September 2010

Faculty News

Dr. Mike Scharf accepted an offer from Purdue University to fill the Rollins/Orkin Chair of Molecular Physiology and Urban Entomology, at the Associate Professor level. Dr. Scharf will leave UF at the end of September and begin his new position at Purdue on November 1, 2010.

During 11-14 July, the annual meeting of the Society of Nematologists was held in Boise, Idaho. The meeting was well represented by UF/IFAS nematologists, three of whom received honors.

During 25-28 July annual meeting of the Florida Entomological Society, the following received awards:

Dr. James P. Cuda was selected by UF’s Vice President for Business Affairs to serve on the University’s Lakes, Vegetation and Landscaping Committee.

Drs. James Maruniak and Jerry Butler were featured in a UF/IFAS News Release recently. They reported on their discovery of five previously unknown species of bacteria associated with house flies.

Staff News

Dr. Alejandra Garcia-Maruniak, Senior Biological Scientist, was also part of the research team that discovered the five bacteria species found on house flies.

Student News

Ph.D. student Ekta Pathak received a second place award in the Society of Nematologists Best Student Paper competition for "The impact of a new tactic to manage a citrus disease on biological control of a citrus pest by entomopathogenic nematodes."

Nastaran Tofangsazi is a new Ph.D. student in our department. Prior to attending the University of Florida's doctoral program, she completed her Master of Science in entomology at the University of Tehran and her Bachelor of Science in entomology and plant protection at the Isfahan University of Technology in Isfahan, Iran. Nastaran has excellent credentials for an entomology student, her master thesis was on the life history of greenbug, Schizaphis graminum (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on different barley cultivars and she has published outcome of her research in four journals. Nastaran moved to Gainesville to be with her husband, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in UF's College of Design, Construction and Planning. Nastaran will complete her research, under my direction, at the Mid-Florida REC, where she will work on biological control of turf pests. - Dr. Steven Arthurs


Chouvenc T, Su N-Y. 2010. Apparent synergy among defense mechanisms in subterranean termites (Rhinotermitidae) against epizootic events – The limits and potential for biological control. Journal of Economic Entomology 103: 1327–1337.

Chouvenc T, Su N-Y, Robert A. 2010. Inhibition of the fungal pathogen Metarhizium anisopliae in the alimentary tracts of five termite (Isoptera) species. Florida Entomologist 93: 467-469.

Larrick S, Blosser EM, Connelly CR. (August 2010). A mosquito, Culex (Melanoconion) iolambdis Dyar. Featured Creatures. EENY-481.

Van Driesche RG,... Cuda J,... Medal J, et al. 2010. Classical biological control for the protection of natural ecosystems. Biological Control 54: S2-S33.

Society of Nematologists Meeting

At the 11-14 July meeting of the Society of Nematologists, the following UF/FAS Nematologists attended: Dr. Raquel Campos-Herrera, Dr. Billy Crow, Dr. Robin Giblin-Davis, Dr. Don Dickson, Dr. Eric Luc, Dr. Robert McSorley, Dr. Maria Mendes, Dr. Joe Noling, Wenjing Pang, Ekta Pathak, Dr. Jimmy Rich and Yun Zhang.

Dr. Raquel Campos-Herrera organized the workshop "Molecular Ecology for Nematological Research."

During the meeting, UF/IFAS faculty and students presented the following papers and posters:

Entomology Seminars - Fall Semester

This semester's seminar listing is available at "To Be Announced" titles will be updated as the speakers provides that information. The site also provides listings of past seminars, a suggestion box and even an insect cartoon.

FES Pioneer Lecture

This year at the annual Florida Entomological Society (FES) meeting, the Pioneer Lecture was presented by 13-year-old Robbie Coulter, with scientific backup by Dr. Howard Frank. "Last year, Robbie sent a copy of his award winning entomological video from Lander, Wyoming to Howard Frank. The documentary video was about Robbie’s great, great uncle, Senekerim Dohanian, a pioneer in biological control of insect pests in the Caribbean Region, including Florida. Dr. Frank forwarded the video to members of the FES Pioneer Lecture Committee who immediately thought that Robbie and his video would make a very interesting 15th Pioneer lecture. Robbie’s 10-minute video, developed when he was 12 years old, earned him a gold medal at the 2009 National History Day in Washington, D.C. - from FES.

The documentary video, information on Robbie and his research, a video of him receiving his award, the video's bibliography, Dohanian's papers and timeline, are all available at

To read more on Robbie Coulter and National History Day, please see the FES Meeting Abstracts (PDF). You also can view Coulter's prize-winning video on YouTube. An enhanced version is available for sale.

Other Meetings and Presentations

On 25 August, Dr. James Cuda participated in a 1-day workshop to enhance partnerships for developing successful NIFA grant proposals. The workshop was held at the Reitz Union and was co-sponsored by USDA-ARS, UF-IFAS, and FAMU.

On 16 August, Dr. James Cuda was invited by the Director of UF-IFAS International Programs to participate in a planning meeting with two USDA Officials affiliated with the Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative. Cuda delivered a PowerPoint presentation on "BioSolutions for two biopollutants in the greater Caribbean region."

On 18 August, Dr. James Cuda participated in the 11th Annual CALS Teaching Enhancement Symposium.

Dr. James Cuda was invited to participate as a speaker at the 2010 Extension Professional Associations of Florida Conference held in Orlando, FL, 30 August-2 September. Cuda gave the presentation "Reaching the masses: Using polycom for a one-day precertification event for pesticide applicators."

Outreach Coordinator

For many years now, the department has funded a graduate assistantship in Outreach. The student who receives this assistantship is required to devote an average of 13 hours per week to some type of outreach activity. He or she may be leading in-departmental tours, visiting schools, taking the lead in major activities—such as the Ocali Country Days, or coordinating the activities of other faculty, staff and students who often volunteer to do outreach. Sharon Clemmensen held this assistantship for the last two years, received her M.S. this summer, and left for Tennessee to pursue her Ph.D. Now it is time to introduce the new Outreach Coordinator.

"Hello friends and colleagues! My name is Dale Halbritter and I am the new Graduate Outreach Coordinator. Throughout this school year, I will keep you updated on outreach events and will be sending out volunteer requests. The outreach team has various show-and-tell critters available for you to check out should you be leading an outreach event. If you would like to schedule an event, go to the Outreach pages on our Bug Club Web site and contact us." - Dale A Halbritter, phone: (352) 273-3979, fax: (352) 392-0190, or email at

Here are several upcoming outreach events for which we need assistance, even if it is only setting up a tent or table for our displays:

Departmental Vans

The department has several vans available for general use. Personnel are reminded that when returning vans after the administrative office has closed, the vans should be locked and the keys deposited in the "mail slot" on the office door. This ensures that people who reserved the vans for the next day have immediate access to the keys. Placing the keys under the driver's seat in an unlocked van is not an acceptable substitute. The worst case scenario in this case is a stolen van to which no one has access. Keeping the keys in your pocket, lab or office until you remember to turn them in is also discourteous to others as it might affect their work schedule. Some additional guidelines are:

The 3 Rs - Reading Room Rules

The Reading Room Committee reminds us that no one is allowed to take materials out of the reading room, and no one is allowed to take food or drink in. You are also reminded that Reading Room users are monitored on closed-circuit TV. In addition, the Department just spent $450,000 to install one of the latest scanners that allows us to see what is hidden under your clothing. (Just kidding!) The committee requests that you tidy up after yourself before leaving the room. Those who wish to use the in-room copier should visit the stock room and obtain a PIN from Nick Hostettler.


There is an old theory which states that the reason pre-humans did not end up as lunch to tough and deadly prehistoric predators, and so end our existence, is that we just taste bad. So it was not too surprising to read that a new study suggests insects think mammals have bad breath. Click here for details.

Great Balls of Fire was ranked as the 96th Greatest Song Ever by Rolling Stone magazine. Stephen Brown, horticultural agent for Lee County, Florida, shows that palmetto weevil larvae groove to Jerry Lee Lewis' rendition of this song. See the end of his video at

Zombie Ants of the Rhine! Many ant species raise fungi for food. Apparently it works the other way around too! Scientists documented 48 million year-old evidence of a fungus taking over the minds of ants and then using them for its own purpose. Click here for details.

Do you experience infernal itching and physical discomfort! Paranoia! Depression! Anxiety! Sleeplessness! Untold mental anguish! Is your life turned upside down? Fortunately, there is a solution. Click here for details.

Bug Appetit! – from Wyoming! At the end of the video, the expressions on the faces of the three students are priceless. Click here for details.

So, you think you are a hot shot graduate student, do you? Well, how many new species did you discover on your way into work this morning? Click here for details on someone who did it 19 times!

Ever wonder how mosquitoes can "smell" the ammonia, lactic acid and butylamine in human sweat? Scientists also wondered, as the sensory receptors previously known in mosquitoes didn't pick up those scents. Now scientists at Vanderbilt and Yale may have figured it out. Click here for details.

There are those that say there are millions of unidentified speces of insects. Others say the total is much less. A recent study shows that there are six times more insect species in tropical mountains than predicted. Click here for details.

Here is something to tell guests at the next party when they ask why you are serving cockroach brains as an appetizer. Cockroaches could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard. Click here for details.

Literary Bugs

The following is from the book Alone On Guadalcanal by Martin Clemens, a British colonial district officer, assigned to the Solomon Islands, who served as a coastwatcher during World War II. After the U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942, Clemens slipped through Japanese lines, joined the Marines, and coordinated, with the help of his native constables, intelligence activities outside the Marine perimeter. Here he relates how a downed Marine pilot returned to U.S. lines.

"Then, on 6 September, a haggard Marine fighter pilot turned up at the western perimeter. His name was Richard Amerine.

"Forced down in the water off Cape Esperance, Lieutenant Amerine had a hard time with the currents, which made him drift around in circles. Finally, he managed to creep ashore and hide behind a log. Two Japs were searching the brush for him; at dusk they gave up and, to his horror, sat down on his log for a rest. In his cramped position the pilot's choice of plan was rather limited — he grabbed a rock and, raising himself as noiselessly as possible bashed one man over the head. Luckily he was the one with the pistol. Amerine was immediately set upon by the other, but, after a desperate struggle, finally strangled him. He had kicked off his shoes and trousers while swimming ashore; reluctantly, he took the pants from one of his victims.

"The pistol had only three bullets in it. In due course the lieutenant found an enemy soldier whose boots seemed about his size, and, with new footwear and two shots left he continued on his way. Hundreds of Japs went by, carrying quarters of beef, while Amerine hid, starving. Looking for coconuts near the beach, he saw what he thought was some natives; they turned out to be Japanese, and he had to use his second bullet to get away. Before reaching our lines he was surprised by a Jap sentry, who raised his rifle to his shoulder, only to be drilled by that precious third shot.

"Amerine came in suffering from sores, malnutrition, and shock. I saw him in the hospital; he was about to have his first good sleep in a week, but he insisted on telling us everything. Afterward. Colonel Buckley [division intelligence officer] asked if he had anything to add. ‘Oh, yes,' Amerine said. ‘What a pity, if I'd only had my net, how many beautiful butterflies I could have caught.' It turned out he had studied entomology at the University of Kansas."


Many comic Web sites limit the length of time a panel appears to just 30 days. Others may require you to register to view previous panels, which you may not wish to do. In either case, the sooner you visit the site, the greater chance you have to view the following:

Graduate students teaching entry level courses must learn how to handle undergraduates' reaction to sex education. Click here for details.

Watching ants can teach us many lessons, like how stupid they are compared to us. Click here for details.

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.

UF-Bugnews-L listserv subscribers receive notices when issues are posted on the newsletter Web site at, which has instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing. Pam Howell and Nancy Sanders review the newsletter for errors. Thomas Fasulo does the HTML coding.

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September 2010.