Monday, April 3, 2017

Bat Bugs

BUGS My master’s degree is in medical and veterinary entomology, so when I get a chance to write about an odd happening in this field. I recently had a citizen who had a bat get into their house and roosted above her bed unfortunately and it took her a couple of day to get this unwanted houseguest removed and released to a place where both were much happier. After a few days, she had bites on her. She captured a few insects on tape that resembled bed bugs, brought these insect in for identification, and related her story about the bat. Breaking out the microscope and key to the cimex genera, I identified these as bat bugs, which to a Medical Veterinary Entomologist is extremely interesting, having been in NM my entire life and Eddy County for about 27 years I have never come across these before. The family Cimicidiae are blood-sucking insects that feed on birds and/or mammals. There are five member of this family present in New Mexico the notorious bed bug (Cimex lectularius) along with a close cousin the Bat bug (Cimex pilosellus), Swallow bug (Oeciacus vicarious), Poultry bug (Hamatoisphon inodorus) and Wood pecker bug (Hesperocimex coloradensis) which is mostly on the Colorado border on wood peckers and owls. In this article I am only talking about the bat bug (Cimex pilosellus), but some of this information can be applied to all. Prior to increase in bed bug, the bat bug was the most common bug found in homes in Colorado, according to Extension Entomologist with CSU. Bat bugs develop in colonies of roosting bats, which sometime occur in attics or behind walls of buildings. Bat bugs may move into human living areas and incidentally bite people. This happen more often after the bats either migrate or are removed from a roosting area. However, these insects are host specific and in the absences of a bat host, they cannot sustain and reproduce. They usually die out within a few weeks without the bat host, unlike its cousin the bed bug that does quite well on humans. The bites are however itchy and unpleasant but there are no known pathogens that are transmitted or vectored by the bed bugs or bat bug. Control of bat bugs focus on management on the roosting bats that are the original source of the insect. Removal and exclusion of the bats will prevent future infestations as the bat bugs will ultimately die –out in the absence of their bat hosts. However, like this citizen the problem may temporarily increase as the existing bat bugs migrate in search of new hosts. Any method of sealing off the area of bat roosting and human leaving space is useful to prevent these insects quest. If all ready in the human living space, the same treatment for bed bugs will help eliminate this temporary problem. Subscribe to Eddy County Ag news at: http://nmsueddyag.blogspot.com/ Eddy County Extension Service, New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. All programs are available to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. New Mexico State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Eddy County Government Cooperating

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