It has now been two and a half years since I moved from California
to join the department, enough time to acquire five Masters students and to get the
research ball rolling. My research emphasis lies in identifying ecological factors that
encourage outbreaks of phytophagous insects in ornamental landscapes. I have two students
that are working with evergreen bagworm. Rob Moore is studying dispersal behavior of the
first instars; whether dispersal is influenced by host plant species and intraspecific
competition. Rob is also evaluating the impact of avian predators on bagworm infestations.
Jodie Ellis is conducting an experiment to determine whether flowering herbs can be used
to attract and encourage parasitoids of the bagworm. Another student, John Tooker, is
studying the association between plant species diversity and rates of mortality inflicted
by predators and parasitoids of a scale insect, pine needle scale, on ornamental pines. By
understanding the ecological interactions between plants, phytophagous insects, and their
natural enemies, I hope to develop methods of minimizing pest problems by manipulating
plant diversity and availability of floral resources within ornamental landscapes.
I also am interested in the ecology and reproductive
behavior of cerambycid beetles, in particular the role of pheromones in mate location and
recognition. I have identified four basic reproductive strategies among cerambycid beetles
in a chapter in this years Annual Review of Entomology, and intend to study
the influence of larval host plants on reproductive strategy. To that end, I have another
two students conducting research on two cerambycid species. Pete Reagel is studying
aggregation behavior of the milkweed beetle, with the goal of determining what cues
beetles use in forming aggregations and locating mates. Matt Ginzel is studying mating
behavior and the role of contact pheromones in another cerambycid, the rustic borer.