8 October 2008

They’re creepy, crawly, and often downright scary.

But beetles, bugs, and all insects in between fascinate UQ entomology lecturer Dr David Merritt, who has helped create a new website to better inform the public about the creatures.

Launched last week, www.entomology.edu.au is a key part of the National Curriculum in Entomology Project, which is funded by the Australian Teaching and Learning Council and aims to boost student interest in the discipline.

The website includes guides on how to identify different species, insect-related news and fun resources for primary students, in addition to listing entomology courses available around the country.

“Most people don’t realise that insects have an enormous impact on the environment, human health, and world economies,” Dr Merritt said.

“Insects are of direct importance to humans as pests, carriers of disease, pollinators, nutrient cyclers, sources of new bioactive compounds, and indicators of environmental change.”

President of the Australian Entomological Society Professor Jonathan Majer said a new generation of scientists were urgently needed to correctly identify and control insect populations.

“Without well-trained entomologists, we could potentially lose a third of our crop production,” Professor Majer said.

“We would be ill-prepared to combat new diseases and pests which enter the country, and we will soon have insufficient taxonomists to identify and name the massive variety of insects that exist in Australia.”

The project was made possible by a partnership between The University of Queensland, The University of Adelaide, The University of Western Australia and Charles Sturt University.

For further information, visit www.entomology.edu.au

Media: Dr David Merritt (0422 009 387, d.merritt@uq.edu.au) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)