Still on a hiatus

Hello everyone. We’re still on a hiatus as Joe and I finish up our PhDs. I’m defending mine this upcoming Friday, September 23, 2022!

Needless to say, things have been quite hectic.

However, we still plan on revamping this site once things settle down. TBA, but either later this year (December) or early 2023.



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Why do I get bitten by mosquitoes, but my friends don’t?

Written by Joe Ballenger

Hello, I have a friend (yes, true!) who was telling me that she gets bitten from lots of insects yet her husband doesn’t have this problem so why do some people get bitten and others don’t?


Hi! When my husband and I are outdoors or in the general realm of bugs, they always go after HIM and not me. I don’t really mind this trend, but I have seen him be CHASED (unprovoked) by mosquitos, flesh flies, regular flies, spiders, wasps, and bees. I can be right there with him yet go unbothered. Why might this be?


Guys…we get this so much. Like, so much. It’s one of the most common questions we get asked.

When I went to Ecuador with Nancy, about a decade ago now (!), I did not wear insect repellent the entire trip because I wanted to catch a botfly. Botflies are vectored by mosquitoes, and I didn’t wear insect repellent because I wanted one so bad. Everyone else was bitten constantly by mosquitoes, so I thought my chances were really good.

I got bitten by exactly two mosquitoes. The entire time, two mosquitoes.

Why do some people get bitten by mosquitoes, and others get passed by?

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The Mothers of Entomological History

In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to share a blog article that Joanie wrote with Morgan Thompson and Jaclyn Martin for Entomology Today. Check it out using the link above.

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More updates

Hey Askers!

We wanted to give y’all some more details about what’s going on behind the scenes.

We are three scientists who answer your questions for free, and we’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes. Joe and Joanie are at the part of their PhD programs where we’re searching for jobs. In order to do that, we need to write a new resume for each position as well as a unique cover letter. That’s the equivalent of several blog posts per week, on top of doing research. Needless to say, we’re not really in a position to do much writing at the moment.

Nancy runs a successful tourism business doing insect-based ecotours, and business has picked up in recent months because pandemic restrictions have lifted all across the world.

Needless to say, we’re all still dedicated to AaE, and we’re doing what we can, but things are really busy for all of us.

There are some big changes which will be happening, but we don’t know what form the new process will take. Please be patient while we figure all of this out.

In the meantime, we’ve got a pretty big announcement: We’re adding a new writer!

They’ll introduce themselves soon, so stay tuned to meet the newest member of our fantastic team!

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Please pardon our dust (mites)

Howdy y’all,

We hope that 2022 is treating you well so far.

We’re planning on revamping our site here at Ask an Entomologist. We ask and thank you for your patience!

– Joanie, Nancy, and Joe

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1920px-house_dust_mites_5247397771.jpg
Photo of house dust mites by Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium
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“What are those white things inside an ant nest?”

Last Friday I was tasked with collecting some fire ant decapitating flies (Pseudacteon curvatus). Lucky for me, the season for collecting these flies hasn’t completely ended. Also, to my surprise, there are still a lot of visible fire ant mounds just about everywhere in College Station, Texas. Friday was a little chilly and overcast, but I had a feeling Saturday would be a good day. Indeed, Saturday was great. I didn’t have to go far on my hunt. 

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It’s (probably) not a murder hornet.

So, Vespa mandarinia still continues to capture the imagination of people across the US.

The Washington Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the first sighting in 2021. So, right now seems like a good time to give an update.

Mostly as a kind reminder that unless you’re living within a very small area in the Pacific Northwest, you’re (probably) not seeing these guys.

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Our Logo: a Curious Mexican Treehopper

Here I’m sporting a new shirt that has our Ask an Entomologist logo. It is very soft and comfortable. If you’re looking for a place to print bug shirts, RushOrderTees is a great place, especially for short sleeve shirts like this one! I’m wearing a women’s medium and the color is light blue.

Shirt front. Ask an Entomologist logo by Nancy Miorelli.
Shirt back.

More about the logo

Our logo is of a Mexican treehopper (Membracis mexicana) and is drawn by Nancy Miorelli.

A curious Mexican treehopper (Membracis mexicana). Illustration by Nancy Miorelli
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What is an entomology extension agent?

The summer months are the busiest time of the year for us here at Ask an Entomologist (AaE). We receive hundreds of emails asking all kinds of questions. Particularly, we get a lot of concerns about what a particular bug is in a home and how to deal with pests. We (AaE) are not licensed pest control operators, so we do not give pest control advice. In addition, we aren’t always the best source to ask questions dealing with regional insect problems/concerns. Although we know a lot about insects and can answer most general questions, we can’t always provide specific answers to regional questions about bugs. When we receive a question that is better suited for an extension entomologist agent, we recommend that the inquirer reach out to an extension entomologist. Sometimes their reply is, “what is an extension entomologist?” and/or “How do I reach an entomology extension agent?”

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So let’s talk about some weird bees!

This month, we got a pair of questions where people were asking about weird bees.

I was taking pictures of bees in my garden and I saw one that looked like it had a ball of cotton in its mouth. The white stuff was about the size of the bee’s head. Know anything about that type of thing? I can email pics if needed. Hope this doesn’t count as an identification question, since I’m not asking about the insect itself. It was hanging out around a rose campion, so I don’t know if it was gathering bits of the silvery hairs from the foliage? It seemed more interested in the foliage than the flowers.

Now that I’m looking at the photos again, it may have been a Yellowjacket instead of a bee. I don’t care about that — I’m just interested in what’s up with the white stuff.

-Curious about Bees, via email

Judges 14:8-10
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.

This verse is from bible, from the book of Judges. I googled about a bee that actually converts dead body to honey. Can you throw some light on this? I am interested to learn about this. Thank you for your response.

-Solomon, via email

We love weird bugs, so let’s just get into it. Straight-up.

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