Jim Miller


Jim Miller

PhD - Pennsylvania State University (1975)
BA - Millersville University (1970)

Center for Integrated Plant Systems
578 Wilson Rd. Room 203
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: 517-410-2918


Behavior-Chemical Ecology: Elucidated the modes of action of current mating disruption products; demonstrated how efficacy of mating disruption products can be increased while diminishing costs of manufacture; laid out research priorities for mating disruption research for the next decade; elucidated and validated procedures for translating catch numbers in insect monitoring traps into reliable measures of absolute pest density that will now sharpen decisions on whether or not pest control measures are needed; discovered and validated how plume reach of an attractive trap and maximum dispersive distance of a pest can be determined from single-trap, multiple-release experiments; discovered and validated how the average meander of foraging insects can be determined using a trapping grid; Malaria Mosquito Research: Proved that the larval habitats used by the major African malaria mosquito are much more diverse than previously known and can include flowing water and even Lake Victoria; demonstrated that female mosquitoes are generalist ovipositors rather than specialists; proved that the pyrethroid insecticides used on long-lasting bednets do not deter mosquites from entering houses; proved that deltamethrin (Permanet) is a much more desirable net treatment than permethrin (Oleset net) that causes females to depart treated nets before acquiring a lethal dosage (thus promoting behavioral resistance to bednets); discovered and demonstrated that avermectins like ivervectin and aprinomectin are excellent materials for treating cattle in SubSaharan Africa so as to reduce malaria transmission by reducing population densities of the mosquito species feeding both on cattle and humans.

Current assignment: Teaching 30% | Research 70%

Program Description


I teach Insect Behavior (Entomology 815; 3 credits) fall semesters of odd-numbered years to approximately 15 graduate students and several undergraduates from Entomology, Zoology, and Fisheries and Wildlife. The chief objective is to prepare students to conduct meaningful research on live insects. Course content deals with, e.g., creating a conducive environment where insects can express normal behaviors; quantitatively administering meaningful and measureable stimuli; and recording, quantifying, and interpreting behavioral responses. Course content bridges the gap between insect physiology and behavioral ecology and insect monitoring and management. Course components include: lectures, hands-on labs, research paper critiques, and an extensive term paper. Dr. Miller also teaches a 1 credit graduate seminar course (Entomology 812) entitled “The Nature and Practice of Science” covering: what is science; types of science; the philosophical and logical bases for scientific arguments, including cause and effect, proofs, and falsifications; strategies for effective problem solving including “strong inference”; effective evaluation of various types of research; the human side of science including personalities and teamwork; research integrity; and research best practices. Dr. Miller regularly guest lectures in Aquatic Entomology (Insect respiration section); Insect Ecology (Insect Plant Interactions); Medical Entomology (Behavior of Medically Important Insects); and the International IPM course (Low Tech Pest Control Tactics).


Dr. Miller conducts fundamental and applied research on factors that modify insect behavior so as to reduce pest damage. Over the past 15 yrs, considerable attention has gone into elucidating the behavioral and physiological mechanisms underlying insect mating disruption using sex attractant pheromones with the aim of increasing efficacy while lowering the costs of this pest management tactic. Attention over the past 5 yrs has also focused on understanding the fundamental processes of insect trapping so as to translate capture numbers into accurate estimates of absolute pest density for improving decisions on when control measures do or do not need to be taken. This work has produced an important book “Trapping of Small Animals Moving Randomly: Principles and Applications to Pest Monitoring and Management” to be published by Springer in early 2015. Dr. Miller has also spent the last decade studying the behavior of the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, with the goal of reducing malaria by improving management of the main vector species.


Dr. Miller has no formal extension appointment. However, he participates in occasional field days and gives talks to grower groups as invited by extension faculty. Numerous talks have been delivered to K-12 groups and science teachers as an outgrowth of Dr. Miller’s service as Director of The Division of Science and Mathematics Education while serving as College of Natural Science Associate Dean for Outreach.


  • Insect Behavior
  • Chemical ecology
  • Mating disruption
  • Pest monitoring
  • Trapping
  • Science Education

Professional Experience

  • 1977-Present - Faculty member, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1996-1999 - Associate Dean, College of Natural Science, Michigan State University
  • 1975-1977 - Post-Doctoral, Dept of Entomology, Cornell University
  • 1970-1974 - Graduate Student, Department of Entomology, Penn State University 

Selected Publications

  • Reinke, M. D., P. Y. Siegert, P. S. McGhee, L. J. Gut and J. R. Miller. 2014. Pheromone release rate determines whether sexual communication of the Oriental fruit moth is disrupted competitively or non-competitively. Entomol. Expt. et Appl. 150: 1-6.
  • McGhee, P. S., L. J. Gut and J. R. Miller. 2014. Aerosol emitters disrupt codling moth, Cydia pomonella, competitively. Pest. Manag. Sci. 70: 1859-1862.
  • Fritz, M. L., E. D. Walker, J. R. Miller, D. W. Sevenson and I. Dworkin. 2015. Divergent host preferences of above- and below-ground Culex pipiens mosquitoes and their hybrid offspring. Med. Vet. Entomol. doi: 10:1111/mve.12096.
  • Miller, J. R. and L. J. Gut. 2015. Mating disruption for the 21st century: matching technology with mechanism. Forum Article Environ. Entomol. 44: 427-453.
  • Miller, J. R., C. G. Adams, P. A. Weston and J. H. Schenker. 2015. Trapping of Small Organisms Moving Randomly: Principles and Applications to Pest Monitoring and Management. SpringerBriefs in Ecology. Springer-Verlag, N.Y., 115 pp.