Ticks and Bed Bugs

Chief personnel and activities (2021-23)

Ben Philip (hired 2020) - Entomology
Tim McDermott - Extension

Bed bugs and ticks are significant public health threats in Ohio. The rapid resurgence of bed bugs over the past two decades has resulted in them being labeled by the CDC and EPA as a pest of significant health importance.  Additionally, the number of medically important ticks impacting humans, companion animals and livestock have increased over the last decade with similar increases in tick-vectored diseases, aided by commerce and generally warmer weather conditions favoring overwintering conditions.  The goal of this program is to improve public health through education and outreach of appropriate IPM of bed bugs and ticks. 

In less than twenty years, Ohio has gone from one medically important tick – the American dog tick (Dermacentorvariabilis) – to five medically important ticks including the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum), and the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis)The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) records reveal a 7-fold increase in the annual incidence of human Lyme Disease since 2009 and studies indicate that Lyme disease costs approximately $1.3 billion each year in direct medical costs in the United States (U.S. Dept. HHS, 2018). Through a series of workshops, webinars, videos, factsheets, ID cards, etc., aimed at the diverse stakeholders within this area, we will ensure humans, companion animals and livestock are at decreased risk for tick encounters and tick-vectored disease. 

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a significant public health pest (CDC and EPA, 2010), extreme nuisance, and detriment to society.  The resurgence of bed bugs continues to disproportionately impact Ohio, with Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland ranked in the top 11 cities for bed bug treatments in 2018-19 national home and commercial treatment data. Despite the documented negative health effects of bedbugs, there is still a stigma associated with infestations, causing many to not seek help when afflicted. To combat the inadequate awareness of the public, bed bug education, prevention and management using IPM strategies will be the focus of this program area.  Among the groups impacted by bed bugs, school educators, nurses and students will be a priority.

Chief personnel and activities (2017-20)

Ben Philip (hired 2020) - Entomology
Susan Jones (retired 2019) - Entomology

Increasing Public Awareness for Bed Bugs - Susan Jones, Alden Siperstein

Bed bugs remain a scourge that afflicts humans worldwide and locally in Ohio. In 2019, we further diversified the media that we are using to disseminate useful information on these pests, producing two educational videos on bed bugs using funding from USDA NIFA to the OSU Extension IPM Program. The first video, titled “Bed Bug Basic Tools and Tips for Home Inspection” is posted at the OSU IPM YouTube site (https://youtu.be/tW2wE3CjGaw.) In this video, Alden Siperstein, research assistant in entomology, shows live bed bug life stages (eggs, nymphs, and adults) and their tell-tale signs, which include shed skins, fecal spotting, and live bugs. He discusses bed bug behaviors such as their tendency to group together in cracks and crevices in undisturbed sites, especially on the underside of items, so that viewers have a better understanding of where to inspect for bed bugs. He demonstrates the main tools and procedures to inspect furniture for bed bugs. 

In the second video, titled “How to Modify a Vacuum to Remove Bed Bugs,” Dr. Susan Jones shows how to modify a portable vacuum cleaner to safely suck up and remove bed bugs from furniture or other areas of a room. She demonstrates how to use a nylon stocking inserted into a vacuum extension wand to create a disposable see-through bag for collecting and confining bed bugs. She demonstrates vacuuming to effectively remove bugs from furniture and then how to examine the stocking for captured bugs. Proper disposal of any live bed bugs caught in the stocking also is shown. This video is posted at https://youtu.be/c3Gd7qYmp_cBoth videos have been viewed a total of 481 times since being posted online. Members of the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force found both videos to be extremely useful, and at their request, the videos now are prominently displayed on their website.


Bed Bug Update

Even the mention of bed bugs can cause audience members to begin scratching and nervously squirming in their seats. But the adage “Knowledge is power!” is more important than ever, particularly for bed bugs—a worldwide public health pest. In March 2018, two webinars were presented to OSU Extension Educators and community members in counties throughout Ohio, and each was immediately followed up with an evaluation to measure program impact. The audience noted the relevance of the information provided in the first webinar (Bed Bugs: Know Your Enemy), with 67 percent reporting it as very relevant and 33 percent reporting fairly relevant. Following the first webinar, respondents reported that they were more knowledgeable of how bed bugs disperse through a home or apartment. Furthermore, 56 percent were highly confident and 44 percent were fairly confident in their ability to dispense information about bed bugs to help their clientele.

On March 1st and 8th, 2018, a two part webinar series was conducted to give an overview of bed bug biology, monitoring, and management. The Powerpoint presentations of both webinars are posted as pdf documents below, but if you want to watch the webinars, they are posted on the OSU IPM YouTube channel here https://youtu.be/VywZSaTfx0M and here https://youtu.be/vJZBks5GukQ.

Watch Bed Bug Webinar 1 or view slides (Bed Bug Webinar 1 PDF)

Watch Bed Bug Webinar 2 or view slides (Bed Bug Webinar 2 PDF)


Chief personnel and activities (2014-16)

Susan Jones - Entomology

Bed Bug Update 

Ohio continues to be a national leader with regard to bed bug infestations, therefore it was necessary to generate significant research-based information on bed bug prevention and management tactics. Dr. Susan C. Jones has actively participated in the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force (COBBTF), taught two workshops for Children Services personnel and presented at diverse forums around the state and at Pesticide Recertification conferences. Many of her bed bug photos and PowerPoint presentations are posted on the COBBTF website for others to learn from. She has educated the public regarding bed bugs at the local and national level, providing numerous interviews each year for multiple news affiliates.

Over 57,000 copies of a Household Insect Identification Card (S.C. Jones, D.J. DeGirolamo, J.L. Bryant) and 238 Insect Display Cases were distributed to Extension offices, city and county health departments, aging and disability agencies and medical practices, state government departments and programs, pest control companies, schools, universities, and others. Current information about bed bugs is being added to an OSU based website (https://u.osu.edu/bedbugs/).bed bug identification card

Need more copies of our very popular "Household Insect Identification Card"?  
Click here to download card; feel free to print and distribute as many copies as you like.


Chief personnel and activities (2013)

Susan Jones - Entomology

Housing IPM (Bed Bugs) 

Bed bug education was the focus of the housing priority area and was provided through workshops, a household insect identification card, insect display cases, and a new website, http://u.osu.edu/bedbugs/

Numerous bed bug workshops were conducted by Dr. Susan Jones, with an evaluation element for attendees at four of the workshops. A total of 63 evaluation responses were obtained, and the vast majority of the respondents indicated that they were very satisfied with the presentation quality (89%), instructor subject knowledge (97%), and overall workshop quality (95%); none expressed any dissatisfaction with these elements. Many respondents (78%) indicated that the provided information was relevant to their work. As a result of the workshop, many respondents (56%) felt very confident in providing accurate information on bed bug control options (only 8% indicted that they had this level of confidence before participating in the workshop). Respondents also expressed their intentions to change their behaviors, with 68% indicating that before taking the workshop they never or rarely inspected a hotel room for signs of bed bugs, but after the workshop, 94% expressed that they planned to always do so (the remaining 6% expected to usually conduct an inspection).

An insect identification card and insect display cases were developed and distributed throughout Ohio. These items are pictured on page 2. The front side of the ID card depicts photos of bed bugs plus other common household arthropod pests and the back side has tips for bed bug prevention and control. Display cases were created in two sizes, with a small case displaying a variety of bed bug specimens, and a large case displaying the same variety of bed bug specimens plus other common household pests.  More than 34,000 insect identification cards, 134 small display cases, and 97 large display cases were distributed throughout Ohio. These materials were provided to attendees of bed bug workshops; OSU Extension offices; and local, county and state agencies such as fire departments, health departments, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Children Services offices, and Area Agencies on Aging.  Recipients indicated that the ID card would be further distributed to the general public or clients and the display cases would be used for education of the general public, staff training, and/or as a demonstration tool at workshops. 

Another educational product was a new bed bug website hosted by Ohio State University.  The bed bug homepage includes internal links to photo galleries, research articles, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), and internet resources.  The photo galleries feature various bed bug developmental stages, bed bug bites, and tell-tale-signs such as fecal spotting.  We concisely summarized recent research articles on insecticide resistance, human health issues, bed bug biology, and bed bug control.  The additional resources tab provides links to other university websites and includes information in multiple languages, videos that demonstrate bed bug inspections and various management techniques, PowerPoint presentations, and downloadable fact sheets.