ARS Entomologists Publish Guides on Latest Research Tools

Read the full story from the Agricultural Research Service.

Entomologists have developed a variety of tools to study insects.

They have flight mills where insects are tethered to a rotating arm, so they can monitor the insect’s flight speed and duration. They’ve developed specialized techniques for marking insects with proteins to track their movements, diets and feeding patterns. There are state-of-the-art video cameras and accompanying software for continuously monitoring insects, for weeks at a time, in laboratories. Researchers can attach electrical probes to insects to learn how they feed on plants and transmit diseases.

But how would an entomologist just starting out, or one who wants to broaden the scope of their research, know what tools are available? How would they know, for instance, what software to use to analyze video of a caged insect recorded over a two-week stretch so they could better understand the nuances of its behaviors and life cycle?

The answers are covered in a special collection of review articles put together by five ARS entomologists this month in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, the journal published by the ESA.

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