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New Mexico State University

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Flies, spiders or beetles, NMSU students know the buzz on bugs

Do you know which muscles propel a grasshopper into the air?

Five New Mexico State University students know the answer is "extensor tibial muscles," and they proved it Feb. 22 when they placed second in the Southwestern Branch Linnaean Games held in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Linnaean Games, named in honor of taxonomy pioneer Carl Linnaeus, is an inter-collegiate, entomology-themed quiz bowl held every year in conjunction with the regional meeting of the Entomological Society of America. A second place win qualifies the team, consisting of NMSU graduate students Jorge Archuleta, Howard Beuhler, Stacey Bealmear, Eric Knutson and Joyce Parker, to compete in the national competition in San Diego, Calif., this December.

"Our students hold their own against students from top entomological programs across the country. We've placed in the top two six times in the last seven years," said Scott Bundy, coach.

According to Bundy, the team routinely places well at the national competition, and in many cases, NMSU undergraduate students are competitive with students who are doctoral candidates at other universities.

This year, NMSU's Linnean team beat two teams from Texas A&M for second place. Students from Oklahoma State University won the competition.

Questions in the Linnaean Games vary widely and encompass subjects like basic biology, taxonomy and scientific names of different species.

Members of the team meet about twice each week to practice for competition.

"It's a great way to learn the many facets of entomology," Bundy said.