Entomology is the scientific study of insects. Insects have a great influence on the state of our environment, especially on the availability of food and the control of disease.

Harmful insects lead to the destruction of crops in the field or stored food and they spread diseases from animals to human beings. Useful insects are responsible for the control of harmful insects and weeds, as well as the cross-pollination of crops. Through the study of the anatomy, life processes, habits and life cycles of insects, the entomologist distinguishes between harmful and useful insects. Using this information, entomologists can develop suitable and economically viable measures of control against harmful insects. Entomologists are also responsible for the registration, standardisation and testing of insecticides.

Entomologists try to ensure that useful insects are not destroyed. Much attention is given to the increasing use of certain beneficial insects for the biological control of harmful insects and of weeds. Today, entomologists focus their research on “effective pest management” where the environment is also taken into account, rather than “pest control” which only focused on controlling pests regardless of damage caused to the environment.

New fields of research for entomologists include the use of insects for monitoring damage, pollution and the recovery of the environment through recording the insects. Entomologists are responsible for the identification and classification of insects. Knowledge regarding insects is gained through fieldwork as well as laboratory research.

Entomologists often do research work or are employed as extension officers and consultants in a variety of fields.

Some areas of specialisation include:

  • conducting detailed studies of insects and their behaviour
  • taxonomy, which entails the classification and documentation of insect fauna
  • use of beneficial insects
  • biological control of harmful insects
  • integrated pest management
  • veterinary and medical entomology
As consultants, entomologists render a service to a wide range of people, including farmers, environmental organisations and departments, educationalists and the public in general.

Personal Requirements

  • love nature
  • deep interest in insects
  • aptitude for mathematical and biological subjects
  • careful and accurate worker
  • perseverance and patience
  • willing to perform repetitive tasks
  • enjoy laboratory work

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: The minimum requirement is a BSc degree but a BSc Honours degree is recommended, available at most universities. Major subjects include Entomology, e.g. US, (or Zoology with Entomology as part of the curriculum) in combination with one of the following: Botany, Chemistry, Physiology, Microbiology, Mathematics, Plant Pathology or Genetics.

Students can also follow a BSc (Agric) degree with Entomology as a major in combination with subjects such as Horticulture and Plant Production.

Each university specialises in particular fields of zoology and it is recommended that prospective students first consult the yearbooks of different universities to ensure that a specific university offers courses in Entomology.


  • CSIR
  • universities
  • museums
  • research institutes
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Health
  • nature conservation boards
  • SA Institute for Medical Research
  • SABS
  • companies that manufacture pesticides

Further Information

The Department of Zoology and Entomology
The Head of the Department
University of Pretoria
Pretoria, 0002
Tel: (012) 420-3233

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a laboratory or with a biological research team
  • make an appointment to speak to an entomologist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

Study Conservation Ecology & Entomology at Stellenbosch University

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