July 2009
Billie Silvey
Agriculture entomology is perhaps the
oldest form, considering the role of
insects in producing and protecting the
food supply. Agriculture entomologists
often work with other scientists in
developing crops that are resistant to
insects, as well as vaccines and
medicines to combat insects that
spread disease, like malaria-carrying
Forensic entomologists are the current
rock stars of the field, based on the
popularity of the characters like Bug
(Ravi Kapoor) on
Crossing Jordan,
Gil Grissom on
CSI: Crime Scene
(William Peterson), and
Jack Hodgins on
Bones (T. J. Thyne).

They help establish times of death and
verify alibis.  However,
indicate that forensic entomology is
not always the  perfect science it
appears on TV.
Others, like Heinrich, engage
in field work--collecting
specimens, documenting
populations, and just enjoying
the vast variety of insects
found in various parts of the
But most entomologists are engaged in
tedious classification and lab work.
Elizabeth Royte's idea of a dream date is definitely not mine, but
she caught my attention with her description of author Bernd
Heinrich in her
review of his Summer World in the New York
There's nothing very attractive about tethering moths to
shrubs, examining botfly maggots on rodent skins and listening to
the patter of caterpillar poop in the woods at night.  But there is
something attractive about someone who still loves his work after
decades of doing it, and who can write about it with an
enthusiasm that makes others enthusiastic as well.

Heinrich, a 69-year-old emeritus professor of biology at the
University of Vermont, is an entomologist, one of a rare breed of
scientists engaged in studying the classification, life-cycle and
habits of insects.  Entomologists can work in several different
areas of specialization.

Types of Insects