Department of Entomology

ISU Entomology / Insects and Our Health (Ent 374)

Insects and Our Health (Ent 374)

Course Details

Course: Ent 374 (cross-listed as Micro 374)
Section: 3445005A
Meeting times: MWF 2:10-3
Meeting Location: 102 Science Hall I
Note: Meets International Perspectives Requirement

Instructor Contact Information

Lyric Bartholomay
Assistant Professor - Medical Entomology
Department of Entomology
Science II, Room 442
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50011-3222
(515) 294-0594
lab website:

Office/*e-hours: M 3-4  * During this time, I will be available to meet with you in my office; however, if you would rather contact me via email, I will respond to you within the hour. If your emailed question is one that is likely of interest to everyone, replies will be sent to the class as a whole. To maintain anonymity, your name will be removed from the question before the response is posted to the class. If you do not want the response sent to everyone, please clearly state this in your email. If you send an email outside of office hours, I will get back to you as soon as possible, but can't guarantee a response within an hour!

Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to provide you with an appreciation for the impact of arthropods, and the disease agents they transmit, on human health. You should come away from the course with an understanding of the biology of a number of arthropod-pathogen interrelationships in the context of ecological and epidemiological factors that contribute to perpetuation of a given disease.  Toward this goal, each student will:

  • Become conversant in terminology used in the field of Medical Entomology.
    • ex., sloths and armadillos are reservoir hosts for the parasites that cause Chaga's disease.
  • Recognize scientific and common names for arthropods, pathogens transmitted by those arthropods, and the name of the resulting disease in humans or animals.
    • ex., kissing bugs (family Reduviidae) transmit American trypanosomes (Trypanosoma cruzi) that cause Chaga's disease.
  • Understand basic arthropod anatomy and physiology as it relates to pathogen development and transmission.
    • ex., American trypanosomes replicate in the gut and are passed with the feces when a bug feeds on a host.
  • Develop an understanding of factors that determine when, where, and why arthropod-borne diseases exist.
    • ex., Chaga's disease affects impoverished people living in Central and South American countries, because housing conditions provide ideal habitat for bugs.
  • Develop an understanding of the impact of arthropod-borne disease on human and animal health, from clinical manifestations in an individual, to socioeconomics in communities and countries.
    • ex.,  chronic Chaga's disease affects the poorest of poor communities in Latin American countries.  Many who are infected suffer and die from irreversible break down of heart, esophogheal, and colon muscle.  There are no drugs to treat a  chronic infection with this parasite.
  • Become familiar with reliable resources (primarily internet-based) available for researching the biology and epidemiology arthropod-borne diseases.
    • ex., you are traveling to Brazil for a study abroad program.  Where could you look to find out to what (if any) preventative measures you will need to be protected from arthropod-borne diseases?


All of the information that you will be expected to know for examinations will be covered in lectures, or will be posted on the course website. Additional for information related to medical entomology and public health are provided (below) for your enlightenment and independent research pursuits.


Content will be presented on the blackboard. Any images shown in class will be provided in WebCT. The primary focus of lectures will be on the biology and epidemiology of arthropod-borne diseases, and the complexity of associations between the insect, the pathogen, and the environment.


Your grade will be based on 3 exams and 8 additional assessments that will include in-class quizzes and assignments to be completed outside of class. Exams will require you to think critically--to synthesize, compare, and contrast information presented in class--by incorporating a number of formats (e.g., multiple matching, T/F, case studies). All exams and quizzes will be returned to you at the following lecture period. Make up exams and quizzes will only be offered to those who 1) let the instructor know of a conflict at least 1 week in advance, or 2) have legitimate documentation (e.g., a note from your physician) to excuse the absence. Please check the exam schedule now and let me know if you have a scheduling conflict! Grades will be posted on WebCT.

Accomodating Disabilities

Please address any special needs, for which you require special accommodations, with me privately at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of those needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from the Disability Resources (DR) office (phone 515-294-7220).  DR is located on the main floor of the Student Services Building, Room 1076.

Internet Resources

The following is a list of suggested reading for those of you seeking more information on the impact of parasites on public health. This is not required reading for the course!

Kidder, T. 2003. Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random House.

Kingsolver, B. 1998. Poisonwood Bible. Harper Perennial Library, New York.

Desowitz, R.S. 1997. Who Gave Pinta to the Santa Maria? Torrid Diseases in a Temperate World. New York , New York: W.W. Norton

Litsios, Socrates. 1996. The Tomorrow of Malaria. Pacific Press, New Zealand.

Garrett, L. 1994. The Coming Plague. Penguin Books, New York.Preston , R. 1994. The Hot Zone. New York : Random House.

Desowitz, R.S. 1991. The Great Malaria Capers: More Tales of Parasites and People, Research and Reality. New York, New York : W.W. Norton

Shilts, R. 1987. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. ISBN: 0-312-24135-6.

Desowitz , R.S. 1987. New Guinea Tape Worms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites and People. New York, New York : W.W. Norton

Fuller, J.G. 1974. Fever! The Hunt for a New Killer Virus. New York, Reader's Digest Press; distributed by Dutton, 1974.

Zinsser , H. 1935. Rats, Lice and History. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, Little, Brown and Company.