COLLEGE STATION, Texas –A total of 396 participants got a glimpse of new urban insect biology and management techniques during the 69th annual Texas A&M Urban Pest Management Conference in early January.
Held from January 6-8, the conference is designed to help those that work in the pest management field to learn about the latest developments, techniques and regulations in the industry that can be used to help improve their business practices.
The first session began with Entomology Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale introducing Dr. Ed Vargo as the new Endowed Chair for the Urban and Structural Entomology program during the opening presentations. Additionally, Dr. Robert Puckett was introduced as Assistant Professor and Extension Entomologist who has also joined the urban entomology program.
Ragsdale was pleased to comment on the progress of the construction of the Rollins Urban and Structural Entomology Facility and praised all the participants that helped with the fundraising efforts.
“We want to thank you for helping us support our program,” he said. “It is the most remarkable facility we have ever had and will serve the program for decades to come.”
After Ragsdale spoke, Don Ward and Tom Collier of the Texas Pest Control Association introduced themselves and Gold delivered his final report from the Endowed Chair. Current Endowed Chair Dr. Ed Vargo presented this year’s Jim and Marilyn Ivey Lecture in the main room. Vargo presented on how DNA and other genetic studies are advancing termite biology and management.
In addition to the Ivey Keynote Lecture, Laura Higgins of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute presented a talk on the dangers of distracted driving and how to avoid becoming distracted when driving. Chris Gorecki also followed up afterwards with a session on risk management and how to limit liability while operating their businesses.
Wednesday’s other sessions also included topics on controlling bed bugs, IPM of biting and stinging insects and updates on laws and regulations affecting pest control businesses and a tour of the new Rollins Urban and Structural Entomology Facility.
Thursday’s sessions included talks on IPM of different invaders such as pantry pests and house flies by Wizzie Brown and managing turfgrass insect pests by Diane Reynolds. Dr. Puckett presented research on the biology, ecology, and management of tawny crazy ants. The concurrent sessions included topics on school IPM compliance, various research vignettes, commodity and structural fumigation techniques.
Between sessions, participants also tested their insect identification knowledge during “The Ultimate Challenge” and had a chance to visit with vendors at the vendor showcase.
Participants also received lots of hands-on experience with three short courses in commercial food establishments at Covenant Presbyterian Church in College Station, termite biology and control, and fumigation located at Riverside Campus. All of the workshops were designed to help pest control professionals receive hands-on experience and learn the latest pest management techniques.