meeting logoIf you aren’t a major bug nerd, you may not know what goes on at a big scientific meeting like the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America.  It is the largest insect meeting in the world. There are usually ≈4000 insect scientists of all kinds, from every continent. (Except Antartica. But if I’m wrong, let me know!)

Unfortunately, it’s not anything like a science fiction convention. Nearly everyone is in suits, and it’s a time to make professional networking connections and present your research. There are organized symposia about some topics I’m really interested in–the way in which media has covered Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees, for example.  Multiple bed bug symposia.  I’ll be sure to report back about those topics, as long as I’m not revealing anything that seems to be publication bound.

Titles of talks or papers usually have formal names like “Update on medical consequences of bed bug biting,” although sometimes you get a bit more humor; I liked this one: “To Baetidae or not to Baetidae: comprehensive phylogeny of baeitid mayflies.”  

Talks start at 8:00 AM and run until 9:00 PM at night. For 4 days.  By the end you just feel like your brain is swollen.

It’s also a great time to hang out, talk to old friends, and commune with bug people.  I’ll be distributing “I am Bug Girl” stickers in the spirit of “I am Spartacus” in order to:

  1. Confuse the issue on just who Bug Girl is; and
  2. Help bloggers and blog fans find each other at a huge meeting!

There will also be a Bug Blogger/Friends of Bug Blogs party Tuesday night; check out the Facebook Event Page for more details once we get on the ground in Reno and scope out venue and liquid refreshment options.

If you are an undergrad or a graduate student attending ESA for the first time: DON’T BE SHY! Seriously, entomologists are fairly laid back, even if they do insist on wearing suits. Anyone with an official ribbon–even the ESA President–will make time to talk to you.   If you see someone with an “I am Bug Girl” sticker, odds are good they also are a good person to ask questions of as well.  Don’t sit alone when you have meals–ever! That is a great time to sit down next to someone and start a conversation.

I’ll be revealing the winner of the Ribald Tales of Entomology Limerick Contest later this week, as well as other updates.
Stay Tuned!

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I’d very much like to join ESA, but have been to their site, and find the dues a bit out-of-reach for a “hobby ononatist, who piddles with a few beetles, too”.

  2. That should have been “odonatist”. The way I typed it sounds kinda nasty, and I don’t know how to erase it.

  3. The issue of dues for what I guess could be called a “professional amateur” or an enthusiast has been discussed several times by the ESA, and each time they conclude that it just isn’t financially viable for the society :(

    Also, LOL at the typo! I knew what you meant.

  4. I’ve just attended one talk at an ESA conference, as a friend was presenting and it was in my town (he’d sampled at my park), but I don’t remember suits. Perhaps suits are in the larger talks/plenary? ‘Course I was wearing a (park ranger) suit, so perhaps I was distracted by people staring at the towering ranger chick who was hanging out with a moth guy. =) I really DID want to go to more talks, but no such luck–duty called.

    Hope y’all have a great time. =) I find conferences exciting, rejuvenating, and spectacularly exhausting.

  5. Yeah, it’s really only the “Board Certified Entomologist” (read: old-school ag entomologists & exterminators) types who wear suits. Unless you’re a balding white guy over 50, you’d look out a bit out of place with a tie or jacket at an ESA meeting. That pretty much goes for all research biology meetings I’ve been to (SMBE, Evolution, BOL).

  6. Cannot wait for updates from the conference. I’d imagine it’s a lot more fun than a sci-fi conference; after all, bugs are real :)

  7. Oooh, can we all have “I am Bug Girl” stickers? :-)

  8. I’m with kitenet. I want one too. I’ll even try to get more in touch with my feminine side.

  9. Katie Cirkatiean November 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Keep us posted Bug Girl- we cannot make the conference this year!

  10. Yes, I am giving out the stickers right now! I also left a sheet of them on the bulletin board :)

  11. Okay, it’s been a few years since I attended, but don’t remember all that many suits in attendance. They also used to have great t-shirts, like the glow-in-the-dark beetle from the 2004 Ft. Lauderdale meeting.

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