Explore environmental careers.
As an entomologist, you study insects. You use science to identify, classify, and study insects and their relationships to plants and animal life. Your research plays a huge role in understanding ecosystems: how they function, how they are changing, and how best to protect them. You also play a large role in industries such as agriculture and forestry, and in managing insect populations to protect public health.
At a glanceImagine you are walking through a damp coastal forest searching for signs of insect damage on the leaves, stems, and barks of the forest's plants. You are an entomologist working for the provincial government's environment department and your specialty is forest entomology. You have been called out to examine this site after a routine aerial inspection and subsequent ground checks reported a possible insect infestation. You are here to determine what threat this infestation poses to the forest and what should be done to minimize the damage.As an entomologist, you are an insect expert and you know how critical insects are to ecosystems. When you hear reports of infestations, you know it is never as simple as choosing an insecticide and spraying the affected area; it takes investigation and study to determine the proper course of action. In this case, you start by visiting the section of forest where damage has been reported and documenting the extent of the infestation. You also collect samples of the insects to take to the lab, where you will identify the specimens and determine if they are native to the area or an invasive species. Infestations are treated differently based on their source, so it is important to know if these insects are normally found in the area or if they have somehow been introduced.Once the species has been identified, you turn your focus to other factors, such as determining what kind of threat the insect poses and to whom. Are these insects carrying diseases or destroying habitat and sources of food for other wildlife? Are there environmental conditions present that are driving this infestation? What effect will control measures have on the area? You will investigate all these questions and evaluate the situation carefully before making any decisions as to the best way to address the infestation and slow or stop the spread of this insect.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an entomologist:
- Gather and study data on thousands of new and existing insect species.
- Collect specimens and manage specimen banks.
- Coordinate insect control programs to protect crops, forests, food supplies, and human health.
- Conduct research and literature reviews to study insect biology, behaviour, and management.
- Work with other scientists on related projects, for example developing insect resistance in crops or developing insect control measures.
- Evaluate the results of control measures and prepare reports.
- Develop models to map and predict insect outbreaks.
Work environmentEntomologist work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:In the office:
- Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, colleagues, and experts in the field
- Developing and implementing management practices and policies to accomplish agency objectives
- Researching new studies and advancements in entomology, and conducting literature reviews from scientific publications
- Developing educational material, including workshops, for the public and other stakeholders
- Processing and analyzing specimens
- Inspecting sites and collecting samples
- Conducting experiments and research into insecticide effectiveness and environmental impacts
Where to workThere are a number of places entomologists can find employment. They include:
- Federal, provincial/territorial, or municipal government departments
- Colleges and universities
- Environmental consulting firms
- Pest- and disease-control organizations
- Other industries, for example pharmaceutical research, agriculture and food production, and biotechnology companies
- Self-employed consultant
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an entomologist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Conservation Biology
- Ecosystem Management