Some of Tennessee’s smallest inhabitants are finally getting their due next week. That’s because Governor Phil Bredesen is recognizing the “important role” insects play in the lives of humans by proclaiming Oct. 11 through Oct. 17 as “Tennessee Entomology Week.”
This designation corresponds with the 36th Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Entomological Society (TES), which brings together the top scientists in the state who specialize in studying insects.
This year’s meeting will be held Oct. 15-16 at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville, and it will recognize excellence in the field of entomology by both professionals with years of experience and up-and-coming high school students.
Phillip Adams, a home-schooled senior from Burns, will receive the Harry E. Williams Award during the meeting. The award is given annually to a high school junior or senior 4-H entomology state winner to encourage youths in this field.
The Richard E. Caron Outstanding Entomologist Award will also be presented during this year’s meeting to Dr. Reid Gerhardt. Gerhardt is a retired professor of veterinary and medical entomology at the University of Tennessee. During a career spanning more than 30 years, he conducted important research and authored numerous papers on the control and distribution of arthropods that attack and annoy humans, livestock and wild animals.
Registration starts at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, and the meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region 2 Conference Room. Dr. Keith S. Delaplane will deliver the keynote address, “Honey Bee Decline and Why it Matters.” It’s an unsettling and important topic, given that about one-third of human food supplies are dependent on bee pollination.
Delaplane is a professor and Walter B. Hill Fellow at the University of Georgia, Athens, where he is responsible for research, teaching and public service in honeybees and pollination.
He is national director of the $4.1 million Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project, a consortium of researchers and extension specialists at 17 institutions, including the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The project is charged with addressing honeybee declines through research and extension.
TES will also host an Insect Fair for students from neighboring Crieve Hall Elementary School on Thursday morning. More than 50 students will gather in the Ed Jones Auditorium on the EAC campus, where they’ll be introduced to the field of entomology through this fair.