Outreach Programs Insect Ambassadors The Insect Ambassadors are a select group of enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These students volunteer their time to travel to local schools, clubs and organizations to give interactive presentations about insects and related arthropods. The purpose of the program is to teach members of the audience about insects, where they live, how they survive and the positive things they do for our environment. In addition to presenting live and preserved arthropods, Insect Ambassadors provide facts and fascinating stories. Through the program Insect Ambassadors hope to stimulate children and adults to learn and seek out information. Insect Diagnostic Lab The Insect Diagnostic Lab was established in 1978 to identify insects and insect damaged plant material from around the state. Primary service is to the county extension offices and commercial concerns. The location of extension offices in Wisconsin can be found at http://www1.uwex.edu/ces/cty. The lab processes between 1,500-2,300 samples per year. Homeowners are encouraged to check with the local extension office for help first because many samples can be handled in a more efficient manor locally. Mail in samples, e-mails (with pictures if possible) and walk in samples are accepted. At the present time there is no charge for the service. Insect Research Collection In the early 1950's the Insect Research Collection of the Department of Entomology was kept by the instructor teaching insect identification in King Hall. For growth this early collection of about a half dozen cabinets depended on donations from faculty, students and interested amateurs. Early efforts emphasized collecting Lepidoptera and Coleoptera because of their broad appeal and economic importance. Professor C.L. Fluke deposited his worldwide collection of 16,050 syrphid flies in the IRC in 1959. Fluke's collection was the result of forty years of work and is one of the best in North America. Professor William S. Marshall's extensive general collection was transferred from the Zoology Department to the IRC in the 1970's. Marshall's collection represented a lifetime of work collecting and trading Lepidoptera and Coleoptera with other collectors across the United States. When Russell Laboratories was constructed in 1963, 1,141 feet of floor on the east wing of the third floor was dedicated by the department as a collection facility. Integrated mosquito management Mosquito control occurs at many levels, from individual actions to city, state and federally funded education and control programs. We are targeting two important areas in Wisconsin: 1) the efficacy of home-based methods and 2) the extent and management of West Nile virus vector breeding sites in southern Wisconsin. The general public has access to a wide range of methods that claim to reduce the annoyance of mosquito bites, including personal repellents, candles and plants, carbon-dioxide baited traps, and sonic/electronic devices. Because it is not always clear whether these actually work and because some of the traps are very expensive, we are testing whether these remedies work on the human-biting mosquitoes that occur in Wisconsin. See this website for a science-based summary of the effectiveness of many of these methods. (Click here for the Integrated Mosquito Management site) We also work with Environmental Health specialists in the City of Madison to survey local mosquito communities and to test whether current control strategies can be augmented or improved. This work is focused on assessing the ecological conditions that provide good breeding sites and on using a natural control agent (fathead minnows) to supplement traditional control measures in areas where they haven’t worked well.