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Tracking Kissing Bugs

July 12, 2018

Miniature transmitters help scientists track a blood-sucking pest.

Transcript

Researchers in Texas attached miniature radio transmitters to kissing bugs and tracked their movements. (Gabriel Hamer/Texas A&M University/Journal of Medical Entomology)

Researchers in Texas attached miniature radio transmitters to kissing bugs and tracked their movements. (Gabriel Hamer/Texas A&M University/Journal of Medical Entomology)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Keeping tabs on some tiny terrors. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Kissing bugs are like giant, inch-long bed bugs, but in addition to sucking blood, they also spread Chagas disease, which afflicts both people and pets. The insects are found in many southern states, as well as Mexico, and Central and South America. At Texas A&M University, entomologist Gabriel Hamer and his colleagues are using tiny radio transmitters to track kissing bugs to learn where they hide during the day.

GABRIEL HAMER (Texas A&M University):

And so we were able to find a few of these daytime hiding locations. That’s helpful, because these are kind of cryptic locations that would be hard to find without use of this technology.

HIRSHON:

The work will lead to more effective control efforts. Hamer’s hoping that a new generation of even smaller, more powerful transmitters could let him track the insects in the wild, to discover what drives them to infest homes. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon