Tim Luttermoser

I am broadly interested in landscape ecology, community ecology, and the interface of basic and applied ecology, always through the lens of entomology. In collaboration with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), my research focuses on the push-pull agriculture system in Western Kenya. The push-pull system developed by ICIPE utilizes intercropping and trap cropping to increase maize yields for smallholder farmers through several overlapping mechanisms of pest control and soil effects. Part of my project is focused on untangling the impact of these different mechanisms to determine which are the most important drivers of the yield increase, which will hopefully allow us to both improve the efficacy of the current system and generalize principles for sustainable agriculture more generally.

The second part of my work is focused on fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), which arrived in Kenya for the first time in 2017 and has already proved to be a devastating pest. Work by ICIPE has already shown that the push-pull system reduces fall armyworm damage, even though the push-pull system was not designed with fall armyworm in mind. I am interested in seeing whether push-pull agriculture mitigates fall armyworm damage through similar or different mechanisms than the ones which control damage by other pests. Furthermore, I am investigating the role of biological control in the push-pull system generally and for application against fall armyworm specifically.

I grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and completed a BA in Biology with minors in Environmental Studies and Philosophy at Hiram College, Hiram, OH. While at Hiram, I participated in the Biomes of the World study abroad trip which examined the wide range of adaptation of organisms to their environment around the world, performed research on carrion arthropod communities, and was an NSF-REU student in the Oregon State University pollination biology REU. I completed my MS in Entomology at Purdue University studying the social ecology of the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile), a widespread and highly variable urban invader across North America.