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Josephine Antwi - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Josephine Antwi Josephine Antwi

Assistant Professor | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Antwi is an entomologist whose research focuses on the effects that sucking-piercing insect pests have on crops of economic importance.






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To Josephine Antwi, an entomologist at the University of Mary Washington, the spotted lanternfly isn’t just a pesky insect. This invasive species snacks on Chinese sumac – but also grapes, stone fruits and apples – making it a grave threat to the agricultural industry.

Dr. Antwi’s research uses an interdisciplinary approach, including molecular, evolutionary and microbiology to address ecological factors shaping plant-insect interactions in agro- and natural ecosystems. In agro-ecosystems, her research addresses various questions on the effect that sucking-piercing insect pests have on crops of economic importance. Insect pests of interest include the cotton fleahopper (Pseudatomoscelis seriatus), various Lygus species, sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari), and the aforementioned spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Crops of interest include cotton, sorghum, and potatoes. In natural ecosystems, she explores the impacts of urbanization on insect pollinators.

Current research projects in Dr. Antwi’s lab include identifying microbial control agents against the spotted lanternfly and assessing the impact of urban green spaces on the assemblages of insect pollinators.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Plant-Insect-Microbes Interactions



Molecular Ecology

Urbanization on Insect Pollinators

Accomplishments (8)

Faculty and Undergraduate Research Grants (professional)

2019-2020 University of Mary Washington

Program Enhancement Fund from the Entomological Society of America (professional)


Northwest Potato Research Consortium Grants (professional)


Texas EcoLab Research Grant (professional)


Entomology Student Enhancement Fund (professional)


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program Travel Award (professional)

2012 Texas A&M University

Norman Bourlag International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program Grant (professional)

2011 Finalist

Graduate Student Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Program, Faculty of Genetics (professional)

2010 Texas A&M University

Education (3)

Texas A&M University: Ph.D., Entomology 2015

Southeastern Louisiana University: M.S., Biological Sciences 2010

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi: B.S., Natural Resource Management 2005

Affiliations (1)

  • Entomological Society of America

Media Appearances (1)

Should You Worry About the Invasive Spotted Lanternfly? (Very Well Health)

Very Well Health  online


“It’s spreading like a wildfire, so it’s pretty concerning,” Josephine Antwi, PhD, an entomologist and professor of biology at the University of Mary Washington, told Verywell.

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Event Appearances (5)

Comparing insect pollinator diversity and abundance in urban green spaces and low-maintenance habitats.

Annual (virtual) meeting of Entomological Society of America  

Biogeochemistry of reclaimed sand-mined soils in the Atlantic coastal plain, Caroline County, Virginia.

Annual meeting of Geological Society of America  Phoenix, AR

Lygus bugs on potatoes in the Pacific Northwest.

65th Annual meeting of Entomological Society of America  Denver, Colorado

The role of Lygus sp. in the epidemiology of BLTVA in potatoes in the Pacific Northwest.

25th International Congress of Entomology  Orlando, Florida

Fungal endophytes, Beauvaria bassiana and Phialemonium inflatum positively affect the growth of sorghum and impact the behavior and performance of the sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari.

63rd Annual meeting of Entomological Society of America  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Articles (3)

Navigating Academia Through the Eyes of a Non-Traditional Entomologist

American Entomologist

Beginning an academic career often coincides with becoming a new parent. Then, as you navigate your way through professional development, pedagogical activities and scholarships to stay current in your discipline, the unsettling reality of being a non-traditional entomologist (in my case, a Black female in a predominantly white discipline) sinks in. The question is, how do we successfully navigate academia? I hope that sharing my experiences helps open conversations about supporting and retaining more non-traditional entomologists.

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Differences in Microbiota Between Two Multilocus Lineages of the Sugarcane Aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) in the Continental United States

Annals of the Entomological Society of America

The sugarcane aphid (SCA), Melanaphis Sacchari (Zehntner) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), has been considered an invasive pest of sugarcane in the continental United States since 1977. Then, in 2013, SCA abruptly became a serious pest of U.S. sorghum and is now a sorghum pest in 22 states across the continental United States. Changes in insect-associated microbial community composition are known to influence host-plant range in aphids. In this study, we assessed whether changes in microbiota composition may explain the SCA outbreak in U.S. sorghum.

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Molecular and Morphological Identifications Reveal Species Composition of Lygus (Hemiptera: Miridae) Bugs in Potatoes Fields in the Lower Columbia Basin of the United States

Journal of Economic Entomology

Lygus bugs are highly polyphagous insect pests. In recent years, Lygus bugs have become more conspicuous on potato, Solanum tuberosum L., fields in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the Lower Columbia Basin. There are concerns that direct feeding damage or potential pathogen transmission can reduce yield. Lygus species on potatoes in the region are collectively identified as ‘Lygusbugs’. Overlapping physical traits and the fact that the same species exhibit morphological variations across a geographic range makes it difficult to identify Lygus to species level. Thus, in this study we used DNA barcodes in combination with morphological characters to identify Lygus species on potatoes.

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