Purdue University

Entomology at Purdue

The Department offers a comprehensive program of learning, engagement and discovery that meets the needs of Indiana, the Midwest, and the nation.  There are 21 tenure-track faculty, two research faculty, six adjunct faculty, 35 professional staff members, and 15 administrative, clerical and service staff.  Currently there are 38 undergraduate students, 35 graduate students, and five post-doctoral associates.  Graduate degree programs at both the Master’s and Ph.D. level are offered.

Learning

Academic programs in entomology include courses in general entomology, diversity and identification, insect structure and function, ecology and behavior, pest management, and areas of specialization that reflect the expertise of the faculty.  The department provides two undergraduate options including “Entomology” which focuses on a general curriculum in insect science.  “Urban and Industrial Pest Management” requires courses in personnel management and business along with a foundation in entomology.  There are also minors offered in “Entomology” and “Forensic Science.”  Students also have opportunities to engage in undergraduate research, participate in service learning activities and gain leadership experiences.  Graduate students pursue curricula customized for the individual.  All entomology students are encouraged to seek international experience through study-abroad programs.  Merit and need-based financial aid is available to qualifying students.

Discovery

Our research can be broadly divided into six signature areas based expertise and emerging opportunities: as Arthropod Molecular Biology & Genomics, Plant-Insect/Nematode Interactions, Pest Management, Environmental & Evolutionary Entomology, International Cooperation and Development and Insect Science Education.  We have active research programs in biology, biochemistry, systematics, and behavior focused on:

  • genetics and genomics
  • cellular and molecular entomology
  • insect biochemistry and toxicology
  • systematic entomology and nematology
  • aquatic entomology
  • multi-tropic interactions
  • landscape ecology
  • host plant resistance
  • biological control
  • insect pest management
  • urban/industrial entomology

These efforts include contributions by the USDA-ARS Crop Production Unit Wheat Team.

Engagement

Entomology extension focused on insect pest management includes field crops, fruits and vegetables, urban and industrial settings, ornamentals and nursery production, stored food and grain, turfgrass, bee keeping, livestock and poultry, public health vectors, and invasive species.  The USDA-APHIS Wildlife Conflict Management and Insect Identifier units are also part of our extension program.  Our outreach efforts include unique insect-science education programs that reach a growing audience of youth and the general public.  Some well-known examples include:

Bug Bowl – This nationally and internationally recognized event is held every spring and celebrates the fascination of insects.  Activities include Roach-hill Downs cockroach races, cake decorating contest, cricket spitting, bugs as food, insects in art, insect crafts and face painting, honey bee exhibit and honey tasting, insect petting zoo, observation zoo, caterpillar canter, and insect activity center.  Bug Bowl attracts more than 38,000 visitors.

Insectaganza – “Science on 6 Legs – An Insectaganza of Education” is an opportunity for fifth grade students in the area to come to Purdue to learn about insects from the professors.  The program consists of Quizbowl – a test of a school’s insect knowledge, lectures on insects, a magic show, and grasshopper dissection.  Insectaganza takes place each fall, and has been capped at 1000 participants.

4-H and Youth Programs – The department’s 4-H activities assist youth and adults in developing their entomological expertise through the use of fun, hands-on activities as well as other social, communication, decision-making, and leadership skills.  The department provides resource materials, judging expertise, and technical training for youth and adult leaders. Educational materials that have been developed for these programs are used nationwide.

Other popular outreach activities include – Tours and Talks, Butterfly Count, Professors in the Classroom, Super Saturday, Indiana State Fair, Popularized Classes, Teacher Education, and Mass Media.

CERIS

A unique unit within the department is the Center for Environmental and Regulatory Information Systems (CERIS).  This group of 15 programmers, systems analysts, and customer service specialists manage and maintain a series of federal and user-funded databases that concern 1) pesticides (National Pesticide Information and Regulatory System, NPIRS), 2) plant import/export regulations (Export Certification Project, EXCERPT), 3) exotic pest tracking by academia, industry and government (National Agricultural Pest Information System, NAPIS), and 4) a database for a national network of pest diagnostic laboratories (National Pest Diagnostic Network, NPDN).

Campus Facilities

The Department of Entomology is housed in Smith Hall (SMTH), Whistler Agricultural Research Building (WSLR), and the Entomology Environmental Laboratory (EEL) on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, and several associated facilities near the campus. SMTH houses the teaching faculty, a student resource room, two dedicated entomology laboratory classrooms, the Boiler Bug Barn outreach center, most extension staff and applied research programs, the biological control program, the turf pest management program, the aquatic entomology program, the landscape ecology program, the Indiana CAPS program, the USDA APHIS Nuisance Wildlife program, the USDA APHIS Insect Identifier Unit, the Purdue Entomological Research Collection, and the administrative office suite.  WSLR is an interdisciplinary facility that houses Entomology programs requiring specialized laboratories for physiology, toxicology, biochemistry, molecular genetics and genomics research.  EEL has lab and office space for the nematology program and Purdue Nematode Collection, host plant resistance program, growth chambers and serves as the head house for the department greenhouses.

Off Campus Facilities

The Entomology Field Operations Building (EFOB) is located on a 6-acre tract with a Butler-type building 1.5 miles west of campus. This facility is used for field plot equipment storage, applying pesticides in laboratory experiments, and as a general workshop for the department.  The apiary is located at this site and the building provides support facilities for our honey bee research activities led by Greg Hunt.  The fumigation laboratory used by the post harvest and forensic science programs is also located at EFOB.  This laboratory consists of three temperature controlled fumigation chambers that provide the ability to test gas concentrations during fumigations.  This is one of two such facilities in the nation.  A second Butler-type building in this area serves as the bait mixing station for the USDA APHIS Nuisance Wildlife program.  There are also three specially constructed outdoor rodent pens designed to restrict non-avian wildlife from moving into or out of the plots.  The forensic science group is currently using these pens for replicated fieldwork concerning animal cadavers and insect time of entry experiments.  Entomology has a compartment in the Crop Protection Laboratory located at the Agronomy Research Center for storage and mixing of pesticides.  The Agronomy Center For Research and Education is also the site of the Post Harvest Research and Education Center (PHERC).  The PHERC is one of three facilities in the nation with replicated research bins.  Other field research is conducted at Purdue Agronomy, Horticulture, Post Harvest and Turf Centers, and with cooperators across the state.

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