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Welcome to the Department of Entomology

For more than 125 years, our faculty members, staff and students have been working to advance the field of insect biology and apply that knowledge to solve problems and improve lives.

As one of the top-ranked entomology programs in the country, our work spans the globe and impacts human lives on many levels, influencing a broad range of disciplines including human and veterinary medicine, farming, biodiversity and genomics.

Entomology News

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Ann Hajek

Nov 29, 2018

Ann Hajek became a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America at the 2018 ESA meeting. This is a competitive award; 9 were awarded this year.

Elson Shields Awarded NYS Excellence

Nov 29, 2018

Elson Shields was awarded the NYS Excellence in IPM Award from the NYS IPM Program (a competitive award). 


Nov 27, 2018

Check out our own Corrie Moreau announced as an AAAS Fellow for 2018. Congratulations Corrie!

The 2018 Fellows will be recognized at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting, where they will be presented a rosette pin with its gold and blue colors to signify science and engineering, respectively. | AAAS
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has bestowed upon 416 of its members the lifetime honor of being an elected Fellow in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in advancing science.
The Fellows, announced Nov. 27, will be recognized at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. During a Fellows Forum on Feb. 16, they will be presented with an official certificate and the AAAS Fellows’ gold and blue rosette pin, the colors of which represent the fields of science and engineering respectively.
This year’s Fellows, who represent a broad swath of scientific disciplines, were selected for diverse accomplishments that include pioneering research, leadership within their field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations and advancing public understanding of science.
AAAS’ annual tradition of recognizing leading scientists as Fellows dates to 1874. Since then, AAAS has honored distinguished scientists such as astronomer Maria Mitchell, elected a Fellow in 1875; inventor Thomas Edison (1878); chemist Linus Pauling (1939); and computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963). Four of the 2018 Nobel Prize laureates – James Allison, Arthur Ashkin, Frances Arnold and George Smith – are AAAS elected Fellows.
Fellows may be nominated in several ways. A nomination can be put forth by three previously elected Fellows who are current AAAS members. Of the nominators two must have no affiliation with the nominee’s institution. The nominators are required to submit a packet that includes a letter of recommendation from each, the nominee’s curriculum vitæ and a list of the nominee’s most significant publications.
Nominees also may be nominated by AAAS’ chief executive officer or by the steering group of one of AAAS’ 24 sections. All nominees must have been a member of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year of their election. Nominations go through a two-step review process, with the relevant steering group reviewing nominations in their section and the AAAS Council – the organization’s member-elected governing body – voting on the final list.
Check out the full list:

Also, check the list of all Cornell faculty that made the list here:…/nine-faculty-members-elected-aaas… Read more

Study challenges widely held assumption of bee evolution

Nov 16, 2018

A new study rewrites a commonly cited hypothesis about bee evolution and the cause behind an explosion in diversity of bee species some 120 million years ago.
Today, bees are incredibly diverse, accounting for around 20,000 species, with nearly all larvae consuming a diet of flower pollen and nectar.
Researchers have widely believed that bees evolved from carnivorous wasps and that pollen feeding, called pollinivory, allowed bees to rapidly diversify. The idea was that the new food source promoted new species to develop. But no one had tested this hypothesis, until now.

Silas Bossert/Provided
A male of Megachile willughbiella. This species is a generalist, feeding on a variety of unrelated host-plants, such as asters, legumes or stonecrops.
The new study, published Nov. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biology Letters, used a recent, existing evolutionary tree of bees and computer models to calculate diversification rates in bees and related wasps. The researchers showed – for the first time – that pollinivory was an important step, but the rapid diversification of bees is better explained by a later development when bees shifted from being specialists narrowly focused on a few host-plant species to generalists that fed on many host plants.
“Broadening of plant diets opened up new and unexploited ecological niches,” said Silas Bossert, a graduate student in the lab of entomology professor Bryan Danforth, and a lead author of the paper along with Elizabeth Murray, a former postdoctoral researcher, also in Danforth’s lab. 
“We found that some of the earliest-originating bees did not partake in the diversification upswing,” Murray said. “Our findings indicate that pollen-feeding was an important evolutionary switch, but does not fully explain the diversity we see today. We postulate that other complementary innovations, such as a generalist host-plant diet, influenced the tremendous diversification of the major bee lineages.”
Bees arose from within a group of carnivorous hunting wasps in the mid-Cretaceous period, around the same time that flowering plants began spreading.
The researchers used the most current phylogeny (a branching, tree-like diagram that shows evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms) that offered a new perspective on the origin of bees. That phylogeny offers evidence that the sister family to bees were small wasps (Ammoplanidae)that hunted thrips, tiny pollen-eating, aphid-like insects.

Silas Bossert/Provided
A male of Melitta leporina. This bee belongs to the bee family Melittidae, which are host-plant specialists. M. leporina exclusively collects pollen from legumes.
The current study shows that rates of diversification between carnivorous wasps and the earliest pollen-eating bees (the family Melittidae) match closely, with low species numbers per family (123 species for Ammoplanidae wasps, for example, and 203 Melittidae bee species). At the same time, most melittid bees are highly specialized and feed on a narrow range of host plant flowers.
The bees that appeared after Melittidae in the evolutionary tree are generalists and feed on many host plants; these bee families also show an explosion in rates of diversification, with many more species per family.
Prior to this study, Murray had researched a subfamily of pollen-feeding wasps (Masarinae), whose species numbers are also small (around 350). She then questioned why bees are so diverse compared to pollen wasps. It turns out, pollen-feeding wasps are specialists that feed on just a few host plants.
“The broader conclusion would be that switches in diet don’t necessarily lead to diversification, unless there’s something else that happens, like a broadening of that diet,” said Danforth, the paper’s senior author.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. Read more

Pollinator Network

Pollinators are essential for maintaining floral diversity and for producing many important agricultural crops that feed residents of New York and other areas of the world. 

Cornell University has a robust network of pollinator research and extension program related to all aspects of pollinator life: Ecology, Evolution, Biodiversity, Behavior, Pesticides, Pests, parasites, and disease, Pollinator management.  Explore the Cornell Pollinator website for information on bee research taking place at Cornell, news and upcoming events, and for a variety of extension materials related to pollinators and beekeeping.

Engaged Entomology

EOA students Mike Wolfin and Zach Cohen have been visiting local schools educating students about different insects and arthropods while Joanna Fisher has been visiting with groups like 4H, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, Master Forest Owners, EAB First Detectors trying to teach the public how to identify invasive species like emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, and Asian longhorned beetle.

The Naturalist Outreach group has been visiting local classrooms and community groups to talk about the natural history, ecology, and behavior of animals and plants.  They have also created a series of videos teaching the public about an array of issues from pollination to bats to aquatic insects and more.  This group is not only teaching but trying to inspire and engage more people into science.

Insectapalooza is a one day insect fair held annually by the department bringing in families from as far as Michigan each year.  This event reaches thousands of visitors who get hands on experience learning about many different arthropods, their importance and benefits to our community.

Emprire Farm Days and the New York State Fair are two other annual events attended by the Department of Entomology where large groups of people are reached.  

Fruit Fly Trap

Ever wonder how to get rid of those pesky fruit flies in your home?

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New maps light up information on birds

Dec 4, 2018

A new series of dynamic bird maps from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reveals unprecedented details not only about where the birds are, but how their numbers and habitats change through the seasons and years. Read more

Mollusk collection moves to PRI, internet

Nov 28, 2018

Cornell’s Malacology Collection will get new life online when it is donated to the Paleontological Research Institution, which plans to digitize it and make it available to researchers around the world. Read more

Meet Breanne Kisselstein

Nov 20, 2018

Breanne Kisselstein, a third-year doctoral student studying plant pathology, studies disease genes that are associated with resistance to fungicides growers rely on to control diseases in commercial vineyards. Photo by Allison Usavage Read more

Catherine Kling named Tisch University Professor

Nov 14, 2018

Catherine Kling, professor of environmental, energy and resource economics in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, was one of three faculty members named Tisch University Professors by the Cornell University Board of Trustees. Read more