Hundreds of pest control professionals descended upon the Brazos Center during the first week of January for the annual Texas A&M University Pest Management Conference and Workshop at the Brazos Center.
This year, the workshop focused on pest control operator safety, updates on laws and regulations, and the newest research the Urban and Structural Program has been working on during the past year.
The conference opened with introductions from Dr. Ed Vargo, the Endowed Chair of the program, Entomology Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale, and a representative from the Texas Pest Control Association.
During Ragsdale’s opening comments, he commended the Urban Center on its excellence and progress on research throughout the year.
“It’s one of the largest programs in the country and we are proud of that fact and proud of the people that make a living day-to-day dealing with pests that invade our homes and businesses,” Ragsdale said. “There will be great things coming from the Urban and Structural Entomology program for the years to come which helps keep you informed about the latest control strategies.”
Ragsdale was also proud that the Department’s faculty was awarded 34 new grants in the past year for approximately $8.5 million in new funding for all areas of the discipline of entomology.
“The Department of Entomology is really making an impact locally, throughout the State of Texas and beyond,” he said.
He also mentioned the partnership the Department has with University of Texas Medical Branch and the UT Rio Grande Valley to create the Gulf Coast Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases. The Center is one of 5 such centers created by the CDC with a goal of training the next generation of vector biologists to help the world deal with human and animal pathogens transmitted by insects and other blood feeding arthropods.
After the opening comments, Janis Reed spoke about workplace safety and how to keep the 12 most common accidents that occur in the workplace and in the field. Danielle Dean Wallace updated participants in the latest laws and regulation changes that may affect the industry.
Mississippi State Professor Dr. Jerome Goddard spoke about current issues in the integrated pest management and newest methods on using IPM for pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, and flies. Other topics during the first day of the conference included managing weeds in Texas turfgrass, bats and birds in urban settings, termite biology and how it dictates control methods that are currently used in the industry.
The second included a panel of experts session where participants could ask questions about pests and pest control to experts in the industry, as well as Extension personnel. The panel was
followed with a talk about the biology and management of scale insect pests led by Carlos Bográn, and various mini-sessions that included laws and regulations in pest management in schools, structural and commodity fumigation, and keeping companies’ computers safe from hackers and other malicious activity.
Members of the Entomology Graduate Student Organization had a table set up for anyone that was interested in the organization and hosted the “Ultimate Challenge” where participants could test their insect identification knowledge.
Participants also received specialized instruction with three short courses in mosquito control, termite biology and control, and fumigation of both commercial and residential structures. All of the mini-courses were designed to help pest control professionals receive hands-on experience and learn the latest techniques. Each course consisted of a short classroom-type lecture mixed with demonstrations with actual equipment specific to the subject.