Ms Luki-Marie Scheepers, a PhD student in the Applied Chemical Ecology research group in FABI, presented her and her co-authors’ work on the Pine Emperor moth, Nudaurelia clarki, at the prestigious Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting ‘Entomology 2020’. The conference was themed “Entomology for all” and was hosted online from 11-25 November due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel.

Annual conferences like these are usually highly anticipated collaboration and networking events and this year was no different despite it being hosted virtually. The 3068 registered participants were able to participate in 170 lively video chats arranged for the sole purpose of networking and collaboration on their respective projects - all involving the entomological field in some way.

The online platform empowered a global audience, from 51 countries, to watch a total of 87 symposia divided into sections including systematics, medical science, ecosystems and physiology. Virtual attendees were able to livestream or view content on-demand at their convenience, with the ability to pause, resume and replay presentations or lectures. Posters and infographics were presented with the option of zooming in on extremely high resolution content while listening to two-minute voice recordings by the researcher who would normally have presented their posters in a bustling exhibit hall. Presenters included students (ranging from high school up to PhD level), new and established ESA members and invited Professors.

The symposium content was full of variety, ranging from how bumblebees cope with self-created heat, how a fly evades your swat on a neural level and so much more. The conference was entertaining on all levels and even featured fun activities like coloring-in activities, remarkably accurate insect origami, and student competitions.

This conference illustrates the grit and innovation of researchers worldwide to continue networking, collaborating, innovating and working towards a finding answers for real-world problems despite a gripping global restriction on movement.