Having enjoyed the first 19 years of my life in warm, humid, tropical Malaysia, I flew over to Canada where I spent the next 4 years in the cold but crudely romantic Montreal, completing my B. Sc. (Env. Biology) in McGill University. The East Coast winter was beautiful, but I missed the warmth (and the inconvenience of a snow jacket was too much to bear) and so I hopped over to California, where I completed my Ph.D. (Entomology) under Prof. Jay Rosenheim in the University of California-Davis. Although Davis was the closest thing to a 2nd home I’ve ever had, delicious, pungent durians were impossible to find and so, I returned to Malaysia after 8 years in North America. Now, I am teaching and doing insect behavioural ecology research in Universiti Putra Malaysia, where opportunities for agricultural entomology work are plentiful and rewarding. So are the durians here.
I am broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of insect behaviours. Specifically, I am most keen in studying the behaviours and strategies used by insects to forage, to mate and to protect themselves. Whenever I observe an insect behaviour, I ask the following: “What is it doing? What is its function? Why does it do it? What are the benefits and costs? Is similar behaviour expressed in other systems too? How do these systems compare?”
Insect pests cause huge losses in agricultural yield, but many insects can also help protect crops and improve yield. A main drive of my research is to apply understanding of insect behavioural ecology to help farmers better manage their crops.
Now, it’s definitely Silana farinosa (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a tortoise beetle that feeds almost exclusively on the leaves of curry plants (Murraya koenigii). It originated from Sri Lanka/India, but has invaded Malaysia since at least the 1990s. What’s cool about it? It accumulates its feces and exuvium into a club (‘fecal shield’) and apparently uses it to fend off natural enemies.
Y-H Law and J. Rosenheim. 2011. Effects of combining an intraguild predator with a cannibalistic intermediate predator on a species-level trophic cascade. Ecology 92: 333-341.
Rosenheim, J. A., S. Parsa, A. A. Forbes, W. A. Krimmel, Y-H Law, M. Segoli, M. Segoli, F. S. Sivakoff, T. Zaviezo, and K. Gross. 2011. Ecoinformatics for integrated pest management: expanding the applied insect ecologist’s tool-kit. Journal of Economic Entomology 104: 331-342.
Y-H Law and A. Sediqi. 2010. Sticky substance on eggs improves predation success and substrate adhesion in newly hatched Zelus renardii instars. Annals of the ESA 103: 771-77.