Scientists & Staff

Nathan P. Havill

Research Entomologist
51 Mill Pond Rd.
Hamden, CT, 06514
Phone: 203-230-4320

Contact Nathan P. Havill


Current Research

With expertise in the ecology and evolution of multi-trophic interactions, I work to provide information about invasive pests, their natural enemies, and the impacted trees. Understanding the interactions among these trophic levels is critical to making sound management decisions to reduce the impact of invasive pests. Facets of my research objectives include investigating: 1) systematics and population genetics of invasive pests, especially hemlock woolly adelgid, balsam woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, and winter moth; 2) systematics and population genetics of predators and parasitoids being evaluated as biological control agents of invasive species, especially of hemlock woolly adelgid and emerald ash borer; and 3) systematics and biogeography of North American tree species and their relatives worldwide.

My goal is to help reconstruct the evolutionary history of multiple trophic levels of a pest system to guide management and mitigate the impact of invasive insect pests on forested ecosystems of the northeastern United States. I am especially concerned with research related to classical biological control to develop practical, cost effective tools used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of predators or parasites introduced as biological control agents.

Why This Research is Important

The exotic invasive pests that are the subject of this research originated in either Asia or Europe. Invasive insects in North America are not often pests in their region of origin due to resistant tree species and natural enemies that co-evolved with the pest over millions of years. The insect becomes a pest following introduction outside its native ranges when these bottom-up and/or top-down regulating factors are no long effective. The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae (Adelgidae), originated in Japan and causes the death and decline of eastern North American hemlock trees in 17 eastern states. The balsam woolly adelgid, Adelges piceae (Adelgidae), originated in Europe and has been killing fir trees throughout North America for over 100 years. The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (Lymantriidae), also was also introduced from Europe over 100 years ago. It is controlled to some extent by a pathogenic fungus in areas where it is well established, so management in the U. S. currently focuses on slowing its spread and on preventing invasion by more virulent strains from Asia. The winter moth, Operophtera brumata (Geometridae), is also from Europe and defoliates a broad range of tree species, including oaks and birches in southern New England, and is hybridizing with the native Bruce spanworm, O. bruceata. Finally, the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (Buprestidae) originated in Asia, was first discovered in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002, and has killed tens of millions of ash trees in at least 15 eastern states. Together, these pest species represent a diverse group of insects with very different feeding strategies, life cycles, host ranges, and natural enemy complexes.

Professional Organizations

  • Society For The Study Of Evolution (2012 - Current)
  • Connecticut Entomological Society (2001 - Current)
  • Entomological Society of America (1996 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Winter moths attracted to a porch light during an outbreak in Manomet, MA. Jeff Boettner, University of Massachusetts.

Non-native Insect Hybridization Provides Opportunity for Research

Year: 2016

A recent outbreak in New England of the non-native winter moth from Europe provides an unprecedented opportunity to examine the effects of hybridization because Forest Service scientists discovered that it is hybridizing with the native Bruce spanworm. They developed two new sets of genetic markers that confirmed the presence of multi-generation asymmetric hybridization.

Vial of silver flies ready for field release. USDA Forest Service

First Release of a New Biological Control of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Year: 2015

Forest Service scientists and their research partners tested and released two species of silver flies from the western United States for biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid in Tennessee and New York.

Last modified: Thursday, November 02, 2017