Dr. Gail Langellotto, a trained entomologist and Professor of Horticulture at Oregon State University, studies plants, insects, microbes, and decisions that improve or degrade a garden’s ability to promote environmental and human health. Langellotto, whose background lies in insect ecology, focused her career on understanding how small suburban and urban garden fragments can support and enhance local biodiversity. 

Langellotto’s work takes her out of the lab, and into the urban spaces where people live, work, and play.. She teaches undergraduate and graduate classes at Oregon State University, as well as her Applied Research Program, which focuses on understanding how even the smallest patches of green — backyard gardens, spaces between sidewalks and the curb, and other small spaces — can play a crucial role in supporting insect health. 

“I’ve always loved science,” Langellotto says. While working with an ecology professor during undergrad she realized that science could extend beyond the confines of a laboratory, which kicked off her journey as an entomologist. Now, Langellotto and her team delve into the intricate relationships of garden ecosystems. The lab aims to inform and empower homeowners and gardeners to make ecologically conscious choices.

“Our research has really shown that if you plant it, they will come,” says Langellottom referring to pollinators. “By making targeted and informed choices about what you’re planting in your garden, you have the capacity to draw in a greater biodiversity of bees and other beneficial insects. You don’t need a large amount of space to have a positive impact.”

Langellotto’s research isn’t just theoretical, by uncovering the value of urban and suburban gardens as havens for insects and wildlife, she highlights the interconnectedness of ecosystems — even in highly developed areas.

“I’ve long hypothesized that gardens act as safe spaces for insects, providing refuge from agricultural stresses,” Langellotto says. “Understanding how insects move in and out of garden spaces is crucial for conservation efforts.” Langellotto’s journey exemplifies the profound impact that individuals can have on their surroundings. 

Dr. Langellotto’s upcoming resident talk on July 30, 3-5 p.m., titled “The Importance of Gardens to Insect Conservation,” underscores the critical role that gardens play in preserving biodiversity and supporting insect populations. Additionally, PMRCAA invites the public to an Open Studio event on July 25, 4-6 p.m. with Dr. Langellotto’s resident cohort (Pato Hebert and Eliot Spaulding) where attendees can get a firsthand look at the research and transformative power of gardens.

Published On: June 26th, 2024 / Categories: Pine Meadow Ranch, Pine Meadow Ranch Programs /