Cattle raisers attending the annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Convention in Fort Worth will hear new ways to control fire ants that threaten young calves and wildlife. Dr. Lawrence Gilbert, director, University of Texas Brackenridge Field Laboratory, will address the agriculture research breakout session, Sunday, March 22 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to discuss new and innovative ways to manage fire ants.

The economic impact of fire ants is vast. A Texas A&M University study found that fire ants cost the Texas economy more than $1 billion per year. Without new and effective ways to control the pest, the problem will only get worse.

Thankfully, relief is on the way.

Since the 1980s the University of Texas Brackenridge Field Laboratory researchers have been working on the biological control of imported fire ants through the introduction of phorid flies, a natural enemy of the fire ant in its native South America.

Gilbert says while pesticides offer temporary relief, there is a low long-term success rate. Biocontrol with phorid flies, on the other hand, "offers prospects of regulating populations to remove fire ants from pest status, since total eradication is unlikely."

Gilbert will be on hand to discuss how cattle raisers can get involved with this new research.

A complete schedule of breakout sessions can be found at http://texascattleraisers.org/09Convention/breakout_sessions.html.

More than 2,000 ranchers and landowners will gather in Fort Worth for a weekend of programs and educational sessions, a trade show with more than 200 companies, networking and fellowship with fellow cattle raisers.