The Roundup -

Spider Specialist to Discuss Arachnids as Ag Biocontrol Agents


Along came a spider and sat down beside her…but it definitely did NOT scare her away! Instead, Entomologist Laurie Kerzicnik has made a career of studying all things creepy crawly, with spiders emerging as her favorite subjects.

Kerzicnik will share her enthusiasm for spiders with both students and local producers when she visits the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney Friday, March 21st, as the next speaker in the lab’s 2014 Winter BrownBagger Series.

Dr. Kerzicnik’s presentation at Sidney ARS begins at noon Friday and is entitled “Spiders as biological control agents in agriculture.” Her talk runs from noon to 1 pm and is open to the public. The lab is located at 1500 N. Central Avenue in Sidney, MT.

In addition, Dr. Kerzicnik (and a couple 8-legged guests) will be meeting with local students earlier Friday morning to discuss “Spiders as Beneficial Predators.” Her first presentation is with the Sidney High School Advanced Biology Class, followed by a talk with Rau Elementary School 4th through 6th graders. To illustrate her talk, she will bring along a few hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, a centipede, a scorpion, and a black widow.

Dr. Kerzicnik is currently the Insect Diagnostician and Assistant Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist in the Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology Department at Montana State University in Bozeman, focusing on urban insects and education. She has a Master’s and PhD in Entomology from Colorado State University and has worked with spiders and biological control for over 15 years. Her background is with integrated pest management and spiders as pest control agents in agroecosystems.

In addition to her IPM work, Dr. Kerzicnik has done a lot of “entomology and arachnology outreach” to K-12 schools, the community, and to growers. “I’ve traveled around to schools with tarantulas, spiders, mantids, scorpions, and cockroaches for hands-on learning,” she says. “I love extension and serving as a link between science education and the community.”

She will once again be doing both when she visits Sidney ARS this Friday. Please bring your lunch and join us for this very interesting presentation. Treats are provided.

For more information, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427.


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