Don’t let the bed bugs bite this holiday season

P.J. Liecsh, Extension entomologist specialist23157314290_57a392455a_z
Department of Entomology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-6510

3:04 — Total Time

0:17 — Bed Bugs this season
0:35 — Bed Bug travel
1:00 — What they look like
1:25 — Lifecycle
2:05 — How do you know you have them
2:25 — Recommendations on removal
2:53 — Lead Out


Sevie Kenyon: Avoid having bed bugs for Christmas. We’re visiting today with P.J. Liesch Department of Entomology, Insect Diagnostic Lab University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon. P.J., what can you tell us about bed bugs this season?

P.J. Liesch: Well, so bed bugs are a continual threat in the country, especially when we think about travel season because we have a lot of folks going through airports and may end up staying in hotels and anytime you travel there is a possibility of potentially picking up bed bugs.

Sevie Kenyon: How do they travel?

P.J. Liesch: The number one way is probably in personal items, backpacks and suitcases. And so for example, if you stay in a hotel and your particular room has bed bugs during the course of the night so of those bed bugs may find their way into that backpack or suitcase or other piece of luggage and then unfortunately you can end up bring them back home.

Sevie Kenyon: P.J., we have a radio audience here; can you tell people what a bed bug looks like?

P.J. Liesch: So that’s a question that I commonly get and there’s a misconception out there that bed bugs are too small to be noticed. Which really, is far from the truth, I mean they are tiny insects but, an adult bed bug is about the same size, color, and shape as an apple seed. So, it’s kind of a reddish brown, not quite a quarter inch long but, close to that.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you describe perhaps, their lifestyle a little bit and how they cycle through?

P.J. Liesch: So, bed bugs to complete their life cycle from egg to juvenile stages to the adult can take about a month and a half to two months. Now what happens in an infestation you have over lapping generations so you can have eggs, juveniles, adults, all present at the same time. Now an important thing about their biology is that they need a blood meal which is why they feed on people, but that can also make it a little hard to detect them sometimes because they don’t feed for very long. They may come out about once a week, feed for only about five to ten minutes, they spend most of their time in hiding.

Sevie Kenyon: P.J. how do people usually find out they have bed bugs?

P.J. Liesch: So, a couple of different ways, probably the main way people figure out they have bed bugs is they start noticing a rash on their bodies. Seems like they are being bitten; now some folks, very similar to mosquito’s bites might not react very much, other folks can react much more noticeably, but that is one of the main ways.

Sevie Kenyon: Let’s say you found them in your house, what do you recommend people do?

P.J. Liesch: What I recommend is that folks contact a pest control company to deal with them They can be dealt with using do-it-yourself methods but it is extremely challenging to get rid of them and in some cases, some efforts can back fire a little bit and make the situation worse and so with bed bugs I really direct people to hiring a pest control company that is familiar with the techniques and products needed to get rid of these insects.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with P.J. Liesch, Insect Diagnostic Lab, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.


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