Date of this Version
Robert Wright & Marion Ellis. 2017. Dr. Kenneth P. Pruess Obituary. American Entomologist, Volume 63, Issue 4, Page 259.
Dr. Kenneth P. Pruess, age 84, of Lincoln, Nebraska, died 11 December 2016. Kenneth was Professor of Entomology Emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was born 21 June 1932 in Troy, Indiana, to Elmer and Clara (Grass) Pruess. Kenneth graduated from Purdue University in 1954 and earned his M.S. in Entomology in 1955 and Ph.D. in 1957, both from The Ohio State University. His dissertation was titled “Studies on the Clover Root Borer, Hylastinus obscurus (Marsham).” He married Neva Currie on 15 June 1963. He worked at the University of Nebraska’s North Platte Experiment Station from 1957–1965, Entomology Department at UNL from 1965–1997, and was Entomology Department UNL Emeritus from 1997 until the time of his death, continuing his research until 8 December 2016.
Throughout his career, Kenneth conducted research on a wide variety of topics. Initially, he was hired at North Platte to study the army cutworm, Euxoa auxiliaris (Grote), which was a major pest of wheat in western Nebraska. He published several studies that helped document their summer migration from the Great Plains to the Rockies. One of these he co-authored with his wife, who also had graduate training in entomology. They used binoculars to track the direction of flight at night of army cutworm moths by watching them as they flew in front of the moon. He began long-range studies of the population dynamics of rangeland grasshoppers, which continued for decades after he moved to Lincoln. He was an early adopter of using microcomputers in teaching and developed programs for computer modeling in pest management. He conducted several studies on biology and management of western corn rootworms, including a 1968–1970 study on areawide management of adult rootworms over a 16-square-mile area. His study was the first to evaluate the potential of areawide management of corn rootworms. Later, he began studies on natural history of aquatic insects, particularly focused on black flies. He used molecular techniques to study black fly taxonomy and then alfalfa weevil taxonomy. The week of his death, he was working on finalizing a manuscript on alfalfa weevil molecular taxonomy for journal submission.