Entomologist vs. Epidemiologist - What's The Difference?

They are both long words that sound alike. They both are involved in scientific fields. One researches "insects & arthropods," while the other focuses on "disease and viruses." You can become a medical doctor in either field. They both have associated puns: such as the "Bug Doctor" and the "Their Charm is Infectious."

But what are their differences?  

What's the diff?

Entomologists study or are experts in the branch of zoology that deals with insects. They study their habitats and how they evolve. They also research and control insect-borne diseases, and discover and study new species of insects.

Epidemiologists, on the other hand, study and control the virus patterns in human populations. They do fieldwork to determine what causes disease or injury, what the risks are associated with health outcomes, what populations are at risk, and how to prevent further incidences of disease, behavior, and/or transmission.


At times, Entomologists crosses over with epidemiologists. For instance, an entomologist includes the science of animal diseases that can "jump species" and can become a human health threat.

Medical entomology also includes scientific research on arthropod disease vectors. There is a tremendous outreach to the public, including local and state officials and other stakeholders in the interest of public safety. They determine ways to tackle newly budding zoonotic diseases.

Medical entomologists are employed by federal, state, and local government agencies, including all three branches of the US military - who hire medical entomologists to protect the troops from infectious diseases that can be transmitted by arthropods.

Spurred on by climate change, international travel, and international trade, disease-bearing insects are spreading to ever-wider parts of the world.

This means that more humans are exposed to viral infections such as Malaria, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Zika, West Nile fever, Yellow fever, and Tick-borne encephalitis.

Insect Epidemiology

There are also cases where the cross-overs are of regional or global concern. Insect Epidemiology focuses on outbreaks of insect vectored plants, forests, humans, and animal pathogens. They evaluate insect disease, such as those affecting honey bees and threatened or endangered species.

A major focus is to understand available methods in surveillance, prevention, and control of diseases, especially those of plants, humans, and animals. Their tools include modeling, statistical analysis, predicting, and controlling outbreaks of disease.

Are Entomologists needed for the Coronavirus?

The short answer for whether or not entomologists are needed for coronavirus is "no". Insects are not carriers of this disease, so there are not any needs for these experts.

With warmer weather approaching, there may be concerns about disease transmission via insects, but it’s important to note that coronavirus is not spread by vector pests.

Vector pests such as ticks and mosquitoes are known to play significant roles in the transmission of many critical diseases. Worldwide, mosquitoes are the leading vectors responsible for the transmission of infections to humans and are responsible for spreading malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), chikungunya, yellow fever and many more.

There is much more to learn about the coronavirus but based on current understandings, it’s highly unlikely a mosquito will pick up the virus by biting an infected person, let alone be able to pass it on.

Epidemiologists, on the other hand, are needed for the coronavirus pandemic to help prevent further outbreaks from occurring. Their work will improve detection and timely response. But more importantly, they are most needed to develop a vaccine.

So that's the longer answer as to why epidemiologists versus entomologists are needed for the coronavirus. 

Now, tell me, can you say "Entomologist vs. Epidemiologist" ten-times-fast?


Primary Source: Science Daily