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The What & Why of Entomology

Featured Image Above by Megan Asche

What is Entomology?

Entomology is the study of insects and their relationship to humans, the environment, and other organisms. Entomologists make great contributions to such diverse fields as agriculture, chemistry, biology, human/animal health, molecular science, criminology, and forensics. The study of insects serves as the basis for developments in biological and chemical pest control, food and fiber production and storage, pharmaceuticals epidemiology, biological diversity, and a variety of other fields of science.

Professional entomologists contribute to the betterment of humankind by detecting the role of insects in the spread of disease and discovering ways of protecting food and fiber crops, and livestock from being damaged. They study the way beneficial insects contribute to the well being of humans, animals, and plants. Amateur entomologists are interested in insects because of the beauty and diversity of these creatures.

Entomology is an ancient science, dating back to the establishment of biology as a formal field of study by Aristotle (384-322 BC). There are even earlier references to the use of insects in daily life: such as the growing of silkworms that began 4700 BC in China, which was an important part of peasant life in China, as early as 4000 BC. More than a hundred years ago, entomologists formed a society, the Entomological Society of America (ESA), to promote the science and study of entomology in the United States.

What careers are available in Entomology?

Career opportunities for our graduates include: federal government agencies (EPA, USDA, APHIS); state departments of agriculture and ecology, state agricultural research stations, university extension service, agrichemical company field representatives, research, and sales; agricultural consulting firms; private agribusiness firms; timber and seed production companies; international development agencies. IPM majors with an urban option have career opportunities as: pest control operators; parkland and golf course pest management specialists; mosquito abatement districts; weed control districts; food processing industry; ornamental plant protection; public health service; industrial pest control consultant; and with the armed forces.

Many of our students go on to pursue Master’s and PhD degrees either here at WSU or at other top-rated universities.  Entomology Courses

Why study Entomology at WSU?

Since entomology is a specialized field of study, students at WSU have the unique advantage of small classes with ample opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with an Entomology faculty. Our students learn from entomologists who are actively involved with a wide variety of research projects. Our IPM program offers an internship program that often leads to very lucrative jobs for our graduates. Due to the close relationship our department has with various industry leaders, we are able to offer experience working in many locations and areas of interest.

Many of our students have received WSU, state, national recognition for their work, as well as those from professional organizations.

Who needs Entomologists?

Scientists – By studying insects, entomologists have helped to produce much of our current knowledge on inheritance, physiology, and ecology.

Farmers – Crops and food products are consumed or spoiled by insects. Entomologists are working to sustain optimal agricultural production throughout the world. The work of veterinary entomologists protects livestock from insect-borne illnesses.

Teachers – Teachers use entomology in the classroom to teach basic biological principles and concepts.

Environmentalists – Entomologists study environmental indicators to better understand the relationships between humans and nature. By identifying endangered species and studying their ecosystems, entomologists work to protect the environment and restore threatened habitats.

Industry – Entomologists provide industry with many product opportunities in areas such as biological and chemical pest control. Urban pest control is a $3 billion industry.

Foresters – Insects are one of the greatest destroyers of timber resources. Entomologists work with foresters to develop effective programs to battle these pests in order to protect forests and their biological wealth.

Animals – Environmentally sound biological control programs developed by entomologists have become standard features in a wide array of solutions which protect animals from harmful chemicals.

The United Nations – Entomologists’ research is essential in solving insect-related food shortages and diseases throughout the world.

Customs Inspectors – Entomologists help customs intercept new pests before they enter a country and cause problems.

The Military – Soldiers, marines, and sailors often encounter exotic insects with exotic diseases. Medical and veterinary entomologists lead the way in research to combat insects that carry diseases.

Police – Forensic entomologists use their expertise to help police solve criminal cases.

Homeowners – Urban entomologists provide answers in our war with structural, turf, and ornamental insect pests.

Artists – Entomologists help to preserve the diversity and extraordinary beauty of insects which artists utilize for designs and patterns.

Writers – Insects are an intriguing part of the ecological web. Entomologists can provide unusual twists to ordinary stories. Writers can spin a good tale because insects fascinate.

Doctors – At least one-sixth of the human race currently suffers from insect-carried diseases. Entomologists provide vital information on the treatment and prevention of these ailments.

Our World – Entomologists and their study of insects help us increase the bounty of the planet and preserve its natural beauty.