WVU Extension Specialist—
There are more species of insects in the world than other animals and plants combined.
With so many critters and creepy crawlies in our backyards and gardens, it is important to know which ones are pests and which ones are wildly beneficial. This is where West Virginia University Extension Specialist and Entomologist Daniel Frank can help.
Frank, who received his doctorate and master’s degrees in entomology from Virginia Tech and the University of Florida, joined the WVU Extension team in March 2012. He serves as both an Extension Specialist and an assistant professor in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
“Insects are the most dominant animal species on Earth, and they play a major role for the environment and the people around them,” Frank said. “In agriculture, insects can often determine whether or not growers have a successful season. Through both research and education, I want to help growers throughout the state with their insect-related questions and problems by providing them with the most up-to-date science-based information.”
Frank provides service to the local community and state by conducting research, helping growers to control pest problems and monitoring areas for invasive species. Starting next spring, he will also teach courses in entomology at WVU.
Frank has also helped teach the entomology component for the West Virginia Master Gardener Association.
Understanding and managing insects is often made more challenging with the accidental introduction of new pest species. Frank monitors and studies a new invasive insect found in West Virginia in 2011: the spotted wing drosophila.
This new insect pest from Asia resembles the small flies that one might notice hovering around overripe fruit. However, unlike these flies the spotted wing drosophila attacks a variety of ripe or ripening fruit. With multiple generations per year, and the ability of each female to lay more than 300 eggs, this insect has the potential to be a serious pest for fruit growers across the state.
He is also catering to the growing interest in organic pest control and nonchemical alternatives by designing a research program that evaluates pest management tactics that can be used in organic pest control situations.
However, helping and educating communities throughout the state is worth the mighty task of being aware of nearly everything insect-related.
“Answering the many different kinds of questions can be difficult. However, anytime I interact with and assist community growers, I feel fulfilled,” Frank said.
Learn more about WVU Extension Service’s active agricultural role across the state by visiting www.anr.ext.wvu.edu.