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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 1

Produce-Loving Pests

An entomologist and invasive species expert keeps his freezers full of bugs



Spencer Lowell

Insects may be small, but they can wreak havoc on the environment or on a country's economy. Mark Hoddle, director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at the University of California, Riverside, travels the world, studying and battling insects that devour key exports or ecologically significant plants. Hoddle stores samples in his lab so he can study their DNA and donate them to research collections. He also sometimes traps bugs ahead of time—before they cause problems in the U.S.—and holds on to them for future reference. “It's hard to predict what the next invasive pest is going to be,” he says. “This way, when they show up, I've got them marked as a target.”

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