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Tom Sappington

Tom Sappington

  • USDA-ARS Research Entomologist
  • Collaborating Professor

Contact Info

503 Science 2
2310 Pammel Dr
Social Media and Websites


  • Ph.D., Systematics & Ecology, University of Kansas, 1989
  • M.S., Entomology, Iowa State University, 1982
  • B.S., Biology, Central Missouri State University, 1979

Area of Expertise

  • Insect Ecology
  • Field Crops Entomology

More Information

I am a Research Entomologist in the Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit (CICGRU) of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa. I am affiliated with the ISU Dept. of Entomology as a "Collaborator" (i.e., courtesy faculty), and am a member of the ISU Graduate Faculty. My ongoing research projects encompass the ecology, behavior, management, and population genetics of European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis; western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera. I have also recently begun experiments on foraging flight behavior of the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. Before transferring to Iowa in 2003, I served as Lead Scientist of the cotton insects group for four years in the Integrated Farming and Natural Resources Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, where I conducted research on pests of cotton, especially boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis.

My formal training is as an insect ecologist, and my research interests are quite broad. For the most part, my current research is focused in the area of insect movement as it impinges on agriculture and in the context of insect resistance management. Dispersal of adult insects is inherently difficult to study, because it occurs over a wide range of spatial scales and emerges from a complex array of underlying behaviors that involve movement. Thus, no single technique can provide an adequate picture or explanation of a species' dispersal patterns. I conduct mark-recapture, trapping, flight mill, and population genetics experiments, all techniques with strengths and weaknesses for elucidating patterns of movement at various spatial scales and in various ecological contexts.