MS’10 • Patrick “PJ” Liesch—better known as Wisconsin’s “bug guy”—received his master’s degree in entomology from CALS in 2010 and worked as a research associate on campus. After Phil Pellitteri, the legendary king of insect diagnostics, retired in 2014, Liesch took on the position. As director of the UW–Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab, Liesch completes a variety of duties including communicating insect information to the public and acting as a bug identification guru to curious residents and businesses from all over Wisconsin. Liesch estimates that he tackles more than 2,000 cases per year. Liesch also serves as an instructor with the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program and the Wisconsin Pesticide Applicator Training program as well as with Farm and Industry Short Course. As part of his public outreach work, Liesch is a regular guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Larry Meiller Show.
Are bed bugs getting you down? Is a hard-to-identify pest ravaging your vegetable garden? You can get in touch with PJ Liesch MS’10, manager of the UW–Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab, where he succeeds the retired Phil Pellitteri BS’75 MS’77. Liesch (sounds like “leash”), who earned his master’s degree in the lab of entomology professor and UW–Extension specialist Chris Williamson, has been working as a research scientist on campus for the past few years and served as interim manager of the Insect Diagnostic Lab before being named to the position permanently.
He greatly enjoys interacting with the public. When he receives an inquiry, he not only does his best to answer the question, he also tries to provide more information about the insect and to share additional photos and links to help people learn more. Liesch started a blog, “What’s Crawling in the Lab,” to share what people in Wisconsin are finding in their homes, backyards, forests and fields—you can see it at http://go.wisc.edu/ insect blog. He also started a Twitter account people can use to reach him, @UW_InsectLab. And you can always reach him by phone at (608) 262-6510.