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New livestock entomologist brings forensic experience to OSU Extension

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Jonathan Cammack headshot. He is wearing a blue blazer, yellow, blue and red checkered tie, and a blue small pin stripe collared shirt. He has brown hair and brown beard.

Jonathan Cammack specializes in decomposition ecology and livestock parasitology, researching how to combat traditional pests like horn flies, stable flies and ticks. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)


Decomposition ecology specialist Jonathan Cammack is settling into his first year as the new livestock entomologist for Oklahoma State University Extension.


Since January 2024, Cammack has taught the livestock entomology class in the Ferguson College of Agriculture, offered expertise at OSU Extension events statewide, recorded podcast episodes with OSU Extension animal science specialists and met with Oklahoma producers to learn what pests pose the biggest challenges to their animals.


As an entomologist knowledgeable in livestock parasitology, Cammack is researching ways to combat traditional pests like horn flies, stable flies and ticks on beef and dairy cattle, and darkling beetles found in poultry.


“In addition to reducing the pressure of these pests in Oklahoma agriculture, I’m also interested in decomposition ecology — how I can use my insect knowledge to break down and recycle decomposing material to help enhance the sustainability of agriculture,” he said.


The strategic use of insects can help recycle waste streams at animal production facilities or animal processing plants, Cammack explained, whether that involves manure, food waste or a food processing byproduct. The goal is to recapture nutrients via insects and use them in animal feed products.


Originally from Texas, Cammack was first exposed to livestock and agriculture at age 10 when his family moved to a small farm.


“I was always interested in insects and participated in 4-H entomology contests in the eighth grade and high school,” he said. “It made sense to study insects in college.”


His entomology education includes an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University, master’s degree from Clemson University and a doctorate from North Carolina State University. Cammack spent five years conducting post-doctoral research at Texas A&M in general decomposition ecology.


“I studied decomposing animals, animal manure and food waste, looking at the interaction between flies, bacteria and the decomposing source, with the ultimate goal of reducing the environmental impacts of food waste and improving manure management.”


Cammack’s research involved both small- and large-scale farms and examined the black soldier fly to decompose organic waste streams, animal manure, spent grains from beer brewing, and food waste. After his post-doctoral work, he co-founded and managed an insect agriculture company. He then joined the Agricultural and Environmental Safety Unit of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in 2023 as part of its pesticide safety education program.


Cammack’s experience in forensic entomology at NC State and his Extension background at Texas A&M will help Oklahoma livestock producers protect their animals and better manage their operations.

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