Today we have a very special guest. Real-life “bug specialist” (also known as an Entomologist), Autumn Angelus, is here to share her fascinating career.
Let’s get started!
Q. Tell us your full name and a bit about yourself
A. My name is Autumn Angelus. I am a mom of 2 kids (ages: 14 &10). I have a BS degree in Biological Sciences and I am currently working on my Masters Degree in Entomology, with a Medical Entomology certificate. I have been working in my current job for 10 years. Most of my spare time is spent with my family, but I also love yoga and hiking.
Q. What does an Entomologist do?
A. Entomologists study insects. That is the nature of the title; however there are many Entomologists that are specific in what they study. For example, I am a Mosquito Control Entomologist.
Q. What type of education/training is required to work as an Entomologist?
A. Honestly, anyone with an interest in insects can be an amateur entomologist! We, as entomologists always love a fellow insectophile (lover of insects)! For a career, however, you’d need at minimum a BS in a science field.
Q. Have you always been interested in bugs?
A. While I’d love to be able to say yes to this – the answer is ‘no’! I used to be curious about insects; however I was not keen on many of them.
Honestly, I did not fall in love with insects until after I started learning about how neat they really are! There are so many different niches that they fill, they have developed many interesting adaptations, and they are all around us – all the time!
Q. Tell us what a typical day at work is like.
A. As I said, I am a Mosquito Control Entomologist, so my day may be a bit different from other Entomologists. I start my day collecting mosquito traps that were set the day before. When I return to the laboratory, I empty the contents of the trap collections and sorting through them to find all of the mosquitoes (and I keep any other neat insects that may also have been caught).
I then use a microscope to identify each mosquito, to species. I use that data, coupled with the number of mosquitoes to determine if control efforts are necessary. I also collect different types of traps that collect the mosquitoes alive. I freeze them and then sort, ID, and place them into vials for disease testing.
These mosquitoes are tested for different types of diseases (like West Nile virus, Zika virus, and more). We test mosquitoes for diseases so that we can hopefully interrupt the disease cycle before anyone gets sick!
Q. What’s your favorite bug and why?
A. I do love mosquitoes because they are my area of expertise. Most people think that they’re awful, but that’s because they’ve never heard of my favorite mosquito species – Toxorhynchites rutilus.
These mosquitoes are friends!
They eat other mosquito larvae as larvae. When they emerge as adult mosquitoes – they NEVER take a blood-meal, they only eat nectar, and to top it all off – they’re BEAUTIFUL!
Q. What’s your favorite part of the job?
A. Helping to ensure that people are safe from mosquito-borne diseases; and getting to give presentations to different groups to teach them about mosquitoes.
Q. Do you have any advice for our young readers that may want to pursue this type of career?
A. If you are interested in insects, just keep watching them! The best way to learn about insects is to get down to their level and just watch, and start writing things down.
You never know, you may discover something new!
Work hard, but never lose passion for what you love doing.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
This is my twitter page – @AutumnAngelus (it is all entomology driven) and anyone can feel free to ask me questions, any time.
Thank you so much, Autumn, for giving us a peek into your career and the weirdly=wonderful-world of the mosquito!
Do you want to learn more about the mosquito? Check out “It’s World Mosquito Day!”