Miss me? Come see me in Austin

Slide2To say I’ve been slacking would be incorrect but I understand you all may be feeling neglected.  I’m about to head to Austin for the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America where I will be presenting both a ten minute talk and a poster.  Let this be a lesson to you my faithful readers…never agree to do both a talk and a poster.

For those who care the talk will be Monday morning some time (I should look that up before it’s too late) and I’ll be rambling about these little caterpillars which cause problems in lawns and golf courses. Yup.  Exciting stuff, eh?  The poster will be up for most of Wednesday and I’ll be there at some point (again, should look into that) to answer your questions.

Sod webworm larvae on bentgrass turf

The poster is an interesting thing.  The way the ESA has their submission process, you submit the abstract and title five to six months prior to the event and once it’s submitted, that’s it.  So you can have the best of intentions, or think you know where things are going to take you…and then you find out that’s not the way things are heading.  The topic of my poster relates to an issue I have regular experience with; Delusory Parasitosis.  I will blog more about this in the days to come but essentially it’s the belief that you are being infested/bitten/attacked, etc. by insects, mites or some other organism.  There are many causes of this phenomena and as an Entomologist I am of course not able to diagnose any of them.  We just look at the signs we can observe and get a good feel for what the situation may be.  One of the hallmarks of this situation is the individuals refusal to accept that the problem could be psychological and thus, will not ever consider the forms of treatment that can bring relief to them.  Making matters worse is the shuffling around of them from doctor to doctor, with entomologists being contacted to confirm the presence (or lack thereof) of some arthropod related cause.  It is both a heartbreaking and headache inducing cycle that seems to have no solution.  At least no apparent solution to fit with current practices.

Slide1

Typical sample submitted by individual appearing to have delusory parasitosis/infestation. Tip I learned early on in my nursing days: if it’s wet and not yours, wear gloves. The same applies to Entomology.

Will a little poster at a silly conference make a difference?  Probably not.  Is it even a good poster?  Probably not.  – Hey…complete doubt of ones abilities is a key graduate student survival component. –  What I hope is to spark interest in finding more applicable solutions.  We can report the same data again and again but what good is that doing anyone?  We know what sorts of samples we receive.  We know who are most likely to come to us with these signs and we know that most likely, nothing we tell them will make them feel better or safer.  What we know, but have thus far been unable to do is get this information out to be used in meaningful and applicable ways.  Maybe I can be a part of changing that.

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