Back to Home Page

John A. Byers
Department of Entomology
Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rehovot, Israel

Educational Experience:
B.S. - Colorado State University, Entomology
M.S. - Colorado State University, Entomology
Ph.D. - University of California at Berkeley, Entomology
Docent - Lund University, Ecology

Publications List

Professional interests on bark beetles:
My interests during Ph.D. and subsequent research in Sweden for many years included the chemical ecology and behavior of bark beetles (order Coleoptera: family Scolytidae) in relation to host and non-host trees. In Scandinavia the species most studied have been Ips typographus and Pityogenes chalcographus attacking Norway spruce, and Tomicus piniperda attacking Scots pine. In the United States, studies were primarily with Ips paraconfusus and Dendroctonus brevicomis attacking ponderosa pine in California or Ips pini attacking pines in Colorado. The research involved laboratory experiments of bark beetle orientation behavior toward pheromones and semiochemicals, isolation and identification of such chemicals, and general behavior concerning attack of the host tree and interactions of individuals (e.g. susceptibility and suitability of host and non-host trees for bark beetles). I conducted field experiments each spring-summer in Värmland, Sweden, and sometimes in Colorado or California (USA). The responses of the bark beetles in the field to attractive and repellent semiochemicals and host odors were investigated as well as their general behavior regarding emergence, flight dispersal, and colonization of host trees. During cool rainy periods, when bark beetles were not flying, I studied red wood ants (Formica aquilonia) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in regard to their foraging, trail-making, and nest temperatures. A predator of the above bark beetles in Scandinavia, Thanasimus formicarius (Coleoptera: Cleridae) appears to mimic the behavior and appearance of red wood ants probably as a means to avoid feeding birds which dislike ants that can spray them with formic acid. Other research interests involved insect sounds and swarming of midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). In many of the studies, I made models to simulate observed behavior of insect populations under various ecological conditions.

Professional interests on agricultural pest insects:
After my research funding in Sweden ended in Dec. 2000, I made a move to come back to the USA in late 2001. In the USA, I briefly studied fire ant pheromones at Texas A&M University in Brad Vinson's group . In 2002, I began a permanent position working on insect chemical ecology at the Western Cotton Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Phoenix, Arizona. The laboratory facilities were moved 25 miles south near Maricopa in March 2006. Our Western Cotton Research Laboratory was joined at this time with the Water Conservation Laboratory to form the U.S. Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center. Thus, this web site, mostly on bark beetles, was moved to a USDA server in 2002 and then in early 2006 to my own domain: I plan to add to this site mainly in regard to Java programs and new research papers. From 2002 until July 2015 my position was with the USDA-ARS where I became interested in the chemical ecology of aphids, plant bugs, ants, parasitoid wasps, whitefiles, lacewings, and earwigs. I also am interested in plant volatiles of crops and desert plants as potential new crops. Various methods in GC-MS and GC-EAD are on the agenda. Modelling and computer programming are also still of interest. And of course finishing manuscripts on old studies of bark beetles (which may go by the wayside). I have now retired and moved to Israel and have an office/lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Rehovot. I'm in the Department of Entomology where I get external funding from various grower associations (fruit trees) to work on the chemical ecology of various pests.

Soldier beetle (family Meloidae) thinking of ipsdienol Personal interests:
Programming in QuickBASIC and PostScript for IBM-compatible personal computers (utilities, games, genealogy, fractals, graphical simulations). I enjoy designing and updating web pages where I have programmed in JavaScript as well as since Aug. 2000 in Java. Other activities include collecting crystals/rocks/minerals and antique scientific instruments, bicycling, tennis, physical training, camping, and touring Colorado-Western USA in the summer. I try oil and watercolor painting (including computer art), and video and 35 mm photography (now digital only). Other interests are recording insect sounds and construction of electronic circuits and devices.