FABI research Fellow, Dr Gudrun Dittrich-Schröder, and her two MSc students, Jade Ashmore and Elmarie van der Merwe, were amongst roughly 1500 researchers from around the world who had the privilege to attend the 26th International Congress of Entomology (ICE) from 17-22 July, in Helsinki, Finland. For the first time in 25 years ICE returned to Europe with the theme “Entomology for our Planet” after being postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the most northern location the congress has ever been held at.

The congress commenced with a welcome address by Segenet Kelemu, entitled “Innovations in insect science for impact” and was followed by a welcome mixer. The next days consisted of plenary talks, multiple parallel symposia as well as poster sessions covering topics such as insect evolution and interactions, numerous pest management strategies, insect biomechanics and insects as protein sources. Plenary talks presented at the congress included “On wings and wavelengths, or why moths fly into candle flames” by Naomi E. Pierce, “From Me to We: Searching for the Genetic Roots of Social Life with the Honeybee” by Gene E. Robinson, and by. Dr Gudrun Dittrich-Schröder presented work on a review paper discussing the diversity and invasion patterns of invasive gall-forming wasps in non-native plantation-grown Eucalyptus, as well as a poster titled “Molecular tools fast track identification of insect pests in plantation forestry”.

On the evening of 20 July, marking the mid-point of the congress, participants were invited to a Mayor’s reception in Helsinki City Hall. The deputy Mayor welcomed the guests and shared interesting facts about Finland and the history of Helsinki City Hall, whereafter she was presented with a gift by the president of the ICE2022Heslinki Organizing Committee, Heikki Hokkanen.

The ICE2022Helsinki Organizing Committee persevered despite facing many challenges, and it was truly inspiring to see the unwavering enthusiasm of entomologists from around the globe and to once again shake a colleague’s hand with an unmasked smile.