Gries Lab

Research Interests

We study mechanisms of insect/spider/animal communication and resource-foraging. We elucidate semiochemical, sonic, visual, infrared and bacterial communication signals and foraging cues, and investigate how these signals or cues may have evolved in response to community composition, scarceness of resources, and physical parameters of the habitat. We also develop acquired knowledge for sophisticated control of pest insects or animals.
Most of our current study objects (hobo spiders; house flies; Drosophila fruit flies; mosquitoes; twig and tree borer moths; lymantriid moths; earwigs; Cimex, Boisea, and Leptoglossus bugs; cecidomyiid midges; cockroaches; braconid wasps; silverfish and firebrats; etc.) have major economic or ecological implications. We work on them under the premise that their biology and communication ecology is as intriguing as that of any other insect.
Findings of our research can be developed for earth-friendly control of insects in urban, agricultural, and forest settings. This is why we attract funding from Industrial Sponsors. In June 2004, our lab has obtained an NSERC-Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Multimodal Animal Communication Ecology, with Scotts Canada Ltd. as the current main sponsor. This NSERC-IRC is a triple-win because: (1) it provides a perfect training and research environment for many graduate and undergraduate students, and pushes the frontiers of science; (2) it provides society with earth-friendly solutions for pest problems; and (3) it generates new products and technologies for the industrial sponsors.


We thank Adam Blake & Stephen DeMuth for web design, Greg Elhers for photos of lab facilities and graduate students for banner photos.

In the News

Ecological and genomic insights into
stick-insect speciation

as featured in an article at
Nature Ecology & Evolution Community

Credit: M. Muschick

Studies of populations at different phases of speciation are beginning to illuminate the processes and genetic changes underlying the formation of new species. Our work on Timema stick insects suggests that speciation can be initiated by a few genetic changes that are associated with natural selection on colour-pattern loci. However, the overall process is multi-faceted and involves mate choice and genome-wide differentiation. Thus, substantial progress towards speciation may involve the alignment of multiple aspects of differentiation.

From the paper "Transitions between phases of genomic differentiation during stick-insect speciation" in Nature Ecology & EvolutionSee related stories from: & Futurity

How flies are flirting on the fly
as featured in an article at On Biology

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a day to let someone know you’re interested in them, often with a card or bunch of roses. But how would you go about this if you were a fly? Research published today in BMC Biology reveals a previously unrecognized mate recognition system where female flies dazzle potential suitors with light flashes from their wings.

From the paper "How flies are flirting on the fly" in BMC Biology
See related stories from: SFUnews, ScienceDaily, &