What is an Entomologist?

An entomologist is a scientist that focuses on the study of insects, with most entomologists narrowing their study on a specific type of insect. For example, an entomologist who focuses on bees is called an apiologist, one who studies beetles is called a coleopterist, and one who studies butterflies is known as a lepidopterist. Entomologists may also study an insect's nutrition, ecology, morphology, or behavior.

Careers in this field can range from agricultural entomology to forensic entomology. The career possibilities are endless.

What does an Entomologist do?

An entomologist studies the classification, life cycle, and habits of insects. They study their relationship to humans, other organisms, and the environment.

The study of insects creates the building blocks for developments in chemical and biological pest control, food production, biological diversity, and a variety of other fields in science.

An entomologist studying a spider.

Entomologists will often work with other scientists on joint projects such as creating pest resistant crops. They may also work with parasitologists or other microbiologists to develop new vaccines and medicines that combat insects that spread diseases. They investigate ways to control insect pests, parasites, predators, and pollinators.

Many entomologists specialize in one kind of insect such as: 

  • Coleopterology -the study of beetles
  • Dipterology -the study of flies
  • Hemipterology - the study of true bugs
  • Lepidopterology -the study of moths and butterflies
  • Melittology (or Apiology) -the study of bees
  • Myrmecology -the study of ants
  • Orthopterology -the study of grasshoppers, crickets, etc.
  • Vespology -the study of wasps

Entomologists work for governments, post-secondary institutions, and museums. Chemical manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies also hire entomologists to conduct research and present new products for professionals in forestry, agriculture, and medical communities. They may also work for independent companies to advise clients in insect control. 

Duties of an entomologist may include:

  • Developing methods for preventing the importation and spread of destructive insects
  • Discovering and cataloging new species of insects
  • Investigating the role of insect pests in agriculture, forests, human health, and the environment
  • Preparing publications that help identify different insect species
  • Studying the evolution of insects and classifying them
  • Conducting research about the control and impact of pest problems
  • Developing and implementing pest management programs for both urban and agricultural locations 
  • Developing methods of controlling harmful insects 
  • Coordinating public awareness and education programs
  • Conducting field and lab tests of pesticides to understand their effect on different insect species 
  • Curating museum insect collections

Are you suited to be an entomologist?

Entomologists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also artistic, meaning they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive.

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What is the workplace of an Entomologist like?

An entomologist typically works a standard 40-hour week, especially when working in research. They work both indoors conducting lab experiments and outdoors collecting specimens in the field. Field work can be strenuous and might require relocating to remote locations for extended periods of time. When working with poisonous or allergenic insects and chemicals, entomologists are required to take safety precautions.

Entomologists are also known as:
Insect Biologist Insect Scientist