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Symposium to Highlight Global Challenge of Managing Insecticide Resistance

Aedes mosquito

Resistance to insecticides is a growing challenge in the effort to fight mosquito-borne diseases as well as in managing other insect pests. A symposium at Entomology 2018, organized by the ESA Student Affairs Committee, will gather a variety of perspectives on the latest research and strategies for managing insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, bed bugs, moths, and more. (Photo credit: Patrick Carney Photography)

By Ashley Kennedy

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts contributed by the Entomological Society of America’s Student Affairs Committee, with the goal of engaging entomology students and helping them prepare for Entomology 2018, the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia, November 11-14, in Vancouver. Read previous posts in the series and stay tuned for more in the future.

Each year, the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America features a symposium organized by members of the ESA Student Affairs Committee (SAC). Attendees of the 2017 student symposium will remember that it showcased collaborations that facilitated advancements in science, providing a perfect jumping-off point for this year’s symposium to pick up from. This year’s topic is “Tackling Insecticide Resistance through Science, Extension, and Collaboration.” As it delves into a serious issue that truly does not abide by political boundaries, this symposium dovetails neatly with the overarching theme, “Crossing Borders: Entomology in a Changing World,” of the 2018 Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia, which will take place November 11-14 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Ashley Kennedy

Ashley Kennedy

The student symposium will take place Tuesday, November 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room 224 of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Organizers include Casey Parker (SAC chair), Jocelyn Holt (vice chair), Lina Bernaola (student representative to the ESA Governing Board), Carlos Esquivel (PIE Section representative), and Emily Justus (North Central Branch representative).

Although listed as a MUVE section symposium, it promises to be of interest to entomologists of all stripes, as insecticide resistance affects everything from crop production to urban pest control. The symposium kicks off with mosquito talks and goes on to include bed bugs, fruit moths, biting midges, and more.

Not a student? Not a problem! While the organizers are students, symposium participants include entomologists from all career stages, and the target audience is anyone and everyone—whether an undergraduate first-timer at ESA, an emeritus member, or anyone in between.

For more details about the speakers and topics, check out the lineup below. The title of each speaker’s presentation is linked so you can easily access it in the Entomology 2018 online program and add it to your schedule:

The absurdity of borders from a mosquito perspective,” C. Roxanne Connelly, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

C. Roxanne Connelly, Ph.D., BCE, received her B.S. in environmental science and M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University. In 1999, she joined the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at the University of Florida and served as a professor for 17 years. She is now the Chief Entomologist for the Entomology and Ecology Team in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Arboviral Disease Branch, at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her research interests and focus lie in improving vector control capabilities, responding to vector-borne disease situations, and communicating with the public and professionals in the industry. Her keynote presentation will highlight the interconnectedness of mosquitoes around the globe, that political borders are irrelevant to mosquitoes, and how it all ties in to insecticide resistance.

Spatial and temporal dynamics of Aedes aegypti pyrethroid resistance in Iquitos, Peru,” Jennifer Baltzegar, North Carolina State University

Jennifer Baltzegar is a Ph.D. candidate in genetics and a National Science Foundation-Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship fellow in the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University. She has developed expertise in population genetics and approaches her work from an interdisciplinary perspective. Both her past and current work focuses on management of wild populations and the interaction of that management with nature and society. Her research as a master’s student employed a responsible approach to identify the best population improvement strategy for an economically important fish species. This work resulted in a protocol that has been used by both governmental and private organizations to improve wild populations and commercial sale of the species. Her current work examines the evolution of insecticide resistance in Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika and dengue viruses. The data she is generating is important for providing health officials crucial information to protect communities from disease and for understanding the evolutionary processes of insecticide resistance that are acting in this mosquito. Her career goal is to contribute to a distinct, vibrant, and productive team working to solve today’s “wicked problems.”

Neighbors help neighbors control urban mosquitoes,” Dina Fonseca, Rutgers

Dina Fonseca, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University and a member of the graduate programs in entomology, ecology and evolution, and applied microbiology. She is also director of the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology and a molecular ecologist, primarily developing tools to reveal incipient infestations or their sources, identify which traits are associated with expansion and damage, and optimize management strategies. From 2008 to 2013, she was the lead principal investigator on a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service to develop and test area-wide integrated mosquito management strategies to control Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito. As a founding member of the World Health Organization- and CDC-funded Worldwide Insecticide Resistance Network, Fonseca remains committed to the prevention and control of urban mosquitoes by training better medical entomologists as well as developing and field-testing enhanced approaches. This network is currently composed of 19 institutions worldwide developing vector research, providing a unique framework for tracking insecticide resistance in invasive mosquito vectors of arboviruses that challenge vector control interventions.

Collaborating with vector control to improve our understanding of insecticide resistance,” Casey Parker, University of Florida

Casey Parker earned her B.S. and M.S. in entomology and nematology from the University of Florida and is currently dually enrolled as a Ph.D. and Master of Public Health student at UF. Her research focuses on insecticide resistance, vector competence, and designing more effective communication strategies to combat insect disease vectors. For the last couple of years, she has had the opportunity to work with mosquito control programs to tackle the topic of insecticide resistance. Parker shared with me that “insecticide resistance can be a major challenge in successfully controlling mosquitoes. This becomes a real public health concern when there is local transmission of a vector-borne disease.” In the symposium, Parker will share with us how her collaboration with mosquito control programs has led to discussions about how we best control mosquito vectors.

Incorporating insecticide resistance monitoring into an extension program,” Kristen Healy, Louisiana State University

Kristen Healy, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of medical entomology at Louisiana State University, where she is involved in extension, research, and teaching. She works closely with mosquito control programs in the state to address their issues and concerns regarding mosquitoes, mosquito-borne diseases, and mosquito control. Since she started at LSU, she has worked to evaluate trapping methodologies for Culex mosquitoes, evaluate control efficacy of adulticides and larvicides, establish a statewide insecticide resistance monitoring laboratory, evaluate non-target effects of mosquito control, develop new short courses on mosquito identification, mentor graduate students and young professionals interested in a career in medical entomology, and establish multidisciplinary teams to help answer complex mosquito control-related questions.

Understanding the molecular genetic basis of Bt resistance in insect pests,” Rey Cotto, Cornell University

Rey Cotto is currently an M.S. and Ph.D. student at Cornell University with interest in food sustainability and food security. He focused his undergraduate studies in agricultural sciences with a concentration in crop protection at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. During his undergraduate studies, he was involved in different research experiences related to crop protection such as plant-pathogen-insect interaction, plant diseases, and agricultural pests affecting the integrated pest management strategies that further contribute to developing an interest in insect resistance to pesticides. His current research at Cornell is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of insect resistance to Bt toxins. Genetically engineered crops have provided both significant environmental and economic benefits over the conventional use of chemical pesticides, and development of resistance to Bt toxins in insect pests threatens the sustainable application of this environment-friendly biopesticide in agriculture. As an attempt to contribute to our food sustainability and food security, understanding insect resistance to pesticide and intoxication pathways will help us to improve pest management strategies to produce better products for our agricultural industry.

Management of resistance to insecticides in the oriental fruit moth,” Lambert Kanga, Florida A&M University

Lambert Kanga, Ph.D., is a professor of entomology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the research director of the Center for Biological Control (CBC) within the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The mission of the CBC is to “generate, apply, and transfer innovative, ecologically based solutions to pest problems affecting agriculture, natural resources, and human health while developing the human capacity for continued future innovation.”

Knockdown resistance to pyrethroid insecticides,” Ke Dong, Michigan State University

Ke Dong, Ph.D., received her B.S. from Zhejiang Forestry College and M.S. from Zhejiang University, both in China, and her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Currently she is a professor in the Department of Entomology and also in the Neuroscience and Genetics Programs at Michigan State University. She is an insect neurotoxicologist and serves on the editorial board of the journals Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Insect Molecular Biology, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology and Insects. One major research project in her lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms of action and resistance of sodium-channel-targeting insecticides, including pyrethroids. Using a combination of toxicological, pharmacological, and molecular genetic methods, her group has demonstrated the involvement of mutations in the sodium channel in mediating pyrethroid resistance in insects. Their early success in the expression and functional characterization of cockroach sodium channels in Xenopus oocytes laid a foundation for their subsequent work on the characterization of sodium channels from Drosophila melanogaster flies, Varroa destructor mites, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Bombus impatiens bumble bees, and, more recently, the brown planthopper Nilaparvata lugens.

Cracking the insect egg problem: Considering insecticide resistance in early life stages,” Brittany Campbell, National Pest Management Association

Brittany Campbell, Ph.D., BCE, is currently a staff entomologist at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Her current role allows her to travel around the country to speak to pest management professionals on the science behind pest control and provide technical assistance to the pest control industry. She is passionate about sharing her research experiences with the people who are on the front lines of insect management and to see the fruition of research in application. Campbell has been with NPMA for one year and just graduated with her Ph.D. in May 2018 from the University of Florida, where she studied the biology and control of the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug. Her work with tropical bed bugs garnered national attention and the nickname from the University of Florida as the “Mother of Bed Bugs”—a title she is quite proud of. Prior to her work at the University of Florida, Campbell attained her master’s degree in entomology from Virginia Tech, where she evaluated insecticide resistance in bed bug eggs.

Challenges and opportunities in pesticide resistance management of bed bugs,” Nina Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University

Nina Jenkins, Ph.D., is an associate research professor in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University. She earned her B.S. in applied biology from the University of Greenwich and her Ph.D. from Cranfield University, both in the United Kingdom. She spent 15 years working for CABI Bioscience, an international organization providing research solutions for agriculture around the world. Nina was part of the successful team that developed “Green Muscle” (now owned by BASF) for control of locusts and grasshoppers in Africa. Since moving to Penn State in 2008, she has been working on the development of biopesticide solutions for other pest insects including house flies and mosquitoes. Most recently, she developed and commercialized the first fungal based biopesticide for the control and prevention of bed bugs. Her presentation in this symposium will discuss pesticide resistance in bed bugs and the role of biopesticide products as tools for resistance management.

Pesticide perception and use on deer farms in Florida and its influence on resistance development in Culicoides,” Laura Harmon, University of Florida

Laura E. Harmon is a second-year master’s student at the University of Florida in entomology and nematology. She obtained her B.S. in wildlife ecology and conservation from UF prior to applying for a master’s under the direction of Emma Weeks, Ph.D. In her research, she works closely with deer farmers in the state of Florida through the Cervidae Health Research Initiative (CHeRI). Her research is focused on determining what insecticides deer farmers are commonly using to prevent Culicoides biting midge exposure to the animals, if there is insecticide resistance occurring in Florida species of Culicoides biting midges, and if there is evidence of insecticide sequestering in the tissues of farmed white tailed deer.

Ashley Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Delaware in the Tallamy Lab, where she is researching bird-insect food webs. She serves as the Eastern Branch Representative to the ESA Student Affairs Committee and is a member of the 2017 Class of ESA Science Policy Fellows. Twitter: @WhatDoBirdsEat. Email:

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