We sat down to talk with Dr. Vyacheslav Leontyev, Associate Professor at the Department of Biology and Ecology of Elabuga Institute, member of the Russian Entomological Society.
- What are the main useful aspects of entomology?
- People have been interested in insects since long ago. Entomology, as many other sciences, is divided into general and applied research. General entomology deals with morphology, embryology, ecology, physiology and ethology of insects. Applied entomology studies how different species can be beneficial or detrimental to the humankind's everyday activities. There are also branches of entomology, such as agricultural, medicinal, veterinarian, and soil entomology, beekeeping and sericulture. Sometimes we aid our colleagues from law enforcement – corpses always become infested with necrophages, and an entomologist can help determine the time of death. Also, locals can seek our assistance in determining types of pests that they found. Colorado beetle is an especially big problem.
- Can you help in resolving it?
- Unfortunately, there are no other ways beside using insecticides or cultivating taro. Colorado beetle is an introduced species. It has no natural enemies in here, such as stink bugs or parasitic flies, which control its population in North America. Another way to ease the burden is to alternate potato planting with tobacco. The latter is more attractive to Colorado beetles, so it's easier to collect them or use insecticide.
- Currently you study and systemize the data on insects of the Lower Kama region, monitor their population and areas of presence, interaction of species. What are the latest results?
- In the last 10 – 15 years there has been some dynamic in biocenoses and populations. It's important to monitor the process.
There is a clear tendency for southern species of plants and animals to move to our area. For example, praying mantis has been present since about five years ago, it's now found as far as northeast of Tatarstan. Some protected species are also met more often, such as the apollo butterfly or swallowtail. Ant lions are more widespread now, there are three species in the Republic of Tatarstan. Conversely, some of the species disappear, such as the black apollo.
- What is this evidence of?
- Everything tells that there is indeed a global climate change. In our region it is accompanied by the anthropogenic aridization – the climate here becomes drier because of deforestation.
- You state this very coolly.
- I think any scientist treats environmental processes with some degree of philosophical distance. Media frenzy about ecological catastrophes is often exaggerating. Everything changes. Here, where we are sitting now, there some day was a sea, then mountains, and now – plains. Climate change is slow, and there is time to adapt. Species replace one another with time. Thus it's important to teach environmental awareness to young people.
- Where do you publish your research?
- In journals and in the Republican Red List. The last edition was in 2006. This year will see the third edition. I am one of the authors, I wrote articles about such species as common stag beetle, lesser stag beetle, Ceruchus, Osmoderma eremita, big flower chafer, Polyphylla fullo, Trypocopris vernalis, and Meloe violaceus.