While insects and spiders give most people the creeps, entomologists devote their lives to learning more about these crawling critters. From studying the mating habits of exotic butterflies to analyzing the behavioral patterns of ants, many specialties exist within the field of entomology. If you have a pronounced fascination for members of the insect world, a career as an entomologist could be right up your alley.
When it comes to the identification, classification and evolution of insects, research entomologists are the experts in the field. Research entomologists may specialize in studying any form of insect. For example, entomologists who study grasshoppers are known as orthopterists. If you pursue a career in research entomology, you may spend your time in the lab studying specimens, developing hypotheses and testing theories, or you could be out in the field searching for new insect species. Your tasks would include publishing academic papers on your findings or even hosting lectures to educate other entomologists.
Insects can be valuable allies for crime scene investigators and law enforcement investigating everything from homicides to auto accidents to health code violations. Forensic entomologists identify insects related to crimes, to help solve those crimes. You may identify necrophagous insects present at the scene of a homicide to establish time of death, or you may inspect bites or stings on the victim of a car accident to determine whether an insect caused the driver to lose control. In addition to consulting with law enforcement, you could be called to testify in court about your findings as an expert witness.
While insects can be of great assistance to investigators, they are often a farmer's worst nightmare. As an agricultural entomologist, you will study common crop pests such as aphids and beetles and help develop new ways to reduce their presence and mitigate the damage they cause. You could work as a government employee or for a private company, offering your expertise about insect physiology to aid them in developing new pesticides.
Many insects, such as mosquitoes, have the ability to spread potentially life-threatening diseases like malaria. Medical entomologists analyze the dangers posed by disease-spreading bugs and develop new ways to minimize the threats they pose. Medical entomologists work for the government, military and private sector, and their specific duties differ from one employer to another. For example, medical entomologists employed by the military determine insect threats to troops stationed overseas and provide advice on how to eliminate the threat.