Research - Managing Arthropods

corn ear worm

Entomology's efforts are directed toward managing insects and related arthropods associated with agriculture, our natural resources, residential and business spaces, and to questions of public health importance. Regardless of approach and target audiences, our management programs are based on the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).

 IPM is a comprehensive approach to pest management that addresses sustainability through the integration across a comprehensive toolbox of management tactics that includes: biological control, cultural control, host plant resistance, and pesticide resistance management and pesticide use reduction.

 IPM is not static but adapts to environmental changes and public expectations. Some of the factors affecting the practice of IPM research, practice, and education include:

  • new science and technologies, including a rising demand for green technologies
  • pest adaptation
  • climate change
  • regulatory changes
  • invasive and emerging pests
  • emphasis on genetically engineered crops
  • crop intensification arising from biofuel adoption and population growth
  • public expectations for effective and safe interventions
  • biodiversity and ecosystem functions preservation 
  • non-target effects


1. Goals

  • Investigate issues of importance to the people of Nebraska and beyond and develop and deliver safe, effective and sustainable solutions for arthropod related issues.
  • Be a relevant source of information for clientele relative to IPM by creating new knowledge based on a thorough understanding of arthropod biology and ecology.
  • Provide national leadership in Resistance Management research and education.
  • Provide research-based knowledge to support new technologies, mitigation efforts, and development of regulatory policy.


2. Current Efforts and Approaches

 Our work in Managing Arthropods is the primary source for our research-based extension programming. In turn, extension interactions with clientele inform research directions. Student-centered training of future scientists and IPM practitioners are components of our undergraduate, graduate and professional educational offerings.

Managing Arthropods has four focused components:

 -  Crop Protection.   Dr. Troy Anderson, Dr. Jeff Bradshaw, Dr. Gary Hein, Dr. Tom Hunt, Dr. Justin McMechan, Dr. Lance Meinke, Dr. Julie Peterson, Dr. Ana Velez, Dr. Robert Wright

Current efforts are to develop and implement of arthropod management programs within an IPM framework to provide relevant, effective and sustainable solutions for Nebraskans. With the increasing incidence of pesticide resistant insects we have placed more emphasis on the prevention and mitigation of resistance to conventional and plant incorporated toxins. To complement these activities, we have also added new expertise to evaluate the roles and importance of natural enemies and other arthropods as ecosystem service providers in cropping systems.  And we have expanded our research collaborations with industry, other universities, and federal agencies to meet crop management goals.

 -  Public Health.   Dr. Troy Anderson, Dr. Dave Taylor

 Public Health Pest Management includes multi-tactic approaches to protect human health from arthropod pests and associated health risks. With the increase in bed bug infestations in Nebraska and elsewhere personal anxiety has increased and control costs have become a major cost to businesses and homeowners. Research is improving understanding of factors influencing local population development and is providing practical and safe pest management solutions.

 -  Animal Protection.    Dr. Troy Anderson, Mr. Dave Boxler, Dr. Gary Brewer, Dr. Autumn SmartDr. Dave Taylor, Dr. Judy Wu-Smart, Dr. Jerry Zhu
Animal Protection research centers on two key Nebraska animal groups; cattle and bees.

Veterinary entomology research has goals of expanding pest control tactics and methodologies, developing novel strategies, and through national collaborations addressing resistance management questions.

 Bee research emphasizes honey bee health and resiliency by expanding habitat, increasing forage abundance and quality, reducing pesticide exposure, and investigating interaction effects of biotic and abiotic stressors. Other investigations will focus on prevention of pesticide resistance and timing of miticide applications for more sustainable pest management.