December 2010

Faculty News

Ever wonder why Dr. Howard Frank travels so often to Central America? Well, when you get to spend time at exotic resorts like the Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, recently named the Belize hotel of the year, field research can be fun!. Actually, Dr. Frank led several University of Florida scientists to Belize in search of parasites of the Mexican bromeliad weevil, which is responsible for devastating losses to Florida's bromeliad biota. The hotel they stayed at posted information about their search on the its web site.

Student News

Dr. Carl Barfield, Undergraduate Coordinator, reports that it has been quite a while since we have graduated as many undergraduate students as will finish up at the end of this term.

Ph.D. student Vivek Kumar and M.S. student Garima Kakkar (both study with Dr. Dakshina Seal and are one of our married student couples) participated in the student poster competition at the Florida AgEXpo 2010, held at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) on 10 November. Vivek was awarded First Place in the competition and received $500. Meanwhile, Garima won Second Place and received $350.

Each year the International Center at the University of Florida recognizes six international students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by presenting an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. This year, two of our graduate students, Vivek Kumar and Garima Kakkar were among those six students receiving the award which was presented on 17 November at the award function in the Reitz Union on the UF campus in Gainesville.

The Entomological Society of America's (ESA) annual meeting begins this weekend in San Diego. On 8 December, several ESA-bound students participated in our department's ESA Student Presentation Practice/Competition Session. This allowed them to practice their talks and obtain constructive feedback from faculty and fellow students. Congratulations to our first place winner Teresia Nyoike who won a $100 travel grant provided by our department's Entomology and Nematology Student Organization, and to our second place winner Ameya Gondhalekar, winner of a $10 Pizza Hut Gift Card. Good luck to all presenters as you represent the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department at ESA!


Medal J, Cuda J. 2010. Establishment and initial impact of the leaf-beetle Gratiana boliviana (Chrysomelidae), first biocontrol agent released against tropical soda apple in Florida. Florida Entomologist 93: 493-500.

Fishel FM, Langeland KA, Cuda JP. 2010. Reaching the masses: using Polycom for a one-day recertification event for pesticide applicators, pp. 54-55. In Jordi R, Hazell J, Diller A (eds.). Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting of the Extension Professional Associations of Florida.

Meetings and Presentations

Dr. Julio Medal co-organized the Water Hyacinth Management Workshop, held 8-12 November 2010 at the Ecuador Agriculture University of Manabi in Calceta, Ecuador. The workshop was attended by 89 technicians and professionals. Dr. Medal presented six talks: 1) "Biology of water hyacinth," 2) "Biocontrol of water hyacinth in Mexico and Central America," 3) "Biocontrol of water hyacinth," 4) "Potential uses," 5) "Negative effects of water hyacinth on aquatic systems," and 6) "Mechanical control of water hyacinth." The next workshop is scheduled for August 2011 in Ecuador. The workshop was sponsored by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Dr. James P. Cuda was an invited speaker for the 15th Annual Southwest Florida Invasive Species Workshop held at Florida Gulf Coast University, 1 December. Cuda gave the presentation "Update on the stem boring weevil Apocnemidophorus pipitzi, a promising biological control agent for Brazilian peppertree."

During the Florida AgEXpo 2010, held at the GCREC, Ph.D. student Vivek Kumar presented a poster on "Standardizing cultural practices for enhanced activity of three entomopathogens in regulating chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood, on pepper"; while Garima Kakkar presented a poster on "Within plant and spatial distribution of Frankliniella schultzei (Trybom) infesting field cucumbers in South Florida."


Thank you to those members and friends of the department who participated in our November outreach activities. Ocali Country Days was a big success: total attendance for that event was 4,239 elementary school students and 3,275 of the general public!

We have a few more Outreach events in December. Among these are: The live critters are always a hit with children and adults alike. The critters are available for you to check out should you be leading an outreach event. If you lead an outreach, please be sure to fill out a documentation form so your event can be included in the newsletter. If you would like to schedule an event, go to the Outreach pages on our Bug Club Web site and contact us. Thanks again to all those who have volunteered. We had a great semester! - Dale A. Halbritter, Outreach Coordinator

Ocali Country Days: Eddie Atkinson shows off our African giant millipede,
just one of many arthropods from our highly popular "petting zoo."

Ocali Country Days: Crystal Atkinson shows the kids where
to look for bed bugs with our newest interactive display.


How would you like it if our entire order was called "pretty stupid"! Not just lemurs, monkeys, apes and your in-laws, but also you! So if I were a beetle, I would put the word out not to cooperate in any further studies done by Germany's Christian Albrecht University. Click here for details.

The University of Florida is located in Alachua County, and this county recently held its annual Trashformations (trash-to-art) competition for students. The First Place for High School was awarded to Dylan Tharp and his creation, "The Iron Mosquito."

The Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition honors the world's most extraordinary microscope images of life science subjects. Some of them are of arthropods. Click here to view the Top Ten images, and visit the Competition's Web site to see the Honorable Mentions and others.

Gosh, it's nice to eat out at a restaurant occasionally, or is it? What if you are not the only taxonomic class or order eating there? Click here to watch the video of who else eats at some of the popular mall food courts.

Literary Bugs

I have often thought about using this story in the newsletter, but always ended up deciding that discretion is the better part of valor. However, since this issue is so short, I finally took the bull by the horns and threw caution to the wind.

It had been a horrible week for Henry.

As an entomologist at the local university, Henry was up for a promotion this year. And with that promotion would come tenure. But there was a problem. It was not that he couldn't teach. His Introduction to Entomology 101 classes were always packed, and two years ago he was honored by the undergraduates by being named their favorite teacher.

No, Henry's problem was with his research. He had not had a successful research project in several years. The last paper he had published was two years ago. In an age of "Publish or Perish," this was not a good situation, particularly for a non-tenured professor.

The week started with a shock. He received notice that his research grants would not be renewed for the coming year. And, if that was not enough, the dean called him into his office to tell him his contract would not be renewed unless he had a paper accepted for publication by a major journal before the end of the school year.

Depressed, he left campus as soon as his morning lecture was over so that he could work in his garden. In the past, this had always had been effective in relieving tension. But to his chagrin, he found most of his roses were dying. On closer examination, he found they were infested with an leaf-feeding insect.

But what were these insects? They appeared to belong to the order Phthiraptera, the chewing and sucking lice. This was strange because Phthiraptera infested animals, not plants. He examined them more closely. Small. Wingless. Definitely a species in the family Pediculidae, but one he had never seen before.

He gathered up several specimens and rushed to his lab, full of new vigor. He examined the insects in detail and rapidly wrote an article describing this new species of insect.

Well, I am sure you know the result. The article was immediately accepted for publication in Science. His job was saved . Not only was Henry promoted and awarded tenure, but he also received a major grant to study this new species.

You might say he had discovered a new lice on leaf.

- Stan Kegel (Courtesy of

Newsletter Minutiae

Thomas Fasulo is the newsletter editor. Departmental faculty, staff, students and alumni can submit news anytime to Issues usually are published by early mid-month. Submit items for an issue by the 7th of that month.

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December 2010.