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The good, the bad and the buggy

February 21, 2014
Bethia King

Bethia King

Using parasitic wasps to fight the fly population might sound like something out of the latest sci-fi film, but entomologists are actually researching this bug battle to find environmentally friendly solutions for pest control.

At the next STEM Café, NIU professor Bethia King and Ph.D. candidate Ted Burgess from NIU’s Department of Biological Sciences will share their research on insects, pesticides and alternative methods of pest control.

This free talk and discussion is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Feed’em Soup, 122 South First St. in DeKalb. Proceeds from the event will benefit Feed’em Soup.

King has been teaching and studying insects at NIU for more than 20 years. Her research focuses on wasps that have a parasitic relationship with pest flies. She is particularly interested in the wasp’s behavior and how wasps help control fly populations. She first became interested in pesticides when Ted Burgess proposed studying the topic.

Burgess is a Sycamore native who worked in King’s lab as an undergraduate. He originally planned to attend medical school, but after taking a summer job at a mosquito control company, he wanted to better understand how pesticides affect insects. The goal of his research is to contribute to the development of environmentally safe and efficient pest management solutions for agriculture.

STEM Cafe logo: Feed your mind!

During the STEM Café discussion, King and Burgess plan to explore green pest control, the effects of pesticides on honeybees and other beneficial insects, and possible alternative solutions to the pest problems facing the agricultural industry. Some of their research focuses on neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide that may contribute to honey-bee colony collapse disorder.

This event is part of NIU STEM Outreach’s series of monthly STEM Cafés, which are free and open to the public. Food and drinks are available for purchase from the host restaurant.

The STEM Café series is just one of the many engaging events STEM Outreach hosts throughout the year to increase public awareness of the critical role STEM fields play in our everyday lives.

For more information on STEM Cafés and other STEM events, contact Judith Dymond at (815) 753-4751 or [email protected].