2013 Scholarship Recipient
Judith Herreid graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in Zoology and a B.A. in Spanish. This is where she first became interested in Entomology and parasitoid wasps. Now as a first year Ph. D. student she is working with a genus of eucharitid wasps. Orasema are parasitoids of ants and have a fascinating life cycle that involves gaining access to their host with specialized behaviors. Species of Orasema are potential biological control agents because of their role as parasitoids of ants in the genera Solenopsis (fires ants) and Wasmannia. Both genera include economically important invasive species. A greater understanding of Orasema taxonomy and diversity would foster their biological control possibilities.
Currently Judith is writing a revision of seven species in the Orasema simulatrix species group. These are parasitoids of Pheidole in the southwestern United States. This species group exhibits interesting behaviors that include being closely associated with extra floral nectaries of Desert-willow. Her revision will include morphological, biological and ecological information on the Orasema simulatrix species group. Much of the biological and ecological information will be collected through field work at the Southwestern Research Station (Portal, AZ) in the summer of 2013. After this revision is completed Judith will expand her research to other species groups in the genus Orasema and develop a hypothesis for the evolution of various mechanisms of ant association.
The funds from the Harry Scott Smith Biological Control Scholarship will allow Judith to attend a specialized training course in ant taxonomy and ecology. The Ants of the Southwest course, which is taking place this summer at the Southwestern Research Station, will broaden her knowledge of ants and greatly help her research. Having a strong understanding of ant biology, ecology, behavior and identification will be invaluable to her future research.