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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337895

Research Project: Urban Small Farms and Gardens Pest Management

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Charles Valentine Riley: Founder of modern entomology

Author
item Sorensen, W. Conner - Collaborator
item Smith, Janet - Collaborator
item Weber, Donald
item Smith, Edward - Collaborator

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/6/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Charles Valentine Riley, 1843-1895, was a renowned entomologist and founder of the field of applied or economic entomology. This biography, supported by the scientific collaboration of Dr. Weber, is the first story of his fascinating life at the center of many of the foundational events of American agricultural science and entomology. Born in England of a single mother and showing early artistic and scientific aptitude during his schooling in Europe, he emigrated to the young United States in 1860. First settling in Illinois and developing his journalistic and entomological talents at the Prairie Farmer in Chicago, he rapidly ascended in entomological studies in collaboration with Benjamin Walsh, and became the Missouri State Entomologist in 1868, during which for nine years he produced the annual reports which are the best examples of his illustrated, scientific, problem-solving style of publication which formed his personal reputation and the foundation of economic entomology (pest biology and management). He became the first Entomologist for the US Department of Agriculture, and essentially founded what is now the Agricultural Research Service. His many scientific endeavors include discovering a solution to the grape phylloxera plague in Europe, using resistant vines from the US; leading the investigation of the devastating Rocky Mountain Locust; developing controls for the new and serious pest, Colorado potato beetle, developing new pesticidal controls and application techniques; leading the first successful classical biological control project, the introduction of vedalia beetle against the cottony cushion scale on California citrus, establishing this revolutionary technique; establishment of the National Insect Collection housed at the Smithsonian Institution; establishment and support of scientific societies for entomology; and cementing the role of US federal government in applied and scientific agricultural leadership, in concert with state universities. The biography will be of great interest to entomologists, agricultural scientists, citizen scientists, and all those interested in the history of agriculture in the US.

Technical Abstract: Charles Valentine Riley, 1843-1895, was a renowned entomologist and founder of the field of applied or economic entomology. This biography, supported by the scientific collaboration of Dr. Weber, is the first story of his fascinating life at the center of many of the foundational events of American agricultural science and entomology. Born in England of a single mother and showing early artistic and scientific aptitude during his schooling in Europe, he emigrated to the young United States in 1860. First settling in Illinois and developing his journalistic and entomological talents at the Prairie Farmer in Chicago, he rapidly ascended in entomological studies in collaboration with Benjamin Walsh, and became the Missouri State Entomologist in 1868, during which for nine years he produced the annual reports which are the best examples of his illustrated, scientific, problem-solving style of publication which formed his personal reputation and the foundation of economic entomology (pest biology and management). He became the first Entomologist for the US Department of Agriculture, and essentially founded what is now the Agricultural Research Service. His many scientific endeavors include discovering a solution to the grape phylloxera plague in Europe, using resistant vines from the US; leading the investigation of the devastating Rocky Mountain Locust; developing controls for the new and serious pest, Colorado potato beetle, developing new pesticidal controls and application techniques; leading the first successful classical biological control project, the introduction of vedalia beetle against the cottony cushion scale on California citrus, establishing this revolutionary technique; establishment of the National Insect Collection housed at the Smithsonian Institution; establishment and support of scientific societies for entomology; and cementing the role of US federal government in applied and scientific agricultural leadership, in concert with state universities. The biography will be of great interest to entomologists, agricultural scientists, citizen scientists, and all those interested in the history of agriculture in the US.