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STEM Cafe investigates eco-safe bug control

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 9:29 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – 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 Cafe, Professor Bethia King and Ph.D. candidate Ted Burgess from Northern Illinois University’s Department of Biological Sciences will share their research on insects, pesticides, and alternative methods of pest control. This free talk and discussion will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Feed‘em Soup, 122 S. 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 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.

During the STEM Cafe 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 honeybee colony collapse disorder.

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

The STEM Cafe 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. Learn more about STEM Cafes and other events at www.niu.edu/stem or contact Judith Dymond at jdymond@niu.edu or 815-753-4751.

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