College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

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Finding Pheromones: How One Entomologist Puts Discoveries to Work in Pest Management

Jacqueline Serrano, Ph.D., is a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in the Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research Unit, in Wapato, Washington. She earned her B.S. in biology (2012) and Ph.D. in entomology (2019) at the University of California, Riverside. She first joined USDA-ARS as a postdoctoral research...
By Emily Sandall, Ph.D. |

Entomologists Remember Distinguished Professor Emeritus Dr. Mir S. Mulla

Video produced and narrated by the late UCR videographer James Brown for a symposium in 2007 honoring Mulla's 50 years of service to the university, the community and the world. Dr. Mir Subhan Mulla PhD passed away peacefully at home January 29, 2023 at age 97. Born February 15, 1925 (his chosen birthday) in Zangawat...

How CRISPR could help save crops from devastation caused by pests

Central California grape-grower Steve McIntyre was familiar with Pierce’s Disease. But that did not prepare him for what he saw when he visited his brother’s Southern California citrus and avocado farm in 1998. The disease, which causes vines to wither and grapes to deflate like old balloons, had long existed in California. But the infection...
By Emma Foehringer Merchant |

The Baers and the Bees

Meet the Baers, the sweet married couple who work together, play together, and are quietly saving the world together. They’re helping honey bees survive, which in turn ensures us humans get to keep eating for the foreseeable future. The continuous collapse of honey bee colonies, caused by culprits including parasites, pesticides, and environmental changes, is...
By By Jules Bernstein, photos by Stan Lim |

How Hoverflies Spawn Maggots that Sweeten Your Oranges

Oblique streaktail hoverflies zip from bloom to bloom wearing a wasp costume to avoid getting eaten. But it’s all for show – they don’t even have stingers! Their fierce maggots, on the other hand, devour hundreds of insect pests. As they gorge, they help keep orange trees safe from disease. Entomologist Nic Irvin, at the...
By Gabriela Quirós |

Formosan Termites Confirmed in Two New Southern California Locations

Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) continue to be on the radar of pest management professionals in Southern California following confirmation of two more infestations — one from a house in La Verne, Calif., and the other from a house in Hollywood Hills, Calif. The findings were confirmed by Dr. Chow-Yang Lee and researchers from his...
By Brad Harbison |

Riverside entomologist fights to protect iconic palm trees from invasive bug

They flew up from Tijuana, and now they’re wreaking havoc on palm trees. The South American palm weevil poses the biggest threat to the famous coastal palms in Los Angeles, but entomologist Dr. Mark Hoddle is doing research to develop methods he hopes will keep the pests at bay. Hoddle is a biological control specialist...
By Nathalie Basha |

195 ways to help California’s painted ladies

By documenting hundreds of new nectar plants for painted ladies, scientists have renewed hope these charismatic butterflies may prove resilient to climate change. Every spring, swarms of the colorful butterflies can be spotted in Southern California as they make their way from western Mexico to the Pacific Northwest to breed. Some years, the number of...
By Jules Bernstein |

Scent of a Human: What Draws Mosquitoes to People's Skin

The pesky insects may be attracted to a chemical cocktail of odors emanating from the skin, according to a new study. The draw is a combination of carbon dioxide plus two chemicals, 2-ketoglutaric and lactic acid, researchers said. The chemical cocktail not only causes a mosquito to locate and land on its victim, but it...
By Cara Murez |

The scent that could save California’s avocados

UC Riverside scientists are on the hunt for a chemical that disrupts “evil” weevils’ mating and could prevent them from destroying California’s supply of avocados.
By Jules Bernstein |

Cousin of crop-killing bacteria mutating rapidly

A bacterial species closely related to deadly citrus greening disease is rapidly evolving its ability to infect insect hosts, and possibly plants as well. The newly identified species belongs to Liberibacter, a family of bacteria known to infect several economically important crops. There are nine known Liberibacter species, including one that infects potatoes and three...

Formosan Termites Confirmed in Two New Southern California Locations

Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) continue to be on the radar of pest management professionals in Southern California following confirmation of two more infestations – one from a house in La Verne, Calif., and the other from a house in Hollywood Hills, California.

Fact Check: This Is NOT Example Of US Military Drone That Looks Like Fly

Does this photo show a U.S. military polymer drone that looks like a live fly? No, that's not true: This is not a drone but an example of a bot fly, the collections manager of the University of Arizona's Insect Collection told Lead Stories in an email. It belongs to the genus Cuterebra, the senior...
By Marlo Lee |

UC Riverside's Lee Receives NCUE Distinguished Achievement Award

UC Riverside Professor and Endowed Presidential Chair in Urban Entomology Chow-Yang Lee has been presented with the 2022 Distinguished Achievement Award in Urban Entomology in recognition of his contributions to the field. Considered the highest recognition urban entomologists can receive in the field, Lee was presented the award on May 16 in Salt Lake City...

Scientists fail to locate once-common CA bumble bees

Several species of California bumble bees have gone missing in the first statewide census of the fuzzy pollinators in 40 years. If they can be found, a recent court ruling could help save them. Smaller-scale studies have documented significant declines in bumble bee populations around the world due to climate change, development of wild habitat...
By Jules Bernstein |

Genetic discovery could spell mosquitoes’ death knell but spare beneficial insects

A UC Riverside genetic discovery could turn disease-carrying mosquitoes into insect Peter Pans, preventing them from ever maturing or multiplying. In 2018, UCR entomologist Naoki Yamanaka found, contrary to accepted scientific wisdom, that an important steroid hormone requires transporter proteins to enter or exit fruit fly cells. The hormone, ecdysone, is called the “molting hormone.”...
By Jules Bernstein |

Short Film: The Hidden Reason Bees Are Being Wiped Out

What if bees are not the herbivores we thought they were? Scientists have unveiled the secret microbial world that is vital to bees’ population, and our food supply.

Pheromones lure deadly palm weevils to their doom

The weapon involves a pheromone specific to the South American palm weevil, a type of beetle capable of flying more than 15 miles in one day. Pheromones are naturally occurring compounds that attract insects. A new $1.1 million grant from the California Department of Pesticide Regulations is enabling project “Fatal Attraction,” which will test the...
By Jules Bernstein |

Black Fig Fly

There is always alarm when a new invasive pest makes its way into the United States. Several invasive flies have caused concern in the past, including Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), and spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). The newest fly pest of concern in California is the black fig fly...
By Entomology Today - By Valeh Ebrahimi, Ph.D., Kadie Britt, Ph.D., and Houston Wilson, Ph.D. |

Entomology MS+BS program graduate Darin McGuire publishes first paper

Darin McGuire, one of the first students to graduate from the Entomology department's BS+MS program, has published his first paper. The paper is titled: A novel distribution of supergene genotypes is present in the socially polymorphic ant Formica neoclara. The Department of Entomology has a new degree program that allows students to obtain both a...
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