Michelle Trautwein, Entomologist

Michelle Trautwein and I have spent multiple field expeditions together, diving into houses looking for bugs. My job has always been to film the cool research that she does. That means I’ve had an amazing chance to learn so much about the cool insects and arthropods that live in our houses. You’ll find the videos we’ve produced together at the end. In the meantime, I think you’ll find Michelle’s answers to my questions really interesting.

What insect/bug/arthropod best describes you?

I love bee flies. They are beautiful puffs of fluffy fly glory. As adults, they are lovely flower visitors… but as larvae, they are parasitoids that suck dry other insect babies. Flies always have a dark side, it seems.

Michelle Trautwein - entomologist

What is your “job description”

My job is to ask and answer questions about the natural world, and engage the public in science while I’m at it.

What do you study now?

I work on recovering the tree of life for insects (flies especially), and study the diversity and evolution of arthropods in our everyday lives (especially the mites that live on our faces and the bugs in our houses).


What is the best thing about your job?

I love making discoveries about the unexplored, often unnoticed world of tiny things. I love interacting with scientists (who I find to be creative, curious, adventurous people). I also like the flexibility and freedom of creating my own path.

What is the worst thing about your job?

Paperwork (though that is probably universal). Worrying about funding.

What inspired you to first study science?

Probably my older brother who taught me about all of the animals. And definitely my first entomology professor- who introduced me to insects and evolution.

keith bayless

What do you do in a typical day?

Think, read, write…. if it is a good day, I may get to analyze some data and get excited or confounded by the results. Get coffee with colleagues, brainstorm with my postdoc Misha Leong. Do some outreach- talk to a journalist, give a tour of our insect collection or a presentation to school kids. I also answer emails, do paperwork, go to too many meetings.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming an entomologist?

Find mentors. Learn about bugs and then learn to share that information with others in an interesting way.
Links to learn more about you and your work?

Untamed Science Videos on Michelle’s Work

Since this original study, Michelle Trautwein has continued their work to examine the bugs of all the continents. Here are the ones we’ve been to so far.

Bugs in Homes: San Francisco

Bugs in Homes: Sweden

Bugs in Homes: The Amazon

More Information About This Sweet Research