Prof. D.D. Williams

Fall term of 200

Lectures/Discussion Group:     Monday     11:00  -  1:00 [in H-214]

Lab:                                            Tuesday     9:00  -  Noon [in S-321]
                                                    Tuesday    1:00  -  4:00  [in S-321]

Office hours
:                              Mondays          2:00  -  4:00  [in S-549]
                                                    Tuesdays         4:00  -  5:00  [in S-549]

Course Content: Insects are the most successful organisms on earth, representing over half the species inhabiting our planet. Although typically small, they are enormously influential in world ecosystems and represent mankind's greatest threat. Coverage in this course will begin by examining the evolutionary history of insects, back to their appearance 400 million years ago in the Devonian Period. Lecture and discussion topics will focus on basic insect biology and consideration of those species which are important to mankind in terms of commerce, medicine (e.g., allergens, disease, and forensic science), and as competitors. Other topics will include the pivotal role played by insects in nature, and methods for population control. Live specimens and technical films will be included in laboratory work, which will emphasise morphology and diversity.

One two-hour lecture/discussion group and three hours of laboratory work per week.

Prerequisite:       EES C04F, or permission of instructor.

Evaluation:      Mid-term test (on lecture and lab materials up to test date)        20%
                         Lab reports                                                                                 30%
                         [Lab 5, 10%; Lab 6, 5%; Lab 7, 10%; Lab 10, 5%]
                         Final exam (on all lecture and lab materials)                              40%
                         Lab attendance and participation                                               10%           

Assignments: These are due on the dates indicated in the Lab Schedule. Extensions are given only if a medical certificate is produced. Without this, the penalty for work handed in late is 10% of the maximum mark available for the assignment per day.

Course textbook:    Gullan, P.J. and P.S. Cranston. 2005. The Insects: An Outline of Entomology. Third Edition. Blackwells, London.
                                 [Recommended, but  not compulsory]

Lecture and Discussion Topics

Topic No.    Date                    Topic

    1            10 September        Evolutionary history of the arthropods

    2            17 September        The arachnids (scorpions, spiders, ticks and mites)

    3            24 September        Insects - classification and life histories

    4            1 October              Insects - life processes

    5            15 October            Social insects and aquatic insects

                  22 October            Midterm test*

    6            29 October            Insects, arachnids and human health

    7              5 November        Insects and forensic science

    8            12 November        The role of insects in world ecosystems

    9            19 November        Insects and mankind - the economic cost of insects

    10          26 November        Insect control - biology vs chemistry?

    11            3 December        Palaeoentomology

(* in lecture room, 11:00 am,  22nd October - based on all lecture and lab material to this date)


"Insect control - biology vs chemistry?" 

• Relevant sections from the following and other appropriate articles must be read prior to the discussion period. They are available on short-term loan (3 hrs) from the library.


Arnason, J.T. & B.J.R. Philogene. (eds) 1991. "Symposium on the role of plant-derived substances for insect control". Mem. Ent. Soc. Canada 159: 1-47.
Samways, M.J.  1981.  "Biological control of pests and weeds".  Inst. Biol. Studies in Biology No. 132, Edward Arnold, London.  58 pp.
Hokkanen, H.M.T. & D. Pimentel.  1989.  "New associations in biological control: theory and practice".  Can. Ent. 121: 829-840.

• The following references are also available on the Course Homepage:

Ceccatti, J.S. 2004. Resisting insects: shifting strategies in chemical control. Endeavour 28: 14-19.
Hawkins B.A., N.J. Mills, M.A. Jervis., P.W. Price 1999. Is the biological control of insects a natural phenomenon? Oikos 86:493
Simberloff, D. and P. Stiling. 1996. How risky is Biological Control. Ecology 77: 1965-1974.
Stoner, K. 2004. Approaches to the biological control of insects. UMCE Bulletin #7144.

• See also the notes on useful webpage resources on the next page.

Discussion Format:

In the lecture period two weeks prior to this date, each student will be required to sign up for one or other of the two debating camps:

[1] Members of the Board of Directors of Cyanamide of Canada - a major producer of chemical control agents for pests of agricultural crops in Canada. You will be required to put forward arguments supporting your industry and its approach to insect control.

[2] Scientists, Managers and Shareholders of United Agri Bio-products Ltd. - a small but rapidly growing company specialising in biotechnology in agriculture, specifically the selection, development, breeding and sale of biological control species.

Each group must:
- summarize your company policy (perhaps you have a company motto, or mission statement);
- put forward your company's arguments supporting your approach to insect control;
- comment on and criticize your rival company's approach
This should be done through developing a clear agenda, electing major and minor spokespersons, and using appropriate visual aids (e.g., blackboard, overhead projector, slide projector, charts, graphs, powerpoint, etc.)

Each side will have 20 minutes of class time to put forward its respective philosophies and viewpoints.
Each will then have 10 minutes to comment on/criticize its opponent.
Finally, there will be a further period of "free" debate (no violence please!)

** Each group must organize itself in advance of the discussion date so that the debate runs smoothly.
Note that participation in this exercise will count towards the "participation" segment of your final grade in the course.

Lab Schedule

Lab No.     Date                      Topic

    1            11 September        Primitive Arthropoda: Trilobita to Acari

    2            18 September        Primitive Uniramia: Onychophora to Myriapoda
                                                Primitive Hexapoda: Protura to Diplura
                                                Insecta: Archeognatha to Orthopteroids

    3            25 September        Insecta: Plecopteroids to Neuropterida

    4            2 October              Insecta:  Coleoptera to Hymenoptera

    5            9 October              Insect mechanics [Report due 16 October]

    6           16 October             Biogeography of insect-transmitted diseases [Report due at the end of this lab period] 

    7           23 October             Murder mystery [Report due 30 October]

    8           30 October            The role of museums in entomological research
                                               ** Meet on the Front Steps of the ROM at 10:00 a.m.
                                               and 2:00 p.m., respectively. Keep to your normal
                                               lab time slot. **

     9            6 November        Insect ultrastructure

    10         13 November        Classification exercise [Report due at the end of this lab period]

    11         27 November        Lab open for review