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. Matthew Smart, Dr. 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.

Entomology News at Nebraska

Breaking Entomological News...

  • Student working with a laptop for online degreeOnline students in the online Master's of Science (MS) degree program will benefit from a reduced credit-hour requirement and a reduced time requirement following changes by the UNL Graduate College and the Entomology Department. Starting next fall, students may earn an online MS degree for 30 credits, instead of 36 credits, under the Option B.  The new degree plan must be completed within five years, instead of 10 years.  More details about this change may be found on the IANR News website.
  • Dr. Gary Brewer
  • Dr. Gary Brewer, professor of Entomology has a new Push-Pull Strategy to manage Stable Flies.  These flies cause billions in economic losses for the US and the world. Brewer explains the Strategy on this YouTube Video. 
  • Annie KruegerAnnie Krueger, Ph.D. candidate in Entomology, was featured in the IANR Student Spotlight this week. Annie is from Stevensville, MD, and plans to graduate this August. She is mentored by Dr. Troy Anderson

  • Dr. Doug GolickDr. Doug Golick, associate professor of Entomology, received a $19,259 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) in April. He received one of 23 grants that were awarded to faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Golick will study Milkweed as a teaching tool in the classroom. 
  • Dr. Autumn SmartThe Economics of Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Mgt. & Overwintering Strategies of Colonies Used to Pollinate Almonds,” co-authored by Dr. Autumn Smart, was chosen as a runner-up in the 2019-20 Readers' Choice Award for the Journal of Economic Entomology. Congratulations Autumn!
  • Matthew GreinerMS student Matt Greiner (mentored by Ana Vélez) was awarded 1st place in the student paper competition at the recent Ozark-Prairie SETAC meeting. The victory will provide him with funds to attend the national SETAC meeting in November. Way to go, Matthew!