For Beverly Catchot, collecting insects has always been a family affair.
“When my husband was studying entomology at Mississippi State in the 1990s, we made collecting insects a family activity. We’d all get out there with our black lights and go find specimens,” says the MSU research associate and master’s student.
Catchot’s husband is Extension Professor Angus Catchot. The couple’s oldest son, Angus Catchot III, earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with an integrated pest management concentration at MSU and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in entomology.
Their youngest son, Ty, is a sophomore at East Mississippi Community College with plans to transfer to MSU. He started bee keeping at age 15, and the family still has beehives.
“We’re a bug family,” she says. “My husband covers insects in row crops; I work in insect rearing and am studying tarnished plant bugs while our eldest son studies pollinators.”
The Catchots also are a Bulldog family through and through. In addition to her immediate family’s ties to MSU, Catchot’s grandfather received a doctor’s degree in horticulture from the land-grant university in 1952. Multiple family members are MSU alumni, with one niece currently working on a master’s degree in agronomy.
Beverly Catchot studied social work at the University of Southern Mississippi, graduating in 1993. The family moved to Starkville so her husband could study entomology. He went through undergraduate and graduate programs while she worked as a social worker.
Life took the Catchots to the Mississippi Delta, Arkansas and Georgia, but they returned 15 years ago when Angus joined the MSU Extension Service. Beverly became certified to teach elementary education and spent several years teaching at Starkville Academy.
Rearing Insects Career Move
An opportunity in MSU’s insect rearing center led her to shift career paths and pursue science full time. In her research associate position, Catchot is part of a team that oversees six growth chambers for rearing insects, plus a freestanding building designed to house adult moths and serve as additional rearing space.
The team can rear as many as 100,000 larvae per week for departmental research and supports MSU graduate student research in several departments across campus. They also provide specimens for collaborations with universities across the United States and rear insects for the annual International Insect Rearing Workshop held on campus each fall. Catchot’s job inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in entomology.
“At first, I took a couple of undergraduate courses in entomology for professional development,” she says. “I found I really enjoyed it. Farming is a big part of our state’s identity and economy. Our research provides information that is beneficial to these farmers.
“As a school teacher, I always said, ‘You never stop learning,’ and this degree has proven me right. I am a wife, mother, employee and now a nontraditional graduate student. It’s possible for others, regardless of where they are in life, to learn something new.”
Vanessa Beeson, a writer for Mississippi State University, submitted this article.