SAN ANTONIO - About 250 entomologists, scientists and other representatives from universities, government agencies and private industry will gather here Feb. 26 through March 2 for the Southwestern Branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and Annual Imported Fire Ant Research Conference.
The meeting will kick off Monday, Feb. 26, with an Insect Expo at the Municipal Auditorium and Conference Center, 100 Auditorium Circle. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., more than 1,200 San Antonio fourth-graders and home school children will receive a hands-on introduction to insects. Students will be able to see and touch all kinds of insects, cheer for their favorites in cockroach races, and even taste fried crickets or meal worms. Also, 22 teams of students will compete for prizes in an insect trivia quiz bowl modeled on the College Bowl television show.
The ESA general session will begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Topics of discussion will include control of pests in landscapes, school-directed pest management, monarch butterfly migration and tick-borne diseases.
Jim Olson, entomologist with the Texas A&M University department of entomology, will be the keynote speaker that day with “Forensic Entomology: Life of An Entomologist Dealing With Death.”
Research on the management of various urban and agricultural insect pests will be covered in the afternoon session. Wednesday morning concurrent sessions will cover the management of insects in both field and horticultural (nursery and commercial vegetable) crops.
The fire ant symposium Wednesday afternoon will begin with an overview of the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Plan by Dr. Bart Drees, coordinator of the Texas project, and Dr. Ray Frisbie, head of the department of entomology at Texas A&M. The plan was implemented in September 1997.
According to Nathan Riggs, Bexar County Extension agent in San Antonio, fire ants cause $700 million in damages annually in the major urban areas of Texas.
Speakers from 12 states will discuss red imported fire ant research, community control programs, monitoring programs and the impact of red imported fire ants on crops, livestock and wildlife, and the use of natural enemies, such as the South American Phorid fly.