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?”
An extension agent is an “advisor employed by the government to assist people in rural areas with methods of farming and home economics.” They are trained in technical and/or scientific knowledge and communicate this knowledge to the public. Extension agents also typically participate in public policy and 4-H.
Therefore, an entomology extension agent is one that is knowledgeable on insects and entomological research and development. They are informed on the most current and relevant topics in entomology (e.g., integrated pest management (IPM), public health, home gardening, etc.).
A little bit of history – How extension agents came to be:
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 is a United States federal law that established a system of cooperative extension services (Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), now part of National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)) to inform citizens on research and developments in agriculture and other related areas. Extension entomology was developed to aid State extension services to conduct educational entomology programs on topics such as IPM and beekeeping.
Now that we’ve defined an entomology extension agent, let’s answer the question “How do I reach an entomology extension agent?”
There are a couple of ways to go about finding the contact information for your nearest extension agent. Gardening Know Now has a nice search engine feature where you can type your zip code and it lists the nearest extension offices near you. Otherwise, you can use whatever internet browser you prefer or visit the NIFA website.
Jones, M. P. “Extension Work in Entomology.” Insects, the Yearbook of Agriculture (1952): 457-62.
Olson, Kathleen A. “Smith-lever extension celebrates its centennial.” Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences 105.4 (2013): 7.
Oakley, Peter, and Christopher Garforth. Guide to extension training. No. 11. Food & Agriculture Org., 1985.