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Dale Halbritter

Research Entomologist

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 A lifelong passion for insects and appreciation of their immense diversity has been the motivator of my research. I have been conducting applied and basic research in a variety of entomological systems, ranging in scale from the individual to the ecosystem. While pursuing my B.S., I determined the microclimate preferences of poultry ectoparasites using laboratory bioassays with individuals in custom-built climate gradient chambers. I switched gears for my M.S. and collaborated with the Florida Department of Transportation to examine the effects of roadside mowing practices on the diversity and mortality of butterflies in roadside right-of-ways. For my Ph.D., I conducted a multidisciplinary study culminating at the ecosystem scale. I worked with butterflies restricted to high-elevation pine forests as a model system to understand how cold hardiness, predation pressure, dispersal ability, and host plant associations shape evolutionary history and present-day geographic distributions in habitats that have historically fluctuated in size and connectivity due to changing climates.


My current work at the Invasive Plant Research Laboratory has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling as I got to be a part of the final stages of quarantine host range testing for a new biological control agent, attend the inaugural release ceremony for the agent, develop its mass rearing protocol, travel throughout southern Florida to conduct field releases of the agent, and conduct laboratory and field impact studies. The agent is a thrips, Pseudophilothrips ichini (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) that targets Brazilian peppertree, Schinus terebinthifolia (Anacardiaceae), one of the most highly invasive plants in Florida. Thrips feeding on tender new stems and leaves leads to stunted growth, leaf deformation, and often death of the stem tips, eventually reducing the vigor of the plant and suppressing its competitive advantage over native plants. My most recent work is beginning to investigate the potential of incorporating the agent into an integrated pest management program to reduce the amount and frequency of herbicide application and mechanical removal to control this weed, which would lower management costs for stakeholders and help restore native plant communities.

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Ph.D. in Entomology, 2016

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL


M.S. in Entomology, 2012

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL


B.S. in Entomology, 2010

University of California, Riverside

Riverside, CA

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Professional Appointments:


June 2017 – Present

Postdoctoral Research Entomologist

USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory


October 2016 - May 2017

Laboratory Technician

University of Florida

Entomology and Nematology Department


August 2012 - August 2016 

Graduate Teaching Assistant 

University of Florida 

Entomology and Nematology Department 


August 2010 - August 2012 

Graduate Assistant/Outreach Coordinator 

University of Florida 

Entomology and Nematology Department