A Micro Crawly World

Published in the August 2012 Issue Published online: Aug 06, 2012 Nancy Sanchez, Editor
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What could possibly be interesting about studying bugs and insects, as an adult?

During my childhood it was really fascinating to watch all sorts of bugs. It was a typical past time for kids growing up on farms across the nation. No big deal. It was normal, still is, I suspect.

However, I was inclined to talk to one of the lovely young ladies at the recent pest management research tour I attend each year. I noticed there were several young women on the research assistant team for University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. So I asked Megan Williams, who is from Paul, Idaho, and on the summer research team why she wanted to spend her summers in the muddy fields.

She explained to me that she thought it would be fun and interesting. "I noticed an ad at school for a research assistant at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center. I applied and got the internship. I will get credit as well as hands-on experience. I am studying agriculture because it is familiar with me. I grew up on a farm and it made sense to study what I know. Plus, I took an entomology class and really enjoyed it."

And about the bugs? Williams says "bugs are fascinating, when people think of bugs they think of nasty little crawling things and really they are quite fascinating. Their world is small and yet the things they do and damage they cause is quite impressive."

Williams' mentor this summer is U of I Entomologist, Eric Wenninger. He shared his view on why he chose to study bugs. "I have always been interested in nature in general. I enjoy watching wildlife. I wanted to study nature, but studying a large elk, for instance, was a large process. You need a large classroom and big open space. It made more sense to study bugs as I can get closer to them. I watched ants in my back yard as a kid, I put sticks in front of them and they would crawl over it. You get to see the bug right in front of your face. It is fascinating. You can do a lot of things in a lab with bugs verses trying to study large animals in the wild."

And there you have it, the answer on everyone's mind. Why study bugs and creepy little crawling things? Cause they are fascinating and you can put them under a microscope.