STEMM Idol Dr. John Stireman III

CJ STEMM Idol Speaker Dr. John Stireman III will share his enthusiasm for ecology with all students this Tuesday!

A biology professor at Wright State, Dr. Stireman has spent 20 years working in the field with a focus on insects, particularly flies. He even has a wasp named after him!

Read on to learn more about Dr. Stireman, and be sure to stop in the library during homeroom periods.

Written by Meagan Pant, DDN staff writer, and first published December 26, 2012

Wright State University professor John Stireman has always been fascinated by monster-like insects — and now his own name has been immortalized by researchers who branded a wasp in his honor.

The large, often colorful wasp species, now called Ilatha stiremani, lays its egg inside another insect: a parasitic fly that Stireman has spent his career studying. Stireman describes the relationship as being like Russian dolls because the wasp lays its egg inside a fly growing inside a live caterpillar.

Stireman said it is an honor to have the wasp named after him because “every species is priceless.”

“Every one is unique and fascinating and has some important lesson to teach us about the world,” he said.

The insect took on Stireman’s moniker because he is a leading expert on the flies that host the wasps, said Don Cipollini, director of environmental sciences at Wright State.

“It is an honor for Wright State to have such well-respected researchers among its faculty,” Cipollini said.

Stireman was involved in studying the wasp by examining the fly pupa carrying the species. Stireman said it is much like the 1979 science fiction horror film “Alien,” in that the caterpillar carrying the fly larva lives until the fly is ready to emerge and the fly lives until the wasp is ready to emerge from it.

Stireman, whose laboratory at Wright State has drawers lined with fly specimens, said the parasitic bugs could help control insects on crops without using pesticides.

He will publish a paper next year naming 11 new species of parasitic flies with graduate student Diego Inclan. Stireman has taken several trips to Ecuador to discover new insects and study how they are connected.

Stireman has been fascinated by insects since he was a young boy. He majored in biology at the University of Utah and earned a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. He did post doctorate work at Tulane and Iowa State universities before being hired at Wright State in 2005, according to the university.

“I’ve always been attracted to diversity and complexity. You can never get bored,” he said. “You can spend your whole life just studying the insects in your backyard.”

Stireman noted that is not uncommon for a person to have an insect bear their name because of the sheer number of bugs. There are about a million species of insects described, and “it’s thought that there are at least five times that out there waiting to be described,” he said.

This article is re-published at with permission from the author and Cox Media, Inc.