Elizabeth A. McMahan

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Elizabeth A. McMahan
BornMay 5, 1924
Pino, North Carolina, USA
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materDuke University, University of Hawaii
Known forStudy of termites and assassin bugs[1]
AwardsAward of Excellence, North Carolina Entomological Society
Scientific career
Fieldsentomology, psychology, children's literature
InstitutionsUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, College of Agriculture, Port Antonio, Jamaica
Thesis (1960)

Elizabeth Anne McMahan, known as Betty, was a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill for 26 years.[2] She had a distinguished and varied career as an entomologist, psychologist, cartoonist, writer of children's books, and world traveler.[3][4] She worked in the parapsychology lab of J. B. Rhine at Duke for several years, but left for graduate work in entomology at the University of Hawaii and subsequent research on the feeding, foraging, and social behavior of termites and some of their associate and predator species.[1] Her field work in entomology took her to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Australia, and India.[5] Two insect species were named for her: the assassin bug Salyavata mcmahanae and the beetle Neophilotermes mcmahanae.[6]

Selected publications[edit]


McMahan, E.A. (1996) "Termites", in The Food Web of a Tropical Rain Forest, Ed D.P. Reagan & R.B. Wade, University of Chicago Press, pp. 110–135

Jones, S.C., Nalepa, C.A., McMahan E.A., Torres, J.A. (1995) "Survey and ecological studies of the termites (Isoptera:Kalotermitidae) of Mona Island", Florida Entomologist 78: 305-313

McMahan, E,A. (1986) "Beneficial aspects of termites", in Economic Impacts and Control of Social Insects, Ed S.B. Vinson, Praeger Press, pp. 144–164

McMahan, E.A. (1983) "Adaptations, feeding preferences, and biometrics of a termite-baiting assassin bug (Hemiptera, Reduviidae)", Annals of the Entomological Society of America 76: 483-486

McMahan, E.A. (1970) "Polyethism in workers of Nasutitermes costalis (Holmgren)", Insectes Sociaux, 17: 113-120

McMahan, E.A. (1963) "A study of termite feeding relationships, Using radioisotopes", Annals of the Entomological Society of America 58: 74-82

McMahan, E.A. (1962) "Laboratory studies of colony establishment and development in Cryptotermes brevis(Walker) (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae)", Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 18: 145-153

McMagan, E.A., Gray I.E. (1957) "Variation in a local population of the dragonfly Helocordulia", Annals of the Entomological Society of America 50: 62-66

Entomology, for the layman[edit]

McMahan, E.A. (2005) "Adventures documenting an assassin bug that "fishes" for termites", American Entomologist 51: 202-207

McMahan, E.A. (1983) "Bugs angle for termites", Natural History Magazine 92: 40-47


McMahan, E.A. (1947) "A review of the evidence for dowsing", Journal of Parapsychology 11: 175-?

McMahan, E.A. (1946) "An experiment in pure telepathy", Journal of Parapsychology 10: 224-?

Children's books[edit]

McMahan, E.A. (2000) Cammie, A Girl for All Seasons

McMahan, E.A. (2001) Raising Cane with Cammie

McMahan, E.A. (2002) Cammie Turns Ten, ISBN 9780759688612


  1. ^ a b Christine A. Nalepa (2010). "Elizabeth Anne McMahan: In Memoriam (1924-2009)". Sociobiology. 56: 1–6.
  2. ^ American Men and Women of Science: A biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences (21st ed.). EBSCO. p. 109.
  3. ^ "Guide to Elizabeth A. McMahan Entomological Research Films and Manuscripts 1983-2010 (NCSU Libraries)".
  4. ^ "Preliminary Guide to the Elizabeth A. McMahan Papers, 1926-2010 and Undated (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)".
  5. ^ "Cammie Turns Ten: About the Author (Amazon books)".
  6. ^ Eric Larson (2009). "Elizabeth McMahan '46, A.M. '48: Making a name in entomology".