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XXIII International Congress of Entomology

Sugarcane fields near DurbanDuring July 2008 I attended the XXIII International Congress of Entomology in Durban, South Africa. As with previous ‘ICEs' I've attended, this congress was very stimulating and I came back with lots of new ideas for research projects. Just as importantly, I made a lot of new contacts with leading pest management researchers from around the world. There are too many to list here, however mention should be made of the stored grain entomologists based in Manhattan, Kansas, who work for either the USDA-ARS or Kansas State University. James Campbell, Jim Throne and Tom Phillips are all leaders in the field of stored grain pest ecology, and their advice and guidance will be extremely valuable in relation to new research projects supported by the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity. Contacts made or renewed with researchers based at Washington State University and the University of Florida will also be of value in ongoing research programs on plant volatiles and aquatic toxicology.


Several ideas for postgraduate projects were developed with colleagues who attended the congress, some of them with the potential to lead to international collaboration. Michael Stout (Louisiana State University) and I discussed the possibility of looking at chironomid midge colonisation in US rice fields, and discussions with Major Steve Frances (Australian Army Malaria Institute) indicate that DNA-based studies on mosquito predation are now an option in southern Australia, as appropriate molecular markers have been identified. Studies of this sort are valuable tools for examining trophic relationships, and are becoming increasingly popular with ecologists as DNA technology becomes more accessible to applied researchers.


I chaired a rice pest management symposium during the congress, and presented papers on stink bug ecology and management of chironomid midge larvae with the pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis. Unfortunately several of the invited speakers did not turn up, and this was pretty much characteristic of the congress as a whole - financial constraints, visa restrictions, and a concern about security issues in South Africa led many registered delegates to cancel their trips at the last minute. This was the only downside to what was otherwise an enjoyable and stimulating congress. The next ICE will be held in 2012 in Daegu, South Korea.


When: July 2008
Location: Durban, South Africa
Mark Stevens recently attended the XXIII International Congress of Entomology and chaired a rice pest management symposium as well as presenting several papers.