Report from the Korean Society of Applied Entomology Meeting

Korean Society of Applied Entomology
Biannual meeting 12-14 May 2011
Vivaldi Park, Korea

By Tom Miller, UC Riverside
May 23, 2011

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The 50th Anniversary meeting of the Korean Society of Applied Entomology (KSAE) was held in Vivaldi Park, Korea from Thursday to Saturday, 12-14 May 2011. To celebrate the occasion, a special international symposium was convened consisting of invited Presidents of the Entomological Societies of China, Japan, Taiwan, the Plant Protection Society of Malaysia, the Entomological Society of America and the Australian Entomological Society, and a former President of KSAE. Symposium speakers were all asked to address the general theme, “Current and Future Applied Entomology,” in their respective countries.

The President of the Australian Entomological Society asked James Ridsdill-Smith, a former President of the Australian Entomological Society to represent them. I obtained  permission to represent the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Both President Ernest Delfosse and Vice President Grayson Brown thought the opportunity for ESA to make official connections with Asian Societies that was too good to pass up. They not only gave me permission to extend official greetings on their behalf, but would have scheduled attendance themselves except for conflicting schedules. Instead, President Delfosse provided a Power Point describing the ESA for my use and the ESA executive team decided to send newly appointed Executive Director, David Gammel, to attend. I described applied entomology in the USA, Mr. Gammel was added to the program to extend official greetings from the ESA.

Speakers were asked to submit a two page abstract. These appeared in the final program booklet. Also provided were complementary copies of the last issue of Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, the official journal of KSAE. By sheer coincidence, an article bearing my name appeared in that issue (Wang, et al., 2011), the official journal of KSAE, Taiwan Entomological Society and Malaysian Plant Protection Society.

The next International Congress of Entomology is to be held in Daegu Korea in August 2012 and the Local Organizing Committee for the congress, led by its Chairman Byungjin Kim held a meeting immediately after the Sympsoium.  James Ridsdill-Smith who is the Secretary General of the Council for the International Congress of Entomology also attended .  I am a member of the advisory committee for the Korean ICE2012 and was asked to join the meeting, together with Soo-ok my wife who helped interpret between Korean and English. 

Travel to and the Venue

Colleagues who have never been to Korea may be surprised to learn that 70% of the country is mountainous, but these are coastal California or Appalachian mountains rather than on the Rocky Mountain scale. Visitors who choose to arrive at Incheon Airport will find a completely modern facility complete with showers in the basement. Limousine bus service to Seoul, about an hour away, or other points is frequent and English is understood. 

While some of us arrived early and traveled to Vivaldi Park by auto with hosts or colleagues, others arrived at the airport and were met by greeters and driven directly to Vivaldi Park. David Gammel arrived early Wednesday morning, before 5 am. Instead of waiting for other dignitaries to arrive and join them and a host for travel by private car, he chose the airport limousine service and was deposited at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Seoul where he was able to wash and relax before joining us at a pre-arranged meeting with the Agricultural Attaché at the American Embassy in Seoul.

The meeting consisted of Environment, Science, Technology and Health officer, James Waller, and the Agricultural Attaché, Gerald Smith (a member of the Foreign Agriculture Service of the USDA), David Gammel, President Byung Jin Kim of the International Congress of Entomology 2012 (ICE2012), my wife, Soo-ok and I. Mr. Waller arranged for me to give a lecture at the famous Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, Korea, the next week as part of the Embassy science public diplomacy activities. 

We discussed ways for the US State Department and the post in Seoul to support ICE2012 in Daegu, Korea, 19-25 August 2012. We also discussed the anticipated bid of the USA to host the ICE2016 Congress and official support from the US government of international scientific activities of a similar nature and possible involvement of the United Nations efforts in food security. Gerald Smith made some excellent suggestions for engagement at the international level and provided key contacts.

Following this meeting we had lunch with President Kim’s son, James, who is an officer in the HSBC (British) Bank in Seoul. James obtained a bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University and an MBA from Duke University in North Carolina. Korea sends a larger number of graduate students abroad per capita for study than any other Asian country including China and India.

We then dropped David off at the large faculty guest house at Seoul National University where the other international participants of the KSAE symposium were gathering for the drive to Vivaldi Park the next morning. While David checked into his room, we drove to the faculty of agriculture where we met the Vice President of KSAE, Joon Ho Lee, who doubles as the chairman of the scientific program for ICE2012. I gave a seminar to the entomology faculty and graduate students and afterwards we drove back to the guest house for dinner with most of the symposium invited speakers who by then had arrived.

Seoul National University is located in the hills just behind the capitol of Korea. Indeed, Seoul itself is punctuated by 37 hills, making the landscape rather unique. While the city is very much vertical and contains an amazing number of high rise apartment buildings, in a few minutes you can be in wooded upland hills and, frankly, get lost like we did.

Vivaldi Park is famous in Korea. Post Office officials claim that a letter with just that name is enough to reach there. It is a ski resort and recreation area complete with country club golf course and Youth Hostel. The KSAE meeting was held in one of two massive hotel complexes designed to house Korean family visitors; this one had a tree theme with four hotels named Cherry, Oak, Pine and Maple. The convention was on the third floor in Maple, we stayed in Oak. The hotel complex is connected by an underground passageway complex of shopping and dining areas designed for amusement of families. Halfway from Maple to Oak, for example, is a merry-go-round and bumper car facility, pool tables, bars and several restaurants.

Next door to this hotel complex is Ocean World, equivalent to Marine World with water slides instead of Shamu and chair lifts ascend up several choices of ski slopes from there. While this complex is very extensive, visitors have no clue of it on the drive in that goes through rural villages.

The drive from Seoul to Vivaldi takes more than an hour. It follows the Han River up into the mountains along a modern divided freeway. Because of the topography, there are numerous tunnels. We all marveled at the engineering involved in the tunnels and bridges. But because of massive reforestation that has taken place in Korean over the last 60 years, I always have the impression of driving in a miniature version of rural Switzerland while in Korea outside of the main cities; indeed, away from Seoul and into the mountains, the few buildings present seem are confined to any flat places that occur in river valleys; even cemeteries are placed on steep hill sides.

We had coffee at a modern freeway facility with shops and fuel stations and then left the freeway to ascend up to the Vivaldi area. The road wound through beautiful mountain valleys along stream beds with pockets of local construction and an occasional larger resort-looking building.

The final steep winding road to the main resort area was lined with flags each with a bikini-clad girl, which seemed oddly out of place. Indeed the same five girls in bikinis were painted on the side of largest chair lift building as a sort of official welcome. I assume designers had a choice between ski outfits and goggles and the beach attire suggested by Ocean World amusement park and chose the latter. Two other themes seemed omnipresent, food and children, because the resort obviously caters to families; there was no casino present, but there was a country club and golf course on top of the mountain.

At the end of the KSAE meeting, which was on a Saturday, our colleagues were excited that their families had arranged to join them for the remainder of the week end. Indeed as we left Saturday morning the road in was filled with cars and buses bringing in hundreds of people and fishermen began to appear in the local river.

The Symposium

The presenters stayed on the theme of the symposium. I was struck by the presence of two main entomology societies in Korea, the KSAE and the Entomological Society of Korea, which have separate journals. There is a tension between these two groups that reminded me of similar description from Al Boyce at UC Riverside about the American Association of Economic Entomologists and the Entomological Society of America before both officially combined in 1953.

Kyung-Saeng Boo, former President of KSAE, described the turbulent history of applied entomology in Korea and the many name changes it has undergone from virtual non-existence during the Japanese occupation to an explosion of organization and energy after the end of World War II. In Korean meetings with spoken English, one finds a mixed bag of accents and pronunciations. Kyung Saeng retains, what I consider, a distinct Korean accent despite having lived and done research at the entomology department of the University of Minnesota from 1968-1973 followed by 3 years at the University of Toronto and 2 years at the University of Guelph in Canada before joining the faculty of Seoul National University in Suwon, Korea in 1982.

Akira Kawai from Japan gave us an update on the continuing efforts to deal with the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and resultant partial nuclear meltdown. He then detailed the gradual efforts to reduce insecticide use and adopt more sustainable pest control practices, a theme that was common throughout the afternoon. His special interest is control of aphids and thrips in the plastic house crop industry (green house culture) in Japan that is so prevalent now globally. He described effort to contain tomato yellow leaf curl virus and the aerial movement of rice plant hopper from China in prevailing winds across Korea to Japan. He showed a gradual control of sugarcane click beetle with pheromones from 2001 to 2007 to below economic threshold.

He also mentioned a imaginative use of insecticide and pheromone impregnated termite “balls” accepted by the pest as authentic, but carried back to the colony for effective control; a unique delivery paradigm.

Da Wei Huang said the Entomological Society of China is the largest entomological society in the world; where upon David Gammel and I looked at each other when we both simultaneously realized that was exactly what is claimed on the ESA website and is in my own introductory comments (taken from During the coffee break afterward, Kyung Saeng Boo, warned us not to overreact. He said although ESA has a documented 6410 members and ESC has reportedly between 13,000 and 14,000 members, the annual meetings in China are normally of modest size because of the vast distances members would have to travel to meet. Nevertheless, some amendment to the claim is clearly called for. It should come up at the next governing board meeting.

In keeping with the dispersed nature of Chinese entomology, Dr. Huang described the organizational structure of his society and presence of separate provincial entomology societies, some 14 sections and invasive species and quarantine operations that seemed all too familiar with similar efforts elsewhere. He also mentioned efforts at friendly meeting forums and symposia with Taiwan colleagues.

He detailed a popularizing of entomology in China that takes the form of summer student camps, special extension training from growers and a National Insect Week that reminded me of similar efforts by ESA and the Royal Entomological Society in UK. He mentioned a plenary meeting every 5 years with the first in 1944 and the last attended by 400 entomologists.

He talked about the Asia-Pacific Entomology Congress (APEC) that has gained regional importance. He talked about his own interests in bar coding of taxonomic descriptions at the DNA level. One final comment got my attention. He said that although China is known to have large amounts of western capital, this is held largely by the central government and the ESC has little access to it other than when investments in buildings are funded, which apparently is common. And finally there is a Ministry of Science and Technology in China and a National Natural Science Foundation that funds research.

Juang Hui Lu obtained a PhD from Texas A & M University in 1995. He described Taiwan as being largely tropical astride the Tropic of Cancer (roughly the same latitude at Mazatlan, Mexico). Taiwan entomology is relatively modest, centered in National Taiwan University in Taipei and National Chung Hsing University where he is from. He also mentioned governmental organizations BAPHIQ, equivalent to USDA-APHIS and CDC equivalent to the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta GA.

The pest problems he focused on included Tephritid fruit flies, Spodoptera species of Noctuids, biting midges, Forcipomyia taiwana, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and Culex vectors.

He also described irradiation of fruit, such as mangoes, to prevent pest movement and thus protect trade markets. He mentioned a need to replace methyl bromide as fumigation treatment and efforts to identify pest insects using modern polymerase chain reaction protocols and microarrays to increase the volume of material tested.

It was painful to hear of the fire ant invasion of Taiwan, but he described a clever detective effort to track down the source of the fire ants using DNA finger printing methods that came up with California and Texas as sources.

Mohamad Roff Bin Mohd. Noor listed his PhD from University of Reading, UK. He described the main crops in Malaysia as rubber, oil palm and cocoa, each of which has a Board that directs research funds for pest control activities and a governmental Malaysia Agricultural Development Institute with the largest research budget. The largest amount of research funding is invested in biological control (about US$ 500,000) and pest taxonomy takes another US$ 200,000 from the budget. The majority of the research effort is directed at study of fruit pests, then cocoa and vegetable with oil palm last and rubber trees with no serious pests to control or study.

The oil palm industry in Malaysia accounts for 5-6% of Gross Domestic Product (value of all goods and services in a country), employs some 1.4 million workers and where Oryctes rhinoceros is a major pest. He got my attention by announcing that Citrus Greening, now known as Huanglongbing disease, is out of control in Malaysia. This was a painful reminder of similar situations in Brazil and Florida and a new threat to California, which has the vector, but not the pathogen.

He ended by describing efforts to protect fruit exports such as papaya using radiation doses to kill hitch-hiking fruit flies and now mealy bugs on rambutan. He echoed the need to identify Tephritid fruit flies and an increasing use of RFLP and PCR identification protocols.

In my talk I mentioned the epidemic of bed bugs in USA and dengue in Key West of current and future concern. I asked if any of the audience members had ever been bitten by bed bugs; only one elderly gentleman raised his hand. During the coffee break later, he introduced himself as Young Inn Lee. He and Professor Boo were sharing a room at the conference and were old friends. Lee related that during the aftermath of the Korean War, called the Civil War here, bed bug, body lice and head lice were widespread and were resistant to the widely used DDT and lindane. He started his applied entomology career by asking villagers to treat the inside of their houses with parathion, then available as a crop insecticide, and sleep outside overnight to allow the organophosphate to penetrate into the cracks in the walls of their buildings.

When I heard this I was horrified because it brought back memories of deaths caused in the USA by improper use of insecticides registered for crop protection, but not registered for home use. Evidently, Lee succeeded with his approach by keeping the residents outside of the treated areas long enough for the vapors to dissipate because the epidemic of these pests was gradually eliminated between 1959 and 1962.

James Ridsdill-Smith gave his talk the following morning. He described three climatic zones of Australia, west central arid, northwest tropical monsoon and east and south fringing semi-arid woodland. He mentioned the 500 members of the Australian Entomological Society face a daunting task to describe the 200,000 insect species endemic to the continent; especially since many of them are engaged in applied entomology, not identifying the fauna.

He said Australia was re-introducing cotton to the Ord River Valley in the north tropical area where the original industry was destroyed by development of resistance in the main noctuid moth pest, Helicoverpa armigera, to all registered insecticides. This time they were relying on two Bt resistance elements in cotton, Bollgard II®, introduced by Monsanto, along with a resistance management program.

He and I previously crossed paths without realizing it. I was a consultant to the Australian cotton industry in residence in 1983-1984 in New South Wales and Queensland when they introduced a very successful resistance management program to control resistance to pyrethroid insecticides that first appeared in H. armigera in Emerald, Australia the season before that. James oversaw the program from afar and we never met. 

For the remainder of his talk, James concentrated on several key research results that contributed to understanding pest biology. These included diapause in mites, biological control of bridal creeper weed, a new regional focus on Integrated Pest Management rather than field-by-field. He briefly mentioned the Scott O’Neill applied Wolbachia project aimed at control of dengue in the north Queensland area by self-spreading of the infection throughout the local population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

He mentioned forensics being studied at the University of Western Australia and a large effort at following climate change on the east coast by monitoring the ecology of the local Drosophila species there. He mentioned an ability to predict Australia plague locust outbreaks based on rainfall patterns and the newer work of Steve Simpson at University of Sydney on insect nutrition that lead to new insight into human obesity. He also mentioned that cuticular hydrocarbons were found now to play a role in cricket behavior as volatile signals.

Web-based methods are being increasingly employed to identify suspected pests. The great advantage of this is ability to transmit images from remote locations for rapid comparisons rather than waiting weeks for hand identification by experts. Their current web key has 640 families in Australia. James recommended that insects be used as biomonitors rather than the more common birds and mammals to assess the general health of the environment. He gave two examples of the approach in Australia. 

Holoce Ecosystem Conservation Research Institution

On Friday afternoon, our hosts organized a long drive through the hilly spine of Korea to a remote area that turned out to be the birthplace of my host, Byung-Jin Kim. An endangered insect restoration project is centered near here in the person of one man, Kang-Woon Lee. He was waiting for us with his wife and son, who took videos and pictures of our visit. He is trying to re-introduce dung beetles, endangered butterflies and has extensive ponds with bellastomatid water beetles. Outbuildings house insect collections of the native species and he even had three cattle to provide dung for the beetles in a natural setting.

For our own James Ridsdill-Smith, being a dung beetle expert, it was a joyous homecoming and we were treated to a walking symposium on the subject complete with stories of dung beetle restoration attempts in Australia. James learned that while dung beetles were originally associated with woodlands, modern attempts at re-introduction are usually pasture-based with mixed success because of the mismatch of habitat. Disappearance of large mammals in the forest (and deforestation) and modern abundance of mammals in pastures accounts for the phenomenon involving dozens of dung beetle species large and small.

Kang-Woon Lee had an on-going research project monitoring the emergence cycles of butterflies over time as a way of measuring the effects of climate change in one out-building. Another out-building contained a long row of shelves with cages housing native sphingid moths laying eggs on cherry tree cuttings. One cage contained larvae eating fungus on tree sticks.  Still another out-building was a large butterfly cage containing flowers with a wooden walk-way and seating area.

After taking many pictures and encountering a native snake constricting a local black and red “lady bird beetle” frog for dinner, we were treated to refreshments and offered presents of mounts of the treasured national butterfly with colors of the Korean flag on the wings.

We were shown several issues of Korean nature magazines featuring articles of and by our host. Some of us marveled at the dedication of our host and his family to live in such a remote location with such commitment to the subject. I inquired about medical treatment and we were assured there were local clinics in the larger villages and hospitals in the larger populations center; still these were some distance way.

The road in to the insect conservation center was narrow with few chances for vehicles to pass.

Saturday morning we packed up for a drive to the southwest to Iksan and bade farewell to the mountains.


A draft of this report was provided to Kyung Saeng Boo, former president of KSAE, Akira Kawai, president of the Japanese Society of Applied Entomology, Da-wei Huang, president of the entomological Society of China, Kuang Hui Lu, president of the Taiwan Society of Applied Entomology, Mohamad Roff BinMohd Noor, president of the Malaysia Plant Protection Society, T. James Ridsdill-Smith, past president of the Australian Entomological Society and David Gammel, Executive Director of the Entomological Society of America.

We thank our hosts Dean Kang-Ju Kim of Wonkwang University, Joon Ho Lee of Seoul National University, Chi-Young Yun of Daejeon University, Kwang-Wook Choi of Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, James Waller of the American Embassy in Seoul and Gerald Smith, the Agricultural Attaché, and thanks to Ernest Delfosse in allowing me to represent the ESA. A very special thanks to Ki-Song and Eunha Park, Seo-Yeon (Katie) and Seung-Yeon (Rosie) and Byung Jin and Hyoung-ok Kim for hosting Soo-ok and I for two weeks of unforgettable visiting, sight-seeing, exciting discussions and making our stay so memorable.


Lee, Kang-Woon. Holoce Ecosystem Conservation Research Institution.;

Wang, J., G. S. Simmons, T. A. Miller, B. E. Tabashnik and Y. Park. 2011. Global variation in piggyBac-like element of pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella. J. Asia-Pac. Entomol. 14: 131-135.