Department of Entomology

The Department of Entomology in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences offers and undergraduate minor and one of the top entomology graduate programs in the country.

Entomology News and Announcements

New species of wasp found in Maine
November 17, 2017
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service announced that a new species of wasp has been found in Maine. Hillary Morin Peterson of Brunswick Maine discovered a new species of Pteromalidae wasp while conducting her thesis work in collaboration with the Maine Forest Service. The new discovery is detailed in a recently published paper.
Puppeteer Parasite That Creates Zombie Ants Hijacks Their Bodies—Not Brains
November 15, 2017
In a macabre discovery, scientists have found that a parasite, which creates armies of zombie ants, does so by hijacking their bodies—not their brains as was previously thought.
ESA Names Recipients of 2017 Professional and Student Awards
November 14, 2017
The Entomological Society of America is pleased to announce the winners of its 2017 awards. The awards recognize scientists, educators, and students who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to entomology. Winners were honored at Entomology 2017, November 5-8, in Denver, Colorado.
What makes zombie ants obey
November 10, 2017
Yesterday (November 8, 2017), researchers at Penn State University released new information about one of Earth’s weirdest natural phenomena: zombie ants. These are carpenter ants in tropical locations, infiltrated and controlled by Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato, sometimes called zombie ant fungus. This fungal body-snatcher forces ants to a forest understory and compels them to climb vegetation and bite into the underside of leaves or twigs, where the ants die. The invasion culminates with the sprouting of a spore-laden fruiting body from a dead ant’s head. The fungus thereby benefits because infectious spores are released onto the ground below, where they can infect other foraging ants. The new research shows that the fungal parasite accomplishes all this without infecting the ants’ brains.
Scientists Were All Wrong About That Zombie Ant Fungus on 'Planet Earth'
November 10, 2017
An early episode of the beloved BBC show Planet Earth made it clear that Cordyceps fungus is one of the most gruesome killers in the world. Forget sharks, bears, lions, or whatever that gleaming pair of eyes hiding in the bushes might be. Targeting insects, the terrifying parasitic fungus infects their bodies and controls their movements, eventually killing them and using their discarded corpses to breed its spawn.