College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Latest News

Even California Has a Mosquito Problem

When I moved to Los Angeles years ago, I was told by native Angeleno friends that the city without humidity also definitely did not have mosquitoes. What is that whizzing sound then? The welts on my ankles? My favorite cafe has taken to selling bottles of insect repellent next to the cash register. Were my...
By Marie Tae McDermott |

Hummingbirds can smell their way out of danger

In less time than it takes to read this sentence, hummingbirds can catch a whiff of potential trouble. That’s the result of new UC Riverside research showing, contrary to popular belief, the tiny birds do have an active sense of smell. Researchers have known for some time that vultures have a highly sensitive sense of...
By Jules Bernstein |

Collaborating to Solve Problems, Connecting to Serve Communities

UC Riverside Professor of Entomology Thomas Perring actively engages the UCCE network in his research and teaching. One example is his work with Area Viticulture/Pest Management Advisor Carmen Gispert to evaluate Pierce’s disease (PD) and sharpshooter vectors in Coachella Valley vineyards. He also exposes undergraduate and graduate students to the work that farm advisors do...
By Isgouhi Kaloshian |

Hollis Woodard wins National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Bumblebee queens start off as solitary insects, looking for a place to nest. After finding a spot, the queen lays eggs and collects food to feed the brood. This continues until the first group of workers hatch and take over the queen’s food gathering and feeding duties. Woodard’s group will do experiments to find out...
By Holly Ober |

What you need to start planting and stop spraying to keep bees healthy and happy

If you care about bees... well, let’s be real: If you care about eating (since bees pollinate the plants that produce our food) two new studies underscore two simple things we home gardeners in and around Los Angeles can do to help those busy buzzers live longer, healthier lives: 1. Lace your yard or balcony...
By Jeanette Marantos |

Study shows common insecticide is harmful in any amount

Anew UC Riverside study shows that a type of insecticide made for commercial plant nurseries is harmful to a typical bee even when applied well below the label rate. The study has now been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Chemically similar to nicotine, neonicotinoids are insecticides that protect...
By Jules Bernstein |

Fruit fly offers lessons in good taste

What can the fruit fly teach us about taste and how chemicals cause our taste buds to recognize sweet, sour, bitter, umami, and salty tastes? Quite a lot, according to University of California, Riverside, researchers who have published a study exploring the insect’s sense of taste. “Insect feeding behavior directly impacts humans in many ways...
By Iqbal Pittalwala |

Entomology department names first-ever Inclusivity Scholar

The Department of Entomology created a scholarship in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and has named microbiology major Ariana Sanchez its first Inclusivity Scholar. Sanchez became interested in studying bacterial pathogens transmitted by insects because members of her family suffer from chronic illnesses transmitted by fleas and ticks. She will further this interest...
By Jules Bernstein |

UCR entomologists win grants to develop pesticide alternatives

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has awarded grants to two UCR scientists, Kerry Mauck and Chow-Yang Lee, for innovative research projects to reduce overreliance on pesticides. Excessive pesticide use causes widespread environmental contamination. It can be toxic to other living things, including beneficial insects, wildlife and humans. More than 90 percent of water and...
By Jules Bernstein |

Why Flight Testing is an Important Step in Sterile Insect Technique

Releasing hordes of sterilized male insects for unfruitful mating with females—a process known as the sterile insect technique (SIT)—is a proven process for combating many species of pests. Its success depends on sterile males dispersing widely enough to outcompete their wild counterparts and mate with enough females to reduce reproduction of a population. SIT has...
By Ed Ricciuti |

Cicada explosion mystifies insect experts

The Eastern U.S. is about to see something that hasn't happened since the final episode of Friends aired on NBC: massive swarms of Brood X cicadas. Billions of the red-eyed, black-bodied insects are taking to the skies after 17 years underground, buzzing loudly to attract mates before they die. Not only is the spectacle of...
By Jules Bernstein |

Christiane Weirauch wins royal society medal for book on true bugs

The Royal Entomological Society has bestowed its Westwood Medal upon entomology professor Christiane Weirauch for her work on true bugs — a group of insect that includes plant attackers and human disease spreaders as well as natural pest controllers. The society, based in the U.K., is one of the oldest and most prominent organizations of...
By Jules Bernstein |

UC Riverside enters collaboration with GALT to advance microbiome research

The UC Riverside Microbiome Initiative and California-based General Automation Lab Technologies, or GALT, have partnered to advance plant pathology, environmental microbiology, and insect and human gut microbiome studies. As part of this collaboration, GALT will support five UC Riverside research projects that will use the company’s Prospector® high-throughput microbial isolation and cultivation system to generate...
By Holly Ober |

Hive Minders

If you think blueberries, cherries, or almonds are expensive, wait until you buy cranberries for Thanksgiving this year. They’re about to get much pricier, if you can get them at all. All of them are dependent on pollination by bees, as are about a third of the foods we put in our mouths. If honeybee...
By Jules Bernstein |

Bee Health with Boris Baer

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside are leading a new effort to stop and reverse a worldwide decline in honeybees. To boost dwindling honeybee populations, the University of California’s Office of the President has awarded $900,000 to a four-campus network of bee researchers and engineers. Boris Baer is a professor of entomology at UC...
By Tim Hammerich |

Need a Book With That Spider?

Late last month, Anne Danielson-Francois, an associate biology professor at the University of Michigan, received an unusual package. She had instructed the sender to make sure the contents — spiders — were cushioned because she did not want their legs to break off. When Dr. Danielson-Francois opened the little brown box, there they were —...
By Christine Hauser |

Parasitic plants conspire to keep hosts alive

The plant that encourages kissing at Christmas is in fact a parasite, and new research reveals mistletoe has an unusual feeding strategy. Like other plants, mistletoe is capable of using sunlight to create its own food, a process called photosynthesis. However, it prefers to siphon water and nutrients from other trees and shrubs, using “false...
By Jules Bernstein |

Scientists using new tools to deal with the shrinking number of honeybees

With honeybees dying at rates never seen before, there’s a big buzz about the future of some of your favorite foods. “This is something that is going to affect what you can buy in a grocery store and what you can eat and how much you are going to pay for,” said Jules Bernstein of...
By Kai Beech |

Scientists Developing New Solutions for Honeybee Colony Collapse

Scientists at four University of California campuses, including UC San Diego, are leading a new effort to stop and reverse a worldwide decline in honeybees, which threatens food security and prices. Honeybees pollinate more than 80 agricultural crops, which account for about a third of what we eat. Several factors, including pesticide exposure and the...
By By Jules Bernstein and Mario Aguilera |

In Memory of William E. Walton

In Memoriam William E. Walton Professor of Entomology (September 1, 1956 - October 18, 2020) The Department of Entomology, the University of California, and the field of vector ecology have lost one of their most dedicated, productive, and beloved scientists. Dr. William E. (Bill) Walton, Professor of Entomology, passed away at the UC Irvine Medical...
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