Pest Management Conference Featured Expert Panels, Vector Control Sessions

Dr. Vargo at the Brazos Center main room stage

Dr. Ed Vargo speaking during the morning session. Photo by Rob Williams

BRYAN, Texas–Hundreds of pest control professionals convened at the Brazos Center in Bryan to learn about the latest technologies and regulations to control insects and other pests during the 71st meeting of the Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop.

The three-day-long workshop was held from January 11-13 and featured several different topics of interest including regulations on use of chemicals, control methods for various pests, and how to keep safe on the job.

Entomology Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale opened the event with an overview of the Department’s activities in the past year and updated the audience on the acquisition of a $10 million grant to establish the Gulf Coast Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with UTMB and UTRGV.

Professor and Endowed Chair in Urban and Structural Entomology Dr. Ed Vargo then updated everyone on the Urban Entomology program. He noted that the program has done research on over 35 projects, which included 30 that were industry-supported and 5 that were supported by the state of Texas, totaling more than $5 million.

Extension Program Specialist Janet Hurley speaking about school IPM

Extension Program Specialist Janet Hurley speaking about school IPM during a concurrent session. Photo by Rob Williams.

There were several new additions to this year’s conference including updates and discussion on the latest hot topics in pest control, a question and answer session featuring a panel of experts including Vargo Lab members and members of the pest control industry, and a new mosquito/vector control methods short course.

Safety and Security supervisor for Calumet-San Antonio Damon Shodrock spoke to the group about being safer on the job. His talk included the top 10 safety violations that OSHA sees and how to prevent each from happening in the workplace and on job sites.  Allison Cuellar from the Texas Department of Agriculture updated the audience on new rules and regulations that are being considered for pest management professionals.

Other sessions during Wednesday included various talks on bee control and removal, weed control in turfgrasses, termite identification and control methods, and an exhibitors’ forum where audience members could ask questions with a panel of vendors that were in the exhibition room selling products. Participants also were invited to learn more about the Urban and Structural Entomology program during an evening tour of the Rollins Urban and Structural Facility Wednesday evening.

Robert Puckett teaching at RELLIS campus with pest control professionals in the foreground

Assistant Professor and Extension Entomologist Dr. Robert Puckett speaking to pest control professionals about termites at the short course session of the conference. Photo by Rob Williams

On Thursday, Vargo updated on the latest effective termite management research while Molly Keck spoke on some of the common pests that were in trees and shrubs. After the main sessions, there were various breakout sessions on school IPM, mosquito control and management, graduate research vignettes, and structural fumigation.

During the breaks, conference participants had a chance to test their insect identification abilities at the Grand Challenge hosted by the Entomology Graduate Student Organization and learn about insects through the Associate Certified Entomologist training.

Participants also received hands-on experience with short courses in vector control and vector control methods, termite biology and control, and fumigation techniques. All of the short courses/demonstrations were designed to help pest control professionals receive hands-on experience and learn the latest pest management techniques.

“The conference went really well. We had 407 attendees, the most since 2008. All three workshops on Friday morning were full,” Vargo said.  “Everything ran smoothly thanks to all the work behind the scenes by Laura Nelson and other members of the urban lab. The feedback we’ve received from participants has been very positive. All the speakers did a terrific job and we’re grateful to them for their time and effort.”

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