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Department of Entomology

Department of Entomology
123 W. Waters Hall
1603 Old Claflin Place
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506-4004

785-532-6232 fax

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Charlton, Ralph E.

Charlton, Ralph E. Associate Professor 232A W. Waters Hall
Manhattan KS 66506 Fax: 785-532-6232 Area(s) of Specialization:
Insect behavior, behavioral ecology of threatened prairie insects, chemical communication, environmental entomology, insects as bioindicators, spider biology


B.S. Zoology, Michigan State University, 1979
M.S. Entomology, Michigan State University, 1981
Ph.D. Entomology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA, 1986


Research in my laboratory focuses mainly on the behavior and chemical ecology of selected insects, but I am also venturing into the realm of taxonomy and aquatic ecology on two other major projects. Current projects include:

  1. Foraging behaviors of male gypsy moths
  2. Macroinvertebrate-based bioassessment of selected mountain streams in Taiwan, the last refuge of the critically endangered Formosan landlocked salmon,
  3. Behavioral, morphological and molecular phylogenetics of North and Meso-American tarantulas (Theraphosidae: Aphonopelma)
  4. Foraging behaviors of regal fritillary larvae and the impact of current grassland management strategies on larval mortality

The gypsy moth is one of the most important forest and shade tree pests in the US. This introduced species continues to spread southward and westward and, while not yet established in Kansas, gypsy moth infestations have been reported from nearby states. Information gathered from this project is crucial to developing a modified detection and management plan for Kansas and elsewhere. This ongoing project investigates the basic biology of adult male gypsy moth movement, both passive and directed, out of the canopy and/or periphery of woodland habitats. Research focuses on two different spatial scales/movement patterns: 1) between-patch movement of males in a typical fragmented landscape of woodlots (suitable habitat) interspersed with meadows or cultivated fields (unsuitable habitat) versus 2) long-distance (>50 km), mass movements of males. The long-distance, mass movements of adult males that sometimes occur from outbreak areas into currently uninfested portions of the US creates are enigmatic. Virtually nothing is known about this behavior and why it occurs in some areas (e.g. Great Lakes area) but not in others (e.g., central Appalachians). The presence of these migrants in traps compromises the use of slow the spread (STS) trap grids for identifying isolated populations, because there is no reliable method for distinguishing between resident and migrant moths in traps. We will adopt a powerful ‘fingerprinting’ technique - neutron activation analysis - to help elucidate the movement patterns of male gypsy moths that undertake long-distance flights. Our proposed research is intended to provide insight into several general areas of inquiry: Where do moths exhibiting such behavior originate and end up? What combination of behavior and meteorological conditions cause this mass movement pattern? Why does the mass dispersal occur only in some places and at certain times? How can the STS program overcome this phenomenon? I am collaborating with Dr. Andrew Liebhold, USDA-Forest Service, Morgantown WV, on this project.


Rakotondravelo, M. L., T. D. Anderson, R. E. Charlton, and K. Y. Zhu. 2006. Sublethal effects of three pesticides on larval survivorship, growth, and macromolecule production in the aquatic midge, Chironomus tentans (Diptera: Chironomidae). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 51: 352-359.

Rakotondravelo, M. L., T. D. Anderson, R. E. Charlton, and K. Y. Zhu. 2006. Sublethal effects of three pesticides on activities of selected target and detoxification enzymes in the aquatic midge, Chironomus tentans (Diptera: Chironomidae). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 51: 360-366.

Cheng, L.I., Howard, R.W., Campbell, J.F., Charlton, R.E., Nechols, J.R. and Ramaswamy, S.B. 2004. Mating behavior of Cephalonoma tarsalis (Ashmead)(Hymenoptera: Bethylidae) and the effect of female mating frequency on offspring production. Journal of Insect Behavior 17: 227-245.

Cheng, L.L., Howard, R.W., Campbell, J.R., Charlton, R.W., Nechols, J.R. and Ramaswamy, S. 2003. Behavioral interaction between males of Cephalonomia tarsalis (Ashmead)(Hymenoptera: Behylidae) competing for females. Journal of Insect Behavior 16: 625-645.

Cao, W.H., Charlton, R.E., Nechols, J.R. and Horak, M.J. 2003. Sex pheromone of the noctuid moth, Tyta luctuosa (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), a candidate biological control agent of field bindweed. Environmental Entomology 32: 17-22.

Jonas, J.L., Whiles, M.R., and Charlton, R.E. 2002. Aboveground invertebrate responses to land management differences in a central Kansas grassland. Environmental Entomology 31: 1142-1152.

Cole, T.J., Ramaswamy, S.B., Srinivasan, A. and Dorn, S. 2002. Juvenile hormone catabolism and oviposition in the docling moth, Cydia pomonella, as functions of age, mating status, and hormone treatment. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 49: 10-21.

Jia, F., D.C. Margolies, J.E. Boyer, and R.E. Charlton. 2002. Genetic variation among foraging traits in inbred lines of a predatory mite. Heredity 88:371-379.

Kopper, B.J., Margolies, D.C. and Charlton, R.E. 2001. Life history notes on the regal fritillary, Speyeria idalia (Drury) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in Kansas tallgrass prairie. Journal of Kansas Entomology Society 74: 172-177.

Kopper, B.J., Shu, S.Q., Charlton, R.E. and Ramaswamy, S.B. 2001. Evidence for reproductive diapause in the fritillary Speyeria idalia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 94: 427-432.

Mayland, H., Margolies, D.C. and Charlton, R.E. 2000. Local and distant prey-related cues influence when an acarine predator leaves a prey path. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 96: 245-252.

Charlton, R.E. and B.J. Kopper. 2000. An unexpected range extesnion for Cicindela trifasciata F. (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Cicindelinae). Coleopterists Bulletin 54: 266-268

Kopper, B.J., Charlton, R.E. and Margolies, D.C. 2000. Oviposition site selection by the regal fritillary, Speyeria idalia, as affected by proximity of violet host plants. Journal of Insect Behavior 13: 651-665.

Kambhampati, Srinivas and Ralph E. Charlton. 1999. Phylogenetic relationship among Libellula, Ladona and Plathemis (Odonata: Libellulidae) based on DNA sequence of mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene. Systematic Entomology 24(1):37-49

Zhu, Y., R. E. Charlton, and R. A. Higgins. 1997. Factors influencing quantity of cantharidin transferred to alfalfa from three-striped blister beetles Epicauta occidentalis Werner (Coleoptera: Meloidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 90: 1665-1671.