The Australian Entomological Society began on 17 August 1965 at a meeting of entomologists from all States and the Australian Capital Territory held in association with the Hobart meeting of ANZAAS. This followed three years of behind-the-scenes activity and debate among most Australian entomologists and existing entomological societies. Ian Mackerras, the first president of the AES, listed four responsibilities of the Society that, if fulfilled, would guarantee its success:
- to acquire wealth;
- to maintain the highest attainable standard of excellence in everything it does;
- to have a clear central purpose and source of inspiration;
- to exist, not for what it can get, but for what it can give.
The first annual general meeting and scientific session was held in Melbourne in January 1967 and was attended by 55 members and five visitors. Subsequent AGMs have been held at various places in all States and Territories but not in every calendar year. The smallest meeting was attended by 32 participants in Quindanning, south of Perth, in 1973, while the largest was in Canberra in 1990 when 330 people attended. In 1996 the AES and the New Zealand Entomological Society held their first joint annual conference at Lincoln University in Christchurch. Current plans are to hold similar joint conferences every three years. The Society was the national host for the 14th International Congress of Entomology (Canberra, 1972) and the 22nd International Congress of Entomology (Brisbane, 2004).