Government Shutdown Will Derail Insect Science

Scientific progress threatened at federal agencies, taxpayer-funded research institutions, and beyond

Annapolis, MD; September 28, 2023—As the threat of a federal government shutdown looms, Americans rightly worry about the loss of critical services and operations that federal agencies carry out for the public every day—and scientific research is no exception.

On behalf of insect scientists working in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) urges our leaders in Washington, DC, to keep the U.S. government working effectively and efficiently, and without interruption.

"Every day, entomologists in the federal government are driving innovation toward important causes—protecting crops from pests, reducing risk of mosquito- and tick-borne disease, and protecting pollinators, just to name a few," says Marianne Alleyne, Ph.D., ESA president and professor in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "This important work in the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, Forest Service, and other federal agencies—conducted on behalf of American taxpayers—is derailed any time a government shutdown occurs. We hope it doesn't come to this."

Insects will not wait, of course, for our research delays. Even short interruptions can cause lengthy setbacks, as entomological research is often highly attuned to specific seasons and life cycles of insects. The invasive spotted lanternfly, for instance, is breeding and laying eggs at this time of year. Government-supported research and containment efforts could be paused during a shutdown, while lanternflies continue spreading.

After a summer that saw resurgent vector-borne disease occurrence—including locally transmitted malaria in the continental U.S. for the first time in decades—mosquitoes and ticks will soon be overwintering for their emergence next spring. Federally funded research centers around the country are key developers of new solutions and guidance for state and local-level management of mosquitoes and ticks, and these centers will lack critical coordination and collaboration with experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a shutdown.

Meanwhile, a shutdown will also hurt American agricultural producers by denying them tools to fight invasive insects and pests that have the potential to do billions of dollars' worth of damage. New insect management products currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency might not be approved in time for next year's growing season if the agency is closed. Ongoing research projects at the USDA that aim to improve crop pest management practices will be put on hold. Likewise, industry partners in crop protection will face delays in product development and registration due to halted collaborations with government agencies.

Insect science at universities and other institutions is also affected by government shutdowns. Researchers seeking federal grants face delays in securing funding to make their work possible. Still others who need access to resources like the Smithsonian Institution's U.S. National Entomological Collection are also forced to wait. And student researchers who collaborate with government agencies could see their degree pursuits delayed.

Government shutdowns harm American families, the American economy, and our public health and safety, and they interrupt important scientific work, in both entomology and beyond. While negotiations over policy are a necessary part of our country's lawmaking process, allowing disagreements to halt government operations is a self-inflicted wound that need not happen. An efficient and fully operational government means science can continue to progress and can continue to benefit the American people.


CONTACT: Joe Rominiecki,, 301-731-4535 x3009

ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit