Lecture:  MWF 10:00-10:50 AM (3 hours credit), 305 MSEB

Lab:  W 2:00-3:20 PM (1 additional hour credit), 408 NHB

Instructor:  Dr. Alex Wild, Department of Entomology, 215 Morrill Hall, 333-2170 (

Teaching Assistants: Mami Randrianandrasana ( 204 Morrill Hall;  Allen Lawrance ( 204 Morrill Hall


Administrative Details:  Department of Entomology, 320 Morrill Hall

Lecture Schedule: (parentheses refer to optional readings from Bugs in the System)

18-Jan Introduction--what's in a name? (1-6)
20 What is, and and isn't, an insect (6-11)
23 The great diversity of insects (appendix)
25 Good things in small packages (12-24)
27 Behavior (38-49)
30 Insect vegetarians (99-107)
1-Feb Some pests: Locust plagues (108-118) and stored product pests  (143-146)
3 Silk and silkworms (133-143)
6 Working for scale: hemipterans (118-127)
8 Social insects (59-63)
10 Busy bees - honey and wax (72-81)
13 Pollination (81-90)
15 Gall insects (127-133)
17 Hour exam
20 Insect carnivores (151-157)
22 Edible Insects (177-185) 
24 Insects with bad taste--venoms & poisons (159-164) 
27 Insects and medicine (165-176)
29 Insect parasites (what's eating you?) (191-202)
2-Mar Yellow fever (219-230)
5 Mosquitoes and malaria (230-237)
7 Fleas and plague (210-219)
9 Insects and carrion (246-252)
12 Lice and typhus (a lousy lecture) (202-210)
14 Sacred scarabs and deified dung pats (240-246)
16 Aquatic insects (259-270)
17-25 Spring break
26 Killer bees (90-96)
28 Sex, bugs and rock and roll (24-30)
30 Insect genetics (30-35)
2-Apr History of entomology (274-284) (Rob Mitchell)
4 History of pest control (274-296) (Larry Hanks)
6 Hour Exam
9 Fly fishing and insects (264-268) (Dave Voegtlin)
11 Insect-related professions (332-340)
13 Fire ants and other ants (296-300)
16 Entomophobia and delusory parasitosis (300-305)
18 Insects in movies (327-332) (May Berenbaum)
20 Insects as symbols (315-321)
23 Insects in music (Michelle Duennes)
25 Insects in art (321-327)
27 Insects in law (305-312)
30 Insects in literature 
2-May Effects of humans on insects (344-347)

Readings: Although there is no required text for this course, much of the material is presented in the book Bugs in the System (M. Berenbaum, 1995, Reading (MA): Addison Wesley). If you do not want to buy a copy of this book, there will be copies on reserve at the Undergraduate and Biology Libraries.

Grading: For students taking the course for 3 hours credit, grades will be determined as follows:

       midterm exam 1 (in class, 1 hr): 100 pts  20% 

       midterm exam 2 (in class, 1 hr): 100      20%

       term paper or project:           100      20%

       quizzes (in class):               20       4%

       final exam:                      180      36%

For students taking the course for 4 hours credit, the grade for the lecture as calculated above is worth 75% of the total grade; the remaining 25% is the laboratory grade, based on worksheets (50%) and lab practical (50%).

Extra credit: For all students, extra-credit opportunities will be announced over the course of the semester. Up to 10 points.

Final Project:  All students have a choice between a project and a term paper.

Option1: term paper. On any topic in insect biology in a cultural context. The paper may be any length, so long as it treats the topic in reasonable depth (typically 4-8 double-spaced pages, but we are flexible).To illustrate potential ideas, here are a few examples:

  • Agriculture: insects as human food, insects as vectors of plant disease 
  • Applied Life Sciences: insects as sports mascots, flea circuses
  • Commerce: butterfly dealers, insect zoos, regulating pesticides, insect commodities
  • Communications: insects in advertising, insect editorial cartoons, insects on TV or internet
  • Education: insects in children's literature, insects as teaching tools
  • Engineering: physics of insect flight, mechanics of exoskeletons, insect-inspired machinery
  • Fine and Applied Art: insects in painting, sculpture, classical music, plays, dance
  • Law: insects and hotels, insects and crime, pesticide legislation, forensic entomology
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: insects and the evolution of human behavior, arthropods and constellations, insects in mythology, insects in Shakespeare, fossil insects
  • Veterinary Medicine: ultrasonic flea collars, insects as vectors of animal diseases
  • Medicine: insects as vectors of human disease, military medical entomology

References must be cited in your papers, preferably from the primary literature - i.e., journal articles rather than encyclopedia articles, with a minimum of three from scientific journals. Proper format for citing references will be covered in class. No folders or binders, please - just staple the pages in the upper left corner.

Option 2: projects. One possibility is to rear an insect (or related arthropod) through all life stages, keeping a diary of its development. We can provide the organism, and the diary will be turned in for the grade. A second possibility is to prepare a lesson plan for a local school and to teach a class in some aspect of insect biology. The lesson materials will be turned in and graded, and input will be sought from the teacher of the host class. A third possibility is to make a video or audio segment on an insect-related theme. In all cases, students must provide at least three references from the primary literature to accompany their project. Other creative alternatives must be cleared by the instructor.

Insects and other arthropods available for rearing projects from the Department of Entomology (italicized items can be provided by the course; if you'd like to rear any of the other species, we can direct you to sources. Species marked with * are the ones that have been most successful in past years.):

Class Arachnida
               Scorpions, tarantulas, pholcid (cellar) spiders, *
wolf spiders, orb weaver
Class Crustacea
               Triops, water fleas, hermit crab, sowbugs
Class Diplopoda
               Millipedes, centipedes
Class Insecta
Order Dictyoptera
American cockroach, skull and crossbones cockroach,
               *Madagascar hissing cockroach, *Chinese mantis
Order Hemiptera
Milkweed bugs
Order Orthoptera
House cricket
Order Lepidoptera
Tobacco hornworm, cabbage looper, corn earworm, *painted lady
Order Diptera
               Blow fly, flesh fly, *fruit fly, house fly, mosquito
Order Coleoptera
                Dermestid beetle,
flour beetle, mealworm beetle
Order Hymenoptera
               *Jewel wasp

Remember, another option is to find and rear your own insects - we'll be glad to provide you with help and advice if you collect an animal on your own that you'd like to rear. We urge you, though, to stay away from ectoparasites and disease vectors!

For short-lived species, you should try to raise your insects from egg to adulthood. For long-lived species (e.g., tarantulas can live 20 years or longer), you should observe and keep your specimen alive for at least four weeks. All diaries must include text descriptions of the basic biology of the organism in its natural state and must be accompanied by at least three references from the primary literature (this means technical books and journals rather than informal websites. Wikipedia is not acceptable).
All papers and/or project ideas must be approved by an instructor or TA prior to March 16 (the day before spring break). You may consult instructors for approval by appointment, over email, or after class.

Papers and projects are due on the last day of class, May 2, and can be submitted via the online Moodle site or in hard copy.

Learning disability: Please contact Alex as soon as possible if you have a learning disability and require accommodations to be made for exams or coursework.

Attendance: We will not monitor lecture attendance, but several quizzes worth 4% of your grade will be given on random days at the start of class. If you have a valid medical issue or university event that precludes your presence at exams, you must provide the instructor with documentation as soon as possible in order to schedule a make-up exam. In the case of foreseeable absence, we require 1 week notice; in the case of medical emergency, we require a doctor's note within 48 hours. We will not prorate missed exams.

Academic Integrity:  We expect you to uphold our universities guidelines of academic integrity. Please read the Student Code with regards to academic integrity (  In short, donít cheat or plagiarize. Ask the instructor if you are uncertain if something constitutes a violation of academic integrity. Lastly, always remember to cite your sources when writing a paper.

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