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Pest Control Conference Focuses on IPM and Environmental Pest issues

More than 350 pest control operators, managers and other pest control professionals traveled to the Brazos Center this January to hear the newest regulations, trends and technologies used in the pest control field.

The conference helps pest control professionals to efficiently and effectively manage their businesses by learning about new developments in research, pest management techniques and the newest regulations and technologies available.

Wednesday’s session began with a moment of silence to remember those that passed away in 2011, including Don Stroope, Rick Blackwell, and Bill Stephen. Then, Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale opened the conference after the morning welcome and announcements.

The number of Professional Entomologists associated with the Department of Entomology are employed by the two agencies (AgriLife Extension, AgriLife Research) or by Texas A&M and located at College Station is 66. Then faculty across the system employ another 2 dozen professionals such as Post-docs, Research Scientists and Technicians – all are funded off grants. Then we have 129 undergraduates getting a degree in Entomology, 57 working toward a graduate degree (MS or PhD), and 112 in Forensic and Investigative Sciences (FIVS) for a total of 298 students in the Department.

“We have a tremendous presence here,” Ragsdale said. He also noted the growth of the Department’s graduate and undergrad students and emphasized the quality work the faculty has accomplished since he started in 2010. “We have a tremendous asset here and I am proud to be a part of this department,” he said.

During the “Friends of the Chair” update, Dr. Roger Gold  updated the audience on the activities of the Urban Center and announced scholarship recipients for both the endowed and regular scholarships. Graduate students Janis Reed, Danny McDonald and Chris Keefer were awarded scholarships while Mark Ivey was presented with a plaque for donating to the 12th Man Foundation. McDonald also received a scholarship from Target Specialty Products to help with his graduate work at the Urban Center.

Texas Pest Control Association President Scott Dickens and Executive Director Don Ward introduced themselves to the audience while Dr. Don Renchie with Texas AgriLife Extension Service updated the audience on recent pesticide application and other environmental regulations from the state and federal government that may affect people this year.

Safety was the topic for this year’s Jim and Marilyn Ivey Lecture Series as Texas Transportation Institute associate researcher Christine Yager and Bryan Police Department public information officer John Agnew spoke about distracted driving. Other topics on Wednesday included sessions in bat biology, an exhibitors’ forum and general insect identification. The sessions ended with a short tour of the Urban and Structural Center.

Between sessions, people browsed booths from various industry sponsors in the Exhibitor area of the center. Vendors also had a chance to answer questions during the Exhibitor’s forum in the afternoon. This is the second year the conference held the Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) training course and exam for conference goers. Sponsored by the Entomological Society of America, ACE program is an enhancement to the pest management professionals’ credentials and marketability in the ever-growing pest control industry.

Thursday’s activities included concurrent sessions on such topics as flea control, structural and commodity fumigation and treatments of commercial food establishments and an overview of Rasberry Crazy Ants. Other topics included general school IPM, identification and control of Texas spiders and bed bugs. Keynote talks included general IPM by Faith Oi and integrated pest management for turfgrasses and ornamental plants by Bart Drees. Attendees could also brush up on their insect identification skills by walking through the Entomology Graduate Student Organization’s Insect Identification Workshop.

Conference goers also received hands-on experience with three short courses in pest control for food service settings, termite biology and control and fumigation.  The mini-courses were designed to give the audience a hands-on demonstration on techniques in fumigation, termite biology and control, or pest control in commercial food service settings. Each short course consisted of a short lecture mixed with hands-on demonstrations with equipment or techniques specific to the subject.