Distinctly Montana Magazine

Distinctly Montana Fall 2017

Distinctly Montana Magazine

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W W W. D I S T I N C T LY M O N TA NA . C O M 63 INTERVIEW WITH DR. ROBERT PETERSON PROFESSOR OF ENTOMOLOGY AT MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY WHAT INVASIVE SPECIES OF INSECTS ARE MOST LIKELY TO HABITUATE TO MONTANA AND CAUSE THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS? If I knew the answer to that question, I would be a very famous entomologist, indeed! It is ex- tremely difficult to predict which species will most likely invade new areas (this applies to all species and areas, not just insects and Montana). e invasive insect species that we are most concerned about are those that cause economic and human- and animal-health problems. So, we are constantly on the alert for invasive mosquitoes, other biting flies, ticks, wood-destroying insects, and crop pests (especially pests of wheat, Montana's major crop). TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE GOOD INSECTS WE MIGHT WANT TO ENCOURAGE OVER THE NEXT 30 YEARS. A tiny fraction of insects are pests. erefore, we want to encourage nearly all insects to ensure healthy environments. ey are a critical to the function of ecosystems. Of particular note would be insects that feed on other insects (like lady beetles) and insect pollinators (like bees, butterflies, and flower flies). Insect pollinators not only need pollen and nectar, but they also need places to live when they're not feeding on flowers. As long as we encourage diversity in plants and animals in our environment, we will encourage the "good" insects. IS THERE ANYTHING THE AVERAGE LAYMAN CAN DO TO DISCOURAGE UNWANTED SPECIES AND ENCOUR- AGE DESIRABLE SPECIES? For desirable species, offer habitat around your house consisting of diverse plant species and liv- ing areas, such as rocks, soil, water sources, bark, and mulch. For unwanted species, it will depend on the specific pest. If we just look at mosquitoes, there are several things you can do. For your yard, you should drain standing water from containers such as buckets, bottles, cans, pool covers, flower pots, pet water bowls, and clogged rain gutters. For containers such as pet water bowls, vases, and bird baths, you should replace the water every few days and thoroughly clean them once per week. Also, you should fix any leaky outdoor pipes and faucets. If you have ponds or other water features on your property, you can apply cakes or granules of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (commonly just called Bti) to manage the immature mosquitoes developing in water. You can apply some control products for adult mosquitoes directly on vegeta- tion around your home. ese vegetation treat- ments serve as a barrier for mosquitoes. However, I recommend that you have a pest management professional do this type of treatment. ey have the appropriate equipment and will ensure that risks to insects other than mosquitoes (such as bees) will be low. You can help keep mosquitoes out of your home by ensuring that window and door screens are intact and windows and doors are appropriately sealed around their edges. To protect your person from being bitten, use repel- lents such as DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 as directed on their product packages. If possible, avoid being outside in the early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are active (which is much easier said than done!). BOB PETERSON is Professor of Entomology at Montana State Uni- versity, where he leads the research, teaching, and outreach program in Agricultural and Biological Risk Assessment. Additional areas of research emphasis include insect ecology, plant-stress ecophysiology, and integrated pest management. He has authored or co-authored 106 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 book chapters, and one book. He received his BS in entomology from Iowa State University and his MS and PhD in entomology from the University of Nebraska. He has been at MSU since 2002. In 2019, Bob will be president of the Entomologi- cal Society of America, the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. INSECTS BEING THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ORGANISMS ON EARTH, BOTH IN TERMS OF NUMBERS OF INDIVIDUALS AND NUMBERS OF SPECIES. Syrphus opinator is a flower fly. Laphria is a robber fly. Photos of Yellowstone Ecosystem Insects www.distinctlymontana.com/insects174 DISTINCTLY MONTANA | DIGITAL

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