Infested: an itchy, fascinating natural history of the bed bug


#1

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#2

Are bed bugs an American thing? A while ago I did a straw poll in the office (mostly Europeans, a South African and some dude from Hong Kong) and none of us knew much about them, let alone had their lives ruined. We go on business trips to various countries quite regularly and sometimes read about bed bugs, but just assume we’re immune or something. Could that be the case?

LATER: Just seen the photo of bed bug bites on the Wikipedia page. Hm. I get one or two red itchy things going on form time to time I think (usually last a day or so I guess), but never thought much about them - could they be bed bug bites? Looking at Google Images, I don’t recall seeing bed bugs in my life though.


#3

Hilariously, a recurring theme in Infested is that every country blames other countries for them. “Is bedbugs an $NATIONALITY thing?” is the fight song of the modern bed bug resurgence.


#4

Sorry, I didn’t mean “Do they come from America?”, I meant “Is it only Americans that notice them?”

Having asked people of several nationalities about whether they’d ever encountered bed bugs, none of them know much about the issue beyond having read about them on the Internet.


#5

I question the DDT connection. DDT is banned for agricultural use, but allowed for disease vector control. A mattress has to be really fucking nasty to be considered agricultural.


#6

Let’s combine the ferocious persistance of insects with the malevolent technological development processes of biological war and see where that gets us, shall we?

Oh Yes! Let’s!


#7

My sister and I stayed in a hotel in Houston, and we both woke up with dozens of bites. Anyone would have noticed, the itching was ridiculous.


#8

There’s no evidence that bed bugs spread disease.


#9

Are you at ease with insects biting you and causing itchy welts?


#10

(not sure if you’re replying to me but hey) Occasional itchy red things appearing on my skin are a part of life, aren’t they? I’m not at ease with that exactly, but I’m not overly inconvenienced either. There’s a sort of noise floor of transient mild itching, aching, stings, whatever going on all the time around my body.


#11

I had a very unpleasant encounter with bedbugs in a hotel in Paris some years ago.


#12

For a while, DDT was the cure-all for anything insect and pesty. Got malaria-carrying mosquitoes? DDT. Got potato beetles? DDT. Then we discovered what havoc DDT residues were playing with our ecosystems, and DDT usage got turned way down. It still gets used for pernicious bugs, mainly in third world countries, but has been almost outlawed in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if during its heyday, bedbug infestations were routinely treated with DDT because DDT killed almost everything.


#13

Don’t let the bedbugs bite…


#14

TYVM! This isn’t on my list of reasons to never return to Houston but now I can add it thanks to you :smiley:


#15

The effectiveness of DDT is not a matter that insects become resistant. The real power of DDT is that it fights bedbugs through 3 mechanisms: repellency, irritability and lastly toxicity. So that even if the bedbug develops resistance to toxicity it does not become immune to the repellency and irritability that DDT engenders which drive the bedbug away from the area sprayed with DDT. This spatial repellency factor of DDT has never stopped being effective as it protects people from the vector insect-borne diseases by reducing contact between disease-spreading insects and humans.

Originally in the 1940’s DDT was sprayed or dusted on and around the bed, and control would last for a year or more. By the middle of the 1950’s bedbugs became a rarity. So this current bedbug problem can be dealt effectively by bringing back DDT into use again here in the US. A spray can be applied to the borders & crevices around the house walls were the bedbugs hide and later come out to feed. Also the perimeter around the bed can be sprayed with DDT and act as a repellent barrier.


#16

It may just barely be possible that you’re simply very passionate about DDT, but with a name like Dont Deny Truth, you do rather look like a shill for the DDT industry.


#17

After a co-worker had a nasty infestation in her home, I have instituted a strict “EVERYTHING goes in the dryer” when coming home from trips. And that’s why I have no hard sided luggage.


#18

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