College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

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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...
By JULES BERNSTEIN |

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.
By BRAD HARBISON |

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...

Killing cockroaches with pesticides is only making the species stronger

At around age 10, I spotted a cockroach on the kitchen counter and grabbed the closest thing near me: a coffee pot, which I brought down on the head of the bug and then found myself standing there, holding nothing but the glass handle. “I’m sorry, Mom,” I said about the broken flask. “But at...
By Troy Farah |

Who's Eating Who?

You never forget the moment when your path in life becomes clear. For Erin Wilson-Rankin, that moment came in an undergraduate classroom at Georgetown University when she learned about a caterpillar that evades predators by flinging its poop. “It was actually my professor, Martha Weiss, talking about her own research into the silver-spotted skipper butterfly...
By Jules Bernstein |

California Study Warns of Growing Insecticide Resistance in Cockroaches

The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is a common pest in buildings throughout the world. It spreads pathogens that can cause diarrheal disease and allergens that can cause lung hypersensitivity in vulnerable people. Insecticide sprays and insecticide-loaded baits have been used to control B. germanica for decades, but there is evidence that some populations have developed...
By John P. Roche, Ph.D. |

How to Become a Vulture and Not Die Trying:

Meat-eating bees made the news in late 2021, after a study examined the unique gut microbiomes of these unusual species. Trigona hypogea, Trigona necrophaga, and Trigona crassipes are the only three known bee species in the world that feed exclusively on carrion. Here on Earth, multicellular life has its origins in single-celled bacteria. It took...
By Magda P. Argueta Guzmán |

UCR entomologist wins Japan’s biggest prize for young researchers

The Japan Academy Medal, widely considered the most prestigious award for young Japanese researchers, only goes to six recipients annually. This year associate entomology professor Naoki Yamanaka has been elected for the honor. Chosen among nominees from all fields of sciences and humanities, Yamanaka was recognized for research into the way that steroid hormones control...
By Jules Bernstein |

Are daddy longlegs really the most venomous spiders in the world?

You've probably heard this playground legend: Daddy longlegs are the most venomous spiders in the world, but their fangs are too short to bite you. Is this really true? The short answer: no. But to reach that answer, we're going to have to get a few things straight. "First, what are you calling a daddy...
By Ashley Hamer |

Queen’s genes determine sex of entire ant colonies

Researchers have discovered the genetic basis for a quirk of the animal kingdom — how ant queens produce broods that are entirely male or female. “It’s weird to have any parent that’s only producing one sex or the other,” said UC Riverside entomologist and study author Jessica Purcell. Scientists have known for some time that...
By Jules Bernstein |
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