoseiidae) from Three Pest Management Programs in Florida Citrus Orchards.” Congratulations, Emilie!
  • From Left to right: Carey Minteer, Interim Char Heather McAuslane

    Above: From Left to right: Dr. Carey Minteer-Killian, Interim Chair, Heather McAuslane, and Grace Crummer

    K. Grace Crummer was recognized by the UF/IFAS annual Staff and Faculty Superior Accomplishment Awards Program in the Administrative/Supervisory category for her work as Coordinator of the NSF Center for Arthropod Management Technologies (CAMTech). Carey Minteer-Killian, Indian River REC was recognized by the UF/IFAS annual Staff and Faculty Superior Accomplishment Awards Program in the Academic Personnel category. Grace and Carey received their certificates and awards at the IFAS ceremony held on March 15, 2022.

    Lab News

    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.

    Gray tussoc moth

    Yellow tussoc moth

    Above: Orgyia detrita. Photo credit: Lyle Buss

    Complaints have been coming in about hairy caterpillars crawling all over the place. This is a common occurrence in March and April in Florida, and the species of concern is a tussock moth called Orgyia detrita. This is a native caterpillar that feeds on oak leaves. They have two common color forms; one is gray, and the other is yellow.

    Dr. Bonning lab and undergraduates

    The Bonning lab held an undergraduate appreciation lunch on March 24, 2022 to recognize five undergraduates who have done a stellar job producing and testing bacteria-derived pesticidal proteins for use in bioassays, and dissecting hundreds of insect guts. Pictured with other members of the lab are: Ciara Magee, Lucia Navia, Aarini Pandya, Serena (Xinyue) Wang, and Vanessa Gonzalez.

    Student News

    Above:  Dr. Jim Johnson, Dr. Paula-Moraes, Dr. Cameron Jack and Xiomara Flores-Rivera

    On March 22, 2022, Xiomara Flores-Rivera, a distance masters student from Syngenta, Puerto Rico, working with Drs. Paula-Moraes, Jim Johnson, and Cameron Jack presented her capstone project and was approved in her final exams. The title of her work is “Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) and H. zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Puerto Rico: Phenology of Flight, Occurrence of Hybrids, and Insecticide Performance in Field Crops.” Her work has relevant contributions to the IPM and IRM in high input production systems on the island.


    2021 Undergraduate Scholarships These scholarships are named by the families of the donors to honor their loved ones, many of whom have graduated from our department.

  • Lily Cope……… Davis
  • William Piwowarek……… Dixon
  • Hunter Martin……… Dixon
  • Jennifer Villate……… Donaldson
  • Victoria Reis……… Donaldson
  • Jordyn Ranfone……… Gahlhoff
  • Alexandor McMillan………  Gahlhoff
  • Nikita Patel……… Hetrick
  • Gina Bishop……… Hetrick
  • Kathryn Naherny……… Mitchell
  • Gabriela Gonzalez……… Murphey
  • Nolan Missigman……… Murphey
  • Julian Cordo……… Richardson
  • Brett LaBella……… Sapp
  • Daniel Rhodes……… Williams
  • Minors
    Kassandra Coulsey ……… Knapp

    Top Ten Seniors
    The Top 10 CALS Seniors will be recognized at our CALS Awards Banquet, scheduled for Tuesday, April 12. The winners of the Reitz, Connor, Matthews and the CALS Alumni and Friends awards will be announced from at that event.

    Above: Jordyn Ranfone, Top Ten award winner

    Above: Brett LaBella, Top Ten award winner

    Kristin Dunn, a PhD candidate in the Branham Lab, recently accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Roanoke College in Salem, VA starting Fall 2022. She will be teaching Animal Physiology and Introductory Biology courses. Congratulations, Kristin!

    Congratulations to Octavio A. Menocal, PhD candidate in Dr. Carrillo’s lab. His most recent publication was selected among 211 articles as the cover story of the Agronomy journal volume 12, issue 3.

    Make It Count

    The Make it Count board is planning a virtual Open MIC FAQ Night this April! During this event, mentors will be answering questions frequently asked by mentees. This event is a great opportunity for mentees to get answers about applying to the graduate program, what to consider when selecting committee members, where to go for support outside your advising relationship, and so much more. Our mentors are excited to offer you their suggestions to help mentees navigate their program and build strong professional networks during and after their time in this department. If you are interested in joining the Make It Count as a mentor, a mentee, or if you want to know more about our program, please visit our website at or contact our program chair, Sarah Anderson Weaver.

    New Publications

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    Publication Highlights

    In an attempt to overcome western corn rootworm (WCR) resistance to Bt-maize, Kuwar et al. (2022) describes modification of the bacteria-derived pesticidal protein, Cry3Bb1, with a gut binding peptide for use against resistant WCR. This study represents the most comprehensive and far-ranging program of pesticidal protein modification in the literature for the Cry group of pesticidal proteins. Although the goal of overcoming Cry3Bb1 resistance in this “billion dollar pest” was not achieved, the research shed light on the mechanism of resistance, which has been somewhat elusive. This paper is dedicated to the first author,
    Dr. Suyog Kuwar who was a postdoc in the Bonning lab from 2016 to 2019, and who passed away during preparation of the manuscript.

    • Kuwar SS, Mishra R, Banerjee R, Milligan J, Rydel T, Du Z, Xie Z, Ivashuta S, Kouadio JL, Meyer JM, Bonning BC. 2022. Engineering of Cry3Bb1 Provides Mechanistic Insights Toward Countering Western Corn Rootworm Resistance. Current Research in Insect Science 2: 100033.

    • Banerjee R, Flores-Escobar B, Chougule NP, Canton PE, Dumitru R, Bonning BC. 2022. Peptide Mediated, Enhanced Toxicity of a Bacterial Pesticidal Protein Against Southern Green Stink Bug. Microbial Biotechnology

    • Liu S, Sappington TW, Coates BS, Bonning BC. 2022. Sequences Encoding a Novel Toursvirus Identified from Southern and Northern Corn Rootworms (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Viruses 14(2): 397

    • Schnepp KE. 2022. A New Species of Phyllophaga Harris (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Melolonthinae) from Puerto Rico. Insecta Mundi 0914: 1–7.

    • Caragata EP, Short SM. 2022. Vector Microbiota and Immunity: Modulating Arthropod Susceptibility to Vertebrate Pathogens. Current Opinion in Insect Science 50:100875.

    • Doherty EM, Meagher RL, Dale AG. 2022. Diversity, Composition, and Freedom to Choose to Drive the Effects of St. Augustinegrass Cultivar Blends on an Herbivorous Insect. International Turfgrass Society Research Journal.

    • Whitman B, Iannone BV, Kruse JK, Unruh JB, Dale AG. 2022. Cultivar Blends: A Strategy for Creating More Resilient WarmSeason Turfgrass Lawns. Urban Ecosystems.

    • Ohyama L 2022. Asynchrony in Seasonal Patterns of Taxonomic and Functional Diversity in an Aboveground Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Community (Florida, USA). Environmental Entomology nvac010.

    • Greenway EV, Hamel JA, Miller CW. 2022. A Tangled Web: Comparing Inter- and Intraspecific Mating Dynamics in Anasa Squash Bugs. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 35: 91-99.

    • Forthman M, Miller CW, Kimball RT. 2022. Phylogenomic Analysis with Improved Taxon Sampling Corroborates an Alydidae + Hydarinae + Pseudophloeinae clade (Heteroptera: Coreoidea: Alydidae, Coreidae). Organisms Diversity & Evolution.

    • Cirino LA, Moore PJ, Miller CW. 2022. High-quality Host Plant Diets Partially Rescue Female Fecundity from a Poor Early Start. Royal Society Open Science 9: 211748.

    Meetings and Presentations

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    Thomas Chouvenc was invited to give a talk to Ft Lauderdale City officials
    at the Sustainable Advisory board Meeting on Feb 28 to discuss the spread of Coptotermes gestroi and Coptotermes formosanus in the city as they
    continue to impact the urban tree canopy of the city.

    Entomology & Nematology Education and Outreach

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    Recent Outreach events:

    Fume School February 2022

    The University of Florida’s 38th School of Structural Fumigation was held at the Ft. Lauderdale REC February 21-25, 2022. The semiannual "Fume School" provides classroom, laboratory, and field training for pest control professionals who wish to supervise or conduct fumigations of buildings and goods against various pest infestations. Since its inception in 1989, the Fume School has been attended by 1,675 students. This remains the only school of its kind in the world.

    This latest class included 60 students from 8 different states and 4 countries. The school prepared students who opted to take the Florida State certification exams in fumigation. Dr. Thomas Chouvenc, Dr. Bill Kern, and Renny Perez coordinated the school which brings expert instruction from manufacturers (Bayer, Douglas, Ensystex), suppliers (Cardinal, Verseris), fumigators (P.E.S.T, Fumeout, Emory Brantley & Sons), regulators (FLDACS), FL Dept. of Transportation, Broward Fire Academy, USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and Certified Pest Control Operators of Florida. This session was the first since the Florida State Fumigation Manual was released and implemented in the Fume School. As a result, 100% of the participants passed the Fumigator state exam for the first time in decades.

    iDigTRIO Resource Tour and Fair, February 22-23: The goal of this event is to expose minority, first generation, limited income students, and students with disabilities to career and professional opportunities in the Biological Sciences. Dr. Rebecca Baldwin, Dr. Koehler, Jennifer Standley, and Brett LaBella provided the youth with a tour of the department and a hands on with the petting zoo. The following day Leo Ohyama, Brett LaBella, Athena Conde, and Jennifer Standley provided a display about the department with the petting zoo.

    Don’t forget the Entomology and Nematology Education and Outreach Program is available and will accommodat both virtual presentations and in person presentations!

    Future Outreach Events VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:

  • April 12, Norton Elementary School STEAM Night (5-7:30pm), Gainesville: We need a few volunteers for this tabled event.
  • April 23, Extraordinary Joy “Wildflower and Wishes” theme (9-12pm), Gainesville: Volunteers needed for this tabled event set up for disabled children. We will have the petting zoo available for handling.
  • April 30, BioBlitz (8-12pm), Lutz, FL: We need a few expert volunteers (students/professors) to assist us with the cataloguing of insect species on a 30 acre (about half the area of a large shopping mall) property. Specialists needed to lead the following groups are: terrestrial, aquatic, general, odonates, and lepidopterans. This is a great REC (Research and Education Centers) (faculty/student) opportunity! Originally a partnership between National Geographic and National Park Services to create events across the country, it is an opportunity to bring people outdoors, enjoy nature, and learn about the biodiversity in their backyard. The outreach van will be available to transport those from Gainesville that day. This is also a fantastic opportunity to network with professional scientists and students/faculty from other universities (like USF and University of Tampa) and collect insects for your collections!
  • Entomology on the Go  

    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 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.

    Cheers! - Jennifer Standley, Outreach Coordinator.

    iDigTRIO booth display from left to right: Brett LaBella, Leo Ohyama, Athena Conde, and Jennifer Standley

    Bee College

    The 15th annual Bee College was held in Steinmetz Hall from Friday, March 11 to Saturday, March 12. Over 200 participants attended the event and the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory offered over thirty hour-long courses. Despite the weather, the attendees were excited to participate and asked their partners which class they should attend next.

    Bee College is intended for audiences of all types from professional beekeepers to novices considering becoming beekeepers for the first time. Bee College also offers a chance to craft Beeswax candles, encaustic paintings, and more. There is even a contest for participants to enter their bee-related crafts, honey, and their baked goods made with honey. Everyone is invited and some of the attendees just wanted to learn more about bees, and the Bee College and our Beekeepers were happy to share their experience and talents.

    Thank you to the volunteers who braved the weather and ensured that
    Bee College ran smoothly.

    Participants included:

    • Andy Sakalla
    • Bori Bennett
    • Junhao Zhang
    • Aaron Huggins
    • Ben Winans
    • Sabrina Castellanos
    • Anna Magruder
    • Joshua Kovac
    • Anissa Pearson
    • Matthew Hartman
    • Aliya Monroe
    • Sam Cornell
    • Marissa Brodsky
    • Elizabeth Morgan
    • Oliver Devlin
    • Kyle Schnepp
    • Garrett MacGregor
    • Elizabeth Estep
    • Terry Sahadeo
    • Holly Vu
    • Kate Davis
    • Clay Perdue
    • Stephanie Phan
    • Daniel Johnson
    • Paula Huggins
    • Paige Daniels
    • Jacob Muller
    • Stephanie Keith Clark
    • Joey McNamara
    • Julia Volpi

    Two Bees in a Podcast

    In this episode of Two Bees in a Podcast, released on March 30, 2022, Dr. Jamie Ellis and Amy Vu talk all things monthly management and how to take care of your hives in April. This episode is ended with a Q&A segment

    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.


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  • Drs. Bernie Mach, Jaret Daniels, and Adam Dale were awarded a Southern Region IPM Center Enhancement Grant for $30,000 titled, Integrating Pest and Pollinator Management Strategies for Ornamental Plant Production.

  • Yoosook Lee, PhD, is the Program Director for Continuing IPM Working Group: Mosquito BEACONS - Biodiversity Enhancement and Control of Non-native Species. The working group was awarded $40,000 from the Southern Integrated Pest Management Center. Working with Dr. Lee as co-PI’s will be Drs. Lindsay Campbell, Bryan Giordano, Benjamin Allen, Michael Riles, Daniel Killingsworth, and Elmer Gray. Congratulations, Dr. Lee!
  • Want grant writing tips? Check out the UF Libraries Grants Management Program


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    The International Termite Course will take place on June 23-30, 2022.

    Save the date! April 6, 2022 Wednesday! We will be celebrating graduate student appreciation week! Stay tuned for more information!

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

    About this Newsletter

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    Randy Fernandez 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, Pam J. Howell 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