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Students, researchers and other industry professionals tune in via Zoom to honor the award winners and discuss research and career topics at the Virtual National Conference on Urban Entomology & Conference on invasive pest ants (NCUE & IPAC), May 24-25. The event, held every two years since 1986, has been postponed from its original date of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first day of the conference, 11 undergraduate and graduate students gave 10-minute presentations on various aspects of urban entomology and the management of invasive ants as part of the student article competition. of NCUE / IPAC.
Maria A. Gonzalez-Morales, a doctoral candidate at North Carolina State University, won first place and $ 1,000 for her article, “Resistance to Fipronil in the Common Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). His research aims to understand the resistance of bedbugs and cockroaches to insecticides to improve pest control in urban settings.
Other presenters included Cari Lewis, a PhD. candidate at the University of Tulsa, who shared her article “Decade-Long Upsurge in Target Site Insecticide Resistance in Bed Bug Populations in the United States. ”
Lewis studied the long-term effects of insecticide use on urban insect pests by sampling 233 bedbugs from across the country for destruction resistance mutations from 2018 to 2019. She compared this data with research carried out by entomologists in 2009. “I was looking to determine if there is a long-term effect of insecticide use on the genetics of bedbugs 10 years ago,” she explained.
His findings supported his prediction that, through long-term use of insecticides, urban bedbugs evolved to possess knockdown resistance mutations. Lewis took second place in the student paper competition and received $ 750.
Richard Murphy, a Ph.D. student at Auburn University, presented “Video Analysis of a Termite Colony, Reticulitermes flavipes, Throughout exposure to Trelona termiticide bait. Her accompanying video footage showed the gradual disappearance of a termite colony when exposed to bait.
“We have been successful in documenting behaviors that are important to our understanding of the termite bait interaction,” Murphy said. “We have documented effective behaviors in terms of total colony collapse.”
Allison Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, shared research on how participants of different skill sets – from certified entomologists to junior high school students – were able to recognize different species of termites. according to the size of the mandible in his presentation “Old Tactics, New Tools: A Survey of Reticuliterms in Georgia. “
Johnson’s research concluded that while experienced entomologists provided the most reliable species identification, with minimal training, other groups, including graduate, undergraduate and junior high school students, were as well. able to produce precise identifications.
“With limited training, a small group of participants can quickly learn to recognize these characters in an investigation of this style and approach an experienced entomologist with a high degree of confidence in these placements in these categories,” Johnson said, who got third place. and $ 500 for his presentation.
Undergraduate student Marlo Black of the University of Tennessee and doctoral student Mark Janowiecki of Texas A&M University each received $ 1,500 scholarships during the conference. The scholarships were open to graduate and undergraduate students who were studying urban entomology or industrial pest control full-time at an accredited college or university in the United States.
Typically, a scholarship is also awarded to a master’s level student, but the NCUE / IPAC has not received any applicants in this category.
On the second day of NCUE / IPAC, Dr Ed Vargo, Distinguished Achievement Award winner, professor and chair at Texas A&M University, was recognized for his contributions to the field of urban entomology – in particular the biology and management of termites and bedbugs – and he lectured Arnold Mallis Memorial Award, “Urban entomology through the eyes of a molecular ecologist”. He discussed his research on the genetic identification of subterranean termite colonies and colony breeding structures in invasive ants and subterranean termites.
“Urban entomology and molecular ecology – these aren’t two terms you often hear together,” Vargo said. “I think it’s probably a shame that you don’t often hear those two terms together, because they’re two disciplines that I think have a lot to offer. Molecular ecology is a very large and growing field that has taken over a lot of biology and has the potential to really provide incredible information about the biology of organisms. And of course, urban entomology offers us many really amazing insects and other pests to study.
Vargo’s work has focused on the reproductive systems of social insect colonies and the genetic imprint of colonies. He began his career in research on the reproductive biology of ants at the University of Georgia. He then spent two years in Toulouse, France, studying the physiology and behavior of Argentine ants. Later, at the University of Texas at Austin, he worked with the Texas Department of Agriculture, where he said he gained an appreciation for the impact of fire ants on the public. He has published over 130 scientific papers on urban pests.
Next year’s NCUE / IPAC conference is scheduled for May 15-18 at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.