Maine school district warns parents about bed bugs

by WGME | October 9, 2019

95e2071c-0169-4596-8910-3a66540e6714-large16x9_bedbugMSAD 11, which serves Gardiner, West Gardiner, Pittston, and Randolph, is warning parents and guardians about bed bugs after a student contracted them.

Superintendent Patricia Hopkins said a student with bed bugs was riding bus 643 and was at Gardiner Regional Middle School Tuesday morning.

Bed bugs are a nuisance and can cause considerable discomfort. They are usually active at night and feed on human blood. The bite does not hurt at first, but it may become swollen and itch, like a mosquito bite.

Hopkins said if parents have medical concerns, please contact your doctor.

Hopkins said even though it is unlikely for bed bugs to infest a school, Gardiner Regional Middle School and bus 643 are being thoroughly inspected and, if needed, they will implement their integrated pest management plan.

If you have questions regarding bed bugs in MSAD 11, contact Director of Operations Gabe Dostie at 582-6663 or gdostie@msad11.org.

Bed Bugs Notification by WGME on Scribd

 

NC – Recent bed bug infestation marks growing trend in Asheville’s housing developments

Asheville Citizen Times | by Brian Gordon and Joel Burgess | Aug. 29, 2019

An apartment complex for the city’s low-income and disabled seniors is struggling with a bedbug infestation.

About 50 of the 248 units at the Asheville Terrace public housing development have been infested with bedbugs in recent weeks, according to the Asheville Housing Authority. This infestation represents a growing prevalence of bedbugs infestations across public housing in Asheville.

“Bedbugs have become something we deal with on a regular basis, all around our properties,” said David Nash, executive director at the Asheville Housing Authority. “It’s a trend.”

Asheville Terrace, off Tunnel Road, is designed specifically for tenants age 55 and older. Pest control costs at Asheville Terrace, which includes bedbug exterminations, have risen from nearly $14,000 in 2016 to over $30,000 last year. So far in 2019, the housing authority has dedicated $27,815 to pest control at the development.

“We have a full-time staff member dedicated to it,” Nash said. The housing authority contracts with Orkin Pest and Termite Control to handle bedbug situations.

While bedbugs are gently inserted into night-time nursery rhymes, infestations are serious matters.

The tiny, round insects sustain themselves on the blood of humans and animals. They seek out crevices that provide easy access to their food source, and their bites leave red marks on exposed skin. According to WebMD, female bedbugs can lay hundreds of eggs over a lifespan.

Nash said bedbugs are often carried into units on used furniture. Tenants with impacted apartments must exit the room as spray is applied. Infested clothes must be washed, and any furniture exposed to bedbugs must be thrown away. Tenants are not financially compensated for any furniture lost to bedbugs, including any chairs or beds with special features for disabled tenants.

The housing authority provides tenants tips on how to avoid bringing bedbugs into apartments after each infestation, but not before.

Several tenants at Asheville Terrace expressed concern about voicing their complaints over bedbugs or other facility issues, saying they feared eviction. Asheville Terrace is categorized as a project-based property, meaning the public voucher that subsidizes rent stays with the apartment if a tenant were to leave. To relocate to another public housing development, tenants would have to reapply and be put on a waiting list. The main waiting list for the housing authority has 1,518 applicants.

Nash said tenants are not evicted for voicing concerns. “Speaking with the press is not a lease violation,” Nash stated in an email. “They just need to be sure they pay their rent and comply with the other terms of their lease.”

CNET report details guest’s bed bug problem at Philly Airbnb

Plus, some tips to make sure your stay is free of any creepy-crawlies

airbnb bed bugs philly

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PHILLY VOICE by Bailey King – August 14, 2019

Airbnb has taken the world by storm since its 2008 launch, providing travelers a more home-y and authentic experience at costs often lower than hotels.

While the user experience with Airbnb is generally regarded as seamless, one irritating problem has bothered some travelers: bed bugs.

A quick Google search of “Airbnb bed bugs” brings up pages and pages of reports of the discovery of reddish brown bug infestations or clustered itchy bites on the skin.

A CNET story published Tuesday about Airbnb’s problem included one woman’s report of bed bugs at an Airbnb here in Philadelphia. (Perhaps this is no surprise since Philly topped one list of cities  most infested by the pests.)


The woman, Dariele Blain, told CNET she found a bug crawling on the bed of a six-bedroom townhome she rented for a birthday party in July. She sent photos to Airbnb, which confirmed her suspicion that it was a bed bug, but the company said it could not relocate her 20-guest party to another Airbnb, to prevent spreading the bugs. Instead, the group was told to book a hotel, which Airbnb reimbursed – plus the original rental fee – within a few days, Blain said.

Blain told CNET:

“There’s nothing in there [about] what to do if the house is not clean or if there’s bedbugs. They need to be more proactive with stuff like that because it’s a public health issue.”

(This appears to be common protocol, as friends of mine had the same experience in Montreal and had to move to a hotel.)

While this is Airbnb’s unofficial protocol, there is no official one. The company claims to handle bed bug cases on a case-by-case basis and, in one such instance, reportedly asked a renter to sign a nondisclosure after an incident.

Bed bugs are a type of insect that feed on human blood, usually during nighttime hours. While they do not transmit disease, their bites can result in skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs are, indeed, a public health issue.

While hotels primarily have a handle on the little critters, no place is truly safe from an infestation.

The New York Times has an all-inclusive tip guide for to make sure you don’t bring any bed bugs home with you. These tips include looking out for the telltale brown-black stains on sheets, mattresses and boxsprings, avoiding putting your luggage on the bed and use a lint roller to test luggage for bugs after travel.

And read the full story from CNET, “Bedbugs are giving Airbnb users headaches… and itchy bites.”

Woman’s Attempt to Kill Bedbugs May Have Sparked Upper Darby Apartment Fire

The woman said the flames from her stove lit up rubbing alcohol that she had poured to try to kill the bedbugs

NBC10 Philadelphia | by Randy Gyllenhaal and Rudy Chinchilla | August 1, 2019

A fire that consumed an Upper Darby apartment and caused evacuations in the rest of the complex may have been sparked by a woman’s misguided attempt to get rid of bedbugs.

An elderly woman living on the fourth floor of the Elizabeth Manor Apartments complex told firefighters and NBC10 that it was she who accidentally caused the Thursday morning blaze after the flames from her stove set alight rubbing alcohol that she had poured as a way of getting rid of bedbugs.

Because the fire station is only a few blocks from the complex, firefighters were able to respond quickly, going door to door to tell people to evacuate as they extinguished the blaze, Upper Darby Township Fire Company Deputy Chief Peter Huf said.

“First-arriving companies were met with heavy fire showing out the top floor and window of the apartment and a report of people trapped,” he said.

Dozens of residents were temporarily displaced, but there were no reports of injuries. The fire was also contained mostly to just the woman’s unit, with some minor smoke damage to neighboring units, and residents were allowed back inside.

Fire investigators, however, were still working to determine whether or not the blaze really was caused by a bedbug extermination attempt gone wrong, Huf said.

 

Baltimore Number One City in Country for Bed Bug Infestation

Breit by Michael Patrick Lahey | July 29, 2019

Orkin declared Baltimore the number one bed bug infested city in the country in January.

It was the second year in a row that Baltimore topped the list of the Top 50 “Bed Bug Cities” in the United States.

Balt

Flickr/AFPMB

“The number of bed bug infestations in the United States is still rising. They continue to invade our homes and businesses on a regular basis because they are not seasonal pests, and only need blood to survive,” Dr. Tim Husen, an entomologist who works for Orkin, one of the nation’s leading pest control companies, said in a statement released by the company that accompanied the announcement that Baltimore was once again the bed bug capital of the United States.

“The list is based on treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2016 – November 30, 2017,” the Orkin statement said.

The Top Ten cities for bed bug infestation for this one year period were:

  1. Baltimore
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Chicago
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Columbus, Ohio
  6. Cincinnati
  7. Detroit
  8. New York City
  9. San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth

Baltimore was also in Orkin’s list of Top Ten “Rattiest Cities” announced in 2018, along with Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York City.

All six of these pest “double-threat” Top Ten cities are currently run by Democrats, as Breitbart News reported earlier.

Two cities on Orkin’s Top Ten list of “Bed Bug Cities” ranked just below the Top Ten “Rattiest Cities.”

Columbus, Ohio, fifth on the “Bed Bug Cities” list, was the 25th “Rattiest City.”

Cincinnati, sixth on the “Bed Bug Cities” list, was the 20th “Rattiest City.”

One metropolitan area–Dallas-Fort Worth–was ranked tenth on the “Bed Bug Cities” list and 12th on the “Rattiest Cities” list.

The San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland metropolitan area was ninth on the “Bed Bug Cities” list, while the city of San Francisco, part of that metropolitan area, was the 5th “Rattiest City.”

Baltimore.jpg

“Bed bugs cannot be completely prevented so early detection is critical,” Orkin advised in its statement.

Bed bugs are always in motion. They travel from place to place with ease, including luggage, clothing and other belongings. In addition to single family homes, bed bugs can be found in apartments, hotels, hospitals and public places like daycare centers, public transit, schools and offices.

According to a 2015 “Bugs without Borders Survey” by the National Pest Management Association, the top three places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are apartments/condominiums (95 percent), single-family homes (93 percent) and hotels/motels (75 percent).

Orkin noted that “Bed bugs are capable of rapid population growth with an adult female laying two to five eggs per day (up to 500 in her lifetime), often making treatment challenging.”

Call Your Doctor If Your Bug Bite Looks Like *This*

womens_health.jpg by Korin Miller, May 20, 2019

bite-to-the-neck-royalty-free-image-584572080-1558039675.jpg_crop=1.00xBug bites are an unfortunate little annoyance in life, and the odds are prettttttyyyy high that you’ve been bitten by some creepy-crawly (er, or a variety of creepy-crawlies) in your lifetime. And while you probably just want to scratch the darn spot and move on, it’s wise to try and figure out what actually bit you.

Why? Some bug bites are relatively harmless, but others have the potential to bring on more serious health issues if you don’t treat them appropriately, and fast. Here are several fairly common insect bites you may experience, and how to know whether or not a bite warrants a trip to your doctor’s office.

Bedbug bites

While the thought of bedbug bites may skeeve you out, they’re more annoying to deal with than an actual threat to your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Bedbug bites are primarily just super itchy and can keep you up at night. The bigger issue with these pesky bugs is that they can spread really fast and lead to an infestation, and it can be an inconvenient and expensive process to get rid of one. (Also, the idea of little bugs feeding on your blood while you sleep isn’t exactly a comforting thought.)

People can have a range of reactions to bedbug bites, says Nancy Troyano, PhD, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control. Some people have no reaction at all when bitten, but most people will notice an itchy, red, welt-like mark that looks similar to a mosquito bite, Troyano says. “Bites may appear in a linear fashion if there are multiple bugs feeding, and bites can occur anywhere, but they are often found in areas where skin is readily exposed,” she notes.

Contrary to popular belief, attracting bedbugs has nothing to do with bad hygiene or a dirty apartment. Bedbugs get around by hitchhiking onto your things, so prevention can be tough, says Angela Tucker, PhD, manager of technical services for Terminix. “Knowing this, the best prevention for bedbugs is being watchful during your travels and regular home cleaning,” she says.

You can also keep an eye out for the critters, which are about the size, shape, and color of an apple seed when fully grown. Another sign that bedbugs may be around your space is their byproduct, meaning you might see reddish-brown blood spots on sheets or mattresses, Tucker says.

If you do happen to get bedbug bites, spot-treat them with hydrocortisone cream to try to soothe itch, says David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Then, get rid of the infestation-with the help of a professional. “It’s important to see where the bedbugs came from,” Dr. Cutler says. “Then, call in a professional exterminator so you don’t get any more bedbug bites.”

Bee and wasp stings

You’ll usually know it when you get stung by a bee or wasp, because it hurts like hell. “At first, you may not even see anything on the skin,” Troyano says. “However, within a few minutes of being stung, there may be localized swelling and redness around the sting site.” The area might also feel warm, and you might see a small white mark near the center of the swelling (that’s where the stinger went into your skin), she describes.

If you know you have an allergy to bee or wasp stings, follow instructions from your doctor and seek medical care immediately. But if you’re not allergic, you’ll still want to take action. Bees lose their stinger after stinging, Troyano says, and you should try to remove it if it’s still stuck in you. Then, apply ice to reduce swelling, says David Gatz, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. You also may want to take an antihistamine like Benadryl, he says.

The only real way to totally avoid getting stung is to not interact with bees and wasps…obviously. (But that’s not a feasible lifestyle if you ever want to enjoy the outdoors!) So when you’re outside, don’t swat at bees and wasps-just let them be. “In general, if you leave bees and wasps alone, they will leave you alone,” says Tucker.

If you want to be especially cautious, she also recommends skipping flowery perfumes or fragrances and covering any food and drink around you.

Scabies

Scabies is a parasite infestation caused by microscopic mites, according to the CDC. When you have scabies, the female burrows into your epidermis to lay her eggs.

Scabies usually shows up as a rash with small, raised pustules or blisters, and is “intensely itchy,” Troyano says. If you’ve never had scabies before, you might not see the rash for several weeks after you’ve been exposed. But, if you’ve had scabies before, you might see a rash within one to four days of being exposed, she says.

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Medscape

@Medscape

Examining a patient’s hands, feet and lower legs will catch more than 90% of #scabies cases. http://ms.spr.ly/6012TBBse 

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Scabies is transmitted through “prolonged direct skin contact” and is “highly contagious,” Tucker says. You need to see a doctor to get properly diagnosed and treated, but it’s generally treated with permethrin anti-parasitic cream, Dr. Gatz says.

Mosquito bites

Okay, yes, mosquito bites are usually NBD. They’re itchy and annoying, but nothing major to worry about. You probably already know what a mosquito bite looks like, but (just in case), they’re usually red, create a bump on your skin, and can itch, per Troyano. For some people, a bug bite may appear filled with fluid, with a small water blister in the center.

Photo credit: ChrisAt - Getty Images
Photo credit: ChrisAt – Getty Images
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Mosquitos can carry diseases like Zika virus and West Nile virus, which can cause fever-like symptoms, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, the CDC says. So if you’ve been bitten by a mosquito and start to feel off afterward and have symptoms like these, call your doctor ASAP.

In order to let mosquito bites heal, do your best not to scratch; that raises the risk that the bite will get infected, Dr. Cutler says. Hydrocortisone cream should help alleviate some of the itch, he says.

While you can only do so much to prevent mosquito bites, Tucker recommends removing standing water around your home or yard (mosquitoes can lay their eggs in these areas). And, if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside, using a good mosquito repellent is key, she says.

Spider bites

Spider bites are actually pretty rare, Troyano says, but they happen. They can look like typical bug bites, so it can be hard to tell right away if you were bitten by a spider unless you see it scuttling away.

If you do notice a bite and spot the little guy, Dr. Cutler recommends washing the area with soap and water and leaving it alone. “Toxins from [certain spiders] can destroy the skin,” he says-so it never hurts to wash the spot with soap and water to cleanse the skin (even if you’re not 100 percent sure it’s a spider bite).

But if the wound area seems to be growing, is unusually red, is hot to the touch, is ulcerated, or you have a fever and/or joint pain, call your doctor ASAP, Troyano says.

Cleaning out cobwebs inside and outside of your house can lessen your chances of spider run-ins. Also, wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a hat to protect your skin when you’re working outside or in areas where things are stored and not used often, and try to keep your grass and bushes maintained, Tucker says.

Tick bites

It’s not always obvious when a tick bites you, because it won’t *always* leave a mark (more on that in a minute). But sometimes the tick will still be attached when you discover a bite, so the first thing you’ll want to do is remove it. Troyano recommends taking the following steps to do this:

  • Use tweezers and grab the tick close to the skin.
  • Steadily pull upward, but avoid twisting the insect.
  • Don’t crush the tick once removed.
  • Submerge the tick in rubbing alcohol and save it. Put it in a clear, sealable plastic bag in case you need to see a doctor or veterinarian. Or, take a clear photo, then flush it.

Once the tick is removed, wash the area with soap and water, Dr. Gatz says.

If you notice a bullseye-shaped rash appear on your body, a pink rash on your wrists, arms, and ankles, or an ulcerated area around a bite, call your doctor, Troyano says. These symptoms may be signs that a tick did bite you, and you’ve been infected with a tick-borne illness like Lyme disease. If you experience a fever, chills, aches, and muscle fatigue, those are also cues you need to make a visit to your doctor.

But remember, not every tick carries a tick-borne illness, so even if one bit you at some point, that doesn’t guarantee you contracted something more serious.

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How can you protect yourself from tick bites? Tucker recommends showering quickly when you come in from being outside (you might be able to wash off ticks before they have a chance to bite you). It’s also a smart idea to wear long pants and sleeves when you go into tick-infested areas, like the woods, and to wear bug repellent that contains DEET. Also ask a family member or friend to help you do a body scan for ticks after being out in the woods.

 

Bedbugs may have sucked the blood of dinosaurs 100 million years ago as scientists discover they were alive twice as long ago as previously thought

  • They evolved 100 million years ago which is far earlier than previously thought
  • Making them 50 million years older than bats, once believed to be their first host
  • They feed on species with ‘homes’ such as nests, burrows and human beds 
  • So are unlikely to have sucked on dinosaurs although their first host is unknown 

Bed bugs scuttled the Earth 100 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs, scientists have found.

Previously thought to have evolved 50 million years ago, the latest study shows they are actually twice as old as bats, thought to be their first hosts.

While they could have fed on the dinosaurs, birds and burrowing animals were more likely hosts as they prefer animals with ‘homes’ like nests and burrows.

By understanding the tiny bugs better scientists hope to better control and prevent the transmission of insect-borne diseases.

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Bed bugs (pictured) scuttled the Earth 100 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs, scientists have found

Scientists from a number of institutions, including the University of Sheffield, compared the DNA of dozens of bedbug species to understand their evolution and their relationship with humans.

The findings revealed that Bedbugs evolved 50 million years before bats – a mammal that people had previously believed to be their first host.

Genetic evidence show that they have been parasitic companions with other species aside from humans for more than 100 million years, walking the earth at the same time as dinosaurs.

More research is needed to find out what their host was at that time, although current understanding suggests it’s unlikely they fed on the blood of dinosaurs.

This is because they usually attached to animals that have a ‘home’, such as a bird’s nest, an owl’s burrow, a bat’s roost or a human’s bed – a mode of living that dinosaurs don’t seem to have adopted.

Bedbugs may rank high among the list of most unwanted human bedfellows but until now, little was known about when they first originated.

The team, which includes University of Sheffield in the UK, spent 15 years collecting samples from wild sites and museums around the world, including African caves, cliffs and bird nests in Asia.

Based on the findings, experts found that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than previously thought.

Professor Mike Siva-Jothy from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: ‘To think that the pests that live in our beds today evolved more than 100 million years ago and were walking the earth side by side with dinosaurs, was a revelation.

‘It shows that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than we previously thought.’

Previously thought to have evolved 50 million years ago, the latest study shows they are actually twice as old as the bats, thought to be their first hosts.

HOW TO SPOT A BED BUG
Small dark dots are the key.

Experts say the buttons on a mattress are a popular hiding place If the infestation is bad, small white dots – which are bedbug eggs – may be visible.

A faint almond smell may also be noticeable

A pest controller will need to remove the bugs as household insecticides are not strong enough

Dr Steffen Roth from the University Museum Bergen in Norway, who led the study, added: ‘The first big surprise we found was that bedbugs are much older than bats, which everyone assumed to be their first host.

‘It was also unexpected to see that evolutionary older bedbugs were already specialised on a single host type, even though we don’t know what the host was at the time when T. rex walked the earth.’

The study also reveals that a new species of bedbug invades human environments about every half a million years.

When bedbugs changed hosts, they also didn’t always adapt to stay on that host but maintained the ability to jump back to their original host.

This demonstrates that while some bedbugs become specialised, some remain generalists, jumping from host to host.

Professor Klaus Reinhardt, a bedbug researcher from Dresden University in Germany, who co-led the study, said: ‘These species are the ones we can reasonably expect to be the next ones drinking our blood, and it may not even take half a million years, given that many more humans, livestock and pets that live on earth now provide lots more opportunities.’

The team also found that the two major bedbug pests of humans – the common and the tropical bedbug – are much older than humans.

This contrasts with other evidence that the evolution of ancient humans caused the split of other human parasites into new species.

Professor Mike Siva-Jothy from the University of Sheffield, added: ‘These findings will help us better understand how bedbugs evolved the traits that make them effective pests – that will also help us find new ways of controlling them.’

The researchers hope the findings will help create an evolutionary history of bed bugs, how they evolve to use different hosts and how they develop new traits.

The aim is to help control insects effectively and prevent the transmission of insect-vectored disease, say the scientists.

The research has been published in Current Biology.

WHAT ARE BED BUGS?
Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy but do not usually cause other health problems.

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

HOW DO BED BUG INFESTATIONS HAPPEN?
Genetic tests have revealed that a single undetected pregnant bed bug is all it takes to start an entire infestation.

A DNA study at Sheffield University showed colonies of bed bugs come from a common ancestor or a few of the female bed bugs.

The pregnant bed bug could rapidly create a colony of thousands that feed on humans.

Bed bugs are capable of surviving without feeding for a month as they wait for a human.

In the late 1880s, an estimated 75 per cent of households were affected, but by the outbreak of World War II, that figure had dwindled to 25 per cent,

Their recent resurgence has been blamed by some experts on resistance to commonly used insecticides and international travel.

 

Bed Bugs Don’t Need Beds, or Humans, to Survive. They Never Did…

Nova_PBS.jpg

The rise of bed bugs preceded modern humans by at least 100 million years. They survived the extinction that killed the dinosaurs. Could they outlive us all?

By Katherine J. Wu   May 16, 2019

Nova.jpgDon’t be fooled by their charming name: Bed bugs don’t need beds to set up shop. These intrepid insects will colonize pretty much any place where people pile up, including hotels, movie theaters, libraries, even the occasional subway—ready and waiting to ruin a human life with their bloodsucking mouthparts and death-defying durability.

It’s easy to dismiss bed bugs as loathsome pests that exist to make humans miserable. But in reality, bed bugs predate humans by leaps and bounds, making us the unwanted interlopers that first crossed into their turf.

According to a newly mapped bed bug family tree, these puny pests have been guzzling the blood of other animals for more than 100 million years, long before the rise of both modern humans and bats, their most common host. The research, published today in the journal Current Biology, shows that the bed bug timeline stretches further back than even the mass extinction that wiped out 75 percent of Earth’s plant and animal species, including all dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.

The surprising longevity of bed bugs means we’re no longer certain of the identity of these bloodthirsty buggers’ first host. But the study’s findings could still offer clues on how bed bugs once made the jump to humans, and if that transition will have an encore act in the future.

“Bed bugs didn’t evolve on humans,” says study author Michael Siva-Jothy, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. “We just happen to be their current host at the moment—which means they’re very good at what they do.”

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Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species—Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus—which pierce human skin and drink blood with their sucking mouthparts. Luckily, neither is thought to transmit disease. Image Credit: smuay, iStock

The scourge of bed bugs on humankind is believed to stretch back to the very dawn of our species. But only three species—Cimex lectulariusCimex hemipterus, and, less commonly, Leptocimex boueti—routinely spend their nights supping on human blood. At least 100 other types of bed bugs exist worldwide, feeding mostly on bats and, to a lesser extent, birds, and researchers still don’t have a good understanding of these insects’ origins, and how species have split and diversified over time.

To generate a more complete bed bug catalog, an international team of scientists led by Klaus Reinhardt, a molecular and evolutionary biologist at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, set out to amass insects from around the world.

A handful of specimens weren’t too hard to come by, arriving via the generosity of natural history museums, or scientific colleagues who had seen the team’s requests for help on Twitter. Collecting the lion’s share of the data, however, required some pretty gnarly field trips that featured amateur cliff scaling, treks through knee-deep guano, and hikes into remote mountaintop caves—all in search of nondescript insects just millimeters long.

In all, sample collection alone took the study’s 15 authors the better part of 15 years. But the result was an unprecedented collection of pristine bed bug DNA, representing 34 species hailing from 62 localities around the globe.

“It’s really difficult to collect these specimens,” says Christiane Weirauch, a systematic entomologist at the University of California, Riverside who was not involved in the study. “It’s just so cool that this team has pulled this together.”

By comparing DNA sequences across species, Reinhardt, Siva-Jothy, and their colleagues were able to trace the evolutionary relationships between the bed bugs they’d collected. The researchers then combined their data with evidence from known insect fossils to pinpoint when bed bug lineages had split in the past. And when the bed bug family tree was finally mapped, the team was met with a set of findings that flew in the face of almost everything they’d expected.

Because bats remain the most common host of bed bugs (technically, bat bugs) today, Siva-Jothy says, most researchers have assumed that the first bed bugs to scuttle the Earth also gorged on the blood of these winged mammals. Cozied up to cave-dwelling bats, bed bugs would’ve then had an easy time making the hop to our human ancestors seeking shelter some 2 million years ago, and evolved alongside the genus Homo ever since.

Neither of these theories panned out.

The researchers’ analysis now places the origin of bedbugs around 115 million years ago, during the Cretaceous—a whopping 30 to 50 million years before bats are believed to have come onto the scene. It’s not yet clear what species first drew the bed bug straw, but a good candidate might be a small, social, cave-dwelling mammal, Reinhardt says.

Others, however, aren’t ready to completely rule out bats, or at least an early bat-like ancestor. “The fossil records for [both bed bugs and mammals] are patchy…that makes it hard to make definitive statements,” says Jessica Ware, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist at Rutgers University who was not involved in the study. “It’s possible bats are older, and we’ve just underestimated.”

Some 70 more bed bug species have yet to be analyzed in this way, and the family tree could still change with the addition of new data, Ware says. “That being said, this is the first and maybe most comprehensive analysis people have done for [this group of insects].”

Regardless of where, and on whom, bed bugs got their start, it appears these insects were hardy enough to weather a mass extinction—and have remained alarmingly adaptable ever since. The researchers’ findings suggest that, throughout their evolutionary history, several bed bug species went from bothering bats to terrorizing birds and vice versa. Along the way, at least three species dipped their spindly legs into human stock. Surprisingly, all three species appear to have evolved independently, with each making a separate jump to human hosts.

In other words, we humans didn’t actually do much to shape the evolution of one of our most iconic pests, who were perfectly content binging on the blood of bats and birds. It just so happened that, when an unlucky member of the genus Homo stumbled onto their path, certain bed bugs were flexible enough to expand their palates.

Bat and bed bug - credit Mark Chappell, Univ Cailf, Riverside.jpg
Bats were once thought to be the first host of bed bugs. But a newly mapped family tree shows that bed bugs predate bats by 30 to 50 million years. Image Credit: Mark Chappell, University of California, Riverside

There’s even a chance another bed bug species might one day develop a taste for human blood, Reinhardt says (in fact, it might already be happening). Based on the historical data, these transitions happen roughly every half a million years.

But the more pressing concern might be the enemies we already know, Siva-Jothy says. “With human populations expanding, and our reliance on animals, and the way cities grow and communicate…there will be more opportunities for the species we’ve already got to become more widespread.”

Given the stubbornness of bed bug infestations, that’s not great news. It’s enough to make us wonder if bed bugs have the apocalyptic armor to outlive us all.

We might not have made our bed bugs. But we still have to lie with them.

Los Angeles jail closed because of bed bug infestation

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May 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department has temporarily shut down one of its jails because of a bed bug infestation.

The department says the Pacific Station jail on the city’s west side was closed Wednesday to allow exterminators to spray and vacuum the facility.

Officials say they hope to reopen the jail Friday evening if inspections turn up no more bed bugs.

The closure comes a week after the LAPD acknowledged three officers working out of the West Valley police station in Reseda had contracted a highly contagious staph infection after an encounter with a homeless person. The officers are on medical leave and are expected to make a full recovery.

Corpus Christi ISD fumigating bus after bed bug report

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May 15, 2019  Veronica Flores

We contacted CCISD Office of Communications Director Leanne Libby said on May 6, one bed bug was found on a student’s backpack at an elementary school. Libby said no additional bed bugs were found.

CCISDbedbug1.jpgIn a statement today, CCISD said.

“In addition to notifying the county health department, the district notified parents and staff in the classroom where the single bug was found. As a precautionary measure, one school bus as well as one classroom received pest-control treatment.”

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