A new week, a new essay! (Plus, ‘Bugs’)

Greetings readership.

Below awaits another scholarship essay from a student studying the Entomology MSc here at Harper Adams Univsersity, soon to be published in The Royal Entomology Society’s members’ magazine, Antenna. But before that, a little detail on our ongoing module Biology and Taxonomy of Insects.

Today was everything Hemiptera (the “bugs” e.g. shield bugs, bedbugs, pond-skaters, aphids and many more), spearheaded by Professor Simon Leather, Andy Cherrill, and Fran Sconce. We started the day with an overview of the Order in terms of biology and ecology, as well as their role as pests, delivered by Andy Cherrill.  Later, Professor Leather went on to speak PASSIONATELY about aphids, their life cycles, various phases of reproduction, wider biology and ecological importance, instilling further interest in aphids across the class. If I were to throw in some relevant jargon, perhaps I’d use the words holocyclic, anholocyclic, autoecious and heteroecious, fundatrix, fundatrigeniae, apterous exule, alate exule, as well as, possibly, gynoparae. But luckily for everyone, I shall avoid that situation. Needless to say, all the MSc students are learning a considerable quantity of curricular vocabulary.

We later went on to identifying specimens (caught by Andy Cherrill) to species level using various ID keys.

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The class of 2016/17, busy with identifying aphrophorids (froghoppers/spittle bugs).

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Todd separates the hemipterans from the other invertebrates.

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Ventral view of a female Neophilaneus species.

The next recipient of the scholarship to have her Antenna essay featured here is Hattie Horsler, who graduated from Harper Adams University with a BSc degree in Countryside and Environmental Management. Her favourite insect groups range from Odonata and Lepidoptera on the one hand to Hymenoptera on the other (with a special interest in Andrenidae, Andrena – mining bees). However, she says “…it is still early days and there is so much more to discover!”. For a future career, she’s interested in consultancy work or learning more about pest management with the aim of working for a large chemical company or large company providing agronomy services.

Here’s her essay:

My interest in the natural world and desire to study led to the decision to undertake a Masters in Entomology at Harper Adams University. Insects account for around 80% of all animals on earth, with the exciting prospect of new discoveries. They form the infrastructure which makes human life possible though the provision of ecosystem services and the importance of these organisms is great despite their size. Like the Royal Entomological Society, I believe that there is a fundamental relationship between insect ecology, conservation, human health, forestry and food production and I wish to gain and propagate knowledge of and about insect science.
I am committed to wanting to achieve and feel determined that the course will improve my professional skills and career prospects. Having studied ‘BSc Countryside and Environmental Management’ at Harper Adams at undergraduate level, I am aware of the high quality teaching and excellent facilities offered at the university.
Course modules of particular interest include ‘Commercial and Practical Biological Control’ as a placement year with a small farm environmental consultancy provided experience of working on farmland in connection with the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. Integrated Pest Management is essential for sustainable agricultural production, as chemical methods of control have a history of adversely impacting non-target species. This module would be very useful as agro-chemical companies may be potential future employers. Having undertaken a literature review regarding the effects of neonicotinoids on European honey bees as part of final year module ‘Applied and Conservation Ecology’, taught by Rob Graham and Nicola Randall, I have an understanding of the controversy surrounding widely-used pesticides. I found research gaps concerning bumblebee and solitary bee species and would be keen to conduct further research in this area.
‘Ecological Entomology’ encompasses major international issues, such as insect conservation, which I am passionate about. I have supported Butterfly Conservation for several years and find the state of macro moths in the U.K. disturbing: since 1980s trends indicate rapid decline of species such as the Garden Tiger (Arctia caja) as a result of weed spraying. Forest insects, like the great spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans) threaten commercial timber production. Other pests such as the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), affect the aesthetic value of our iconic native tree species, and some impact human health, e.g. the Oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea). These issues may become intensified with future projections of climate change and this module content will be important for potential consultancy work.
The ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ module continues from my final year module ‘Ecosystem Services and Environmental Resource Management’ as I have covered the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and wish to expand my knowledge of the fundamental role of insects in supporting services like soil formation and regulating services such as pollination enabling food production.
I am extremely grateful and proud to receive the prestigious scholarship from the Royal Entomological Society. The award will enable me to pursue my academic goals. I will invest in the following: survey equipment for practical work; a professional camera for photographing insects and recording observations; literature from authors of particular interest, such as Dave Goulson, and identification handbooks published by the Royal Entomological Society. I have completed a ‘Pesticide Foundation Module (PA1)’ course and aim to gain a ‘Hand-held Applicator – knapsack (PA6)’ certificate, as this may be required by future employers.
The scholarship will fund membership of the Royal Entomological Society, British Dragonfly Society and Butterfly Conservation, as well as offer an opportunity to carry out research for my Masters research project abroad.

Having studied her undergraduate degree here at Harper Adams University, her essay not only does immense credit to her, but to the teaching quality here as well.

The final essay will be posted tomorrow!

Until next time.

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Featured photo: A male Calopteryx virgo damselfly photographed in Central Devonshire.

Photo credits:
Featured photo: Max Tercel (Calopteryx virgo male specimen, Central Devonshire).
Photo 1 and 2: Max Tercel in Harper Adams University labs, 10th Oct, 2016.
Photo 3: Todd Anthony Jenkins, Neophilaneus sp.

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One thought on “A new week, a new essay! (Plus, ‘Bugs’)

  1. Pingback: It’s the final essay! And, what can you expect to see from us in the future? | Mastering Entomology

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