Interview with a Bed Bug Sexpert

Professor Mike Siva-Jothy is the leading expert on the sex lives of bed bugs.  By which I mean, he is trying to figure out why they do the strange things they do sexually.

In addition to learning about just how traumatic insemination works, we also learn about how to make tiny glass insect genitalia, and have a brief discussion about pubic lice. They MADE me go there!

Breaking Bio is an evolutionary biology podcast that I occasionally appear on, but it’s mostly a group of grad students and post docs. Terminology you will find helpful for this video:  aedeagus = bug penis

Topics also covered:

  • How the immune system of insects is related to their sex life, including prophylactic immunity
  • How to explain why studying the sex lives of insects is of interest to granting agencies and the public
  • Having Creationists grab your research and use it
  • If loss of pubic hair is why pubic lice declined, or just less wild 70’s sex [41:15]
  • Proposal for future research: “we need to shave some undergraduates, and give them pubic lice”

Enjoy some evolutionary biology nerd talk!

Bed bug image courtesy of Armed Services Pest Mgmt. Board.


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. Thank you bug for all the great euphemisms. :) the shrubbery references made me think of Monty Python and the holy grail…which, as you know was released in the 70s. Interesting correlations!

  2. Fun and sciency! Pity he didn’t explain how exactly the researchers set up the lab conditions to match reality..

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