Vermin Vengeance: Entomologist Pens Second Murder-Mystery

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December 19, 2017
“Murder on the Fly” recently published by Jeffrey Alan Lockwood.

University of Wyoming professor Jeffrey A. Lockwood, an entomologist-turned-fiction writer announced the publication of “Murder on the Fly” — the second installment in his “Riley the Exterminator” mystery series.

Lockwood’s latest book is a follow up to his 2016 murder-mystery “Poisoned Justice,” which features Riley, whom he described as a PCO who makes no apologies for “killing what needs killing.”

Lockwood provides the following description of his newest book: “In terms of science it’s about the Mediterranean fruit fly and what this pest could do to American agriculture. In terms of history, it’s about an outbreak of the Medfly 36 years ago, the occupation of Alcatraz by ‘Indians of All Tribes’ 47 years ago, and the Indian Relocation Act that was implemented 61 years ago. In terms of philosophy, it’s about trying to understand: how we know if a living being belongs somewhere; what makes a species or a people native/indigenous; and when it’s right to remove invasive creatures...”

In addition to trying to provide readers with a good story, Lockwood said he’s tried to weave in elements of entomology and ethics. “My hope is that folks will discover some unexpected features of the natural world and encounter some abiding qualities of the moral sphere — while enjoying the trials and tribulations of Riley, his ragtag workmates, and an alluring woman from his past.”

Lockwood has worked for nearly 20 years as an entomologist, starting with graduate studies at Louisiana State University, where from his mobile home he experienced first-hand encounters with cockroaches, fleas, flour beetles and a home-invader opossum. As a professor at the University of Wyoming, he’s developed better ways to kill legions of grasshoppers across expanses of rangeland. He says he “also discovered that the field of pest management is tailor-made for crime noir.” — Brad Harbison

Bug Found Embedded in van Gogh Masterpiece

A tiny grasshopper was recently discovered lodged into the swirling brushstrokes of a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece painted more than a century ago.

As reported by the Kansas City Star, Mary Schafer, a conservator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Missouri, found the bug hiding in plain sight in the artist’s 1889 work “Olive Trees.”

“Van Gogh worked outside in the elements,” Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the museum, told the Star. “And we know that he... dealt with wind, and dust, grass and trees, and flies and grasshoppers.”

The troubled artist killed himself just a year after painting the work. He had written about the perils of painting outdoors in an 1885 letter to his brother, Theo.

“But just go and sit outdoors, painting on the spot itself!” van Gogh wrote. “Then all sorts of things like the following happen — I must have picked up a good hundred flies and more off the four canvases that you’ll be getting.”

Source: Kansas City Star